Chapter 4. Retribution
It was on a fateful day, months after the dance at their farm district meeting hall Sheila was shopping on a day off work in a shopping centre in the suburbs. She usually met up with family members in from the country for a day’s shopping and accompanied them as they shopped and shared a meal together, but for some reason the family did not show up at the usual time. She was sitting enjoying a snack and drink when she saw him. It was that obnoxious young ruffian who’d tried to strong arm her at the dance before her brothers had intervened. She shrank down behind people at a table in front hoping he hadn’t seen her and apparently, he hadn’t as when she plucked up courage to turn her head he was nowhere in sight.
Paying the waitress, she moved carefully behind others leaving the café and merged with the crowd outside looking furtively around. She’d get a taxi back to the hospital rather than walk today so headed to the rank continuing to look around her carefully. In the line she felt something sharp digging the small of her back and turned in alarm to see the two ruffians pressing in behind her.
“Not a word out of you Sheila, this is a knife not a fingernail and if you utter one sound you could need a kidney transplant in that fancy hospital of yours. I don’t think you’d enjoy that! Now turn around slowly and act normal. That’s our car over there and you’re coming with us. We’re going to have that dance after all and don’t think your brother is going to get you out of this because my brother is now on the local police force and I’m sure he can find some reason to visit your farm and find some incriminating things there if I ask him to.”
Sheila turned in obedience trying not to draw attention as her body shook with fright. Who would help her anyway? After all she was not one of them! After this day she’d take a few things and head west looking for those of her distant cousins who’d made the trek long ago. The hatred she’d feel after this day was over would prevent her from doing the work she’d loved at the hospital and she’d go where she’d be accepted.
Then a voice she recognized called out, “Sheila I’ve been looking for you, Matron said you’d be here at this shopping centre.”
Sheila turned dully, and the knife penetrated another fraction. “Tell him you’ve got some business to attend to and are going with us.”
But a doctor is trained to watch body language as a patient enters his clinic and what this young doctor saw didn’t quite add up, so he strode over to take a closer look and it was there he saw the arm behind Sheila and two menacing looks meant to send him on his way. At first, he dismissed the possibilities of that hidden arm but went forward to investigate anyway.
“Tell him,” the voice snarled.
Sheila opened her mouth to speak but words would not come. Her eyes pleaded for rescue.
“Why don’t you show me what’s in that hand of yours!” The doctor spoke with an authority Sheila hadn’t heard before in his interaction with patients.
“The lady wants to come with us, she has business to attend so why don’t you mind yours, fancy man.”
The doctor moved in closer and the second ruffian moved in to intercept. “Back off fancy man or you’ll be very sorry!”
The doctor moved in closer and the ruffian raised his fists, but next minute found himself lying in the gutter holding onto his jaw.
“This is your last warning Sheila, tell him to just walk away and leave and it will be easier for you.”
The doctor moved in rapidly. “If you put one mark on that young woman I’ll break every bone in your body.”
“Then my brother will have you charged with assault and you’ll rot in jail.” But the voice was not so confident this time for out the corner of his eye he saw his friend retreating toward the car.
“Run Sheila!” The doctor commanded.
And Sheila did, she ran with all the strength she could muster to a gathering cluster of shoppers wondering what the fight was about. One of them ran for the security guard who called on his radio transmitter for police backup.
And it was at the time when ruffian number one with the knife was picking himself out of the gutter the police arrived. The ruffian laughed unpleasantly.
“Hi brother of mine, this man attacked me and my friend for no reason and I want to make a complaint against him. You can see the condition I’m in and my friend over there was attacked too!”
The police officer sighed, he’d spotted the knife lying in the gutter with his practiced eye. “What have you been up to this time brother, I’m tired of bailing you out and if you were the cause of this you’re going to be the one to face the magistrate!”
The police officer turned to the doctor. “What’s it all about Doctor Frank?”
“Well I don’t know if the young lady over there wants to say anything but from my point of view your brother and I were just having a friendly spar. It’s unfortunate he seems to have tripped.”
The watching crowd applauded. “Well done Doc!” One of them shouted from the crowd.
The Police Officer grunted and turned to his brother motioning to his friend to join them. “Into the wagon, we’ll discuss this at the police station. Then turning to his assistant, “Cuff them!”
“Sorry Doc, you and the young lady will have to come to the station too we need to get to the bottom of this.” He nodded to his assistant, “get witness statements!”
Later at the police station a female police officer photographed the wounds on Sheila’s back and entered their statements in police records.
The doctor smiled as Sheila emerged from the examining room and warily sat beside him.
“I was just visiting the shopping mall to find you and tell you I’ve been assigned to a little town out west.”
“I’m glad for you, are you happy about the assignment? Oh, and thank you so much for rescuing me. It’s going to be a long time before I forget this terrible experience.”
“I also wanted to find out if you’d come with me?”
Sheila turned to study him. “Look I’m really tired after this experience, what exactly are you saying?”
“I’d like to marry you if you feel you could accept my offer. I know going west is not the best thing to offer a woman you want to marry. I’ve been watching you for a long time. You’re smart, your honest, you’re…”
By this time Sheila was fully recovered and listening intently. “Go on, you’re what?”
“Beautiful! Sheila will you marry me?”
“I need to think it over, this is to sudden! You know of course I’m aboriginal?”
“Of course, everyone knows that! OK, how much time does it take for you to think it over?” Doctor Frank was beginning to look apprehensive. Perhaps this was a kind way she was setting him up for an eventual refusal?
Sheila continued to study him. Frank and Sheila Williams. It had a nice ring to it and he was really handsome and reliable.
“I thought it over. Yes, I’ll be the best wife and helper any woman would be for you, I suppose you want me because as a nurse I’d be very useful to you in your important work.”
“You silly, silly woman! I proposed because I love you, not because I want an unpaid helper.” Frank looked disappointed and retreated into his shell.
Sheila stood up in alarm. “Oh! I didn’t mean it that way. I’ll love you, please don’t be disappointed at my reaction, I’ve had a nasty experience and am not thinking straight.”
Dr Frank smiled again. “I think a woman whose been proposed to should let her husband to be hug and kiss her if she accepts.”
Sheila blushed as Frank encircled her in his arms and kissed her in response to her acceptance.
A voice behind them shouted, and they turned to see the police officer taking the two ruffians down the corridor to a holding cell.
Not sure if we should arrest the Doc and nurse for that display in a public building officer. He was nodding to the woman officer settled in behind the desk writing out a case report.
The woman officer giggled. “Let them off with a caution this time chief!”
The police officer roared with laughter as he led his charge down to the cell. “OK you two can go now, congratulations to you both.”
“© Copyright Ian Grice 2018 All rights reserved”
The above image courtesy of shutterstock