David Deanshaw

Tea turned cold on a window ledge

 

Josie carefully peeled back the grimy net curtain and stared out of her attic window. She did so because she had noticed that the front door of number 37, across the street, had opened at last. She stood behind the mounted camera, looked through the view finder and clicked three times. The street lights were some distance away so the clandestine activities she had just witnessed were only just visible.
     What she saw caused a sharp intake of breath.
     Two men were struggling to carry a long bag wrapped in a dark grey material along the short garden path. Then they dropped it casually into the back of a white van parked on the road outside the house. It must have been really heavy because she heard a dull thud even though her house was thirty metres away.
     She reached for the special phone with dithering hands. Nervously she pressed three buttons as she had been instructed. A voice answered with one word – “Speak.” She did so in hushed tones and reported, “They are leaving now!” She sat down on the chair nearby and was surprised just how breathless she felt as she put the phone down, so much excitement!
     At last she could relax. Her job was done.

It had all been such a surprise. A week earlier, two men, one very tall, the other sort of average height, both dressed in trench coats had arrived at her door. They showed a form of identification she had not been able to make out fully because she had answered the door wearing her TV glasses. They had introduced themselves as “Special Services” people and asked that they should be invited inside.
     “Mrs Parker,” they began, “we are urgently in need of a location which overlooks the front door of a house opposite. Do you know who lives at number 37? Also, are they friends of yours?”
     “Oh no, not friends at all,” she replied with a gasp. “I think they work shifts, perhaps at the airport because they wear dark blue overalls. They only come home during the night. They’re very careful not to slam doors, I must say. But they don’t have any milk delivered, or post or papers, for that matter. Sometimes there is a light burning in the cellar, even during the day.”
     “Mrs Parker,” the tall one replied, “I am sure that we have found the right neighbour to carry out a short spying mission for us. Are you willing to have a camera mounted in your attic, with its lens trained on number 37?”
     “Oh isn’t this exciting. Why do you want to do this?”
     “Now Mrs Parker, this is a secret operation and we do not expect you to tell anybody about what you are doing or why we have asked you to carry out this mission for us. Do you understand?”
     “Oh I’m sure that I will be able to keep a secret – just for a week is it? OK. So long as I can tell my neighbours afterwards. Everyone at bingo will be really interested.”

“Mrs Parker, the whole nation is relying on you to be helpful to us. When the mission is finished we will then release you from your agreement.”
     “What agreement?” she asked with surprise.
     “Oh didn’t we tell you. We have a document here like the Official Secrets Act which you have to sign. Print your name and then sign on the line below.”
     “Will I get paid for this?” Josie’s interest was pricked by this thought.
     “Oh I’m sure that we could justify something like a week’s rent, if you really insist.”
     “Oh, I do. Well I pay the Council £300 a week for this small house, so could it be two weeks rent? Please!”
     The short one looked up at the tall one, they both nodded and Josie was overjoyed.
     “Now tell me exactly what you want me to do.”
     “Well it is important that we get pictures of what they are doing. We have had a man in the street for a few days now and he had nothing to report. That may be because they have suspected that they are being watched. This is a simple camera with a special night vision lens. We will set it up on a tripod to keep it steady in your attic. All you have to do is watch for when the door opens, click this button two or three times. Then we want you to use this special mobile phone, press these three buttons which will call us.”
     “Are you going to tell me why you are doing this?”
     “Not until afterwards, when we come to give you your money, we will tell you what it has all been about. And then you can tell your friends, but not before. Is that alright?”
     “And you promise that I can tell all the girls at bingo when it’s all over?”
     “Yes you can.” The prospects of being the centre of attention at bingo, AND having six hundred pounds in her purse gave her frisson of expectation.

Now one week on from that strange day, she had done everything the two strange men had asked and made the call.
     Within just a few minutes she could hear a siren and the street was full of police cars. Number 37 was surrounded, the door was smashed in and later four men wearing dark blue overalls were led out to a police van.
     Later, another large police van arrived and several long bags were loaded, all in the same dark grey plastic wrapping.
     Josie Parker had played her part in busting a gang of carpet rustlers.

 

About The Author

David Deanshaw has had a varied business career, initially in banking, then as a management consultant and more recently involved in the regeneration of run down town centres.

He has used his experience in writing a mixture of short stories, whilst planning on writing about situations he saw in the fields of both finance and politics.He has had several letters published in The Times, Sunday Times and Birmingham Post of a political and business nature.

His first novel, The Price of Loyalty, is based on the greed, ambition and arrogance he found watching activity in the City of London, entwined with political machinations. A sequel is being written together with a prequel involving some of the older characters.

Published May 22 2015