Down with laney

by James

There was no doubt about it, Gary was a weird one. The not liking football thing, that was okay, because Hodgy, from QA, he didn’t like football either, but then, he was a rugby boy. Then there was the upper management, guys like Walter, grey suits and greyer hair, wouldn’t crack a smile unless it was seeing a poor person lose a fiver, guys like him definitely not into football, but they golfed, so that was fine too.

But Gary?

They had tried every sport with him. Hey Gary, you like darts? No? Weightlifting? Shot-putting? Beach volleyball? Swedish beach volleyball?

Nah, not Gary. The weirdo would think about it for a time, he’d wrinkle up his face as if he was giving it some serious thought and then always, every time, that shake of the head and he’d say no, he didn’t care for it. That was weird too. Who has to think long and hard if they like a sport or not? Like Laney was fond of saying, cricket was for upper class chinless morons, and he knew that, right off the bat. He didn’t have to think about it.

But you know who has to think about it? An illegal, that’s who. Out of all the theories advanced by Laney as to why the weirdo Gary didn’t like any sport, this was the one that encountered the least mirth. Gary sounded English, he was Home Counties through and through, but compared to Laney’s other theories - the man was a spy, the man was alien – yeah, maybe he was an illegal who had nailed the accent from internet videos, and each time he went silent and thought it was because he was mentally translating women’s field hockey into his own language.

Laney was determined to solve the mystery. Just where did the weirdo go, by himself, for lunch every day? What could be more fun than strutting out with the standards posse, larging it up in the town centre, checking out the fillies regaling each other with tales of Friday night down the alley next to the Sparkle Bang Bang Wow club?

Laney did his usual – yo, Gary, luncheon with the lads? Rock it with an M & S meal deal? This was to lull the weirdo, because Laney and the boys didn’t head into town, they hung back until the weirdo emerged through the side door, slung his bag over his shoulder and set off at a quick pace in the opposite direction to town.

Laney and the boys followed Gary at a discreet distance, turning when he turned. Gary left the main road, ducking down a side alley, going through a wire mesh gate that was hanging open because of the broken padlock dangling at the end of the rusty chain. No sign of the weirdo at the other end of the alley, just the green bulk of the park laid out in front of them. No sign of Gary either to the left or the right, but then Laney spotted a gap in the rusting railings. Beyond this gap was the faint hint of a trail.

Laney’s voice was full of contempt. ‘He’s in the park? What’s in the park, ducks and shit? You can’t buy a sausage roll in the park, can you? Or a steak bake?’

A sudden crack of the thunder made all the boys jump, and Laney began to laugh. ‘Loser! He’ll get soaked. That’s what it is boys, he’s a bloody illegal, and this is the first shower he’s had in months!’