All stories

The Dicks

by Jenny

The doorbell rang and I groaned; the bland, balding man from the council was on my doorstep again.

“What this time?” I sighed.

From the other side of the fence I heard muffled giggling and I fought down irritation.

“Um, your neighbours are concerned that you might be, um, harbouring illegal immigrants here. In, um, your loft.”

“My loft? The meter tall space that you inspected for rats last week?”

“Um, yes.”

“The loft you examined because they thought I’d had an illegal loft conversion?”

“If I could just…”

He sidled past me. Behind the fence I caught a flash of scraggy black hair, the tang of fag smoke, the excited gasps of stifled, malicious glee.

Sharon and Anthony Dicks had been friendly at first, then sniffy when my flowers turned out prettier than theirs and finally, after I asked them to turn down their music at one in the morning on a weekday, they had become downright unbearable. Their awful son was away at boarding school, and, with nothing to occupy them, they focused on me.

They had taken to reporting me to the council weekly for myriad imaginary infractions and had once called the fire brigade out at three am because they ‘thought my log burner was a fire hazard.”

Enough was enough, I decided, and began to hatch a plan.

That night I called some friends and, between us, we gathered the worst kind of crap you can imagine. Bits of old cars, huge jagged panes of broken glass, biscuit packets, even an old toilet seat. Alice kept chickens and supplied a bucket of fresh droppings and Karen brought a bag of dirty nappies. The smell was indescribable.

We bundled it all up into two big rubble sacks and, after dark, drove one of them to the rec, right near the rugby pitch and dumped it, just beneath a sign that warned against fly tipping on penalty of a £1000 fine.

At the last moment I carefully slipped in an old catalogue with next door’s address on, that had been delivered to me by mistake.

The other sack I stashed in my back garden.

I stayed home all the next day curtain twitching like the rest of the street. When I saw the balding man striding up their path I opened the door and waved. He shot me a thin lipped smile.

“Are you here about the smell?”

He looked startled and shook his head.

“It’s awful - out the back garden. Thought someone might have called. Maybe you can check it out while you’re here.”

I closed the door and listened. He rang the bell, I heard their confused voices, their footsteps on the laminate hallway, the click of the door edging open...

I dashed out into the garden, hurled the rubble sack over their wall, scattering shit and glass and foul smelling debris across their lawn, ran back inside to press my ear against the wall and wait with all the malicious glee I could muster.

Take two

by Russ

‘Absolute snakes everywhere. You can’t trust anyone these days. They’re all just out to get whatever they can and screw anyone not in their silly little club.’

About five minutes ago, Sheila had been overlooked when a tub of biscuits had been passed around the office. It had not gone down well.

‘Just because you didn’t happen to go to their posh little boarding school with mummy and daddy’s money. Just because you’re not noshing off the right managers. Just because you have some goddam self-respect!’

We worked for Carphone Warehouse just outside Wigan, and Sheila had ‘noshed off’ at least two of the team leaders since she started here six months ago.

‘I mean. This is the problem with the world today. Nobody has any loyalty anymore. It’s ridiculous, loyalty costs nothing.’

I should have argued that loyalty can actually carry quite a steep price. Instead, I stuck to what I knew was the expected script.

‘So, what are you gonna do about it, Sheils?’ I asked, as though I genuinely cared.

‘That’s the question, innit mate?’

She was correct. That was the question.

‘You gonna quit?’

Please, please, let her quit.

We’d started as part of the same intake and I’d latched on to Sheila because, well, she was the only other woman around my age and by far the loudest of the group. Also, this was my first job with actual other people and I was scared. It took about a month for me to realise what a horrible mistake I’d made, but by then the die was cast.

‘Nah, mate, you know I’d never give them the satisfaction.’

That’s what I feared.

‘I’m just gonna go on strike.’

‘Really?’ I was surprised.

‘Well, not strike strike, but, y’know, do less. They don’t wanna include me in the treats, I don’t wanna sell their phones.’

There were two problems with this. Firstly, we worked on commission. Secondly, it was hard to see how Sheila could physically do less. As it was, the toilet seat saw more of Sheila’s arse than her desk chair did. Partly because we weren’t allowed mobiles at our desks, but also, I suspected, because of how she ‘just nipped for a coffee’ every time the boards showed there were calls queuing to be answered.

‘You do right,’ came out of my mouth before I even realised what I was saying.

It was at this point Ollie crouched down beside my chair with the biscuit tin and gave me that smile of his. I could feel Sheila’s eyes and knew I should turn up my nose and send Ollie away as if he’d personally offended me with his offer.

I knew that was what I was supposed to do.

I kept my face stiffly away from Sheila as I let my hand float over the tin to choose one of the biscuits.

‘Take two,’ Ollie said as he gently nudged my thigh with his elbow. ‘There’s plenty left today.’

Reader, I took two.