“What do you mean we just go and ask for a look around?” I asked with amazement.
“They’ll not be expecting it. Who has ever heard of spies knocking on the front door and asking to have a bit of a nose about? It’s foolproof, we’ll tell them it’s for a school project.”
Bumper had a point but I still wasn’t sure. “What if they do realise what we are up to? We’ll be dead men.”
“It’s a chance we’ve got to take. It’s our only way in.”
I considered this for a while. “Ok. I agree. Is everybody else in? Let’s see a show of hands.” Three hands rose slowly. One didn’t. “How about you, Gilbert?”
“I’m not sure.” Gilbert had sat silently through the whole conversation.
“Come on, what are you scared of?”
“I’m not scared. It’s just….”
“It just what?” I was raring to go now and couldn’t understand why Gilbert was holding us back.
“The skip. What about the skip?”
“What’s the skip?” asked Bumper.
I shuffled up closer to him as I explained, trying not show any fear. “I’ve seen it, when we drove past one day with my Mam and Dad but I knew about it long before I saw it.”
We had all heard about it.
“It’s a large, red, m m m m metal container about eight foot high by ten feet long and about three feet across the m m m middle,” stuttered Elvis. “There’s a door on one side with a bolt and large p p p padlock on it.”
“That’s where they put the Missing Boys,” said Gilbert.
“The what?” asked Bumper.
“The Missing Boys. Boys who have attempted to break into the printers in the past to get their hands on the programmes. They were locked in there and never came out.”
“You’re joking. They can’t get away with that. What about the police?”
“They are in on it as well. You can never escape the skip.” Gilbert was obviously scared.
“What’s inside the skip?” asked Bumper.
“N n n nobody’s sure as n n n nobody has ever got out of it alive b b b but I’ve heard that there are two over grown Alsatian d d d dogs that they leave hungry until they feed them children, ” replied Elvis.
Bumper was shocked but persistent. “I still want to go. We’ll be heroes.”
We all nodded.
Gilbert took a felt pen from Elvis and started to draw a map on his chalk.
“If we are going to do it, we might as well do it right.”
“Well, what do you think?”
Elvis and me were tucked in a quiet corner of the Ivy House. The pub had been refurbished a number of times over the years but the feel of the place was still the same despite two rooms having been knocked into one. At the bar end stood a pool table and alongside that was the entrance to the Gent’s toilets.
Whilst the Ivy House was by no means a drugs den, it did have that element within it’s clientele and they chose to congregate at this end of the bar. The regular procession of sniffing, edgy twenty-something’s emerging from the cubicles would seem obvious to anybody who bothered to take the time to notice.
Elvis and myself chose the far end. There was a coal fire and comfy armchairs along with a big screen showing Sky Sports Centre.
“Fuck off you twat.” Rodney Marsh was on the screen yet again, annoying the viewers.
Elvis had said that you could feel the pub get warmer the further up the bar you went and I knew what he meant. It wasn’t physically warmer; there were radiators at the pool end. It was the warmth of atmosphere and the lack of the distrusting paranoia that emanated from the drug takers further back. We needed to talk so the fire end suited us fine.
“You can count me out, no Fucking way. Absolutely not.” Elvis had gone pale.
“I thought you were on my side. I thought you felt the same.”
“I do. No I don’t, well to a certain extent yes but not this. No, definitely not. You’re on your own with this one.”
“What have you got to lose?”
“What have I got to lose?” Elvis was glowing red, like the blazing coal fire behind him. “You self-centred, fucking prick. I’ll tell you what I’ve got to lose.” He leaned over the table and started to raise his voice. The angrier he became, the higher pitched his voice was.
“All right, all right, keep it down. People are beginning to look.”
“Let them f f f fucking look. What will they see? One m m m man who has a wife and a child to feed. A home albeit a modest one, b b b but a home all the same. Don’t forget the b b b business, I’ve built that up since I left school. They’ll also see you. Someone who disappeared f f f fifteen years ago and has now returned under the pretence of meeting old friends but really you had a hidden agenda all along. You wanted to use these so-called friends to do your d d d dirty work.” Elvis threw a beer mat across the table. “Well f f f fuck you and your stupid fucking ideas. I’d appreciate it if you kept away from my family and me from now on. You might as well have this back.” He handed me the invitation for the reunion. “I was right all along.”
We sat staring at each other for a few minutes whilst I composed myself.
“Well if that’s how you feel I’ll respect your wishes. Just remember the next time some hired thug comes round to the shop asking for money that should be really going to your wife and child. Money that should be putting you in a home that isn’t modest. Money that should be invested in a business that after fifteen years should be huge with your talent but instead is a little boarded up shop on the outskirts of town. Remember, when that business goes bust and you lose your home and your wife and child. Remember that you had a chance to change all of that and you turned your back on it.” I was now also shouting, angry that Elvis couldn’t see the chance he was about to throw away.
“Yeah, well I’ll take my chances along with everybody else thank you very much.”
With that, Elvis downed his pint of Guinness and headed for the door.
I slumped back in my seat and contemplated my drink. I looked up at the screen where Rodney Marsh’s mug was grinning down at me.
“Will someone turn that cunt off?”
Another installment to follow same time next week.
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