Fair is Fair
The walk to work is a brisk one — two blocks north, a left, four blocks, past the flashy new fire station, another block, and finally a right turn onto Crawley Lane. The old bank has been standing for well over one hundred years now, and no talks of refurbishment have ever been considered. Although the bricks are weathered and the slate roof struggles against the powerful winds of the Welsh west coast, the four-storey building stands tall and proud at the end of the lane. Magnificently built and structurally sound, there is no wonder it houses some of Wales’ richest citizens’ treasures.
As I approached the entrance, a tall, burly Senegalese man took subtle step over the doorway, blocking my passage. I looked up to his face, which stood approximately six feet and seven inches above the ground, and I was greeted with a wide toothy grin.
“Y’alright, Owen?” he asked in his confusing Welsh-Senegalese accent. “Lovely mornin’. Had yer coffee yet?”
As the man spoke, I looked around. It was a miserable, grey, rainy Tuesday — lovely for a Welshman.
“Tis a nice day, isn’t it?” I replied. “And no, haven’t had my coffee yet. Better get to it. See you this afternoon then, Samba.”
And with that, he stepped aside, still smiling, and I tapped my pass onto the scanner to let myself in. Ousmané Tito Babacar, known to the lads in the bank as ‘Samba’ (for no particular reason) was a friendly bloke, but if I hadn’t known who he was when approaching me at the door, I sure would have been worried. Head bodyguard for the wealthiest bank in all of Wales, Big Samba was not someone you wanted to be on the wrong side of.
Walking into the lavishly-decorated area on the ground floor, I made a beeline for the little café standing close to the elevator. I smiled at the waitress, Keira, and ordered my usual coffee, a long black with half a sugar. Two minutes later, and I was in the lift heading up to the top floor. As I stepped out of the lift, the cool breeze of the air conditioners hit me like a ton of bricks. The receptionists must have left them on high again overnight. I pulled the long collar of my overcoat tight around my mouth and nose, providing a barrier against the cold air. I walked over to my desk in the neighbouring office, which, thankfully, didn’t have the air con on at all.
I organized my papers, opened up my laptop and hung up my coat on the hanger provided on the back of the door. I straightened up the new name tag on my desk: ‘Owen Davies, Head, Office Management’. It always somehow managed to be slightly crooked. I decided it was time to have something to eat. I wandered back down the hall to the elevator, and caught it back down to the ground floor.
Grabbing my usual croissant with raspberry jam from the café, I was beginning to turn back around to the lifts when I noticed strange man lurking outside the back of the building, around where the vaults are located. I think he saw me staring at him from fifty metres away, as he slowly stepped back into the adjacent laneway. Something wasn’t right: I could feel it in my gut. I walked to the entrance and alerted Samba, who said that he and his guards hadn’t noticed a think. I took his word for it, more to keep myself calm than anything else, and headed back inside towards the elevator shafts.
All of a sudden, a deafening blast sounded and the whole building rocked. I hit the floor hard with the shock of the sudden unexpected boom, the croissant flying a good ten metres from my hand. I glanced outside and saw two heavily-armoured trucks pulling up outside the vaults. I knew immediately what was happening — a break into the wealthiest bank in Wales. I saw the man again, barking orders at the men in the vans while numerous other figures piled the cans with the bank’s money. He saw me, too, but this time he held my gaze and a nasty grin flashed across his face in a triumphant look. In a high state of panic, I glanced over to see Samba and his guards rushing towards the scene, guns loaded and raised at the criminals. I scrambled to my feet and bolted out the exit, eager but afraid to see what was about to happen.
I crouched behind a telephone booth about fifty metres away from the showdown. Samba and his guards were still rushing over as the trucks were locked up and the drivers started to pull away. Shots were fired by both parties, and a stray bullet nicked the tyre of one van, causing it to lose control and smash into the accompanying vehicle. As the guards ran over, someone tossed a small hand grenade from the van. It bounced twice before exploding in a deafening loud and bright eruption. I shielded my eyes, and uncovered them only to see a horrifying mess of dead guards and criminals. Samba was among those lying motionless on the ground. Police arrived swiftly and arrested the surviving criminals, while paramedics helped those of the guards who seemed most severely injured. Samba was covered with a blanket and shielded from the public eye — he was gone.
I still could not believe what had just happened, all in the space of about three minutes. As the police and paramedics were finishing clearing the scene, I rushed over, impatient to tell them everything I had witnessed.
“Thank you for your cooperation, Mr Davies,” the senior officer said as I completed my account. “If not for the brave action of these guards, billions of dollars would have been lost and many more lives probably taken.”
I nodded gravely. Among the lives lost was that of Big Samba, someone I had considered a friend.
“Please do your best to bring the offenders to justice, not just for the sake of the community, but also to honour and respect the lives of these guards who carried out their jobs so selflessly,” I exclaimed, somewhat emotionally.
The officer acknowledged what I said with a firm hand on my shoulder.
“I pledge every effort will be made. Their deaths will be punished.”
He thanked me again for my cooperation. And with that, he was gone.