Part 4 of Decent Dan sees Dan and his mate, Pete, exact their revenge!
Twice, Pete had casually brought into the conversation his ‘secret weapon’. Dan had heard the words alright, but they’d failed to register. Pete had something up his sleeve but his mischievous smile was lost in the gloom. He tried again.
‘Yep…Old Jackson’s going to be in for a shock when we ambush him…’ Then, mumbling ‘What with my secret weapon…’
Dan’s head turned, eyebrows joined by curiosity. ‘What? Secret weapon did you say?’
Pete feigned innocence with a half-whistled refrain… ‘Eh? What was that?’
‘You said something about a secret weapon!’
‘Oh…that…’ said Pete, bored apparently ‘Yes…just a little something I knocked-up on Wednesday evening…thought it might come in useful’
‘Well come on then…what is it? Dan implored.
Pete straightened himself. ‘Come on, I’ll show you!’
He led Dan away from the waters-edge to a grassy hillock behind which was a large sheet of corrugated tin.
‘That’s your secret weapon?’ said Dan. Pete reached down and took hold of the tin….he lifted.
‘Laydeez and Gentlemen! I give you…The Stinger!
Dan could make out very little in the darkness but ventured that it looked like a plank of wood, yes… a scaffold board.
‘Indeed it is’ mocked Pete patronizingly ‘It’s a scaffold board…but with a few little extras! Got your torch on you?’ Dan searched his pockets and soon came up with the pen-torch he used for night-fishing.
‘Wow! You crafty beggar!’
Dan was running the beam along the plank’s length and the serried lines of 3-inch nails sticking proud of the wood. Pete explained. ‘As soon as we see headlights coming across the field I’ll grab this and rush round to that gate he has to come through. Once he’s in the field I’ll lay this across the exit and…Bob’s your uncle!’ They gave each other a ‘High-Five’ and waded back through the grass to base-camp, Pete with The Stinger held very carefully in both hands.
By two o’clock Dan and Pete’s eyelids might well have been made of lead; despite their efforts and the frequent quaffing of that strong, black coffee, they simply could not resist the call of sleep. They’d recall – much later that day – their last, slurred words before plummeting into welcome unconsciousness…
‘What do you call a man with a spade?’
‘What do you call a man with a seagull on his head?’
‘What do you call a man with a bag of soil?’
The only sounds then were of Pete snoring softly and the rustling of wind-blown grass.
They’d been blissfully asleep when Jackson’s decrepit truck bumped and squeaked its way across the first field, then through the gateway to the waterside. It was loaded high with old ovens and chipboard and it keeled over alarmingly each time the wheels found a rut. When it stopped, the driver – one Roger Jackson – switched off the headlights and sat smoking a cigarette; he was in no hurry but felt it wise to ensure the coast was clear. Newspaper reports he’d read of rubbish-dumpers being caught and fined thousands of pounds had put him on his guard: but the prospect of saving himself a few quid by illegally disposing of his junk on the green and pleasant land was too tempting to resist. Fortunately for Dan and Pete, Jackson was addicted to nicotine and wasted a further ten minutes or so with another smoke.
In due course, and with the two lads a hundred yards away fast asleep, Jackson opened the driver-door of his truck and slid his bulk off the edge of the seat; still cautious, the overweight villain walked once round the vehicle peering into the darkness for signs of danger. Sure of his privacy now, Jackson went to the tailboard, pulled out the two securing-pegs and held the flap tightly as the junk threatened to spill out with a crash. Fortunately for him, the heap remained steady allowing the removal of the larger items of junk piece by piece…an old cast-iron bath, a washing-machine, a doorless microwave…the unsightly pile on the grass grew steadily larger, and all the time Pete and Dan were a million miles away in the land of Nod dreaming very possibly of monster pike.
Jackson continued with his dirty work. It wouldn’t be light for at least a couple of hours and he now felt completely confident of his anonymity, there in the darkness in the middle of nowhere at two in the morning. But despite the man’s ignorance and callous indifference to the world about him, he recognised the time as a good one to be out in the fresh air, and decided to have a rest; the tailgate would make an ideal seat on which to take yet another smoke-break. In the circumstances, there was nobody around to witness Jackson’s ridiculous overweight-squirming as he attempted time and again to lift his fat buttocks onto the tailboard. Humiliated by the thought of being watched, he mustered a flash of athletic enthusiasm and sprang clumsily on to the back of the truck. The load shifted once then collapsed sideways with a deafening crash, old sinks and toilet bowls smashing and tinkling on the bricks and broken tiles. Jackson sat mortified, grimacing terribly and pressing his palms against his ears. The noise seemed to go on forever as smaller items of junk continued to cascade – in slow motion it seemed to Jackson – over the side and onto the bed of shattered ceramics.
Dan and Pete sprang up in their sleeping-bags, immediately alert and sure of their purpose; perhaps it hadn’t been monster pike on their minds but the spectre of a dirty-vested, unshaven rubbish-dumper. Whatever, they sprang into action like well-trained soldiers, Pete grabbing the Stinger and Dan, his camera, primed for flash-photography!
As planned, Pete ran low and swiftly in a wide arc around the ‘dumping-field’, alongside the hedgerow and on to the open gateway. Few vehicles ever passed through here so the grass was still long and lush – the perfect cover for a nail-studded scaffold-board. Pete laid it in place, adding a clump or two of dock-leaves and a few twigs as extra camouflage. Sure of his work, he rushed back around the field then, cautiously, back in toward Jackson’s favoured dumping-site. Dan was there as arranged, belly-down in the wavering grass between two dense blackberry bushes. Pete joined him breathlessly.
‘Can you see…’
‘Sshhh he’s right there…see him?’
‘Wow!’ exclaimed Pete a little too loudly.
‘Be quiet!’ urged Dan hoarsely, then after a pause ‘He’s on the back of his truck clearing what’s left’.
The lads could plainly see the dirty-whiteness of the vehicle and the vague silhouette of ‘Junkie Jackson’ stooping and swinging his arms urgently, eager to finish the foul deed and scurry back to the sanctuary of Parkview.
Suddenly, the scene lit up and all three characters instinctively shrank for fear of detection. For a moment, Jackson, Dan and Pete suspected a police stake-out, a trap, but the powerful headlights responsible came from the top of the lane half a mile away. They were probably just those of an early-morning milk-van, but the incident shook Jackson, prompting him to clear his truck with greater urgency.
‘Do it now, Dan’ whispered Pete ‘Is your camera set? Is it ready to shoot?’
‘All systems ready!’ affirmed Dan, now on one knee and raring to go.
Pete wished him good luck. ‘See you back here in five minutes!’
‘Hang on a mo’….’ Dan remembered something ‘You have got your mobile phone I hope?’
‘Yes, of course!’ said Pete ‘As planned! Now go get him!’
Pete watched Dan creep into the field like a lion on the hunt for dinner, staying low but advancing rapidly whenever Jackson’s back was fully turned. The villain was sweating and, even in the gloom, could clearly be seen to be tiring. Dan took advantage of this and took a few more rapid steps toward the truck whenever the villain’s breathing grew hoarse and noisy.
Almost there now, Dan was relieved to happen upon a tall clump of cow-parsley and used it as cover while he regained his composure – and his breath. He checked the camera: three little lights told him that it was ok to shoot and that the flash was ready. The very next time Jackson turned his back to sling another piece of junk into the bushes, Dan stood and very calmly walked to within ten metres of the dirty rat. He lifted the camera to his eye, found Jackson in the viewfinder and shouted ‘Smile, Roger!!’
Jackson swivelled, the look of horror on his face neatly captured on film as Dan pressed the shutter. Twice! The brilliant-blue flash blinded Jackson for a few seconds causing him to stagger around on the back of his truck, disorientated, shocked and very worried – all at once! To his own surprise, Dan kept his nerve and remained focussed long and fortuitously enough to snap the Dirty Dumper falling backwards from the tailboard – right into a bed of stinging-nettles! Dan heard Pete’s call and dashed back to join him between the blackberry bushes, a deserved look of triumph on his face.
‘Well done, old pal!’ congratulated Pete ‘Now let’s get round to the gateway…the police should be here in about five minutes!’
He gave Dan a congratulatory pat on the back and hurriedly followed his mate through the undergrowth then painfully through a line of hawthorns and round the field’s perimeter towards the open gateway. As they ran, the sound of Jackson’s truck spluttering into life met their ears; faster, they raced and stumbled through the dampness, blackbirds and pheasants shrieking and flapping noisily from the hedgerows in alarm. Through the gaps, Dan and Pete could see the truck’s headlights swinging round as Jackson made for a swift exit from the field. They ducked momentarily then continued with the mad dash for the gateway.
‘Quick! He’s only got a hundred yards to go!’ urged Pete.
‘We’ll make it!’ Dan replied breathily ‘Come on!’
The pair ran like the wind, reaching the end of the dry ditch and the hawthorns that ran down to the exit. With less than a minute before Jackson’s headlights would light his way out of the field, Pete and Dan excitedly pushed their way into the ditch and crouched breathlessly to await the passing of Jackson’s Junkmobile – the sound of hissing, punctured tyres and, hopefully, a wailing police-siren would be music to their ears!
‘You did call them, didn’t you, Pete?’ puffed Dan.
‘No worries, Dan, I had the number ready and hit the button the moment you took your first shot!’
Dan was buzzing with excitement ‘Great! They’ll be here soon then! Get down! Here he is!’
Hearts thumping like bass-drums, the two lads peered up from their hidey-hole and watched open-mouthed as the vehicle growled the last few metres to the exit.
‘Keep down!’ said Pete ‘Any second now!’
As the truck drew frighteningly close and large above them, so Dan and Pete caught sight of Jackson, the Dirty-Dumper, wide-eyed and sweating over the steering – wheel, face contorted with despair. Then, with impeccable timing, Jackson’s tyres popped loudly and a blue, flashing light came racing down the lane.
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