Chapter no 32

Anxious People

When the 1rst police siren was heard from the street, the bank robber ran out onto the balcony and peered over the railing. That was how the 1rst blurry mobile phone pictures of “the masked gunman” appeared on the Internet. Then even more police officers appeared.

“Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit,” the bank robber repeated quietly, then ran back inside the apartment, where everyone except for Julia was still lying on the Aoor.

“I can’t lie down any longer because I need to go to the toilet! Or do you want me to do it all over the Aoor?” Julia snapped defensively even though the bank robber showed no sign of saying anything.

“Not that it would make much diPerence,” Zara said, lifting her face from the parquet Aoor in disgust.

Ro, who seemed to have a lot of experience in being yelled at despite not actually having said anything, sat up and patted the bank robber’s leg consolingly.

“Don’t take the fact that Julia’s shouting at you personally. She’s just a bit sensitive, because the baby’s having a disco in her stomach, you know?”

“Personal information, Ro!” Julia roared.

They have a de1nition for what counts as personal, Julia and Ro, even though Julia is the only one who knows what that de1nition is.

“I was actually talking to our bank robber. You only told me not to talk to the other prospective buyers,” Ro said defensively.

“But I’m not really a bank—,” the bank robber began, but was drowned out by Julia.

“Doesn’t make any diPerence, Ro, stop making friends! I know how this ends, they tell you their life story and then you feel bad when we have to outbid

them for the apartment!”

“That happened once,” Ro called after her.

“Thvee times!” Julia said, reaching for the bathroom door.

Ro gestured apologetically to the bank robber: “Julia says I’m the sort of person who refuses to eat 1sh sticks after seeing the dolphins at the sea life center.”

The bank robber nodded understandingly. “My daughters are like that.” Ro smiled. “You’ve got daughters? How old are they?”

The numbers seemed to catch in the bank robber’s throat: “Six and eight.”

Zara cleared her throat and asked: “Are they going to inherit the family business, then?”

Wounded, the bank robber blinked and looked down at the pistol. “I’ve never… done this before. I’m… I’m not a criminal.”

“I certainly hope not, because you really are shockingly bad at it,” Zara declared.

“Why do you have to be so critical?” Ro snapped at her.

“I’m not critical, I’m giving feedback,” Zara said, by way of oPering feedback. “I can’t imagine you’d be that good at robbing people,” Ro said.

“I don’t rob people, I rob banks,” the bank robber interjected.

“And how good are you at that, on a scale of one to ten?” Zara asked. The bank robber looked at her sheepishly. “A two, maybe.”

“Have you even got a plan for how you’re going to get out of here?” Zara asked.

“Stop being so demanding! Criticism doesn’t help anyone improve!” Ro said critically.

Zara studied her intently. “Is this what your personality is like? Are you happy with it?”

“Says you,” Ro began, then the bank robber tried to calm things down.

“Can you just… please? I haven’t got a plan. I need to think. It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.”

“What?” Ro asked.

“Life,” the bank robber sniPed.

Zara took her phone out of her pocket and said: “Okay, let’s call the police and get this sorted out.”

“No! Don’t!” the bank robber said. Zara rolled her eyes.

“What are you scared of? Do you honestly think they don’t know you’re here? You have to call them and tell them how much ransom you want, at least.”

“You can’t call, there’s no signal in here,” Ro said.

“Are we in prison already?” Zara wondered, shaking her phone as if that might help.

Ro stuck her hands in her pockets and said, half to herself: “It’s actually not that bad, because I’ve read that children who grow up not staring at screens are more intelligent. Technology stunts the development of the brain.”

Zara nodded sarcastically.

“Really? Tell me about all the Nobel Prize winners who grew up in Amish communities.”

“I’ve actually read that there’s research that says mobile signals cause cancer,” Ro persisted.

“Yes, but what if it’s an emergency? What if you move in here and your baby chokes on a peanut and dies because you can’t call an ambulance?” Zara said.

“What are you talking about? Where would the baby get the peanut from in the 1rst place?”

“Maybe someone put some through the mail slot during the night.” “Are you really this sick?”

“I’m not the one who wants my baby to choke to death…”

They were interrupted by Julia, who was suddenly standing beside them again.

“What are you arguing about now?”

“She started it! I was trying to be friendly, and that’s not the same as me not wanting to eat 1sh sticks!” Ro snapped defensively, pointing at Zara.

Julia groaned, and looked apologetically at Zara.

“Did Ro tell you about the sea life center? And dolphins aren’t even 1sh.” “What’s that got to do with anything? Anyway, weren’t you going to the


“It was occupied,” Julia said, shrugging.

The bank robber pulled at the ski mask with one hand, then counted the people in the room. Then stammered: “Hang on… what do you mean, occupied?”

“Occupied!” Julia repeated, as if that were going to help.

The bank robber went and tugged at the bathroom door. It was locked. And that was how this turned into a story about a rabbit.

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