Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Crate

On behalf of myself and my Romanian friend, I’d like to apologise to the passengers of the 8.32 express from London Euston to Bangor for the non-arrival of their train. Not that any of this is my fault, you understand. All I did was open the front door when the bell rang. The rest was merely the result of my being caught up in the maelstrom of history.

‘Delivery for Dale,’ said the thick set man from DHL. ‘You Dale?’

‘Big Chip Dale,’ I confirmed. ‘Thonglateer Extraordinaire, aka The Chipster.’

I only told him this because I’ve been expecting a large crate marked ‘THONGS’ to arrive from the manufacturer and I was already excited, anticipating an afternoon spent curing them. After a six hour soak in warm pineapple oil, each thong would have to be carefully beaten with a mallet until it became soft and pliable. Only then would I hang them up, still damp with oil, ready for the next performance. This, I think you’ll agree, is a detail of the stripper’s life that it’s rare to see portrayed in the media.

The delivery man’s eyes narrowed. Peas pressed beneath an iron heel came to mind. ‘This is for Gabriel Dale,’ he said.

‘There’s nobody here by that name,’ I replied, loudly enough to wake the sleeping Romanian, recently back from a night time commando training exercise in suburban England.

‘Wait, wait,’ came the excited squeal from the bedroom. The room shook and a door opened. ‘I Gabby,’ she said, racing to the door.

The delivery man looked down at her naked body and whistled.

‘I know what you’re thinking,’ I said. ‘Shark attack. Well it wasn’t. Those are the scars if battle and unless you want to add to them, you’d better hand over the package and stop keeping her waiting.’

He stuck his pencil behind his ear and turned back to the landing. He returned a minute later wheeling a large crate. By then, I’d persuaded Gabby to get dressed and I was alone to help the delivery man get the crate into the apartment. It was a huge box, with straw sticking out between the wooden lats. Across it were written words in Romanian that I could not interpret except they seemed to have some relevance to the big red skulls painted on each side. I tipped the guy fifty pence and he smiled the smile of a man who didn’t realise how close he had come to mortal danger.

‘Well?’ I asked Gabby as she arrived from the bedroom and began to circle the crate. ‘What is it? Please tell me that you’ve not ordered another goat.’

‘Gabby get samples from Romania,’ she said. ‘She so excited!’

‘Samples of what?’

She whipped the knife from the sheath she keeps strapped to her back and began to work the lid of the box open. Then she stuck her hand into the straw and retrieved something the size and shape of a thigh and tapered at one end.

‘Fireworks!’ she screamed and began to skip around the flat, cradling the explosive to her chest. ‘Gabby decide we have firework party so I email my friend. She have key to bunker.’

Has there ever been such an ominous word uttered by a Romanian dancing with a firework?

‘Bunker?’ I repeated. ‘What sort of bunker?’

‘It not matter. Fireworks here.’ She stopped skipping and her eyes went wide. ‘We try out now?’

‘Not here, you’re not,’ I said, leaping after her as she went to the drawer where we keep our box of matches.

‘Oh, but Gabby want to see if they work.’

‘Go out somewhere,’ I said as I tried to pull the matches from her fingers.

‘The park?’

‘It’s as good a place as any,’ I said, just happy to see her away from the flat.

‘And Chip come with me.’ She released the matched and grabbed my neck in a inverted-shoulder twist hug with added thigh grip. ‘Gabby and Chip go fireworking!’ she screamed as she let me go and began to start skipping with something I was sure was meant to be handled carefully.

Bangor’s park was cold, empty, and green. Gabby had found a place well away from the small play area set aside for toddlers and a row of trees separated us from the concrete bowl used by skateboarders. Not that either places were being used on a day when a man in thermal thong was still feeling the cold. My nipples were harder than pennies.

‘This is exciting,’ said Gabby as she worked a hole in the frozen grass. The rocket was to be supported by a thin piece of wood which Gabby was now pushing into the ground. ‘Gabby think this good fun.’

‘Are you sure that’s strong enough?’ I asked but Gabby wasn’t listening. She’d got the rocket pointing vertically, give or take then slight lean where the stick was bending under the weight of the big Romanian munition.

‘I think we should have a gantry for something that big,’ I said. But it was too late. Gabby was busy trying to light a match. ‘Look, Gabs, I don’t think…’

The match flared.

‘Ready!’ squealed Gabby as she applied the match to the fuse which immediately began to spit flames as it trailed across the ground. Gabby came running back to where I was hiding behind a tree. And not just a small tree. I think I’d chosen the biggest oak tree in Wales.

‘Gabby love fireworks,’ she said, her breath clouding in the cold air. For a moment, I was sure the condensation was in the shape of a mushroom cloud.

The rocket ignited with a magnificent rush of flames that immediately incinerated the feeble stick holding it upright. This accounted for it’s first movement, which was from the vertical and to the horizontal. Fortunately, it fell away from us and more towards the toddler’s swing area, towards which it immediately began to fly.

‘No!’ I mouthed as took a turn towards the shed used by the pensioners for their crown green bowling equipment. Only some change in the rocket’s altitude took it above the shed and it span around and began to sail harmlessly away from the park.

‘Wow,’ said Gabby.

I had no time for wows. I had just seen the rocket change direction yet again and it was now heading towards the rail tracks.

At any other time of the day, it would have sailed harmlessly over the embankment, clearing it by a good twelve feet. Unfortunately, with the 8.32 London Euston to Bangor Express sitting there, waiting for the signals to change, the rocket impacted at the mid point of the lead engine. The noise was like a dull thump. When the smoke cleared, I could see daylight through the mid section of the engine and beyond it, the trail of the rocket still climbing into the far distance.

‘It’s gone clean through it,’ I said.

Gabby clapped. ‘Armour tipped,’ she said with evident pride at the quality of Romanian fireworks.

We got home in time to hear the news of the explosion at the Army’s weapons dump outside Rhyl. No injuries have been reported at this time and the cause has yet to be determined. As for the hole in the 8.32 London Euston to Bangor Express, a migrating heron is thought to have been behind the mysterious hole. We all know quite different, of course, but for the sake of Welsh-Romanian relations, I’d think it best if we leave it there.

Gabby got home and ran straight to the crate to see if they’d sent another rocket. When it was evident they hadn’t, I sank into my armchair.

‘Let that be a lesson,’ I began.

‘Lesson? You mean bigger stick next time?’ asked Gabby standing up. In her arms was something three feet long with tail fins.

‘My God, what the hell is that?’

She hugged it to her breast. ‘This,’ she said, ‘is Romanian Strategic Cruise Roman Candle but I’m saving this for November fifth.’


Momentary Academic said...

Your holiday with Gabby must always be exciting, huh? Happy Halloween, Chippy!

elberry said...

In truth there is no real difference between a weapon and a toy. i'm sure your lady friend could kill using a My Little Pony teaset, and likewise an ICBM would be her perfect toy for Xmas.

Big Chip Dale said...

Momentary, you're not telling me it's a holiday in America? We work over here. No wonder the Chinese are about to take over the world.

Elberry, you're wrong in the use of the word 'could'. Change it to 'has made her first' and you'd be correct. I could give you details but it's classified by the MOD.

(Her recon around your shrubbery went well, by the way.)

jaypar said...

happy halloween