As seen in the last Sergei instalment…
He'd seen the movies. Read thrillers. Been on the New York subway of the pre-zero-tolerance 1980s (while on tour as a fledgling shot-putter for the Moscow Worldwide Comrade Sports Team). But nothing prepared Sergei for the sight of a cold gun-barrel pointing in the region of his third eye.
He stopped dancing, pissed himself and tried to focus somewhere in the middle distance, near the petrol-pump that said 'cards only'. He didn't want to look the robber in the eyes, following the same philosophy that urges you not to lock eyes with a wild dog.
Two things could now happen and here's the first [well, an infinite array of things really, but as a limited author, Steve has selected two. We'll play this like a movie that has an ending and an alternate ending on the DVD reissue.
Now Sergei has recovered from post-traumatic shock, here’s the second ending]:
[Playing in the background: the late BBC Radio DJ Ray Moore singing: ‘O My Father Had a Rabbit’ for charity back in 1986…
Ray Moore: O My Father had a Rabbit and he thought it was a duck so he stuck it on the table with its legs cocked up
Sergei couldn’t avoid the almost touchable smell of the robber’s breath: a mixture of halitosis, stale smoke, Worcester sauce flavoured crisps (coming in waves of tiny belches), over-chewed spearmint gum and garlic. Sergei always had a good sense of smell and taste, for example he knew the difference between red and white wine without even looking at it, quite an achievement where he came from.
The smell drew a picture of the robber as a man, despite the fact that his face was covered by a long woolly hat with eyeholes, [that’s a balaclava, Sergei – but don’t worry, it’s nothing to do with the Crimean War] he was a smoker who ate junk food and failed to clean his teeth in between.
“I said, the contents of your till…” Nothing prepared Sergei for having a gun poked in his face. Because, unlike the cowardly Sergei whose body he usually occupied, this Sergei became a have-a-go hero.
The kind of citizen that you read about in the local papers (and The Sun) either collecting an award from some Mayor – or as an embarrassing school photo due to the fact that their contemporary image has had its head blown off, “…and all the fags you can carry, sunshine.”
“I don’t speak ingliss too well. Pa rooskie,” said Sergei feigning foreigness.
Ray Moore: He mixed a bowl of stuffing and he left it on the shelf…
“A roosky, from Moscock I shouldn’t wonder [that’s a reference to a 1980s Port advert – Cockburns Special Reserve – “…so I come from Moscock?” said the Russian Captain, who mispronounced Cockburns as ‘Cock Burns’ rather than ‘Co Burns’, so assumed that Moscow must be ‘Mos Cock’ in English. The British Captain replied: “Yes, you probably do…” as if everyone in the world should instantly recognise the name Cockburns as Co Burns.] well hand us all yer roubles and cigaretteskies, chum.”
For some reason, this robber’s lexicon scoured the ages, ‘chum’ being a term of endearment from the early to mid 20th Century: for example, “let’s get chummy back in the boat…” in movie depictions of Dunkirk.
“Bert vitch permp doos you needing? Comrade?” maybe Sergei was overdoing it a bit.
Ray Moore: but when he came to stuff the duck the duck had stuffed itself…
And that was the last from Mr Moore as the robber pointed his revolver at the radio and blasted.
“Look man,” said the robber, now aping the swinging ‘60s, “you comprendez vous? [sic] give me the dough!” said the robber.
“Would you like white sliced or brown? We have both…” said Sergei, edging towards the door.
Why was Sergei so determined to be a hero? It’s not as if he cared about the crappy Fuel&FagsCo organisation that employed him.
Who cared if they lost 40,000 fags and a day’s takings? Was it worth getting a bullet through the temple for? Perhaps it was the isolation. Maybe he was going do-lally, putting in so many shifts in the middle-of-nowhere service station to save up enough hard-earned to buy his chip van. Stuck in a place lacking human contact.
“Get away from that door! Get Away!” shouted the robber, making a leap past the black-and-white-chocolate-special-edition Mars Bar stand.
Sergei dived out onto the forecourt of the petrol station and grabbed a pump nozzle.
The robber reached the door and launched himself through, as Sergei lit the end of the nozzle, spraying flames and turning the robber to a charcoal crisp almost instantly.
The robber’s body crumbled onto the barbeque display next to the newspaper stand. By the way, somewhat ironically, the robber’s surname was Crisp.
The whole event had been witnessed by Geoffrey from Rainbow, who’d just arrived in his clean car, a car that contained Duggie, his mate, The cyclist and a pike sloshing around in bucket of water.
“Blimey!” said Geoffrey, stopping next to the diesel pump by mistake.