Henry Maddox runs a corner shop. Open all hours to serve the local community, he sells essential groceries, cigarettes and sweets; children from a local school are regular customers. Two teenage girls arrive too, both, on the cusp of university they torment him remorselessly, turning up to steal cigarettes and sweets before running off and calling him names. When he catches them stealing from the till, he confronts them, offering a stark choice; his brand of punishment or the police! Afterwards, chastened and sore, but as he suspects, still unrepentant, he imagines the torment will continue, especially when one girl returns, alone. He’s in for a big surprise when she reveals why she is there and how, with his help, their lives are about to change forever.
‘Are you in a rush?’ He asked. The girl shook her head.
‘No, my parents are out, besides I often used to go out on Saturday afternoons with Alice, but after my last visit here it really did drive home the importance of changing my behaviour. We’d go shoplifting. Stealing from shops and running away. I’m eighteen Mr Maddox, an adult, I’m not a silly little girl any more. I can vote even, so I need to start acting like an adult, I’m supposed to be mature, that’s why I dropped her as a friend, it’s why I have come to you instead.’ Maddox had only asked a simple question and he’d received a long and detailed reply. At least she wasn’t rushing off.
‘The reason I asked is I normally go upstairs to my flat now, have lunch and then relax for the rest of the afternoon. I wondered if you’d care to join me?’ He asked, hoping she’d agree.
‘I’d like that. I really would.’ Maddox checked one last time that everything was locked up and in a gesture of trust. He asked Katie to empty the till and bring the takings from his opening period with them in a cash box he used for that purpose. They mounted a flight of stairs and soon they entered his small cosy flat.