When Brian said that he was going to take Sammy clothes shopping, Sammy was slightly disappointed. He had hoped that his first whole day with Brian would be filled with something more interesting. He remembered going shopping with his mother, mainly the boredom and the way she’d yelled when he’d moaned.
Still, he was determined to make the best of every day with Brian and smiled when Brian asked if it was okay with him.
After breakfast, Brian drove them both to the city centre. Sammy looked about the shopping centre they were in curiously. He had never been in a place like this before. His mother had always gone to the dingy shops a few blocks away from their apartment. He kept a tight hold on Brian’s hand. Even though it was early, there were still a lot of people about and Sammy was terrified of getting lost in such a huge place.
Brian led Sammy into a brightly-lit shop full of children’s clothes. “Okay, what colours do you like?” he asked.
Sammy was surprised. He had never been able to choose his own clothes before and now Brian was letting him pick what he wanted. Maybe it wouldn’t be so boring after all…
Sammy spotted a shelf full of bright jerseys. He liked bright colours. Brian saw him staring in that direction.
“Let’s have a look over there then, shall we?” Brian said.
Sammy picked up a blue jersey. It had a brown dog on the front, just like Rocky. “I like this one,” he said.
“Yeah, that’s cool,” Brian said. He held it up in front of Sammy. “It’ll fit nicely, too. You want the blue one or do you want a different colour?”
“I like blue better,” Sammy said, looking at the stack of yellow, red and green jerseys.
“All right, we’ll take this one then. Hey, there’s a cute one here with teddies on. What do you think?”
Brian made Sammy try on several jerseys and let him choose the ones he wanted. Next, they moved onto trainers, but these were far less interesting than the bright jerseys with their pictures on them. The shelves of trainers all looked the same. Brian picked out the most colourful ones for Sammy to try on but none of them seemed to fit.
While Brian located more trainers, Sammy wondered over to a shelf full of slippers. They all looked much better than boring old trainers. Carefully, he picked a pair of soft, puppy shaped slippers up.
“Hey kid,” a rough voice said.
Sammy turned around to see a dark haired, grubby man leering down at him. He was smiling but something about the smile sent shivers of fear down Sammy’s back. He put the slippers back and began to edge away.
“There’s some better ones round here. Want me to show you?” he asked.
Sammy stared up into the man’s stubble filled face and then turned and fled back to Brian.
“What’s wrong?” Brian asked, looking down to see Sammy clutching his legs.
“Scary man,” Sammy replied. “Over there.” He pointed over to the shelves of slippers. The man was still there. As soon as he saw Brian turn to look at him, he shuffled away.
Brian frowned. “I don’t think he meant any harm,” he said. He watched the man go. “Don’t wonder away again, okay Sammy?”
“Okay,” Sammy said.
“Do you like these?” Brian asked, holding out a pair of white and blue trainers.
Sammy nodded. They actually looked the same as every other pair but he wanted to leave this shop as soon as possible. The man had scared him.
The trainers fit fine and Brian put them back into the shoebox the assistant had given to him. He looked across at the slippers. “Did you want a pair of those as well? You could do with some slippers.”
Sammy’s eyes lit up and he immediately rushed over to show Brian the puppy dog slippers. Brian rummaged through them until he had found the right size. After Sammy had tried them on, Brian paid for everything. Sammy stayed close to him, watching about anxiously in case any other scary men were looking at him.
They stopped in a café for a small break afterwards. Brian bought them both chocolate milkshakes but Sammy was more interested in blowing bubbled through the straw than drinking it. He felt much better after having a drink and the incident with the stranger began to fade from his mind.
The next clothes shop was on a quiet street. It was darker than the last one but much more crowded. Brian began to look for some jeans for Sammy. Sammy stood obediently still whilst Brian held various sizes up to him to check the length.
“Mr. Littrell?” a voice asked, politely.
Sammy turned around to see a blond haired man looking at him. He vaguely remembered him from somewhere.
“Harsen?” Brian asked, frowning slightly as he tried to remember the man standing before them.
Harsen smiled. “I thought it was you two. I heard about you fostering Sammy.”
Sammy was still confused.
“Sammy, do you remember Harsen? He’s one of the police officers you spoke to,” Brian said.
“Oh,” Sammy said, remembering all of the difficult questions he’d been asked. “Hello.”
Suddenly, a loud bang echoed throughout the shop. There was a smashing of a window and screams filled the shop, Sammy’s among them.
Brian pulled him into his arms and pulled him down onto the floor as there was another bang and the sound of a second window tinkling. Sammy fearfully buried his head in Brian’s coat. He could feel Brian trembling beside them. He suddenly recognised the noise from T.V. Gunshots.
He kept his head pressed against Brian’s chest. All around them people were on the floor screaming but no more gunshots filled the air. Customers began to stand about looking scared and confused. Many began to run out of the shop.
Harsen stood up and tried to take order but the terrified shoppers paid him no attention as they rushed towards the nearest exit. Brian still clutched Sammy in his arms as people’s boots thundered past them.
Harsen peered around the shelves where a small group of people was standing. Sammy turned his head a way as he caught a glimpse of some red liquid on the floor.
“Mr. Littrell, take Sammy home,” Harsen said, before pulling a mobile phone out of his pocket and dialling a number.
“Come on, Sammy,” Brian said, his face pale. He took Sammy’s hand and Sammy held it tightly in his own. He could feel the sickness of fear in his stomach.
Brian led him through the terrified people, all desperate to get out in case anymore bullets were fired. Sammy held onto Brian’s hand, but he suddenly realised that someone else had grabbed his other hand and was trying to pull him away from Brian. He gave a small whimper of fear but, with all of the screaming and shouting, Brian didn’t hear him.
Sammy struggled to pull his hand away from the unknown person. Terrified, he looked around to see who it was but then a huge woman in a pink coat pushed past him and Sammy felt the stranger’s hand torn from his own as she shoved her way to the doors. He didn’t see who it was who had grabbed his hand.
He stayed close to Brian until they were safely away.