“It’s a bloody foolproof plan!” Charlie Watkins stated matter-of-factly with the usual upbeat optimistic tone to his voice and then promptly, wit one gulp, downed the last of his pint. He licked his lips in satisfaction, “it simply must work.”
Jimmy and Cuthbert intently studied Charlie’s plump red rosy cheeks and rolled their eyes in unison. They had heard those very words all too often before and they virtually always meant trouble was on the horizon. The three drinking buddies had known each other for nigh on twenty years, meeting at a race track one fateful Saturday afternoon and for all of those twenty years Charlie had been continually coming up with new ideas that were going to make them millionaires overnight. Alas, none of the dozens of instant wealth making ideas had actually worked, yet Charlie had such contagious enthusiasm, they always blindly followed his schemes. They also knew full well that the first plan they did not go along with, would be the one that worked.
Twenty minutes later, and spurred on by several pints of the finest cask conditioned ale London has to offer, the three middle aged men fell out of the aptly named Scoundrels Arms and into the street. Feeling hungry after their night of drinking they began to stumble off towards the corner fish and chip shop. As they staggered their way along the pavement Charlie continued on with his idea.
“You see,” Charlie slurred. “This plan is so incredibly easy. Like I said you all remember reading about Harriett Higgins in the local paper, the widow of the great beer mogul Arthur, who last Tuesday choked on an unusually large pickled onion. And according to the reporter, was discovered by her maid the next morning dead on her marble kitchen floor, with the jar of pickled onions left opened on her table. Apparently the maid, after she laughed heartily at her employer’s demise, finally succumbed and called the police.”
“Yes, I remember that, it made the front page,” Jimmy said as he walked along without stepping on a crack in then pavement.
“That it did,” Charlie confirmed grinning like a watermelon that had been split with an axe. “Now according to the newspaper the next day the coroner had a somewhat disturbing and troublesome time removing the offending onion. Harriett was not exactly a slender woman, in fact she was bordering on ridiculously obese. Finally the coroner succeeded in his dreadful taste, and with a huge and undignified sigh, signed all the appropriate paperwork, stating that it was ‘death by misadventure’ and sent the body to its next stop, the local morticians.”
“That is where Trevor comes in to the story isn’t it?” Cuthbert said and then belched.
“Aye, that Trevor is a character alright!” Jimmy chimed in. “A mortician by day and a womanizer by night.”
“Yes, that is Trevor down to a tee,” Charlie continued dryly. “Any road he apparently set about his daunting task of cleansing and dressing the oversized body. Apparently he used a lot of hair removal products. There was even some nasty gossip in the pub of some terrible accident involving highly explosive bodily gases and a lit cigarette, but I hate listening to rumors. Harriett’s final instructions, according to what I happened to overhear, were painstakingly detailed in her final will and testament. The oddest request perhaps was that she insisted to be buried with her beloved Pekinese dog, Fluffy, who now I suspect wears a permanently startled look on his pampered puppy face after succumbing to the request. It stated clear enough in the paper that she also demanded that her corpse was to be dressed in her finest fox fur coat, be sporting her most lavish gold Swiss watch, her diamond studded necklace, earrings, bracelet, and matching tiara placed daintily upon her not so delicate head.”
“I attended the funeral yesterday afternoon at Saint Peters Anglican cemetery…There was quite a fuss, let me tell you, as all of the local press had turned out. In addition many former employees from Higgins brewery were there in attendance. You see, as you no doubt recall, after her husband’s death, she had become the proprietor of the historic award winning Higgins brewery and three days after his demise sold it off to an American mega beer brewery for undisclosed millions of dollars.”
Charlie closed his eyes as he remembered how the beer used to taste.
“It was a sad day for British beer fellows, a sad day indeed, because as you know the fancy pants American owners, with there flashy clothes, sun tanned faces and big cars had no actual interest in making real beer. No all those prats wanted were to manipulate the company’s historical name and heritage. Yup, I cried that day, I surely did, and I am not ashamed to admit it. The Yanks quickly modified the perfect four hundred plus year recipe, replaced all the dedicated work force with computers and robots, and began mass marketing the wretched, tasteless putrid new beer to the gullible Americans as the true taste of Britain. It is now, I am sad to say, the eighth most popular imported beer in North America. But yet again I digress.”
As the three sat there munching on their battered haddock and chips along with several juicy pickled eggs they eagerly went over the final details.
“Right,” Charlie said as he chomped on a chip, “one of us has to remain on guard whilst the other two of us dig up poor Harriett, and every twenty minutes we will rotate. Right “earlier today I parked my van outside the churchyard, and in the back I have a bunch of my old shovels, spades and pick axes. What could possibly go wrong?”
Reinvigorated by their late night gourmet feast Charlie, Cuthbert and Jimmy gallantly once more set off into the night. It was about half a miles walk to the cemetery, still it was a pleasant cool October evening and the thought of all that lovely jewelry , or rather how much they were going to get for it off their fence, Cedric, sped them along.
At just before midnight they arrived at the graveyard and began to unload the equipment from the van .Saint Peter’s ancient bell began to ominously chime just as they swung open the creaking wrought iron gate of the entrance.
“Why do I suddenly expect Christopher Lee to suddenly jump up at me?” Cuthbert whined as the actual thought that they were grave robbing finally entered into his dense head.
“It is easy money mate,” Charlie chirped in an attempt to reassure him. “I have told you before our plan’s bloody fool proof, I have thought of absolutely everything.”
“Aye but we are the bloody fools,” Jimmy whispered.
Charlie flashed his two accomplices his best menacing look, which unbeknownst to him made him look rather like a fat codfish. However they did pull themselves together.
“Right!” Charlie commanded sounding like a very bad impression of Michael Caine, “I will take the first watch and you too get digging is that perfectly clear? And if I do see anyone or anything I will give a blow on this and you will know to hide.” As he spoke he reached into his anorak pocket and proudly pulled out a wooden duck call.
With some reluctance Roger and Cuthbert proceeded to the middle of the graveyard and towards Harriett’s final resting place… They had been smart enough to bring along torches and their beams reflected eerily amongst the old graves as they went.
Finally they arrived at the oversized marble tombstone, which had been flamboyantly and elaborately carved. They looked at each other and gave a big groan, and then they reluctantly began digging away at the soil.
They had expected that removing the soil would be relatively easy, yet it turned into quite a task. Twenty minutes later, after they had only dug about three inches, Charlie walked back on over to them.
He was obviously not very satisfied at their progress and scowled. Then swapping his duck call for Cuthbert’s shovel they set about digging again.
And so it proceeded. Every twenty minutes they continued to rotate. Finally six hours later and just as the morning sun was threatening to rise they finally hit the coffin…
With excitement reenergizing him Jimmy raced over to get Charlie, and then the three of them, covered in dirt, stood at the side of the grave and flashed their torches down at the box.
Charlie climbed down, and using an old chisel forced the locks open.
“It’s the moment of truth!” He announced with glee rubbing his hands together. Then, with Cuthbert and Roger looking on expectantly, he popped open the casket…
Inside was a horrible sight, a most horrible sight indeed. Harriett was lying there in nothing more than her very modest hot pink frilly underwear and clasping Fluffy in her hand.
At that precise moment six thousand miles away a plane was beginning its final descent to Los Angeles airport. Trevor could not help but smile to himself. Sitting next to him was Tiffany Bradbury, a twenty three year old bleached blonde buxom beauty, and former scoundrel’s Arms barmaid; dressed in a lovely, albeit rather large, fox fur.
‘No more bloody dead bodies for me!’ He thought as he sipped on his canned Higgins ale.
Three weeks later back in the Scoundrel’s Arms Charlie, Cuthbert and Jimmy once again sat there drinking pints and were chomping down a generous portion of jellied eels…
“I have been thinking,” Charlie said scratching his chin, “and I have come up with another plan…And this one I promise is absolutely foolproof.”