The Antique Game
“I got these, see.”
He jangled the bunch of keys in the air. A row of empty pint glasses stood before him on the bar like soldiers deserted by their commanding barkeeper. There was something dangerous about this idiot, something more dangerous than mere drunken bravado. He evidently thought he was sharp enough to brag and blab, and not suffer the consequences. Big mistake.
“See every time I does a job I asks for the keys, don’t I. So’s I can come in and work if they happen to be out.”
He took a pull on his pint and set it thoughtfully before him on the bar.
“Sometimes they ain’t even moved into the place yet. And then when they do move in, a lot of ‘em don’t bother to change the locks, do they. So I makes a copy and then I waits six months. Give ‘em enough time to load the place up nice with goods. Then one fine night I goes back with a van. Course some bastards change the locks soon as they move in. No faith in human nature some bastards.”
Beckett made a mental note that this idiot’s game, if handled discreetly, might prove to be a good little earner. Then he swung himself gingerly down off the bar stool and hobbled toward the back room.
His back had gone out on him again, an incapacitating recurrence of an injury originally suffered a year or so back when he’d been rushing to unload hundredweight sacks of cement for Tony the Boxer before the rain ruined them. He’d bent his back, not his legs, squashed a disc, torn some lumbar muscle, and fallen sideways off the flatbed lorry.
Unable to move, rain falling into his upturned snarl of agony, he yelled for help for fifteen minutes before a couple of passing mechanics found him and dragged him inside.
When Tony finally got back from “seeing this geezer down the kaff what owes me a pony”, he called the immobile Beckett all the wankers under the sun, then called an ambulance. Tony spent part of the hour or so it took the ambulance to get there, selling Beckett a sheet of plywood to put under his mattress.
“Stands to reason you’re gonna be on your back for a while, my son. Don’t make no sense payin’ an arm and a leg down the timber yard for a board when I got one that’ll do the job lovely. Once you scrape the cement off of it."
Tony went out and came back dragging a rain soaked, cement crusted board with him,
"And what’s more," he said, "on account of you’re a bit fucked at the mo’ I’m gonna to let you have it cheap. Let’s see, today’s money I owe you, less the sacks of cement you let spoil plus the board should see us just about square."
Beckett was in too much pain to argue, and Tony took this as agreement on his part.
"Here," he said, chuckling, "you being such a lanky bugger don’t let them get in you in one of them there lace up the back hospital gowns. Blimey you’ll have your ‘arris hangin’ out in the breeze and no two ways. I mean ‘alf them doctors is arse bandits. And the rest are on the old self-prescribed, ain’t they.”
He tapped the side of his crooked nose with an even more crooked thumb and winked at Beckett as if for all the world he genuinely thought he was doing him a favour, sharing vital information.
Causes Luke James Supports
Doctors Without Borders