With an unblinking* stare, the man walked forward with the knife pointing at me.
‘No, please,’ I pleaded. `I have a wife and a family….’ I thrashed* my legs, aiming kicks towards him, trying to stop him from coming closer.
`Don’t struggle*,’ he said. `I can make it hurt – or not.’
I was desperate. It was a life and death situation. Afterwards, I felt ashamed*, but at the time I meant every word. ‘Kill him! Kill him!’ I shouted and looked at George. ‘He’s got nothing to live for. Don’t kill me. Kill him! I won’t tell. Just let me go!’
The man took one step more then stopped. My heart jumped. ‘He’s got no one,’ I said, almost whispering, ‘No one will miss him. Kill him but not me. Just let me go. You’ll never see me again.’ As I spoke, I glanced at George. His face said that he had heard my betrayal* but was struggling to believe it.
`You should get better friends,’ said the shopkeeper, changing his angle of attack and moving towards George. The knife rose up. I closed my eyes.
Then there was a small cry, the clatter* of steel and a dull* thump.
What had happened? I opened my eyes. The shopkeeper had slipped – or had George tripped him? I didn’t know and it didn’t matter: the shopkeeper had fallen and the knife, unbelievably, had bounced out of his hand was now lying inches from my foot. I curled my left leg, trapped the knife under my shoe and dragged it towards me. As I did so, I glanced at the shopkeeper. He groaned slightly and rolled over in our direction. His eyes, unfocused and blinking, looked around.
I had seconds: get the knife or die.
unblinking* – not opening and closing
thrashed* – moved violently
struggle* – fight against
betrayal* – disloyalty, bad faith, treachery
clatter* – loud noise, especially because hard objects smash together
dull* – not sharp, not distinct