Much Dithering in Little Botheringham – 29

‘Much Dithering in Little Botheringham’ is an everyday tale of village life and vampires, from Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook.

Of course Em wasn’t the only person to note the approach of the heavies. One of the majorettes whistled and a group of baton twirlers moved forwards, to be joined by what looked very much like the same group of Saturday night fighters as had words with the pipe band.
The group of security guards abated its pace somewhat in the face of a wall of fists and twirling wood. Another figure emerged from the mob. He wasn’t particularly tall, and he wasn’t a local, but he was as broad as an oak tree and he carried a chainsaw in one knotted fist, swinging it as easily as if it was a child’s toy. He gave a brief nod to Ginny as if thanking her for the opportunity.
“See them lot there,” he said, “they burned the house I grew up in because my father wouldn’t sell it to their rotten little boss. Dad died a month later from the burns he sustained. And them bastards got away with it.”
The biggest of the majorettes swung her nunchucks meaningfully. “Then they are due for a few bumps if they try anything, ain’t they.”
About half the majorettes and a half a dozen hefty young men stepped forward from the roadblock in the direction of DumpCorp Security. Who eyed the size and determination of the opposition, then shook their heads and retreated. The defection of his heavies seemed to be the straw that broke the dam of Dump’s insecure grip on reality.
“Get me my guns,” he screamed. “Gonna shoot my way through these rednecks and wasters. They are going to learn who is boss round here.”
Schilling laid a hand on his forearm. “This is England, Ron, you can’t have guns here.”
Dump actually stamped his feet. “I can have whatever I like wherever I like. I’m Ronald Dump, the most successful businessman in the world.”
That was about enough for the crowd and ‘the most successful businessman in the world’ was nearly buried in flour bombs.
The sound Ronald Dump made as the flour hit him was high and inhuman. As he keened his rage to the sky, Schilling grabbed him by his shoulders and shook him.
“Stop it Ron, control yourself. We can’t afford for you to lose your shit now.”
But Dump was too far gone in rage to listen to anybody. He slapped Schilling across his cheek before turning a feral grimace on the now quiet crowd. He bent his corpulent frame – in a manner that made Em think he might burst like an overstuffed sausage – and scrabbled about under his trouser leg. When he somehow levered himself to the vertical once more, he held a small, but serviceable, pistol in his fist. He waved it in the direction of the wall of people who blocked his route to where he wanted to be.
“Now let’s see who’s brave if it might hurt.”
Nobody reacted.
Dump’s hands shook and the hectic colour of rage ran up his fleshy luck to the top of his head.
“Move. Or I’ll shoot somebody.”
Schilling grabbed his wrist. “Stop it Ron. Get your head together and stop it.”
“Get my head together? You get your head together! I pay you to sort things out and you let this crap happen.”
Suddenly the gun was pointing at Schilling’s face. He must have been a good deal braver than he looked because he faced his employer without flinching.
“Stop it Ron. You are beginning to look like a loser.”
This wasn’t at all how Em had envisaged the scene playing out. To be honest, she was beginning to wonder if it could all be solved without bloodshed. The tableau was broken as Ginny walked over to stand at Dump’s other side. She said something to him in an undertone and he stiffened.
“What the hell is she doing?” Ishmael hissed. “Doesn’t she realise that she’s just engaged with a certifiable manic. With a gun.”
“I haven’t the faintest idea.” Em felt slightly sick.
A hand came round in front of her and waved a familiar hip flask. “I’ve called the police. A picture of that wombat waving a gun seems to have galvanised them into action,” Agnes remarked. “I just hope they get here before he shoots somebody.”
“Me too. Particularly as somebody could easily be our newest sister.”
Ishmael grabbed Em’s arm. “She isn’t stupid enough to think she could survive being shot at point blank range?”
Em took a good belt of Agnes’ best cherry brandy. “I don’t think so.”
Whatever Ginny had said to Dump didn’t seem to be pouring any oil on troubled water, rather the reverse in fact, as the temperamental billionaire was waving his arms around and screaming unintelligible insults. He appeared to have forgotten his gun for the moment, but Em didn’t have a lot of hope of that remaining the case.
Schilling made a remark that brought flags of colour to Ginny’s cheeks. But she wasn’t to be deterred and her response came back whip quick.
Whatever she said must have struck a nerve, because Em thought Schilling would physically attack her, but he drew back and spat full in her face instead.
“Ever the gentleman, Mister Schilling,” this time Ginny spoke loud enough for the assembled company to hear. “I’m sure your lady mother, wherever she may be, is truly proud of you.”
He snarled but didn’t make any rejoinder.
Dump looked from one to the other and the muzzle of his pistol followed his little pink-rimmed eyes.
“I shall have to shoot both of you,” he announced. “We can’t have loose talk like that ruining my reputation.
Ginny put her hand up to the very ugly hat she was wearing and turned to smile at him. He must have seen something in her eyes because he took a step backwards. She followed him and struck his gun hand with whatever she had taken from her hat. He screamed as if his throat was being cut and the distraction was sufficient to allow a couple of the majorettes to pile in. One pushed Dump to the ground and sat on him, while the other kneed Schilling neatly in the gonads. He dropped to the ground retching and she stood over him nonchalantly waving a baton that Em was pretty sure had weighted ends.
Ginny bent down by Dump and removed something from his hand.
“Loser,” she said just loud enough for Em and Ishmael to catch it.
The sound of sirens came as a welcome distraction and Em tapped Ishmael on the arm.
“Shall we fade back into the crowd a bit?”

Part 30 of Much Dithering in Little Botheringham by Jane Jago and E.M. Swift-Hook, will be here next week.

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