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Ravensklip Armed Robbery At A Restaurant
“Good grief, man, you are as jumpy as anything! What's wrong? What
has happened? Is Lilly and Beatrice OK?” Thomas fired away
questions to his obviously badly shaken and distraught
“No they are fine, the problem is me and what happened to me on Sunday night at that f fucking restaurant”, stammered Leonard, almost incoherently.
He was unable to light his cigarette, his arm and hand shook that uncontrollably his eyes darted around him, his rigid back firmly pressed into the chair., which was wedged tightly in the corner. Thomas quietly lit him a cigarette and passed it across to him, signaled his waiter that he wanted two cups of coffee. “Would you like to talk about it? Or have you actually filched the nights takings and are now going to do duck? If so do you need a lift to the airport?”
“We were just about ready to start with the locking procedures on Sunday night. The last customers had paid their bills and the waitresses had all cashed in and had just left There were five customers finishing off their drinks in the bar, the largest of them got up went into the gents, they had had a meal earlier and had moved up there for a cigarette after settling their bill. The kitchen staff had started to come through to leave”. Leonard, whose speech was normally clear and modulated, spurted this all out, in stutters, stammers, and half mumbled words.
Interrupted by the waiter bringing them their coffee, and clearing up the spills from overturned coffee cup, Leonard again jumped and pulled himself back , pressed himself into the corner like a caged animal, a startled wild-eyed look, shook uncontrollably, nearly burnt his mustache as he yet again he tried to light a cigarette. Thomas handed him another lit one, quickly waved the waiter away, so once again they were alone.
Leonard continued ”Nick, the owner opened the security gates and the front door so that the kitchen staff could leave, then closed the security gates. The four customers stood up and moved towards the security gates and the one in the gents was coming out, and stopped and spoke to Nick. I then started to check tall the restaurant windows were secure and drew the curtains across them, Anton had gone up the stairs to the kitchen. I heard the security gates slam, turned around to see what happened." He paused and slopped and sipped some of the coffee, in which Thomas had added another couple of spoons of sugar, accepted another lit cigarette" As I turned that big fckerr was standing there with his legs slightly apart, a f*cking gun in his hand, he slowly raised his hand placed his other hand on the barrel in a smooth movement slid back the slide , with loadest double click you can imagine, the barrel was a matter of inches away from my head, all could see was that the gun was not new, it was a tool , a f*ucking tool, I do not know how I managed to control myself, my guts felt like water., I was frozen to the spot and out of the corner of my eye watched as one of the other robbers pistol whipped Nick with the barrel across his cheek. My tormentor ordered me to take off my jacket, very slowly and lay it on one of the dining tables, which I very slowly did, my heart, pounded away in my throat ". Very slowly I acceded to his demand.” A violent tremor shook his body as he described the events. His voice stammered incoherently at times.
Thomas did not interrupt Leonard’s story signaled for more coffee and gave him another cigarette, which Leonard took shakily in hand.
“Thanks. He forced me down onto the floor my watch was pulled off my wrist. My cellphone was ripped out of my top shirt pocket ripped the bloody shirt. Kiccked me on the side of my ribs, pulled out the wallet from pants pocket after that frisked me to see if I did not have a weapon. Satisfied he dragged me effortlessly to my feet and pushed me to the office, the gun against the back of neck.” said Leonard, with a shudder, as he rubbed the back of his neck, managed to take a sip of coffee without spilling.
“Nick and Anton were already there, Anton trussed up and forced onto his side face towards the wall. Nick standing behind his desk arms bound behind his back with blood on his pasty grey face, his lips were blue, I thought that he was going to have a heart-attack. They forced my hands behind my back, ripped the cord from the telephone, and used the flex to tie me upyjey tied my hands behind my back and my ankles together.”
“They demanded that Nick hand over the money, they said that they knew he had a safe at his girlfriends townhouse and they were taking him there. If they did not get the money, they would come back and shoot both Anton and me! Damn it Thomas they knew to bloody much about Nick! It was scary. They half dragged half frog marched Nick out the cramped office slammed me aside which forced me to my knees, in the process, they shoved me on the side of the wall behind the door. Then left.”
“I quietly asked Anton if he was all right. Not really wanting to know, as I was to wrapped up in my own desperate panic, I frantically tried to remember ‘The Lords Prayer’, all that would come out was the start of my grace! I then tried Psalm 23”. Tried and tried as I could, I could not remember either of them I was that bloody scared and frantic. As I was certain that this was my last twenty minutes of life, because I knew that Nick would not part with the contents of his safe at home.”
“While still battling to quietly say either the prayer or the psalm and controlling my bowel, the door was violently opened and slammed into my hip. They shoved Nick into the room bumped roughly past me pushed Nick to the ground and left us”.
“I heard sounds of them moving around, bottles clinking, fridge doors being violently slammed, followed by a deadly silence. Footsteps moved down the passage towards the door to the office, I braced my feet against the door and pushed with all my might. I heard the key being inserted into the lock and harsh click as it slotted home, they had locked us in. The footsteps moved away, muffled voices in the background then silence. I was still straining to press against the door, my back and thighs trembled from the effort. Minutes passed slowly and then it dawned on us that they had left us, alive. We managed to undo our restraints. Nick pushed the hidden remote panic button, waited for the Security Company to arrive with the police.”
“The police arrived and we had to make statements and wait while the CID came out, a quick stock check taken to ascertain preliminary losses. My leather jacket with wallet house and car keys, my digital camera and cigarettes as well as my Zippo lighter had also been removed from the table were I was forced to remove it.”
“Tried to get through on the telephone, so that I could get Lilly to bring through the spare keys, the damn thing was engaged, as Lilly was busy on the internet in that support group for Alzheimer’s. Anton borrowed his brother’s car and gave me lift home. It was nearly two in the morning when I was dropped at home, Lilly was still chatting away to some bloke in the UK who also lived with an Alzheimer parent. I never felt so alone and scared.” Leonard admitted.
Thomas had sat quietly throughout the narrative, his hand on Leonard’s shoulder, offering him human contact and comfort, as well as a constant supply of coffee and cigarette’s. Not much else could he do or say.
“Monday morning went to work and felt OK, slightly shaky, but otherwise ok. Nick was busy working out the actual losses, contacted his insurers, and arranged to replenish the missing stock. Anton arrived and started to rehash the events of the whole evening.
The early afternoon bar crowd arrived as with any other normal day, only with the added excitement of the previous nights real life drama. Nick and Anton repeated the events to the regulars several times during the early afternoon.
At round about five that evening, one of our very regular patrons jokingly said to me that I was fortunate not to have been at work that night. I showed him the scratch marks on my wrist and fingers were they forcibly removed my watch and ring. He was amazed, as the way the story had been narrated to him, I was not in the picture at all, only Nick and Anton were victims.” “That really f*cking well pissed me off” sobbed Leonard, “as Anton had not even had anything taken from him , had did not have a scratch on him, as for Nick, except the days takings and some stock, the pistol whip was so light that it had hardly left much in the way off a bruise, just a slight scratch! Where as I had lost presents as well as a fair amount of personal cash.” Stated Leonard rather emotionally.
"The rest of evening went through ok, and when we were ready to lock up, Nick phoned the Security Company who dispatched two armed guards, who remained on the premises with us while we locked up”.
“I drove home constantly watched my rear view mirror and changed lanes, going into side streets, stopping with my lights off to make sure I was not tailed.
Nick on the other hand, had an escort with two Security vehicles, as for Anton, had got himself dropped off by Nick on his way home, small detour of some 7 kilometers. " I can assure you! I felt like some sort of second class citizen” said Leonard, and he managed to light a cigarette, he inhaled deeply.
“Once home, Lilly briefly interrupted her chat, gave me a brief hug and a smile, returned to her PC chum. I went to bed and could not sleep, I replayed the events in my mind for about the thirtieth time. Wondering what transpired while Nick was alone with the robbers, why had they left Anton unsearched, why had they stripped me of so much and why did I not get any support or solace at home. I felt paranoid I can assure you Thomas."said Leonard with a sad heavy sigh.
“This morning, arrived at work an hour earlier, and as I pulled into the parking ground , I was positive that I saw one those “robbers” leave the restaurant. parked the car, went into a complete funk, shook, trembled and broke out into a sweat, once I caught my breath and slowed down my breathing. I went in and told Nick that I needed to see my doctor> I needed him to complete the Workman’s Compensation form, as this was an injury on duty. He replied that they did not have us covered that I would have to claim off my own Medical Aid.".
"I was livid, so I went directly to my GP who booked me off for ten days. I phoned Nick told him the doc’s prognosis. His response, was that I was taking time off for nothing and did not consider nor have any respect for him and his business. He thought I was being melodramatic and would not be paid for the period I was off.” said Leanord.
“Would you come over to my house and change all the locks for me tomorrow” requested Leonard.
Thomas assured him he would do so, first thing in the morning.
Leonard relaxed a bit and thanked Thomas for being such a great friend, picked up their coffee tab. Told Thomas that he felt better getting things off his chest and would see him tomorrow. He made his departure. Firstly to the chemist who filled his script for him and then off home.
Thomas checked his watch, now mindful of his daily commitments. He stretched and rotated his shoulders to relieve the pull of this muscles as he had to hunch up pretty close to Leonard so that he could hear what was being said. He pondered over Leonard’s state of health and why naturally why Lilly had not mentioned anything about what had happened. Then finally that parting comment, which had then left him feeling uncomfortable.
He activated his cellphone, which he had quietly switched off during his long one sided conversation with Leonard; there were two SMS’s which had come through. The first was from Natalie, who had invited them for supper at seven thirty, as Bernard had returned from the Italian conference.
The second was from Ann to remind him that she was having her hair done after work and would be late. Thomas immediately phoned her to tell her about the change in their plans for the night, so that she could change her hair appointment for the following day, which she was happy to do. By now she had become accustomed to going with the flow and hardly ever made totally firm appointments. They both knew that there was always the chance that something would occur that would and indeed often required a three sixty degree change.
He sent Ann a SMS, to confirm that supper arrangements it suited them, as well as hoping that Bernard would have recovered from his jet lag by then. They all knew that, as Bernard spent a fair proportion of his working life in the air, either locally or internationally, he had grown accustomed to that aspect of flying. As the owner of a reputed Security Consulting Company, he was involved with many special interest groups and often attended Trade shows; that he also served on various sub committees as a security adviser, maintained close liaison with various government departments.
Thomas sat at the table, which by now been cleaned and tidied, the coffee slops and cigarette ash removed all traces of Leonard is extreme agitation. Would that it this would be possible to do so for Leoanard so easily thought Thomas, now with a fresh cup of coffee in front of him, he mulled over the events that had just been told to him
Thomas,having been involved in the food industry for so many years as a consultant, was well aware of the reputation of a large number of restaurants in and around the Witwatersrand. This particular establishment in which Leonard worked had an unusually large turnover in Managers and assistant managers. The past year had seen somewhere near nine changes in management, one of which had actually locked up , disappeared with the payday Saturdays takings. With that in mind, Thomas could understand what had annoyed Leonard, about Nick’s attitude and strange behavior. Leonard, was in all likely hood on his way out, as he had been there for close on nine months, a long service award at that establishment, also the current flavor of the month for Nick’s month would only be around for another six or seven months or.
Thomas picked up his camera, left the coffee shop, climbed into his car, exited the boulevard, off to pick up the twins.