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Warning: Mrs Abercrombie May Be Armed and Dangerous
by Dave Ludford

What should have been another dull, routine day for Ethel Abercrombie escalated into a nightmare that began when she burned an iron-shaped hole in a pair of her late husband’s trousers. Ironing was a chore she’d always hated, and welcomed therefore the distraction of the ringing of her front doorbell. Absentmindedly she walked from the kitchen to the hallway, leaving the iron to smoulder away on the aforementioned garment which, along with several other items, had been destined for one of Chapeltown’s charity shops.

It was while paying the milkman- her caller- that she smelled burning. Suddenly alert, she dashed back to the kitchen as fast as her arthritic, aged legs could carry her.

“Sod it!” she shouted, snatching up the offending implement.

“Everything OK Mrs A?” the milkman enquired.

“No, it bloody well isn’t” she retorted. Then, contritely: “Sorry, Arthur. I shouldn’t take my frustration out on you.”

“That’s OK. No offence taken.”

Mrs Abercrombie picked the trousers up from the ironing board and returned to the front door, where she held them up for the milkman to inspect.

“Look, Arthur, they’re ruined. I can’t take these to the charity shop.”

Arthur tried hard to stifle a fit of giggles, and failed. Mrs Abercrombie soon joined him.

“I’d like to put my clumsiness and general ineptitude down to my age,” she said after her giggles had subsided. “But I’ve always been like it. Drove poor Malcolm mad.”

“Now don’t upset yourself Mrs A. Anyway, I’m sure there’s plenty of other good stuff. Are you heading into town with it this morning?”

“Yes, that was the plan. It’s bagged and ready to go.”

“Fancy a lift? I’ll drive you down in my van if you like.”

“Thanks, Arthur. That would be wonderful.”


Mrs Abercrombie came out of the Second Chance charity shop and walked towards the black BMW parked in front of the bank, engine running. Opening the back door, she sat down, gently shut the door and said to the totally bemused driver, who had turned round in his seat to regard her:

“Orpington Gardens, please. Number 57.”

“Lady, this isn’t…”

He was cut short when two men, wearing Mickey Mouse masks, dashed from the bank’s front entrance and jumped into the back of the car next to Mrs Abercrombie.

“Who the fuck are you?” one of them demanded of her. Without waiting for an answer, he looked up at the driver and shouted: “Step on it, Brian. Go!”

Brian duly obliged, and the car pulled away with a loud screech and headed at considerably dangerous speed up the high street. The man who hadn’t spoken yet said:

“Barry asked you a question, lady. Who are you and what the fuck are you doing in our car?”

“Your car? Well that’s rich. This is my taxi. I was here first. And I would ask you to modify your language and show some respect to a lady. Furthermore, why are you wearing those ridiculous disguises?”

“Sorry, missus,” the man replied, somewhat ashamed. “But this ain’t no taxi, it’s our getaway car.”

“Getaway car? But…”

Cold realisation dawned on Mrs Abercrombie.

“Me, Bazzer and Brian was robbing that bank,” he continued. “Only…it all went wrong. The cashiers laughed at our plastic water pistols and raised the alarm. We came away with nothing. Just our bloody luck.”

And just my luck to have mistaken a getaway car for a taxi and be on the run with three desperados, two of them dressed as Mickey Mouse, Mrs Abercrombie thought. She sighed heavily and sank her head on her chest, closing her eyes. This day is rapidly turning into a nightmare, she further thought. Why me? Oh, what a damn mess!

“Look, lady, we don’t mean you no ‘arm. We’ll drop you off at the roundabout up ahead. You’ll have to get the bus from there. There’s a number 6 due that’ll take you right down Orpington Gardens,” said Brian. Mrs Abercrombie opened her eyes and looked up.

“Thanks. However, may I suggest that you all seriously consider a radical change of career?”

The three villains nodded their heads in reluctant agreement.


The Chapeltown Evening Gazette contained a front page leader detailing an attempted armed robbery at the town’s National Bank earlier that afternoon. Mrs Abercrombie stared in disbelief at the accompanying photograph, a still taken from the bank’s exterior CCTV. For there, staring right back at her, was her own face, along with two others disguised as Mickey Mouse. She sighed heavily once more, sank her head on her chest, and closed her eyes. This time she added a disbelieving, slow shaking of her head.

In the distance, she could hear the rapidly approaching scream of a police car’s siren.