by Crystal Jones
© 2013 All Rights Reserved 
Story finished on 28th October 2013 – 2653 words

Daisy didn't feel like doing her accounts as it was a hot summer afternoon. Then the phone rang. “Hello Daisy? Pam speaking.”
Daisy was surprised to hear from Pam, one of her best friends, as she worked until two o’clock in the afternoon and then had to rush home and smarten up her house for her children's arrival after school. “Don't tell me you're free this afternoon!” Daisy exclaimed.
“Yes I am, for a change,” replied Pam, “the kids are both going to a birthday party and I have to pick them up at seven. I imagine you are terribly busy?”
“Well yes, I am. I'm supposed to be doing my accounts - but I'm not going to! You and I are going to my favourite ice-cream parlour to have a Special. Come on Pam - see you there in a quarter of an hour.”
“That is a good idea, Daisy. All right, boss!”

It was even hotter than before and Daisy could see the roses were suffering from the heat in the public gardens, which she had to go through on the way to Luigi's ice-cream parlour.
Senior citizens were sitting on benches in the shade, some of them with books in their hands taking a breather before going to the nearby public library. To get to Luigi’s, Daisy had to walk past the library, which was in Church Street.
When she got there, she noticed there was a small removal van with two men, perspiring freely, busy unloading heavy crates from the open-top cage of an aerial platform and then sending it up again to the third floor of the library. It was the first time Daisy had ever seen an aerial platform on such a small vehicle and she pulled her mobile out to take a picture of it.
A couple of minutes later Daisy reached Luigi's Ice-Cream Haven and saw her friend already there sitting at a table.
Pam was fanning herself with a menu. “What a day!”, she exclaimed, “When I telephoned you I felt I was just about to explode. This heat really makes you go crazy!”
Seeing Daisy talking to Pam, Luigi came out from behind the ice-cream counter. He was tall and rather big with one-time fair hair, now nearly all turned to grey. His rather wrinkled face was like that of a sailor who had had many experiences in life and had taken account of them and learned many things.
“Hello Daisy!” he exclaimed. “I haven’t seen you for a couple of weeks. How are things?”
“Terrible,” answered Daisy, “I’ve got to send in all my bills and things and some people haven’t paid me yet... oh, well forget about it! Luigi, please pull me out of my depression!”
Luigi laughed, “Right, SOS received. This week’s Special is any three types of ice-cream with slices of peaches and melon, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. OK, Daisy?”
Daisy's eyes said 'Yes!'
“And what about you, Madam?” asked the ever amiable Luigi.
Pam was now studying the menu, “I'd prefer strawberries... raspberries... and blueberries, with lemon and vanilla ice-cream.”
Luigi soon arrived with two oval-shaped dishes filled with good things. The two women sat there indulging themselves happily away from the heat outside.
After a while a couple of teenage boys came in, sat down and ordered milkshakes with two scoops of ice-cream dropped inside. They were wearing school uniforms and chatted noisily. “Thank goodness the fire alarm went off,” said one of them. “I couldn’t stand another minute of old Parkinson rambling on about the beauty of chemistry.”
“Yes,” replied the other schoolboy. “You know, it was all the fault of that nerd Simpson. The heat must have got to him and he poured too much of that... er... what do you call it... powdery substance into a test tube causing an explosion!”
“Really? I thought it was my guardian angel! Anyway, we are free for the rest of the afternoon, aren’t we?”
Now a third youth walked in and greeted them. “Hey, there's a chap who's gone mad in the heat - he’s German or something. They say he works in one of the offices in Solomon Alley and is threatening to throw himself down from the fifth floor.” This was obviously great entertainment for them for they gobbled down their milkshakes and rushed off with  mobiles in hand ready to record the scene.
Suddenly Daisy sat up rigidly, “Pam, did the young man say Solomon Alley? My accountant's office is right there - Mr. Schroeder!”
Daisy had hardly finished saying this when she stood up abruptly telling Pam she would settle up with her afterwards and started running towards Solomon Alley, which was just around the corner, so she arrived there very quickly.
A small crowd had gathered in the street and were staring up at the fifth floor. Daisy saw there was a man straddled over the window ledge. “Oh no, it is Mr. Schroeder!” she discovered to her horror. “Has no one called the fire brigade?” she asked a man standing nearby.
“Yes, I did, but I don’t think they’ll be able to get through easily as it’s all so narrow here, there’s barely enough space for a delivery van! I even knocked on the caretaker’s door but he told me he had already been up to the office and it was locked from the inside!”
Daisy was just going to call up to Mr. Schroeder but had second thoughts as it might make him lean over to see who was calling and fall down. “Poor Mr. Schroeder,” she thought, “Something must have happened to him to make him do such a thing.”
Daisy knew him as a hard-working, conscientious man of about sixty, whom she could telephone even at seven o’clock in the evening and he would still be there immersed in his accounts but ready to help her if she needed some advice. Now he needed help, urgent help.
By now Pam had arrived too. “Pam, I’m so glad you’ve come. It is Mr. Schroeder up there,” reported Daisy. “The fire brigade hasn’t arrived yet but I've got an idea. You stay here and wait for me.”
With this Daisy dashed off towards the Public Library where she had seen the removal van with an aerial platform. One of the men had just brought down some heavy old chairs.
“Excuse me,” said Daisy breathlessly, “there's someone sitting on a window sill in Solomon Alley and it looks as though he’s going to throw himself down any minute. The fire brigade has been called, but it won‘t get through Solomon Alley easily as it’s very narrow. We haven’t got much time. Could you come with me with your van - I want to go up in the platform cage and try and persuade him to come inside and save his life. I know him, his name is Mr. Schroeder, he's my accountant!”
For a moment the men just stared at Daisy. She had obviously been running and was still a bit out of breath. They thought it might be a joke at first, but when they saw the worried look on her face they realised she was dead serious.
“Look, this is my card. I’m not making all this up – we may be able to save a person’s life!” urged Daisy.
The two men looked at each other for confirmation and then told Daisy to jump into the van. Soon they were heading to Solomon Alley.
The fire brigade was nowhere in sight. Luckily, the van managed to stop right in front of the building where the accountant’s office was. In the meantime Mr. Schroeder had changed position and was now sitting on the window sill with both legs dangling dangerously outside.
Daisy immediately got out of the van and spoke to a policeman who was trying to control the crowd. She explained how she wanted to try to save her accountant’s life. The policeman nodded and waived the people back to make more space for the rescue operation. 
“You are still sure you want to go ahead with this, aren’t you?” asked the driver of the van.
“Absolutely,” replied Daisy. The driver opened the gate of the cage and Daisy got in. “I want to get near to him but not intimidate him with my presence,” she explained, “so let’s not go too close all at once! I'll signal to you if I want to get nearer.”
As the aerial platform went up, Daisy felt a bit shaky and held on to the sides of the cage, but it was quite safe really, and being able to see the sky above gave her a sense of freedom.
As the cage reached the same level as the window sill Mr. Schroeder was sitting on, she noticed he was wearing a white long-sleeved shirt which was unbuttoned at the neck. It was strange for Daisy to see him dressed like that, as he normally wore a grey jacket with a sober tie, which were part of a sort of uniform for him. He looked very dazed. As he saw Daisy slowly coming towards him, he recognised her and gave her a faint smile.
Daisy was now a couple of yards away from him. She gently called to him. “Hello Mr. Schroeder. I haven't finished doing my accounts yet.  I'm not very good at doing them.”
Mr. Schroeder stared at her through his thick-rimmed glasses and replied hoarsly, “Daisy, go back. I’ve made up my mind. I don't want to harm you when I...” He bit his lip and added, “Please, Daisy, don't come any nearer!”
Daisy was by now almost on the same level as Mr. Schroeder.
“Very well, Mr. Schroeder.” Daisy deliberately spoke rather quietly so that the man could only just hear her as she wanted him to concentrate on her and not on his plight. “But could you please tell me of someone who would help me if you are no longer willing to do so?”
“There are lots of accountants,” replied Mr. Schroeder in a quivering voice. “Now I'm getting on in years and making mistakes.”
Unfortunately the sun had now moved from behind a tall building and its rays shone right onto Mr. Schroeder’s glasses blinding him for a moment. He made a sudden movement to protect his eyes and accidentally knocked his glasses off which fell down and smashed onto the pavement. Mr. Schroeder let out a sound like an animal in pain.
Now Daisy really had to find some way of distracting him immediately. “Mistakes? Is that why you are upset today?”
Mr. Schroeder looked downwards trying to see what had happened to his glasses, but was unable to, as he was short-sighted. Now he blinked towards Daisy with a desperate expression on his face and replied, “Yes, I got things all wrong and my clients will have to pay a hefty tax fine and they’ll be ruined - and, anyway, I'm no good to anyone any more.”
Daisy understood that making just one mistake could be a terrible disgrace for Mr. Schroeder. She was at a loss to think of something useful to say, so she just said the first thing that came to mind.
“Well, even if you've made one mistake you certainly never made any with my accounts! And anyway I need someone patient like you who corrects my figures - without you I’d be lost!”
Mr. Schroeder's eyes flickered nervously and seemed to be thinking of what Daisy was saying.
“Look, Mr. Schroeder, if you like, I could signal to the men to move the platform nearer to your window and then I could help you get into the cage from the top.”
The accountant said nothing but continued staring at Daisy.
She smiled at him, “So, is it all right if I come nearer?”
He nodded very slightly. Daisy signalled down to the men with her hand to get her closer to the window very, very slowly. While they were doing this, Daisy continued talking, “I'm getting thirsty, Mr. Schroeder. I'd like a nice iced drink. Would you like one too?”
Mr. Schroeder seemed thoughtful. In the meantime the men below slowly manoeuvered the aerial platform so that it reached the window. Now Mr. Schroeder was directly above the cage but looked hesitant. Daisy realised she had to act quickly. She reached out, took hold of his legs and pulled him firmly down from the window sill onto the platform.
Mr. Schroeder fell heavily onto the floor of the cage knocking Daisy down too. He showed clear signs of being exhausted and didn’t even try to get up. Daisy regained her balance and signalled again to the men below to go ahead and pull the platform down. As they did so, Daisy carried on talking to Mr. Schroeder about what they wanted to drink.
Once they arrived safely below, the two removal men helped them out of the cage. “Thank you, I’ll be counting on you if anything else crops up!” quipped Daisy shaking their hands. The two men smiled. “We’re always in the business of moving things!” one of them replied.
Now Daisy and Mr. Schroeder were surrounded by people cheering and applauding. Daisy saw that her accountant was in a very sorry state and could hardly walk, so she asked the policeman to help her take him to the nearby hamburger restaurant to sit down and recover.
There were people milling around but Daisy and Pam, helped by the policeman, shielded Mr. Schroeder from the crowd into the restaurant. A young man brought a glass of water for the accountant who managed a muffled thanks, even though he still looked rather under the weather.
Luckily an ambulance arrived shortly afterwards and took him away on a stretcher. “Let’s go outside and get a bit of air,” suggested Pam seeing that Daisy looked a bit pale. “Well done,” said a woman with a pushchair who was standing in the street, “we need more people like you!”
Now Daisy was having a nervous reaction and started shaking. Pam took her arm, “Let's get away from here before any reporters or anybody else arrives,” she said, “we can go back to Luigi’s,” - which is exactly what they did.  

The next day Daisy popped into her local bakery where they served quick meals. She had just put a few drops of vinegar onto her Welsh rarebit when her eye caught a headline in the newspaper someone had left on the table. It said: Heatwave drama. Unknown university student saves the life of a drug addict who had found no more fixes.
Daisy telephoned Pam and told her how indignant she was. “Poor Mr. Schroeder - a drug addict! How absurd!”
“How can they invent such things?,” Pam commented.
“You know, Pam, they write just anything sometimes. Luckily he hasn't got that terrible problem but obviously he was suffering from depression! Mr. Schroeder's such an honest hard-working person. He thought he had made just one mistake and it seemed to be the end of the world for him.” 

A week later Daisy was sitting at her desk, frowning and looking rather worried, when somebody knocked at the door. It was Mr. Schroeder!
“Daisy, you saved me from making a very stupid mistake and I will be grateful as long as I live. Besides, it would have been all for nothing as   It turned out that it was my client’s fault, not mine. I won’t bore you with a load of details but they definitely won’t have to pay a heavy fine any more.”
“That’s wonderful!” exclaimed Daisy, “Ah, Mr. Schroeder, now you’re here I need to ask your advice about a letter from the Tax Revenue Office which arrived in the post this morning...”