A Memorable Encounter
by Chloe Liang (P5 2020)
It was a hot and lazy afternoon that one did not look forward to, and one would not expect anything out of the ordinary to happen, but I could not have been more wrong.
It was a day when the sun was raised high up in the sky, its bright burnished rays beating down on people as they walked sluggishly. I crooned softly to myself while my light footsteps hastened down the dark, dimly lit corridor, unusually quiet at that time of the day. I made my way to a bakery across the street that sold my favourite buttered pastries while on my way home from English tuition. The coins in my pocket jingled as I strutted my way to the bakery. Checking the time, I grumbled slightly. The pastries that were at the bakery were usually baked at around four o’clock by the owner, Mdm Tan. She always ensured that all orders for her famous cookies and pies were met. It was only half past three – only half an hour before I could buy my favourite buttered pastries.
Unexpectedly, I heard a commotion at a nearby jewellery shop. Curiously, I strained my ears and listened intently, hoping to catch some sounds of what was happening.
“Give me this! And this!” a menacing voice suddenly boomed from the jewellery shop that was just a couple of shops away from Mdm Tan’s bakery. A robbery! As quick as lightning, I crept up silently to the corner of the glass door in front of the jewellery shop and peered inside.
As my eyes searched intently for the robber, I caught a glimpse of someone wearing a short-sleeved shirt with floral prints, threateningly brandishing a black, dangerous-looking gun at a panic-stricken, young male assistant in the shop, demanding pieces of jewellery from him in a thunderous voice, full of ire and threats. Even with a woman’s stocking pulled over his head, the robber appeared aggressive.
I sunk quietly behind the wall and tried to stay as low as possible. Thanks to my small build, the robber failed to spot me. Near the counter were a female store assistant and another lady, who looked like a customer. “Where was the security guard who usually stood at the front door?” I thought silently to myself.
The jewellery store was unluckily tucked away in a quiet corner of the alley, where there was not much human traffic, especially not at the time of the day. To pray that someone would see the robbery was just futile. Troubling thoughts shot through my mind as I considered the few options available. One: I could quickly inform the police and wait for their arrival, save the day, hostages and prevent the loss of jewellery, merchandise, and cash. Two: I could brush the dust off my feet and amble away, forgetting that I had seen any of this and pray that none of the people would come to harm. I considered both options carefully and chose the former. After all, it was the right thing to do. Crime must not prevail!
With my mobile phone in hand, I called the police hotline and breathlessly communicated what was happening before my eyes in hushed tones. The police operator on the line responded immediately with a curt reply that they would arrive in less than five minutes, advising me not to engage the robber in combat, armed or otherwise and if possible, to snap pictures of the robber with the camera on my mobile phone.
The robber gasped breathlessly as his eyes widened excitedly and shone gleefully at the sight of the glittering gold and wads of notes taken out by the petrified sales assistant with hands that quivered and shook tremulously. Unzipping an old leather bag, the robber swiftly swept the valuables into it with a grimy-looking hand.
Shaking with fear, the sales assistant handed the gloating robber all the jewellery from the clear glass case and the money from a cash box. Shivering timorously, the sales assistant had beads of perspiration forming on his forehead. I felt my own hands and realized that they were wet and clammy. Huddled together and shivering in a corner, the three hostages had their hands behind their heads as they looked at the robber in terror. The robber continued to scour the shop, ordering the male store assistant to unlock drawers and a safe. The male assistant pulled them out and ferreted around for more money and expensive jewellery in them.
Out of sheer greed in filing his old leather bag with more jewellery even though there was barely any money left in the cash register in the store, the gluttonous robber’s escape was delayed. It was clear that the sin of human avarice was to be his undoing, I thought with glee and satisfaction.
In what seemed like only a few seconds, the police patrol car arrived in a covert stealth operation to apprehend the robber. Four burly armed police officers spilled out of the car and dashed swiftly into the jewellery shop without any time lost, but not before casting their eyes upon me and giving me the thumbs-up sign. At the sight of four police officers, the robber knew his time was up and surrendered immediately. The hostages were freed.
I gave a detailed account of what I had seen and done while averting the robber’s wrathful gaze. He was handcuffed by one of the burly officers while the other police officers took down notes furiously. The female store assistant reported to us that the security guard, who usually guard at the front door, was ill, which was why he had not shown up for work. Another guard was supposed to take his place, but his arrival was unfortunately delayed, which ended up being the opportune time for the robber to strike. One of the police officers suspected that the robber had been keeping his eye on the jewellery store and its rather ill-situated location for some time.
As the robber was led into the police car, one of the police officers praised me for my quick-thinking and informing the police and waiting for their arrival when I could have pretended not to see the robbery and walked away from the crime scene. Waving my hand dismissively in the air and giving a rather embarrassed chuckle, I heaved a big sigh of relief.