A middle-aged man, dressed in a cheap suit had reached Carly as she crawled away from the van. A young girl, mid-teens followed behind him. The man reached for Carly's arm.
"You hurt love?" he asked in a hurried East End accent and omitting his H's. "Anythin' broken?"
Carly shook her head. She pointed at the commotion in front, anything to distract them from the van and the arsenal it carried. The man looked in that direction and shook his head in dismay.
"Old lady. I think the poor dear's had it. You the driver?"
Carly felt sick and guilt, and wondered which felt worse. All because of two stupid hoodies, not only was she having the day from hell but a needless death of an innocent party had occured as a result. She couldn't give a damn about the hoodies, but the old lady?
"No." She croaked as she was helped up by the man. She now had to play this carefully. "Two hoodies, one armed I think. Cracked me over the head. I came to ..."
She moved over to the open rear door. "... there was a bang, sounded like one shot the other." she said as she deftly slammed the door with a foot. Carly hoped it would stay shut, it did. The girl raised a hand to her mouth.
"Where are we?" Carly asked.
"Bow Road, love. That van was all over the place it was, hit that old dear head on. There ain't no coming back from that surely. You're lucky. Blimey love, look at your head." He stepped up to her and she turned and pressed her back to the door. The girl also stepped up and tried grabbing her arm.
"Maybe you ought to sit down." the girl offered.
Bow Road. They'd gone some distance, almost cleared central London. These two however helpful they were, they were starting to get on Carly's nerves. Just keep them away from the guns, she thought. I don't care if they see the hoodies.
She pretended to feel a little faint and nodded. She placed a hand on the man's shoulder and let herself be led away from the van. With the traffic halted in both directions, frustrated drivers sounded their horns interspersed with obscenity-laden shouts. Crowds of spectators had formed on the pavements. Store and office workers, general passers-by and drivers standing at their cars all gawping with curious fascination rather than get more involved with helping the small crowd that surrounded the now presumed dead old lady. Carly felt some of the eyes fall on her as she was helped over to the pavement when she started to hear sirens.
"That'll be the police and ambulance." she heard one person mutter.
"Maybe we better check on those hoodies." said the east-ender and he loped back over to the van.
"Want me to stay with you?" the girl asked Carly.
"I'll be okay, you go with him."
The girl followed the man. Carly thought in hindsight that perhaps the girl shouldn't see the mess at the front of the van but that couldn't be helped now as she turned to walk off. A few of the spectators watched her move off but apathetically did nothing and turned back to the commotion. The sirens were getting louder and the traffic was starting to move off again.
Carly winced as she felt the back of her head, a little dried blood matted within her short blonde hair and a bump that felt like it was the size of a golf ball. Bow Road tube station lay ahead, she opted for it and started to hurry herself along. As she approached the station, people leaving it looked down the street to the scene. Carly looked behind her as she entered Bow Road, a few young Japanese, laden down with rucksacks were studying
the tube map, negotiating the colour coded lines with fascination and wonder. Carly fumbled for her Oyster card, got it between finger and thumb and flicked it at the sensor. An audible beep and the gate opened. Carly stepped through and walked down the stairs quickly. She needed to get to Lambeth North which meant
she would take a train to Embankment and change to the Bakerloo line.
At the platform a train was just arriving, Carly smiled in anticipation. Then her hand went back in her pocket. Oyster card, yes that was there. Her heart skipped a beat and her eyes widened.
Where was her mobile phone?
* * * * *
Back at the accident, the man and girl were both retching at the wall. They couldn't hear the mobile phone ringing above the noise of the approaching sirens.