This is sort of written for the #blogbattle, but then it didn’t end at 1000 words so I’ve broken it into four parts to be spread over four days. Next installment tomorrow
Roland tugged the grubby garbage bin away from the wall and flipped up the lid.
‘Diving for pearls, Ro?’ Percy’s snigger had a nasal undertone, courtesy of his allergic reaction to dust. Not great for a refuse collection employee and why he always got to drive the cart. ‘Or you smelled treasure?’ The ‘treasure’ was drawn out like some cod-pirate teasing a reluctant shipmate.
Roland ignored the jibe. He’d had enough, frankly. ‘Just checking they’re complying.’ Was he the only one who cared about the recycling rules? No25 never separated their waste and he saw it as his job to identify those who’d not make the little effort needed. His grandpa had told him to ‘do his bit’ as he’d done in the war. The fact that his colleagues called him the Stasi and Nark didn’t worry him at all. He’d do his bit, even if no one appreciated it. Leaning in he was gratified to see an absence of cardboard and plastic. He flipped the lid closed and wheeled it to the back of the cart.
‘They taken their medicine?’ Even Percy was losing the will to mock. Roland watched as the bin attached itself to the hoist and lifted up, emptying…
Roland jumped as he focused on the voice. Quickly he jammed on the override and the cart’s crushing mechanism reluctantly juddered to a stop. Feeling sick, Roland pulled himself onto the step and peered round the bin, ignoring Percy’s string of oaths.
The rubbish had spread across the top of the crusher and one white plastic rubbish sack had split. Or rather it was being split as Roland watched. Something hairy – an arm – reached up, grabbed the guard rail and pulled. Whatever it was – Roland thought a monkey but this seemed more squat that any simian he’d ever seen – stood on the bag and looked around. Roland followed its gaze. He became conscious that the thing had twigged he was watching it move. It raised an arm – its hands seemed coarse but much like his own – and slowly describe a circle. Roland followed it until the hand returned to the start and then touched its nose. As they made eye contact, the thing hissed, ‘shit,’ and slumped back to sit on the bag.
‘What you playing at, Ro? If you’ve stopped this cos you think you’ve found some piece of paper in the general waste, I’ll do for you.’
Roland’s eyes remained on the thing who looked up at Percy, now standing next to Roland and looking at the rubbish.
‘Well?’ Percy sounded on the edge of one of his incremental outbursts. He was barely holding his anger in check.
Roland began to point at the creature and stopped. The thing shook its head and put a finger to its lips.
‘It’s just a load of sodding rubbish, Ro. Geez.’ Percy hopped down and began the tedious process of resetting the crusher. ‘I told Doreen I’d not be late for her book group. If I get it, then believe me so will you.’
The thing stood slowly and leant round the side of the hanging bin, watching Percy at work. In a soft whisper, it said, ‘don’t give me away, please?’
Roland was so stunned all he could do was nod. The creature held his gaze for a moment and then hopped off the cart. As it walked briskly back up the drive of No 25, it hissed a quick thanks.
‘Come on, you silly sod. You look like you’ve just seen Mrs Chardonnay doing one of her streaks. If you ask me, eighty year olds should be sewn in their clothes. It’s not fair on a chap’s imagination to implant that sort of sagging imagery.’