Short Story: Janie on the Run

Janie on the Run

Janie was very beautiful; long raven hair, big hazel eyes and a pretty smile. But she very rarely smiled; Janie had a very dark past that she was running away from.

One year ago exactly

Janie stood in the middle of the commotion wondering how she would ever escape what she had just witnessed. Steve did the very thing that he promised he wouldn’t but that she always suspected. He shot a man dead in the eye in Market Square. Only this time there were witnesses and she was one of them. Steve looked at Janie and charged at her trying to grab her. Janie ran as fast as she could getting lost in the crowd. Janie wondered around the streets for a while wondering where to go. It was nearing late afternoon and she wanted to be headed somewhere before it got too late. Just as Janie rounded the corner a bus came around and she put out her hand for it to stop. She used the last of her change to pay her fare and sat at the back of the bus contemplating where she was going to stay for tonight, where she was going to live, whether Steve would find her, what Steve was doing at this very moment. After what felt like an age the bus came to a complete stop at the terminus so she had to get off. Janie didn’t know where she was exactly but knew that she had arrived in a neighbourhood that was quite rough. Though she was quite street smart and could handle herself, she was still alone and had to find shelter and fast. As she walked along the cobble road she could see a rowdy gang yonder which she tried to avoid. She carried on walking past thankful that they didn’t approach her. To her right Janie saw a wrought iron gate and slid through it. Just at the moment out of her peripheral she saw Steve. How on Earth had he found Janie; he must have been following her, Shit! She hurried down the courtyard and slid into a wooden gate that was ajar and seemed to lead into the back of a shop; a barber shop to be more precise. There were a couple of customers in the shop and the barber, who asked “Can I help you young miss?” Janie burst into tears. The barber, Chris, led her into the back and made her a cup of tea which made her feel slightly better until she realised the magnitude of the situation and burst into tears again. Once the barber had shut up shop he offered to let her stay in the spare room until the morning.

Janie had a rough sleep that night tossing and turning and experiencing flashbacks of the horror from the night before. The way Steve had shot that man, how the man crumpled like a sack of shit, the look in Steve’s eye when he clocked that Janie had saw him. His eyes were black, dead. How had she not noticed that before. How could she love a man like that. Did she still love him? She honestly didn’t know. What kind of fool would love a murderer? How many people had he killed? Who was the real Steve? Chris the owner of the barber shop woke Janie rather early with breakfast and another cup of tea. She was actually getting to like Chris though she barely knew him. Chris was quite an old guy and he reminded Janie of her late granddad who died when she was 12 years old. Maybe that’s why she felt she could confide in him. What on Earth was she thinking telling Chris what had happened in the last 24 hours,? that she was a witness to a murder? But for some reason she felt that she could trust him. While Chris worked downstairs, Janie spent the day upstairs pottering around and observing out the tiny window. Maybe the neighbourhood wasn’t that bad after all. There were people hanging around the streets but they didn’t seem to be particularly causing any trouble they were just a little rowdy. Maybe there was not much to do around here… Whenever the shop was empty Chris would come in and check on her. Janie spent much of the day contemplating her next move. She didn’t want to take advantage of Chris and she needed a place to stay more permanently. Neither she nor Chris had mentioned what she would do tonight even after he had shut up shop. He offered to make her dinner so Janie casually asked if there were any hotels or lodges in the area. Chris looked slightly offended and said that she could stay as long as she wanted, as long as she helped out with running the barber shop and the flat upstairs.
So Janie settled in living above the barber shop. Although she had found out a couple of days later after that tragic night that Steve had been arrested and awaiting trial, she still felt scared. She never left the shop, she never left the courtyard. It was only several months later when she heard on the local radio that Steve had been sentenced to a jail sentence that she finally plucked up the courage to leave the courtyard. She even started chatting to the locals who came to the shop. They all loved Janie for she was a very beautiful young woman, inside and out. And although she felt OK about her new situation it always ate at her that she a witness to a crime. She felt like a bad person. A good person would’ve gone to the police, surely? But she just couldn’t, she was simply too scared. Too scared that he would still come looking for her.

Then she met somebody who changed her live. She didn’t know it yet, she didn’t even know his name. He was a new customer in the barber shop. She spotted him when she was in the small kitchen downstairs. He turned around, saw her through the string curtain in the doorway separating the back from the shop, and smiled at her. Janie was quite a shy woman and immediately fled back upstairs. He was a good looking guy, mousy brown wavy hair, medium build and a cute smile. Janie wondered why he had smiled at her the way he had. After an hour Janie went back downstairs, mainly because she was still in dire need of a cuppa (since the incident Janie was always rather tired.) [as she always seemed tired since the incident]. The man was still there. She told herself to get a grip and put the kettle on. As she waited for the kettle to boil the guy popped his head through the string curtain in the doorway. She told herself to smile at him but she couldn’t quite make it. Something about him made her feel star struck. “Hi” he said with a smile. “My name’s Tyler, nice to meet you.” At which point he put his hand out for her to shake. She froze and he immediately felt embarrassed so he just put his hand in his pocket to disguise his hand being stuck in mid-air. He tried to make conversation with Janie: “I haven’t seen you here before, do you work here?” Do I work here? Sort of, I’m on the run. Lacking though her social skills were, she knew she couldn’t say that to a complete and utter stranger. So she just nodded. Followed by a long and awkward pause, Janie wishing the kettle would just bloody boil already and Tyler wondering how he can ask her out without looking like a twat, so he broke the silence: “If you’re new around here maybe I can show you around, take you out sometime?”. “I can’t” replied Janie. “Oh, I’m sorry, are you seeing someone?” asked Tyler. “No, I just can’t” responded Janie turning her back on Tyler/him as she said it. Tyler said bye and left the shop rather quickly. Shit I scared him away. What is wrong with me? Janie felt really upset by her behaviour and cried for the rest of the evening. And she forgot to make her cuppa after all that.

Over the next few weeks Janie stayed upstairs as much as she could looking out the window hoping that she would spot Tyler and casually try to have a normal conversation with him. But she never saw him. She asked Chris about him but he said he was a new customer but from what he could gather, Tyler lives on the outskirts of the neighbourhood.

Then the day she had been waiting for finally came; Tyler came into the shop. She casually made her way downstairs to the kitchen. Through the string curtain she looked at him. Well more like stared. Tyler felt Janie staring at him so he turned to look at her then smiled and nodded at her whilst he did so. Janie managed to smile back this time. She pretended to busy herself in the kitchen until he popped his head through the string curtain for a second time. Janie promised herself that she would talk to him this time. “Hi” she said. Great conversation skills. “Hello” replied Tyler. “I’m sorry if I came on too strong last time. I just think that you’re very beautiful. Have you thought any more about my offer?” Janie still didn’t feel very confident going out. Especially when it was particularly busy or dark. It always reminded her of that night. “I can’t go out” stated Janie. Way to go. Janie was a hot mess. “Ohh Kaayyy” Tyler slowly said. “How about a picnic, here indoors. Friday afternoon?” Janie could only nod in shock and as Tyler left the barber shop, Janie genuinely smiled for what felt like years.

Friday came around fast and the date went very well. Tyler was already in love with Janie, even though she was damaged goods. She hadn’t told Tyler the whole truth about her past only that she was running away from something but he could sense that she was in pain. He didn’t want to pressure her, he just wanted to care for her and make her happy. He did make her happy. She felt happy when she kissed Tyler for the first time that Friday afternoon and she felt happy when he told her he loved her only a couple of weeks later. She felt even happier when Tyler said that his work would take him abroad and asked her to come with him to live in America.

Before they left for the US she told him the truth about her past and what she had been running away from. Tyler was very supportive and as they flew away from England Janie finally let go of her past. She didn’t have to run away anymore.

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