Bumper Crop

by Sue Gee

Jed and Barry squeezed through the gap in the hedge.

‘You get him talking, I’ll nick the money,’ whispered Barry. Jed looked at the old man digging his allotment.

‘What if he sees us?’ Jed asked.

‘Then we lamp the bastard and peg it.’ Barry said gesturing to the path ‘Go on.’

Jed pulled his coat around him and strolled over to the old man. He turned around and leaned on his spade as Jed came closer.

‘Morning.’

‘Hi.’ Jed replied, stepping over the large trench that the old man had been digging. Jed scratched his head as Barry crept slowly into the old man’s shed.

‘Not seen you ‘ere before,’ the old man said looking Jed up and down, ‘you a new’un?’

‘Yeah,’ Jed sniffed, ‘are they cabbages?’ he said pointing at the plants in front of him.

‘Yeah, that’s right,’ the old man said breaking into a yellow toothed smile.

‘They’re like the ones down the shops.’ Jed said looking closer.

‘It’s all in the taking care of ‘em. You gotta treat ‘em like kids. Look after ‘em. Feed ‘em right, they grow up good ‘uns.’ The old man explained.

In the shed Barry was tipping out the pockets of the old mans coat. A large gold watch fell onto the palm of his hand. The underside was engraved ‘Happy Anniversary to a loving husband’. He slipped it into his pocket with a smile. Plunging his hand back inside the coat he grimaced as an old sweet stuck to his fingernail. As he flicked the sweet onto the floor he noticed the fat brown envelope in the inside pocket.

As Barry ripped open the envelope he grinned at the wad of notes inside. The money purred as he flicked through it. He shoved the envelope into his jeans. Easy pickings he thought to himself. He turned around towards the shed door.

The old man was standing in front of him, brown cardigan open and grey bobble hat askew. Barry felt his knees buckle as the old man took a step towards him. He tried to get the knife out of his pocket but the old man was too quick. Before he could retrieve it the old man deftly lifted his spade into the air. The spade glinted in the October sun as it hung in the air. Barry’s mouth gaped as the spade dropped down sharply into his head. Then there was only darkness.

When Barry woke up his legs felt heavy. He tried to get up but his body wouldn’t move. Looking down he saw that he was almost completely encased in dirt. Glancing to the side he saw Jed. His body was completely buried in soil while his head stuck out of the ground like a mangled cabbage. Barry cawed as a mound of dirt fell from above, covering Jed’s bemused face.

Forcing his head backwards he saw the old man digging furiously above. He was agile for an old bloke and surprisingly fast. Seconds later the next mound of dirt flew into the hole covering the final tuft of Jed’s hair. Barry tried to move but his arms were weighed down, he felt a trickle of warm blood slide down his face. He opened his mouth to scream but all that came out was a mumbled gargle.

The old man stuck the spade in the ground and looked down curiously into Barry’s eyes. ‘Same with plants. If they ain’t any good rip em out. Stick ‘em on the compost and get ‘em doing a bit a use. No good wasting ‘em is it?’ he said with a grin. He shook his head and turned away. A tear rolled down Barry’s face as the sound of the shovel scraping against the stony ground resumed. A final showering of dirt hit his face. The stones and gravel cut through his skin like glass. He tried to get up but the next heavy mound fell onto his exhausted head.

A lady in a red quilted coat trudged up the path with a watering can in her hand. ‘Morning Margaret,’ said the old man.

‘Morning’ she replied.

‘Just digging in the trench for me runners,’ said the old man as he threw in another heap of soil.

‘You always put me to shame with your beans Bob,’ she said.

‘Gonna be a bumper crop this year I reckon’ the old man replied with a snigger.

Sue Gee lives in Stockport, has an allotment and likes to write. She is still perfecting her compost.

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