Gypsies, Trains and Paris – published by Illoscript

June 2013

Written by Laura Barry. Illustrated by Caitlin Pepper
I was overwhelmed by the amount of unwashed miscreants cramming themselves into Porte De Clignancourt metro station.

I pushed my bag further under my coat and buttoned up my pockets as I hip-and-shouldered my way through the crowd.

Before hitting the centre of the scuffling mess I made sure I had my ticket in my hand, my bag safely hidden and emptied my pockets of anything I didn’t want to loose.

I pushed my way in.

I could feel people getting closer to me than need be, a man was following me.


I walked briskly to the ticket stall and kept my elbows clamped firmly against my rib cage, I could still feel his toes on my heels, he made noises about being pushed about, apologised.

I sped up but felt him get closer, I dashed into the ticket stall and shoved the ticket into the reader, praying for it to spit it out quickly.

It didn’t.

I felt the man push up against me, a hand tried to slip under my arm and into my pocket.

The ticket stall clicked over and the bars that pushed me into the station locked him out just as I thrust my elbow back into his stomach as hard as I could.

My arm connected with his rib cage, hard enough to make him hunch over and allow my escape.

I half ran half walked into the subway, looking over my shoulder at the man.

Tall, gaunt and scraggly, he gave me one last dirty stare and turned around to wait for the next naive tourist.

When I had arrived at the station this morning it was empty sans a few early morning commuters on their way to set up stalls at Marchè Aux Puces De Saint-Ouen.

It wasn’t all passengers crowding the station this afternoon, it was gypsies and pick pockets standing guard at the ticket barriers, waiting for unaware tourists to pass them by or stop and listen to their false stories whilst robbing them from behind.

It made me angry, but it also made me nervous.

I see my fiancé waiting for me beside the last open door onto the train, he turns around to check that I am still behind him, following from afar.

Once we were on the train I double checked my pockets and my bag, everything was there.

I was relieved. I took a deep breath and steadied myself, I was shaken.

Rubbing my elbow I turned to my fiancé and smiled, “I got that gypsy good!”



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