Don't Look Back
Ah struggle tae see just how close ah um tae it, reversin slowly, edgin the wee motor’s rear intae the dimly lit yerd. The large shutter rattles as ah misjudge the distance an nudge it. Barely. Just the slightest hint ay pressure but it’s enough tae send a wave ay energy ripplin through it, rattlin every last metallic slat ay its fifteen fit odd height.
It starts tae lift slowly an ah hear the pulley mechanism turnin, the metal chain clackin an clinkin aff itsel oan its climb an subsequent descent roon the pulley.
A dull but assured moonlight trickles oot, projected oantae the flair through the skylights oan the roof, as the door climbs, stoappin aboot four fit aff the grun. Scanlon sticks his heid oot, ‘Whit ye aw aboot man, hittin the door? Ye blun, ya cunt? Yer gonnae get us baith the jail ya fuckin crackpot, ye.’ he sais in a loud whisper.
‘Aye, sorry aboot that mate. It’s hard tae see in this light.’ ah sais, leanin oot the motor windae.
‘Keep yer voice doon, wull ye? Bring the torch wae ye an get yer arse in here.’
Ma feet slide away fae me, the greasy flair mawkit wae grime an oil when ah crouch, scamperin under the door. Wipin ma hauns oan ma troosers, ah staun up tae a sea ay industrial tools spread oot in front ay me: generators, power drills, compressors, tig welders, table saws, mechanical hoists – you name it man, it’s here. That’s no whit we’re here fur but.
Directin the beam ay light fae the torch, ah scan the area lookin fur wan, hopin ah’ll know it when ah see it. Should be obvious but ah’ve only ever seen wan bein used wance, doon in London. ‘Anyhin oer there?’ ah sais tae Scanlon who’s stumblin aboot at the other end ay the warehoose in the dark.
‘Ah kin barely see the haun in front ay ma face. You’ve goat the torch, ya cunt!’ he sais.
The main fluorescent strip lights — high above us, suspended fae the structural steel — come clinkin oan, wan at a time, illuminatin the place in bright light. Ah look aroon, eyes dartin frantically tae see where the switches ur — tae see who turnt them oan — preparin masel fur the worst, when Scanlon emerges fae between two ay the many rows ay storage rackin that tower oer us, ‘That’s better man. Couldnae see a thing there.’ he sais.
‘A thoat we were tryin tae be discreet here man. You’ve just turnt the place intae the Blackpool Illuminations.’ ah sais.
‘Aw the mare reason tae get the fuckin finger oot an find this bastarn thing so we kin get oot ay here.’ he sais, disappearin up an aisle.
There’s rows an rows ay rackin, mibbe fifty fit long, wae shelves spaced four or five fit apart, reachin up tae the underside ay the corrugated, metal roof. Oan every shelf, there’s pallets wae different items stored oan them, nane ay which ah kin identify fae here oan the flair.
A loud, high pitched noise, like an alarm, soundin intermittently, rings oot aroon the space. . . . BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP . . .
Ah’m lookin fur Scanlon while at the same time, tryin tae judge the distance tae the door, the motor, an a possible escape, when he appears again fae between the rackin deeper intae the warehoose. He’s reversin wan ay they side loader foarklifts, it’s yella flashin beacon chasin roon the waws, bathin them in light, cyclically.
Burlin the huge machine roon, he approaches, soundin the horn an laughin like a wean oan the teacups at the shows, his earlier cautious approach seemingly abandoned, ‘Hurry up, jump oan the foarks an ah’ll lift ye up, there must be wan here somewhere.’
In the third row, fifth shelf up, ah see it. Ah nearly don’t. Just another nondescript lump ay metal; another industrial tool, like every other item in here. Tae the ignorant, untrained eye, it’s difficult tae discern its function, or even if ye kin conceptualise whit it dis, determinin whit ye might actually use wan fur, well, that’s a different matter. A specialist tool, know whit ah mean?
‘Take us back tae the door, ah’m no draggin this oer tae it.’ ah shout oer the noise ay the foarkie.
He trundles across the open flair, the heavy machine ploughin through the plant an machinery lined up ootside the workshoap like they’re no even there.
At the door, ah jump aff an we look at the battered, gunmetal grey steel case, rubbin a thick coatin ay grime aff the lid, revealin lettering: Heavy Duty Hydraulic Press, Max Capacity 12,000KG. ‘Aw this, fur this?’ Scanlon sais, ‘Ye sure it’s the right bit ay kit?’
‘It sais right there, “12,000KG” That’s twelve ton ay pressure, ye know. Mare than enough fur ma purposes. Gie me a haun tae lift it intae the boot.’ ah sais, pullin the chain ay the pulley tae raise the door further.
‘Aye ah wull, gies two minutes though.’ he sais, an runs back the waiy we came.
‘Where ye gaun? We’ve no goat time fur this.’ ah protest, tae deif ears.
By the time ah’ve raised the door enough an opened the boot, he’s back, conspicuous by the leanin tower ay Bosch power drills stacked in his airms.
‘Come oan tae fuck Scanlon! Never mind that shite an gies a haun wae this.’
‘Carpet-fuckin-diamond.’ he mutters fae behind the stack.
‘Seize the day! That’s whit yer always givin it, int it? That’s aw ah’m dain – well, seizin these drills anywaiy! Taxed mate. It’s no up fur discussion. Ah’ll punt them roon the pubs an that – buildin sites . . .’
‘It’s Carpe Diem! An yer missin the fuckin point! Just put them doon a minute an gies a haun wae this eh?’ We lug the case aff the pallet oan the foarks an place it intae the boot afore flingin the cases wae the drills oantae the back seats, ‘mone, we’re pushin wur luck here, we’ve been here too long awready.’ ah sais, jumpin intae the driver’s seat an startin the wee Corsa up.
A blade ay torchlight cuts through the darkness aheid ay us at the gate we’d came in. We’d cut the padloacked chain wae bolt cutters afore shuttin it back oer, which — judgin by the torchlight directed at us, shinin right in wur faces — ah’d say he’s noo found. ‘STOAP RIGHT THERE! AH’M PHONIN THE POLIS!’ the guard shouts.
‘GET THE FUCKIN BOOT DOON MCSHANE!’ Scanlon shouts but he neednae huv bothered as ah’m racin acroass the yerd taewards the gate. The security gerd’s goat his back turned tae us, frantically tryin tae secure it wae the chain. Ma fit’s tae the flair, gaun up through the gears, the speedometer reads 35MPH, the guard’s still fuckin aboot wae the chain. 40MPH. He turns roon lookin at us comin taewards him, ‘WHIT’S HE FUCKIN DAIN? MOVE!’ ah shout, glancin at the speedo again, 50MPH.
Ah rattle the horn, keepin ma haun firmly placed doon oan it; as much as ma fit is tae the flair, ‘He’s no gonnae move. HE’S NO MOVIN!’
‘He’ll fuckin move awright.’ Scanlon sais.
The heidlights flood oer him, his petrified face incandescent in the full beam ay the heidlights. He’s just a young boay. Frozen tae the spot.
The gate smashes open an ah slam the brakes oan, narrowly avoidin careerin through the fence acroass the road, coverin the embankment doon tae the railway track.
‘Telt ye he’d move.’ Scanlon sais, his face chalk white, like a ghost.
‘FUCKIN, FUCK ME!’ ah sais, ma hauns grippin the steerin wheel like a vice.
Lookin in the wing mirror, ah see the boay gettin tae his feet, stumblin aboot in the dark, his torch still spinnin oan the grun.
Takin a few deep breaths tae compose masel, ah stick it in gear an we bolt, disappearin intae the night. We don’t look back again.