‘Is he dead?’ I asked.
George didn’t answer. It was a stupid question. I had stood and watched while the shopkeeper’s limbs had thrashed*, while his face had contorted*, while George’s grip had tightened, while the shopkeeper had breathed his last breath and become still…
‘Of course he’s dead,’ said George, standing over the shopkeeper, his legs either side of the body.
I stared. I couldn’t think. The nightmare had taken yet another turn. I was numb. What were we going to do? This man had tried to kill us, and now he was dead, murdered in front of me. It was self-defence. The shopkeeper was a maniac*. Who knows how many other people he had killed. But George had committed a crime. He had made us criminals. There would have to be an investigation. We would have to defend our actions…
I was aware of George moving around the storeroom, looking for something.
‘What are you doing?’ I shouted, rage* suddenly erupting* from me.
George didn’t reply. Head down, he continued to rummage, mumbling to himself.
‘Answer me! What are you doing?’
George stopped and stared at me. ‘It was him or us,’ he said.
‘We should call the police. We can explain. There was a fight; we had to protect ourselves.’
George had a bundle of newspapers in his hands. He dropped them next to the body and began collecting more. He looked at me over his shoulder. I was in shock. I had no idea what he was doing. It was only when he returned with more papers, reached into his pocket and pulled out a lighter that I understood. ‘I’m not explaining anything,’ he said.
The fire was already blazing when I barged* out of the shop.
*thrashed – moved violently
*contorted – moved to form strange shapes
*maniac – madman, lunatic
*rage – anger
*erupting – coming out suddenly
*canister – container
*barging – pushing