To the rest of the world she was just another invisible old lady going about her daily business, but Doris had a secret!
Doris was a widow of sixty-seven and up until her new life started, she had been trying to manage on her pension and a very small amount of ‘cash in hand’, working as a cleaner. There were no children, no family, no friends and she did not understand computers or social media. She found dealing with authorities upsetting and frustrating, especially since they forced her out of her council house and into the dingy tenement building that housed her one bedroom flat. The entrance area, fourteen floors below had once been manned by a doorman, but was currently policed by the local street gangs. As she negotiated her way in and out of her flat each day, nobody spoke to her, nobody acknowledged her. She was just another old lady going about her daily business. She was invisible.
It was this invisibility that worked so well for her in her new life, which started when she stumbled across the gun hidden under a hedge. How it got there she had no idea, but something made her pick it up and place into her shopping basket. She had never seen one in real life and it fascinated her. So much so, that two days later and after several visits to local library, she knew all there was to know about it, and the more she knew the more she loved it. It made her feel important as she secretly carried in her hand bag on the bus to work. In her daydreams she imagined herself firing it.
The firing part happened a few evenings later.
Approaching her block of flats after another boring day at work, she was accosted by a young man, clearly under the influence of drugs, who demanded her money. He had a knife and was moving menacingly towards her. Instinctively Doris slipped her hand into her worn leather bag and pulled out the gun. The young man looked down, saw it, and then looked back up at the wizen old lady and laughed. It was his biggest mistake. Lifting the gun, Doris slipped of the safety catch, as instructed in the book; pointed it at the man’s head, and, in the manner described, gently squeezed the trigger.
The young man’s head snapped back and he fell to the ground without making any further sound. Nobody, came running. There were no shouts, no challenges, traffic continued to run on the road nearby and life continued as normal. It was only when she reached the sanctuary of her flat that it suddenly dawned on her what she had done. Two things happened simultaneously; her knees gave way and she experienced the most exhilarated feeling since her wedding night. She was buzzing with adrenaline. So much so that she did not sleep at all, spending most of the night cleaning and re-cleaning the gun. The next morning, on the way to work, she saw two policemen guarding a roped off area around the murder scene. Still on a high, she walked over and asked them what had happened. They looked down at the frail old lady standing before them and muttered something about it being, nothing to concern herself with, and indicated that she should move on. Convinced that there were not going to be any consequences, Doris did as she was told and went to work, still carrying the gun in her handbag.
That evening there was a knock at her door and as she approached it, a small brown envelope appeared through the letter box. Opening it there was a note that simply said, “I saw what you did, meet me in café Dido at 8pm tonight.” It took a few minutes for her heart rate to return to anything like normal, but by then logic had returned. Perhaps there would be a need for another killing. Looking at the her watch she saw that it was seven thirty. The café was only a fifteen-minute walk from the flats. Slipping the gun back in her handbag, Doris put on her lilac tweed overcoat and headed out of the door, carry her trusted leather bag over her arm.
The café was busy and it was clear that whoever had arranged the meeting wanted it to be in a public place. Ordering a cup of tea, Doris sat down and waited. She was not afraid. Far from it, she felt alive. Looking around she tried to imagine who it would be. There were several likely candidates. Each had the look of a desperate underworld character about them, so it was a surprise when a smart looking young woman pulled out the chair opposite and sat down. There then followed an hour’s conversation that seemed, in hindsight, almost surreal and finished with Doris agreeing to undertake a test. At this stage, and probably at no time in future, did Doris know who the young lady was or who she worked for, but for Doris it did not matter. She felt excited. The excitement was magnified when she received the second brown envelope of the evening that not only contained a picture of her intended victim, with a time and a place written on the back, but also a considerable amount of cash.
The test went well. Nobody suspected the little old lady in the tweed coat carrying the tattered leather bag. Doris was on a roll and her new life was launched. Successive clandestine meetings, with increasingly larger brown envelopes, continued; but for Doris nothing changed other than her new purpose in life. The money just sat in growing piles in her kitchen cabinet and she wore the same tweed coat and used the same brown leather bag. The only concession she indulged in was a new lighter gun with a silencer. She hated loud noises.
A very rich, but still practical Doris, took the 93 bus on her twenty third mission, which was to take place in a quiet park in south London. It was sunset, and as the light failed, Doris saw the dark outline of a figure sitting on the designated bench and, as was her way, she walked up and slowly sat down. Not too close, getting blood off her coat was difficult.
Slipping her hand into her bag she felt for her gun, but before she could pull it out a familiar female voice said.
“Hello Doris, I am so sorry, but you knew this had to end at some time.”
The young lady’s gun was smaller than Doris’s, but proved to be just as effective at close range.