Old Enemies

Two men got out of the vehicle. Both looked out of place in their suits and ties. The driver was small, whilst the other was tall and thin. The tall one held a clipboard and began writing as the other pointed to the left of the bridge at the woodland beyond. Steve looked through his binoculars and turned the middle dial to focus. He recognised them and leaned forward. Groate, was the driver whist the other was Gronk. Steve’s eyes narrowed as he blinked. Focussing again, he watched the pair go about their business. Gronk raised his nose in the air. Steve tensed at the sight of his arch-enemy. Groate and Gronk spoke, but they were too far away for him to hear the conversation.

Groate walked over the concrete bridge. Grass grew in the cracks. The metal hand railings were bolted into the side of the structure. Clear water flowed underneath as he stood on the far side and looked at the track curving away to the left, through the forest. The land was overgrown and hilly. He tutted.

“This is no good. The stream is not conducive to building houses.”

Gronk rolled his eyes. “Tell me something I don’t know. And look at all the trees on the hill over there… it’s disgusting. They’re like weeds. We could cut them down, but the hill veers off far too steep further round.”

“It all means less development. And the project will fail if we can’t increase the housing,” Groate muttered. “At least the meadows between the industrial estate and this forest will be developed. I’ve heard that Whopper, the online retailer, is going to build a ginormous warehouse there.”

Gronk scraped his shoe on the concrete. “This bridge might be ugly, but at least it’s man-made. Look at all the green out here…” With his nose pointing upwards, he sniffed. “…all this fresh air is revolting. There should be a law against it. Give me concrete and tarmac any day of the week. At least we can build on the fields leading up to the forest back there.” Gronk smiled. “Perchance we can get the lumberjacks in just for the hell of it. Take this lot down. Maybe it would sell it for firewood or something.”

“We might get a bonus for that one,” Groate laughed. “Anyway, we… err… we should be getting back. The boss wi… will be expecting us.”

“Yes, well, he’s such an idiot. The sooner I have his job the better,” Gronk climbed back into the vehicle and slammed the door.

Groate got behind the wheel and banged his door shut. The metallic noise reverberated through the trees. Turning the key, he ground the gears and did a three-point turn. Pulling away, the tyres spun on the gravelled track. They drove uphill and away. The noise of the engine faded into the distance as Steve put his binoculars away and walked downhill. He was careful not to damage the fern or leave any trace of his presence. Jumping over a ditch, he hit the gravelled track, two feet at once and walked to the concrete bridge. He looked at the stream and the reflection of trees in the water. To one side, a once muddy bank had been taken by the green foliage of the forest floor. To the other, the water was deeper and trees grew out of the bank, which fell away sharply into the water.

Copyright © 2023 Callum Stanford.  All rights reserved.

Author: callumstanford

Writer, blogger, outsider, survivor.

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