Incident on Putney Bridge


(700 words)

Impressive! A glance at his TomTom runner’s watch showed it had taken him just fifteen minutes to reach the kiosk. Smiling inwardly, he anticipated uploading the GPS data to Strava, and satisfaction at the thought of his running mate, Eric’s, face when he saw it. Ha! Who’s the better runner now?
It was early, just gone 7.30 a.m., the pavements of the City of London still sparsely populated. Suited young men and women scurried to offices like robots, perhaps hoping to arrive early enough to impress their bosses.
Towering buildings, beacons of opulence, homes to banking headquarters and financial institutions, dominated the area. Within their hallowed myriad offices, computers communicated thousands of impenetrable transactions a second with similar institutions in unimaginable places.
The sun was bright, the air fresh and Orlando felt good. He’d gone to bed early after a glass of expensive chianti, and slept a dreamless sleep, waking to the alarm at six a.m. He’d taken a shower, then performed some stretching exercises in his small neat garden, Victorian red brick walls protecting him from prying neighbours’ eyes. He thanked God for those barriers, high enough to keep the neighbours’ wretched cats out. He didn’t want those damned creatures scratching at his flowerbeds. His mind recalled a forbidden memory. A black cat digging in a rose bed in his previous garden. Taking a spade, he’d …. Don’t go there!
He’d taken the morning off, then later today, in his role as a top investment banker, he would be advising a Middle Eastern conglomerate. That was seriously big money, even for Hyland’s. He smiled at the thought of his commission, more than many ‘plebs’ earned in a lifetime!
Hot and sweaty, he stopped and paused his watch. A woman was deliberating over her coffee order. Hurry up you silly cow, just buy a bloody cappuccino! Orlando bought an espresso doble, so plenty of room left in the large cardboard beaker for running with it. He pressed the lid on, gave a curt ‘thank you,’ restarted the watch and began to run again. He’d stop at the park for the coffee.
He reached Putney Bridge, feeling a spring in his step after the short break at the kiosk. Then a stab of annoyance. What was her name? Sally! Two hundred metres away, strutting along the sunlit pavement as if she owned it, just on the edge of the long shadow cast by the parapet. Sunlight sparkled on the river, a pretty sight, but he felt too perturbed to appreciate its beauty. What the hell was she doing here? She worked on the other side of the city. Unless she’d changed jobs?
Traffic roared past as he approached. She was mouthing something, looking at him with anger etched on her face.
Orlando was almost upon her. ‘All’s fair in love and war.’ What was her problem? He determined to run past and ignore her.
“You bastard, I’m pregnant!” she shouted.
Without knowing why, perhaps fuelled by the adrenalin of running, he swerved into her, turning to give her a hard push with his right hand. Her face showed a mixture of surprise and belligerence. In that split second, off balance, she lost her footing. With his left hand holding the coffee cup clear, he pushed her again as she toppled. Thank God the lid stayed on. He didn’t want to go back to the kiosk again! He carried on without stopping, conscious that she had fallen right over. Good!
After a few seconds, he became aware that there was no traffic passing him. He felt panic in his guts. Had she fallen into the road? Don’t look back!
As he passed the far end of the bridge, a multitude of disturbing thoughts competing in his mind, the running began to calm him down. They’d visited hotels booked under his alter ego, Robin Jackson, and she only knew his special ‘dating’ number. She didn’t know where he worked, or where he lived. Would the police trace him? Nothing to do but take the chance. Bluff it out if necessary. He reached the park and smiled. Exactly ten minutes from the kiosk. Despite losing a second or two on the bridge, a personal best!

Related: The ‘Putney Bridge Jogger’ Case: 20 Questions That Must be Answered!

Featured in the book and audiobook, To Cut a Short Story Short, vol. II: 88 Little Stories

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7 thoughts on “Incident on Putney Bridge

  1. I crossed that bridge scared of heights a hundred times when I attended The Revlon School of beauty. I wasn’t afraid of the joggers … just the bridge. Today I think I’d take note. Great read superb voice.

    1. Hi Ellen, it’s a lovely bridge, judging by the photos, but I don’t recall ever crossing it myself. Interesting that you talk about ‘joggers,’ as if they’re common. I didn’t know that. I think women will look carefully at any approaching jogger now! I’m pleased you enjoyed my interpretation and thank you for the feedback, much appreciated!

      1. Even thirty years ago, people rushed, (power walking, as we would say today) to work across Putney bridge. Not so much Lycra clad but wearing trainers and nylon track suits with Nike ticks. Oblivious to visiting girls on training courses, they squeezed the obligatory Mr Motivator suggested amount of exercise into their day. All the while plugged in to a Walkman. The first of the world’s mobile distractions. 😄😃😂

        1. How interesting, I confess I didn’t have any idea about that. I understand there are plenty of parks to run in thereabouts, and even jogger tracks. That seems the way to go. Someone hurtling along, oblivious to passersby, would be a menace, even if not a homicidal ‘pusher’!

          Incidentally, my thoughts on the matter is that the guy DID know the lady, as per my imagined account. If he DIDN’T then he likely has done something similar (and maybe worse) on many occasions and needs to be caught. The police don’t seem terribly bothered though (as per my 20 Questions … article). I get the impression they are just ‘going through the motions’ as with the McCann case, with no intention of prosecuting anyone.

          1. I agree he seemed to be on a mission and the intent appears to have been there. That would infer he was/ is, addicted to running and has mental health issues or she knows who he is and isn’t giving him up. The McCann case is a different scenario altogether and is the wrong comparison.

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