Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Short Story - The Tenant List by Roy Hedge-Partridge

Labour Community Short Story Project
Our local Conservative Party-supporting press, police and business community are so biased against the Labour Party that crime and corruption involving tories, even with eye-witness testimony, is completely ignored and never investigated. The Havering Witness was founded to lobby for investigations to be carried out.  We recognise the need for victims of injustice to vent their anger and we encourage them to write short stories for that purpose.  Real names are not used in any of the short stories published and not all details in the stories are actual events - a style of writing otherwise known as "faction".   

It is November 1983. Roy's lorry won't restart after making a delivery to the private members club on Clover Road. He decides to go and sit in the warm while he waits for the mechanic to show up. While he is waiting he overhears things that make his blood boil.

THE TENANT LIST by Roy Hedge-Partridge

"I thought you'd gone" said Tina behind the bar. 
"So did I !" replied Roy "Lorry won't start I've got to wait for the bloke, can I wait in here in the warm ?"

*Of course you can luv sit at the table by the radiator its lovely and warm there, do you want a tea " said Tina.
Roy sipped his tea and said "lovely drop of splosh" smiling at Tina. He grabbed his paperwork and made himself comfortable at Tina's table which was behind a pillar with pictures of Rumstead's old football team all over it.

I don't know how long this blokes going to be thought Roy as he looked at the pictures on the pillar.  Roy heard some voices from another table a few yards away, he peered around the pillar and saw four men drinking at a table. One or two of them looked familiar - they were local tradesman. Roy didn't recognise the others.
They were talking about getting land to build on. The four men were active members of the local Conservative Party and local business community - they sounded annoyed about something.

Roy listened to them talking and mentally labelled the voices 1, 2, 3 and 4. He started to listen to their conversation, the four men were unaware of his presence.
Man 1 and man 2 sounded like they were business people of some kind whereas man 3 and 4 were definitely in the building trade as he recognised their faces.

"He had a Rhodesian police uniform and a copy of Mein Kampf I'm telling you" said man 3 laughing.  "His mate had a load of nazi daggers and swords - the bollocks they were"
"I fancy being in the Rhodesian police" said man 4 "I hate all black and coloureds - thats why I got my shooter,  I got forty bullets with it. If you ever need it just give me a shout."

"Keep your voice down !" said man 3 "We all hate 'em and all the commies and jews. We all wanna have a go at them just calm down."
"That's right." said man 2 "Any news on new land ? Has our man got any further with it ? He's supposed to be cherry-picking government land all the time ! "

"I told you before it's difficult, there's a pecking order, and the councillors and their mates are before us.  I found out about the Electric Company land it went to Merton and Elmore they already put plans in." said man 1.
"What about the unemployment office, 61 Main Road, is that still going ?" said man 2.  "It is being chased up by the MP, I'm told, but first option is already taken by Merton and Elmore."

"Why are Merton and Elmore getting it all ?" said man 4 "F#### hell ! Am I wasting my time with this or what ?"
"Just calm down son" said man 3.

"Don't keep telling me to f###### calm down I'm sick of it." said man 4 slamming his pint down. "I've had enough of this old crap I'll see you later". 
Roy watched man 4 walk the length of the club and out the door slamming it behind him.The rest of the men kept talking as if nothing had happened.

"I'm getting annoyed with it as well" said man 3 "Why can't we get a response ?"
"The land he is freeing up is going to people close to him. But there might be a chance on council houses and flats." said man 1 "I got a bloke in the rent office he can give me a list of the long-term council tenants that qualify for the full price discount."

"How will that work" said man 2 "You gonna give them private loans or what ?"
"Yea, I loan them the cash to buy the place at full discount then we sell it and split the profit - lovely jubbly ain't it ?" said man 1.

"What if they ain't got somewhere else to live ?" said man 3
"I've got builder mates begging for tenants" said man 1 "and they'll pay me for finding them ! Some of the tenants will make three or four years worth of pay on the deal so they'll go for it no trouble !"

"All I want to know is are you up for making any loans yourself - I'll make a charge for arranging access to the tenant but you'll still make a decent screw out of it, better than any building society anyway." said man 1.
"Hold up" said man 2 quietly "someone's coming".

"Alright Roy !" said Bob the mechanic "sticking his head out of the kitchen serving hatch." Tina was laughing behind him.

Roy dropped his phone on the floor and grabbed his chest "Cor bloody hell you made me jump" said Roy. 
"Your lorry's up and running Roy sign my sheet for me will ya" said Bob.

"Okay mate" said Roy laughing "you bloody scared me you pillock !"
Roy signed the sheet and picked up his coat from his chair.  Without thinking he looked straight at the three men who could now see him.

The three men looked back at Roy in silence.
"How long has he been sitting there" said man 1 to man 3 after Roy had left the club.

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