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The man in the dentist's waiting room

He was tall and slim in his fifties, reasonably good looking, greying, balding, short hair, altogether unremarkable. His small grey moustache looked slightly out of place in his clean cut appearance.

He walked in quickly, sized up the room and its occupants, and sat down at the far end. Casually but neatly dressed, his newish cords, soft top socks and well shone brogues proclaimed him to be old school, conforming. The black polo shirt was mainly hidden by a smart leather jerkin. He ignored the reading matter on the reception table, his hands periodically giving away his anxiety, moving first to his mouth before rubbing his nose or head. The gold band on his wedding finger looked well worn in contrast with the signet ring on his right little finger. Long, tapering fingers tapped a rhythm on his thigh - a remarkably mobile left little finger tapped on its own, revealing a habit of long standing. The hands were clean and unmarked, the nails short and trimmed - a white collar worker's hands.

The chair creaked a little as he shifted his weight. I smiled over the top of my paper. "Don't like this" he ventured. "I'm having a tooth out. Wish they'd get on with it."

"You seem to be having a long wait."

"My fault. I came an hour too early, so I'll just have to wait. Good thing I've got nothing else on today." The voice was everyday, with clear diction, nothing to distinguish from lots of others.

He chewed his lip. "It's a baby tooth. Shouldn't be there, but never bothered me till now. It's coming loose. Not looking forward to this at all." The fidgetting increased, and some minutes passed.

"Mr. Vernon, come through now." The receptionist filled the doorway. A weak smile and he was gone.

Ten minutes passed. "Goodbye Mr. Vernon, that should be OK now. You've got your extraction pack, have you?"

Rapid footsteps approached the reception desk. A swift transaction, and he was gone.

Mrs. Brown, the elderly lady I was accompanying, came out from her extraction and we left. As we emerged on to the pavement, there was a sudden flurry, my charge fell to the ground, fortunately unhurt, and a young hoodie ran off down the road with her handbag. "Oh, oh, oh, my bag!" yelled Mrs. Brown. Simultaneously, a blurred figure shot past us, gaining ground on the thief at an incomprehensible rate. A hand shot out and grabbed a shoulder. "Police. You're under arrest. Aggravated theft and possible GBH. You do not have to say anything..... "

The youth wriggled, trying to lose his jacket. Immediately, his arm was wrested behind his back in a firm arm lock. "Watch it lad, or it'll be resisting arrest too".

The voice oozed authority, offering no choice. Cuffs appeared out of nowhere and were swiftly applied. What was this? I'd heard that voice before - the man in the waiting room!

Gone was the anxiety, the worrying, the deference. "Right lad, face that wall and don't move. We'll get some backup." He spoke quickly and confidently into a mobile phone.

He turned to face us.

By then, I had helped Mrs. Brown to her feet and she leaned against the wall, looking a little pale. "Are you hurt Madam? Can I call some assistance for you?" "No thank you" was the stoic reply "I'm just a bit shaken, and I need my bag back."

He demurred "If you're sure you're OK madam, it would be very helpful if would accompany us to the police station, and make a statement. We'll discuss pressing charges against this young man."

Well, what do you know? An off-duty police officer. More was to come. Blue lights flashed and a Police car pulled up alongside. A burly sergeant came over. "This him Sir?" "Yes sergeant, get him down to the nick pronto please." "Yes sir."

Sir? No ordinary police constable then. Must be an Inspector at least. You just can't judge by appearances, can you!

By Jan Stirling of Formby Writers

Photo credit to google images

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