Daylight Robbery by Virginia McAllister-Evans - HTML preview

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“Jim.  You’ve got your lunch, haven’t you?”  She felt boring having to ask her husband such a question, but she just wanted to make sure that her husband of twelve years had everything that he would need.  Today was the first day of a job which had taken him three and a half years to get. 

He came into the lounge and walked amongst the brightness of the rays through the blinds.  He suited his matt brown coloured Security Guard uniform.  3-Ways had employed him through an Agency he had registered with after countless other men had not quite made it. 

Jim had been one of seven lucky men that day when the company whittled down over a hundred applicants for seven positions and one supervisor.

“Yeah Deirdre.  I have my lunchbox.  I have my sandwiches.  I have my fruit juice.”

“I just want to make sure.”

“I know.  Look, from now on, no more scraping round, no more asking for loans from your Elaine or our Geoff.  We are going to be keeping up with the mortgage, we are going to keep up on the council tax.  And if we can just start to put a bit away each week or month, then a holiday.  Might not be much next year, but at least a couple of days somewhere.  Let’s get everyone paid off and then we can do what we want.”

“Oh Jim.  I know.”

“Wasn’t it great the way the Agency also got you that cleaning number?”

“Yes, I just thought that I would just be keeping you company when you went to register.  But the pair of us came out good, didn’t we?!”

“Yeah, not bad for a Wednesday, was it!  Now, look, I should be getting in for about 6.  Ah, there’s Matthew.  Love you.”

“Have a good day Jim.  I love you.”

With that Jim Spencer gave his wife a kiss, took hold of his lunchbox and newspaper, checked he had the key, and left to go to work. 

He was looking forward to this first day.  He had never been a Security Guard before.  He had trained to be an Electrician, but never really got going.  So most of his working life, which amounted to just about fourteen years of his 42 year existence, he had been a labourer.  At least he specialised in how to load shipping containers!

But now, after taking a short course on becoming a Security Guard, which he still owed Geoff, his brother, a debt, he could now start to look to earn some long needed dough, get straight and finally look like the man again.

3-Way had been operating in the area for about a dozen years.  Their clients ranged from small shops right through to the banks and supermarkets.  Anyone who wanted secure delivery of something, usually money deposit boxes, would have it delivered by qualified, reliable, honest, hardworking, customer conscious, friendly staff within the hour.  No wonder then, that most of the local supermarkets relied on 3-Way.

“Here we are,” Matt said as they pulled into the car park at 3-Way regional office.  “If you go over to Despatch, they will tell you where you can put your stuff and who they have teamed you up with.”

“Do I not get to go with you?”

“Nah.  I’ve only been here a month.  I’m still on probation.”

“Oh right.  Thanks Matt.”

“Good luck.  And hey – watch out for Miranda.  She’s a monster!”

Matt wasn’t wrong. 

Miranda was sat there in Despatch.  She was quite a large lady – is that the right thing to say about a woman who might be considered on the “big” side?

Hi.  I’ve been told to report here.  And ask for Mitch.”

“Oh, er, Mitch hasn’t landed yet.  What’s your name, honey?”

“Jim Spencer.  Is it Miranda?”

“Yes honey.  Uh, listen, find yourself a locker in that room and come back.  I’ll get you teamed up with someone.  First day?”


“Oh, ok then.”

At half past seven, Deirdre was fixing her hair into a small bun, pulled her coat on, checked that everything was turned off, and left the home.  She only had a ten minute walk in front of her to the house she had been contracted to clean.

It belonged to a lovely elderly lady who just preferred folk to call her Ms Smith.  Deirdre walked along, listening to a couple walking behind her discussing some plans they had to carry out once they got to work. 

She entered the small garden that was trying to look like a cottage garden.  She wasn’t that familiar with plants and flowers, but she knew that there were lupins and honeysuckle in the garden.  There were some tea roses, just pinks and reds to Deirdre, but to the trained eye they would be something else.

She also noticed something else.  The net curtains in the front bay window twitched.

Ms Smith knew of her arrival and had looked at the clock on the chimney breast wall.  Very good.  Five to eight.  She liked that.  She liked punctuality.  After all, she had had to be punctual in her secretarial job which she retired from quite a few years ago.

Deirdre knocked politely on the door.  Ms Smith opened it and said hello to Deirdre.

“Is there anything you would like me to do?”

“Of course!  I want you to clean!”

“I’m sorry, I was meaning is there anything you would like me to do in any order?”

“Ah.  Right, well it is Wednesday.  So Wednesdays, I would like the washing done and the ironing.  Wednesday is wash day.  W for W.  Got that?”


“But first, can you clear the breakfast tray.  I have Eczema.”

“Yes of course I will.”

“The kitchen is just through here.”

Deirdre, like Jim, started her first day at work.  Like Jim, she felt a bit out of sorts.  Like Jim, she knew that it was just her first day and that as time progressed, things will settle down and she would not feel as nervous.


It had been a lovely summer.  One of those summers where the heat was endless.   The evenings drew out long.  The shops were running out of bottled water, ice cubes and ices. 

Matt and Jim were great friends.  They had regularly worked with each other on the routes.  Without doubt, they knew how and where they are up to when out collecting the security boxes. 

“Got anything doing this weekend Jim?”

“Nah.  You?”

“Yeah, going seeing Alison’s lot.”

“Oh, the ones on Anglessey?”

“Yeah.  She wants to set off when I finish on Friday.”

“Should be nice this weekend.”

“Yeah, I know.  Her dad wants to do a big family barbeque.”

“Do you know, what a great idea.  Deirdre is working best part of the weekend, I could do a barbi for our tea on Saturday.”

“Yeah, you should.  Get some beers in, chicken, salad.  You’ll be right.”

“Good match on the box on Saturday, also.”

“Yeah, don’t remind me.  I’ll be having to look all social – I’m recording it.”

“Shan’t spoil it for you then, mate!”

“Hey – what you doing for the Bank Holiday?”


“Fancy getting together for a barbi, on the Saturday?”

“Yeah, that’s great.”

“Good stuff.  We’ll get something sorted.”

“Yeah, should be good that.  I’m looking forward to that.  We won’t be getting away this year, you know.  So stuff like this, well, it will just put us on until we can afford to get away.”

“Hey – don’t remind me.  We were like that once over.  Trust me Jim, it gets better.”

Deirdre had been working for Ms Smith every morning.  There was a set procedure that she was asked to follow, starting off with bringing Ms Smith a nice cup of tea, and toast and marmalade in bed.  Then, to go round the house, dusting and polishing a couple of times a week, ironing on Wednesdays, and running to the market on a Friday morning to buy in the vegetables. 

It is quite a nice week for her.

The telephone rang one morning. 

“Good morning, 7835,” Ms Smith answered.

“Deirdre – it’s for you.”

“Hello?  Oh hello, Sharon.  Yes, I would like that.  What times?  Oh, that’s handy.  I could go straight there after Ms Smith.  How many times a week?  Oh, that’s great!  Four times would be great!  Yes.  I can start next week.  Ok, just let me get my pen and I will jot it down.  Thanks!”

“Good news Deirdre?”

“Yes, Ms Smith.  Someone else would like a cleaner.  And the great thing about it, is that the woman I am going to clean for starts work herself at lunch, so I have plenty of time to come here and then carry on up to her house.”

“Is it far?”

“About a couple of miles.  But I get a day saver to come here, and I can use that to carry on up to her house.”

“Where does she live?”

“Booth Village.”

“Oh, lovely area.  I had a friend who lived up there.  Nothing but money there.”

“You’re kidding.”

“My dear, I never kid about money.  No, up there, you are talking directors, company owners.  You can’t even talk rich retirees – the price of property in Booth Village is too rich.”

“Oh my.  I feel nervous now.”

“Listen my dear, you will be fine.  Just do your job, do it right, and you will have no problems.  I used to know some of the farmers who lived up there.  They made millions when they sold some of their fields to the gentry up there.”

“Oh my.”

“Listen, go and do the ironing.  You will feel better!”

Deirdre went off to do that week’s ironing.  Ms Smith was right, as usual.  She did feel better.  Ms Smith went out into the garden with her favourite book, Deirdre put on the afternoon story on the radio.

“Jim.  I have another job!”

“Get away!  Where?”

“Up at Booth Village.  4 days a week, 10 ‘til 12.  Isn’t that great!”

“That is great.  And Matt has invited us for a barbi at the end of the month.”

“Oh Jim, that is good of him.  I wondered what to do that weekend.  I fancied something.”

“Might be a spot of overtime coming up also.  About half a dozen have holidays booked and they need drivers – it’ll mean a couple of late nights.”

“Are you sure Jim?”

“Yeah, let’s get rid of some of those debts.”

“I’ve been thinking.  Once we get rid of those debts, can we start to look at some better windows?”

“Yeah, I think so.  Can’t have it like last winter.  We’ll get Terry round next week and ask him what the finance company will take as early settlement.  The council tax and mortgage have been paid for this month.”

“Oh Jim, finally I feel as if we are getting straight.”

It was raining that Friday night when Terry from the finance company called round to collect that week’s payment.  He was a jovial man, seemed to enjoy his job, always had something nice to say to the couple.  They were one of his better clients.  They always had their money ready for him, the book open for him to record the payment, and he was always done within a couple of minutes.

Tonight though, after inviting him in, they wanted to ask him to get some ideas about paying off their account early, and what would the finance company accept as early redemption.

“They do encourage this by knocking a percentage off.   Let me see, my book shows that they will take £293.41, but that was before tonight’s payment.  It will be less next week.  Leave it with me, and I will ask.  Do you think you might be wanting more money sometime?”


“Not taking a holiday or something?”


“We do want to put in some new windows though Jim, remember.”

“Well, yes.  But I thought maybe we could go to the bank for this, or have a word about a loan against the house.”

“You want to be careful Jim.  Banks ain’t lending as good as they used to, with all the recession and redundancies going on.  If you don’t pay on a loan secured to your house, they can repossess the house.”

“I know.  I know.  But we will need to see the bank manager, and see what they come up with.  It won’t be for sometime yet.”

“Well, give us a shout Jim, I’m not pushing you – but at least you know that I can do a deal for you.  And Diamond have some new packages now where you can borrow upto £3000, take longer to repay, interest isn’t as high.  You have been a customer for 5 years now, paid on time, so you won’t have any problem.”

“It’s an option Jim.”

“I’ll think about it – let’s get this one paid off, and we’ll see what’s what.  Like I said, it won’t be for a while.”

Terry left and went on his way to his other customers.  He knew that come next week, he would have one less customer to collect from, but in saying that, he had two new customers tonight who had applied for loans and have been okayed for them.  Where one door shuts, another usually opens for him.

Deirdre knocked on the door of the cottage called “Sunbeam Villa”.  Ms Smith had wished her good luck on her first morning cleaning for Mrs Warburton.

“Hello?” a youngish voice said.

“Hello.  I’m Deirdre Banks.  I am here from Clean It Agency.”

“Oh, hello.  You’re early.”

“Yes, sorry about that, it’s the bus timings.”

“Oh, don’t be sorry.  I like punctuality.  Do you have references?”

“Oh, er, no.  Nobody said anything about references.  I can give you a telephone number for the lady I clean for.  But I will need to ask for her permission to give it out.”

“Let me just ‘phone the Agency.  That will be sufficient.”

Deirdre was standing for about 5 minutes, admiring the Grecian style front garden with some hints of Japanese with the pond and Japanese Maple.

“Mrs Banks?”


“You can come in now.”

Mrs Warburton apologised for the checking out that she had to do.  She explained that because she had employed others in her business who had previously let her down, and her former husband who had managed to elude detection when he bought some goods from a lorry once over, that her trusting of people had reduced, to say the least.

Deirdre could understand.  She had bought some non-authentic goods once over when she had been told that they were authentic. 

“Well, I leave it up to you how you want to work through the week.  I will be leaving for work at eleven most mornings.  But this week, I thought that I would just leave it until the afternoon, just in case you need to know where things are.”

“That’s kind of you.”

“Let me show you round.  It is one of those lovely quirky cottages, with a few corridors.”

“It is lovely.”

“Thank you.”

Deirdre thoroughly enjoyed herself with her manageable workload.  Five days with Ms Smith, and four with Mrs Warburton.  It was all just about right.  Not too much, not too little.  Just about right.

Her afternoons belonged to her.  And she could feel justified in enjoying herself now in what she wanted to do.  She could potter about in their small back garden.  She could do some baking.  She could even just put her feet up and watch a bit of daytime tv, some soaps or listen to the afternoon play on the radio.  A few months ago, when she didn’t have a job, she couldn’t justify being able to just relax.  But now, she could.

Today, after working for Mrs Warburton for four days, she called off at the supermarket, bought a small bottle of white wine, and went home to enjoy the sunny afternoon.

She looked at the back garden.  She changed into some old slacks, got a t-shirt and started to clear up the rubbish that had been overlooked for so long.  The cardboard boxes were ripped up and put in the dustbin, the old clay pots were stacked away, plastic ones were put into a bag to take to a local garden centre – maybe they could use them.  It looked a lot more presentable when she swept up the soil back into the borders.

Maybe, when she takes the plastic pots to the garden centre, she could buy some ‘mums and pansies.  They took very little looking after.  And it would be so nice.

She got out her deckchair, poured the wine into her glass, and sat down to enjoy the August sun for an hour.