DIRTY DEEDS – THE CHIP ‘OLE – Prologue

9 Aug

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   Mick wrinkled his nose in disgust, grunts emanating from the shadows. He could smell the shit from where he crouched, heard the slap of faeces in what was otherwise stony black silence. “Come on you dirty bugger, she’s nearly off,” he whispered. He’d heard the rattle of belt and rustle of trousers, the sound of heavy boots crunching through gravel. Bloody Amos – he did this every time! 

When they’d broken into the newsagents down the road he’d dumped a load in one of the beer refrigerators. Time before that, in the local school when they’d smashed and grabbed a couple of computers, he’d squatted like a garden gnome at a horticultural show above a masters desk. Although an unintentional guerilla defecator, Amos was particular where he left his mark. It wasn’t that he was a shrinking coward. Amos was six foot, built like a brick privy. A good mate to have in a tight corner — reassurance on a night like tonight. Years of institutionalized rugby and soccer at Woldcroft — their former comprehensive — had instilled the beginnings of Amos’ giant physique. A set of weights and a running machine in his dad’s garage had done the rest. It was a universal truth that a man with muscles got birds easier than a regular bloke. That being said there were enough pseudos in town posing as real-men; it was just difficult to see a mountain of a man like Amos doing what he did. Of course he blamed it on the adrenaline, the excitement of the moment; the euphoric urge of misadventure coursing through his bowels – hence the not uncommon site of hairy legs and an even hairier arse at the most inopportune moments. 

“Wash your hands?” whispered Mick. 

“Funny bugger aren’t you?” came the disembodied reply. 

“Every bloody time we’re on a job you have to take a dump. If you’re not bleeding careful the coppers are going to put that shite in a bag and analyze you into Leeds jail.” 

“No chance. With all the bleeding curry I eat, there’s nothing left alive in that crap.” 

They chuckled in the blackness. Amos reached into his pockets for his cigarettes and went to light up. 

“Now you’re just being bloody stupid” said Mick . 

“Aye, spose your right.” said Amos, replacing the box in his jacket.

“Shut up, here she comes.” 

**** 

Beryl took one last look around the chip shop. Everything had been wiped down, the perishables put away. Mary was a good girl more than compensating for John’s chauvinism. Although happy to stand behind the fryer chatting to customers, he was unwilling to stay behind and clean — allergic as he was to both mop and broom. “Beneath me,” is what he’d told her. He was a chef not a bloody skivvy. A wry smile twitched at her lips — that’s if you can call a man that pours chipped potatoes into boiling grease a chef. She wouldn’t change him for the world; without John there wouldn’t be a business. He’d been a God-send, a real gem. 

Formica tables glistened under electric light, ketchup bottles gleaming blood red against plastic brilliance – condensing steam dripping from stainless fry ovens onto freshly mopped tiles. Didn’t matter how much they scrubbed and cleaned, the smell of grease hung ornamented on the walls alongside posters of fish and rural coastal vistas. An ichthyologist’s wet-dream where humped back whales and basking sharks, although not on the menu, hung side by side in National Geographic decadence above hungry eaters.

Beryl glanced into the gloom of the seating area, the extermination device crackling as another kamikaze insect impaled itself onto blue doom. Things had worked out for the best she thought, despite the upset of the past couple of years. Business was booming better than ever, battered fish and Yorkshire spuds turning greasy goodness into a printing press for ready cash. Another few months and the bank would be sorted, some money on the account and hopefully enough for the extension. She’d grown the business so why not expand the property? She had it all planned. A little bit of luxury for some of her more potentially exclusive clientele. Retirees and well healed travelers who’d no doubt love to sit in comfort amongst shone brass, draped plastic fishing nets and maritime ephemera. A couple of wooden tables, a bit of carpet and she could add a couple of extra quid to the yet to be deigned a la carte menu. 

Day trippers passing through the village on their way to Bridlington and the coast were begging to be relieved of their holiday spending money. StantonBridge was perfectly situated, the unique location of the chippy able to cater to the starving hoards travelling in either direction. They’d branched out over the past year to take care of the influx of city folk and now offered a wider selection. The Mermaids Tale no longer served just fish and chips. When her husband, Bill the Bastard, had still been around the only choices on the menu had been Cod or Haddock. Now alongside the perennials they served sausages, burgers, pies and half chickens, microwavable sauces and instant pasta. If it could be deep fried then it was on the menu. Nothing phased Beryl anymore. Requests for batter fried apples and chocolate bars an everyday experience. Now instead of charging pence for a portion of newspaper wrapped delight they were charging pounds. Inflation had pushed prices up however, there was still a livelihood to be earned. 

‘Where there’s muck there’s brass,” is what her father had told her. Despite his lack of education and the fact that he wasn’t right all the time, even when he was, there had been wisdom in his words. It wasn’t the life she dreamed of as a young girl however, she was playing the cards she’d been dealt. Circumstances and a failed marriage had made her a Goddess of Grease and she wasn’t about to throw it away, no matter the pressure of competition or the long hours. Although things had been strained of late what with the anonymous silent threats emanating from mute telephones and the disturbing regularity of unsigned hate-mail pushed through her letter box, all would be well. Besides she’d informed the local constabulary who’d promised they’d get to the bottom of it. Probably just kids or some idle wanker with nothing better to do. 

Her fingers danced briefly on the alarm pad before reaching for her handbag and walking towards the door. Flicking the light switch she stepped outside into the drizzle, turning the key in the lock. Putting her face to the glass she peered past the eat more spuds sticker, watching as the light on the alarm turned from green to red. Time to go to bed and get some kip, there was brass to be made; she’d have to be up early in the morning to prepare for the Saturday rush. Pulling her jacket tight to ward of the cold, she turned to leave, her sensible heels clip-clopping on wet pavement. The cold was starting to creep in, mist forming above the duck pond in the village square below; damp and the smell of burning coal drifting down to street level. It wasn’t much but Stanton-Bridge was home. She rounded the corner and disappeared from view. 

**** 

Mick pushed his finger against his lips. Amos thumped him in the chest.

“Shut up you stupid beggar, she’ll hear us.”

“Not a chance, she’s long gone. She won’t be back.”

They sat in cold-breathed silence for another ten minutes. Better to be safe than sorry. Past experience had taught them caution. 

They’d scouted the building earlier that evening, sitting in Amos’ old Ford Cortina down by the telephone box; shivering in darkness watching the comings and goings of hungry mouths. Cars filled with starving kids returning from seaside jaunts parked alongside them. The last stop before returning to Monday morning madness and the clarion call of factory whistles. It seemed that everybody and his dog was eating at the chippy, they must have seen a hundred people walk through the Mermaid’s door. Tim sucked on the gobstopper he‘d been sucking on for the last hour. A behemoth of boiled sugar which although morphed in color refused to reduce in size. Fish and chips was about  $2.50 ahead so for a family of four that was tenner. Mick did the math in his head as quickly as he could, resisting the impulse to pull off his shoes and socks.

Bloody hell no wonder Mr. Gilbertson wanted a number doing on the place. They were clearly raking it in, hand over fist. It was like Gilbertson said, “Aint nothing wrong with a bit of competition but that woman’s taking the piss.” 

They sat, listened to the radio, talked about football and discussed their conquests at the local Corn Mill disco. Friday night fumblings in the car park with farm lasses looking for a bit of rough. A local bus stopping at rural bus stops to pick up quaffed and perfumed girls dressed to kill and with enough mascara to sink a battleship before depositing them at the Friday night venue. A couple of rum-and-blacks and a quick whizz round the dance floor was more than enough to lubricate knicker elastic. However tonight wasn’t about pleasure, it was all business. 

They’d dressed for the occasion dark clothes and combat jackets, heavy boots and leather gloves. Although not expecting trouble they were prepared to deal with whatever came there way; woolen balaclavas and crow bars lay on the back seat. This was going to be a nice little earner. Half up front and half when the job was done, same as usual except this time the rewards more than matched the risk. This wasn’t some half filled potato barn on the far side of the village they were razing for insurance money this was serious jail time they were looking at if they fucked it up. The Mermaid was smack dab in the center of the village. Surrounded by what passed for the central business district – the village post office, two pubs, a news agents and the local super market. The chippy shut at ten however the bitch invariably staid longer, timing her exit with throwing out time at the Bay Horse next door. The earlier crowds of happy eaters were long gone, now driving down motorways dealings with the are-we-already-there-yets! 

They watched as the last drunk exited the pub, cap on head, fag in mouth. Saw the lights of the bar extinguish and watched as the man unzippered and peed into the planters at the top of the stone steps. 

“Dirty bastard,” said Amos. “No wonder those frigging plants are dead.” 

Choosing their moment they turned the key, the motor coughing and spluttering into life and drove around the corner. Parking behind the overgrown church yard to the rear of the Mermaid, they skulked in blackness making for all the world they were never there. 

They sat in silence. This was it, this is what they d come to do. 

The area behind the pub was used as an overspill for the limited parking in the square on the other side of the shadowed buildings — now devoid of drink drivers and bathed in moonlight. They stuck to the extremities skirting the dry stone wall, hiding in the shadows as they made their way towards the back of the chip shop. They could smell it, taste it, the warm inviting aroma of lard laden fish and soggy chips. It was a shame really although the money offered by Gilbertson assuaged all guilt. The Mermaid was a quality establishment. Fish cooked in real beef drippings – a true sign of Yorkshire quality. Late night meetings with Gilbertson had removed all doubt, his language concise and threatening, all uncertainty dispelled. The rewards for success were great, the penalty for failure ominous – they’d prepared accordingly. The smell of petrol betrayed their presence, the liquid sloshing in the jerry-can reminding them that theirs was a serious mission. 

They’d cased the place over the past couple of weeks in preparation of the inevitable. It was a done job. The bathroom window was no longer linked to the alarm system, not since they had snipped the wires, pared the bare ends and stuffed them behind the base board. Short circuited certainty they’d have any easy entrance come the ignominious day. 

Mick cursed as he hoisted Amos up to the small rear window. “Hurry up you fat bastard before anybody sees us.”  A boot in the face — the splinter of wood and crack of glass answered his urgency. 

“Keep your hair on lad. Aint nobody going to see us out ere, not at this hour”. 

Mick watched as Amos squeezed through the open space, passed up the jerry can and then supported by Amos’ gloved hand scrambled up the wall. 

**** 

The bathroom was quiet apart from the drip of the tap and the constant overflow from the cistern. A calming effect after the adrenalin infused excitement of their mad scramble. Bit like the whale music his sister had used when she had found herself up the duff with some sprog from an army lad she’d met at a disco. 

“God now I want to shit again,” cursed Amos.

“Not now, lets get this bloody done and get the fuck out of here.” 

 

 

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