By John D Robinson
The smile of Mikey Milford was an almost permanent fixture upon his face; no matter what was happening to him or around him, Mikey would be seen smiling. He was twenty-four years old but had the intellect of a ten year old boy; Mikey would approach and speak to and smile with everybody that he encountered whilst he was out shopping. He was warm and friendly and was a well-known and popular character within the small community on the edges of this seaside town. Folks would say that Mikey was simple or slow, but was always said with a fondness for Mikey. He lived with his mother, and his father had passed several years ago.
Everyday, Mikey would walk to the shops and purchase the day’s groceries. He was of a large build at six feet, two inches tall with broad shoulders, dark short hair, large bright brown eyes and a soft face that betrayed his age. His voice was soft and gentle, low in volume. Mikey would call into every shop, all twenty three of them. He’d drop in and chat for a few moments and then move onto the next one. Along the way he’d buy what he needed to, and there were never more than half a dozen items on the list.
It would take Mikey about four hours to complete the daily chore of shopping; these hours came as a kind of relief for Mrs. Milford. Mikey would talk non-stop: from the moment his eyes opened upon awakening, to the moment they closed in sleep, his talking and smiling were relentless. Mrs. Milford and her son lived in a two bedroom apartment on the second floor of a thirty-storey tower block. It had been Mikey’s home since birth.
Everyday, for as long as anybody could remember, Mikey would call into every local shop and business, whether he had the purpose to or not. He’d call into the hairdressers, greengrocers and supermarkets, take-away food outlets and bars, a funeral parlour and a garage, florists and a carpet showroom, banks and a post office, a hardware store and a butcher’s, a betting shop and a bakery, discount stores and estate agents, cafes, solicitors office, second-hand furniture shops, chemists, restaurants and a toy model shop. Everyday, for as long as anyone could remember, Mikey would call into all of the shops.
Today, Mikey didn’t call into any of the shops and had not been seen. As the day progressed, more and more comments were being made of Mikey’s absence from the shopkeepers and office workers. Most comments were delivered as no more than observations but there were a few comments that were said out of concern and none more than the words of Ms. Avis Perkins, Assistant Director of Padget & Perkins Funeral Parlour. Ms. Perkins was a single lady in her mid-forties, and over the past three or four years she had become very fond of Mikey; she loved him, she considered, in a paternalistic way and looked forward to his daily visits. Mikey would spend more time with Ms. Perkins than he would within any other business or shop; he felt close and warm towards Ms. Perkins and his non-stop talking almost ceased when in her company. Instead, he’d smile and look at Ms. Perkins and would only speak when spoken to. Around her, he felt shy and bashful and he didn’t know why he felt that way, but nonetheless, Mikey liked the feeling very much.
At the close of the business day, Ms. Avis Perkins decided that she’d call in on Mikey Milford and his mother to see if all was okay, or if they needed anything.
I won’t bother to tell you of my name; it’s not important. It will suffice to tell you that I’m a young man in my early twenties. I’ll spare the sad and pathetic details of how I came to find myself in a very desperate situation. I’ve no excuses; I can’t blame it on my upbringing. Okay, my father wasn’t around much of the time, but my mother was a strong hard-working woman who provided what we needed. We never went hungry or cold. Mother loved me dearly, but she never said or displayed her feelings, I just knew she loved me. I was brought up knowing right from wrong and have never been in trouble, of any kind, before. Okay, here it is: I had gotten a young girl pregnant and we needed the cash quickly for a private termination. This was her choice initially, and rather reluctantly I agreed. So, there you have my reasoning for my actions. I was not presently working, having been made redundant several months ago. There was no one to help and nowhere I could raise the money needed; desperate thoughts can lead to desperate decisions.
Like most people, Mikey Milford was someone I knew of, he was a popular and harmless character, and, so I considered, an easy target. It all went terribly wrong, right from the off, it all went terribly wrong. The plan was simple enough: Mikey would leave the apartment every morning at exactly 11 a.m. I knew that he’d have very little cash on his person, but I guessed that there may be some cash within the apartment. I’d accost Mikey right outside his own door and bully my way in and take whatever cash and valuables were around. I’d be out and away in a few moments, straightforward and simple.
I was prepared. I was positioned just a few yards away when I could hear the apartment door being unlocked. Mikey stepped into the corridor, I moved within a foot or two of him and snarled, “Give me your fucking cash!”
Mikey punched me so fast and so hard that I tumbled backwards and fell down a small flight of concrete stairs, opening up a small gash at the back of my head, and passed out. Mikey picked me up and took me into his apartment and laid me upon the lounge floor, placing two thick bathroom towels beneath my head. I drifted in and out of consciousness. Mikey sat and watched over me. Mrs. Milford appeared and was, for a few moments, hysterical. Mikey calmed her down and explained what had happened, that I had attempted to rob him. She gazed down at me and shook her head. “You better go find a telephone booth and phone for an ambulance and the police,” she said to her son.
“Mum, I’m not leaving you alone with him!” cried Mikey anxiously, but still managing a faint smile.
I drifted in and out of consciousness. I heard Mikey talking scared and in a panic of being charged with my murder. I heard his mother trying to reassure him that I would be fine and that they needed to get the police and an ambulance, but Mikey would not leave his mother alone in case I came around and attacked her. Mikey was frightened; he had never hit anybody before. “Mum, I was scared, he screamed at me for the shopping money and I hit him. I thought that he might hurt me, but I hit him first,” Mikey smiled softly.
I drifted in and out of consciousness. I was given some water to drink. I tried to speak, but the words would not leave my mouth, they remained in my head silently going around and around and then a darkness would come and take me away for a little while and then my eyes would open and I’d hear the distant-like voices of Mikey and his mother. I’d try again to speak, but I was unable to. I felt weak and dizzy, disorientated and frightened, and then, suddenly, there came a loud knocking at the door.
“Quickly Mikey, answer it!” Mrs. Milford said.
I came to for a short while and let go a groan.
“Okay mum!” Mikey moved quickly and opened up the door to Ms. Avis Perkins.
The moment Mikey saw Ms. Perkins he began sobbing, he threw his arms around her and they embraced for a few moments. Mikey was whispering but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. For a few long moments Mikey and Ms. Perkins stood holding hands, Mikey was calmer and smiling.
“Mikey punched him, he was trying to rob him, right outside our own front door Ms. Perkins. We have no phone and didn’t know what to do, thank God that you appeared,” said Mrs. Milford excitedly.
I let go another groan.
“Shut up making those noises!” said Mrs Milford looking down at me in disgust.
“I thought I’d call around as I hadn’t seen Mikey today, I was a little concerned, just wondered whether everything was okay,” said Ms. Perkins pulling her mobile telephone out of her handbag and then phoned for the police and ambulance services.
She knelt down beside me and briefly examined the wound at the back of my head. “He’ll be okay, it’s worse than it’s looks.” She moved away and assisted Mikey in the kitchen, who was making cups of tea. Mrs. Milford remained looking down upon me until the emergency services arrived.