For all the Luke Walker: animal stick up for-er chapters, click here 😀
Chapter 24 continues from Tuesday:
Mum smiled. “Looking good. Do you want some furniture? I’ve got a couple of deck chairs and a coffee table you can have.”
“Yeah, maybe,” said Luke, smiling, “thanks Mum.”
“I’ve got some old curtains as well, if you want privacy,” she offered.
“Why? You can’t see in the shed window from the house can you?”
“No, of course not.”
“So you do want privacy. Top secret stuff is it?”
“No, course not, well …. we just don’t wanna be watched, that’s all.”
“I quite understand,” said Mum, trying to suppress a smile. “Do you want lunch? I could bring some sandwiches down here if you like.”
Luke shook his head. “Thanks, yeah, but no, we’ll come up to the house for ’em.”
FRIDAY 13 JUNE
When Luke got home from school there was no one else there. The house was silent.
“Dudley? D’you want to go outside?” he asked when he stepped into the kitchen. The clang of an upended stainless steel water bowl was preceded by the sound of four clawed paws hitting the floor. Dudley was at the back door in seconds.
As they walked to the allotments Luke and his oldest friend talked everything over. Well, Luke talked, Dudley couldn’t get a word in edgeways. Luke had always been grateful for good listeners. The best, he’d found, were those who didn’t try to push their own opinions into the discussion; those who let him get out all his jumbled thoughts and feelings without comment or judgement; those who just listened. That left Mum out. And Dad. At one time Luke’s first port of call when he needed to clear his head or puzzle a dilemma was the damson patch. The rabbits’ listening skills were second to none. Sadly Ash and Rusty had grown old and passed away in recent months. Scratcher was still around but she’d moved into the house for company and was often so busy rearranging soft furnishings that it was hard to get her undivided attention. That very morning she’d spent half an hour dragging the back doormat into the dining room. She seemed to prefer it there, no one knew why. Thankfully Dudley was always ready to lend an ear.
“Tomorrow’s C-Day,” said Luke, as if Dudley didn’t already know. “Mum an’ Dad are goin’ to London to help Aunt Clara move so that’s perfect timing. We should be able to get the chickens all tucked in before they get back. As long as Tania’s dad gets ’em here in time. She told him to go early but he said it was a long drive so he doesn’t know how long it’ll take.”
Tania had told her dad a white lie. She didn’t want to but Luke reminded her the chickens would be killed if she didn’t. She told him that Luke’s mum had an ingrowing toenail and his dad had to take her to hospital to have it removed so they wouldn’t be able to pick up the chickens they were adopting. She asked him if he’d mind doing it instead and he kindly agreed. Tania’s dad had never met Luke’s parents and with any luck he never would.
Luke arrived with Dudley at the allotments, unlocked the gate and walked between the immaculate plots en route to his own. The weird thing was, some of them didn’t look quite as immaculate as usual. What was yesterday a neat row of cabbages, now looked as though it had been trampled by a football team. Some were strewn across the path and a couple of them had rolled under someone else’s bean poles. The carrots on an adjacent plot had also been rudely and prematurely unearthed. Dudley attempted to investigate but Luke wouldn’t let him.
“Dudley no!” Luke wound the lead more tightly around his hand. “If anyone sees you doin’ that they’ll think you made this mess. An’ they’ll blame me!”
In fact the blame was fast approaching Luke’s position, as he soon realised. The trail of destruction led all the way back to his own plot, at which the gate was swinging open. There was no sign of Curly and Squirt.
“Curly! Squirt!” he called frantically. He rushed to the shed and looked inside; he looked behind it and under the bushes. They were gone. Dudley started sniffing eagerly. He seemed to be onto something. “Where are they boy?” Luke let go of the lead. “Find them boy, find Curly and Squirt!” Dudley followed his nose across the grass to the open gate, out of the gate and along the path until he arrived back at the scattered carrots. He loved carrots.
“No! Stop it Dudley! We’ve got to find Curly and Squirt!”
“Young man,” Luke was startled by the deep voice behind him. He turned to face Allotment Committee Man, otherwise known as Mr Fred Tipton. “I believe these belong to you.” Mr Tipton offered Luke one end of a long piece of rope. At its other end stood a very curly haired ewe, accompanied by her son.
“Thank you!” said Luke, “where have you been?” he asked them, “you had me worried sick!”
“Where they’ve been,” said Mr Tipton, “is all over these garden plots. They’ve done a heck of a lot of damage.”
“I’m really sorry about that,” said Luke, “I’ll put ’em back now. It won’t happen again.”
“No it won’t because you won’t be keeping them here any more.”
“What? That’s not fair, it wasn’t my fault!”
“Whose fault was it then?”
“I don’t know. Whoever opened the gate!”
“Who checked on them this morning?”
“Me. But I bolted the gate! I know I did! I always bolt the gate!”
“You must have forgotten today.”
“I didn’t!” Luke insisted. “Somebody else must have let ’em out! On purpose to get me in trouble!”
“They’re your responsib…”
“Somebody who wants an allotment! Whoever’s next on your waitin’ list – they’ve got motive!”
Mr Tipton shook his head. “I can’t run the risk of this happening again.”
“It won’t,” said Luke pleadingly, “I’ll get a lock, so no one else can open it! Please don’t make us leave!”
“I’m sorry, the decision’s been made. No more animals are to be kept on these allotments.”
Luke, Curly, Little Squirt and Dudley walked slowly home. They cut through the park and Luke racked his brains for inspiration. Would Mum and Dad let him keep the sheep at home? After all, the garden was big enough. And there was nowhere else they could go. Plus, it wasn’t his fault. He’d bolted the gate that morning, he knew he had. Someone else had let them out, whatever Mr Tipton said.
Half way across the playing field his cogitation was interrupted by someone calling his name.
“Walker! Nice sheep!”
A group of boys by the swings laughed but Luke ignored them. He had more important things to worry about.
“Got kicked off the allotments did ya?” They all laughed again, even louder. Luke kept walking.
“You should’ve kept the gate shut!”
This voice he recognised. Luke stopped and looked across at the laughing boys. At that moment he knew. Butler did it!
Story continues on Monday but if you don’t want to wait you can read it here now 😀
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