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Lesley's Enemy

Lesley's Enemy

By IanG

Most of the sky was black. Around the horizon was a band of dark blue. It looked as if God had found some cobalt paint left over from the day and decided not to waste it. The summer night was dry but mild. Gnats and moths fluttered under trees. Bats flew after them.

That night, a man lay in wait. He was parked in a layby on a country road. Some distance away a red brick arch spanned grey tarmac. Once it had carried railway trains but now it supported a walking trail. This man wore a police uniform but he wasn't really an officer. He sat and waited for a woman called Lesley Buckley to drive under the bridge.

The woman in question was driving homewards. Her father was ill so she had just delivered some food to him. She played Whitney Houston in her car and sang along (not well) to 'One Moment in Time.' There was a broad smile on her face.

The song ended. Lesley switched her car radio on, hoping to catch the news. An announcer's voice reached her ears. He said that a supposed refugee had been revealed as a spy for a hostile power. This man had been deported. Lesley silently congratulated herself. She was a secret agent and it was due to her that the enemy spy had been exposed as such.

She noticed headlights in her driver's mirror. They belonged to a lorry. Another car was approaching in the opposite lane. Then the lorry overtook Lesley.

"Blimey!" She thought as she slammed on the brakes. "That car's too close for you to get past in time."

As the lorry passed she noticed something odd about it. The design was archaic, like something from the 1940s. A teenaged boy sat in the passenger seat. His hair was dark and he seemed to be whooping in triumph. The lorry passed Lesley and swerved onto its side of the road. She sounded her horn in fury.

Thankfully the lorry had missed that other car. Lesley expected to hear its horn, see its lights flash or both, yet that didn't happen. It was as if the other car driver hadn't seen the bigger vehicle. How was this possible?

She had heard about local people who reenacted events from the Second World War. Lesley concluded that lorry must belong to them.

She tried to calm herself by changing the C.D. and playing "Dancing Queen" by Abba. As the singing began Lesley thought of Agnetha Faltskag.

"You were shy and hid it behind a mask of self confidence Agnetha," the agent thought. " I can relate."

She was approaching the former railway bridge. On the roadside, hawthorn bushes stood in rows. Their branches bent low and were covered in white blossom, like foam on breaking waves. Up ahead she could see the lorry's rear lights. Lesley started to relax. She had no reason to worry now, did she?

That lorry moved into the centre of the road in order to pass under the brick arch. Its driver miscalculated. There came a loud bang and sounds of metal scraping red bricks. Then smoke from an exhaust pipe billowed all across the road. Wheels spun with no effect. The vehical was stuck under the bridge. It was impossible to get a car around it. Lesley had to stop. Her Toyota sat by road markings, engine humming. Its logo resembled a half closed eye. Two people got out of that lorry. Her headlights illuminated them. One was the boy she had seem earlier. The other was its driver. He looked only a little older than his passenger. She wondered if he was old enough to be driving that thing. They walked round the back of their lorry. She checked that her car doors were locked, then lowered a window just a little. She felt like shouting "Why don't you go back to driving school?" Then she wondered if it was wise to draw attention to herself. Something wasn't right here.

The younger boy addresed the driver. "Well Frank, we'll be there nice and early now, won't we!" His voice was heavy with irony. "Why do you keep doin' this? I'm fed up with it."

"Strange though it may seem Taran, I'm doin' it to feed you."

"Yeah, to a guard dog. Did you see the rip in my trousers?"

Lesley had heard enough. She turned her car around and sped back the way she had come. She knew another route home. It was longer but probably safer tonight. Glancing in her rear view mirror, she saw Taran mimicking an ape and Frank lunging to grab him.

Had she seen those two before? Lesley thought that she had but couldn't think where.

A short time later, another car approached in the opposite lane. It flashed its lights at her. Her lights illuminated its number plate. She recognised it as belonging to a colleague. Lesley pulled over near a roadside lime tree. The other car turned into her lane, then stopped behind her. Another agent got out and she went to meet him.

"Thank heaven I've caught you," he said. "Don't go back to the arched bridge. There's an enemy agent waiting to ambush you beyond it. He wants revenge for that guy whose cover you blew. I tried to ring you but I coudn't get through. We think he hacked your phone and blocked the signal."

"Blimey!" Lesley replied. "Thank you Tom, thank you for telling me."

"Not at all. You defended me so one good turm deserves another. Would you like me to escort you home?"

"Yes please, I would."

They checked that no one was coming up behind them. All was clear. Then each got into their car and they drove through the night. Lesley's hands felt clammy with sweat. She kept looking behind with fear in her eyes. They left green fields and hedges, then entered a suburb. New houses with manicured gardens flanked the roads. A cat bounded across their path, white as a shirt at a prom. They stopped at Leslie's house. Tom stayed with her overnight, sleeping in the spare bedroom, but they had no trouble.

Seeing Tom Yarborough reminded Lesley of an operation years earlier. It had been botched and as a result his career had been jepordised. Lesley had discovered that another agent had given him poor information. She had, in saying so, saved him from being fired. Next morning Lesley got up first. She went downstairs to her living room. Two photos sat on the sideboard. One showed her father in an army uniform. The other showed her younger self, also in a soldier's uniform. She wondered where her enemey was now. As she thought of him hairs rose on her nape and blood vessels stood out on her neck.

The enemy agent was riding a motor bike at full speed. He left affluent suburbs and sped down a country road. He was trying to reach the nearest airport so he could flee the country from there. A pheasant flew across his path. He only just missed it. Why him? He had served his country so well until now. He recalled how proud his mother had been when he won a promotion. He remembered her hugging and kissing him. She thought he was in the regular army, but it was true about a promotion. Now he would never feel her warm arms again.

He came to a sharp bend. Roadside hedges obscured his view concealing a side road. A sign warned of the junction but he didn't dare to slow down. No other road users were in sight.

A range rover drove out of that side road. It was going too fast. Wild flowers swayed in its slipstream. It struck the motorcyclist, knocking him off his bike and killing him instantly. The range rover stopped, its driver got out and checked his victim's pulse. Having established there was none he drove away. This was the motorcyclist's punishment for failing to kill Lesley Buckley. As he drove off the killer wondered, why hadn't that woman driven into the trap?

Lesley was wondering too. As she sat on her sofa one evening she asked herself who those young men might be. A memory hovered in her mind. She must be mistaken. It was years since she saw that image. Nevertheless she switched on her laptop. Then she logged on to a site members of the public couldn't access. It took a while to find what she was looking for as she had forgotten some details. Then something jogged her memory and she brought up a webpage. This was about an incident that occured during World War II. Two young burgalers had broken into a house, not knowing it belonged to a Nazi sympathiser. This man had caught them and forced them to become sabatuers. They had, as a result, cut telephone wires and started fires in factories. The secret services kept a file on that Nazi. Lesley was accessing it. She scrolled down the page. She expected to find reassurance that her suspicions were groundless. Her washing machine hummed in the next room. Its familiarity and banalaty felt reassuring.

Lesley came to a black and white photograph. It was far from reassuring.

"It can't be him," she thought. "Its got to be his grandad"

She peered at the picture, trying to spot differences between the youth on her screen and the one in that lorry. She couldn't see any. Only in movies would grandad and granson look so alike. Taran, surname Morgan, stared at her across the decades. He was in a police mugshot, holding a card with his name on it. He seemed to be on the verge of tears. Lesley scrolled down again and found a picture of her lorry driver. This was Taran's brother Frank. His eyes stared ahead with a piercing gaze. This was a final attempt at defiance. Had stealing a lorry been one of their crimes? It was possible.

Her first reaction was to pull back her lips and wrinkle her nose, as if a dog had fouled her garden gateway. Then she realised those two phantoms had saved her life that night. But for them she would've met her enemy before Tom came. Had it been a lucky coincidence? Or had they come to protect her? Were they trying to make amends for their misdeeds in life?

Lesley studied her screen for a while but found no more about the brothers. Then she got up and poured herself a glass of whiskey. .It was the colour of autumn leaves. It tasted of some warm fireside.

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About This Story
8 Jul, 2023
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8 mins
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