‘Hello lads, having a good night are we?’ sneered the man in the middle, allowing that faint smile to spread across his whole face and baring his teeth in a menacing manner. Steve 1 gawped as Steve 2 gulped; the man’s fiery eyes began to make their cheeks burn with guilt. ‘Nice to see you again’ said the man, flashing one of his gargantuan henchman a quick wink.
Steve 1, being the orator of the pair, took in a slow, deep breath; ‘W-w-we… t-t-thought… well… um… the thing is…’ Trailing off into silence his cheeks grew a deeper shade of crimson. Catching Steve 2’s eyes, which were wide with terror, they exchanged looks of petrified confusion. Did this grinning man and his two mountainous companions know that they had stolen (and then returned) their beloved decorative shrubbery? Come to think of it, how could he know? Steve 2 shot a flickering glance at their previous thieving conquest which was (if he was being honest) looking a little the worse for wear. The entire thing looked like it had been sliced down the middle with one half lolling rakishly over that deceptively heavy pot. Steve 2 raised his eyes to look at the party of three to be greeted by an even wider smile. The man had caught him looking at the plant; the game was up. In a final victorious gesture the man slowly raised his arm and pointed at a conveniently positioned CCTV camera perched slyly over the entrance to the bar.
‘We’re so sorry, it was such a stupid thing to do, it’s just such a nice plant and we were drunk and it really is a fine bit of foliage’ sputtered Steve 1 in a string of barely coherent nonsense. Steve 2 nodded along solemnly, murmuring ‘a damn fine bit of foliage’. The owner of the bar raised his hand to silence the two of them. He could see the remorse on their poor, plum-coloured faces and felt he had let them sweat enough. He could tell they were nice, slightly dimwitted, guys, so decided to cut them some slack. Besides, he himself had once run into a little trouble over a rather attractive geranium dalmaticum which had caught his eye, as an drunken youth stumbling home, and so knew only too well the tempting allure of a fine potted plant.
‘Now lads, I know it’s the start of the year and everybody’s up for a good time but what you did is A) very disrespectful and B) in full view of that CCTV camera, pretty fucking stupid.’ The Steves lowered their heads in shame. ‘Have a look at what you’ve done to that smokin’ hot slice of plant’ the owner continued, reaching out and gently caressing the top of the contentious item. Steve 1 once again murmured ‘We’re really sorry’. Steve 2 did not echo this apology but was instead staring quizzically at one of the bald-headed bouncers who appeared to be silently crying. ‘They must really like that plant,’ he thought to himself, feeling yet more guilty. There was another silence, filled only with the gentle brushing of the owner’s fingers through the fluffy green hair of his photosynthesizing friend.
A gentle sobbing intake of breath from the crying bouncer brought the owner back from his preoccupied fondling. He shook his head slightly, as if to clear it and announced ‘You boys are bloody lucky. If you hadn’t returned my plant’, at this point he had to actively refrain from once again starting to stroke the plant, ‘I would have handed over the CCTV footage of you two muggins lumping this sweet baby back to college. Lucky for you, your conscience kicked in and you brought her bac… it back, I mean. However, you two owe me some soil.’ The two Steves, looking for the umpteenth time at the pot in question could see the soil levels were very much depleted. They had not been particularly astute to the soil spilling potential during the great heist. ‘Tomorrow lunchtime, I want my soil,’ stated the owner triumphantly, turning on his heel and disappearing inside after one final lingering touch of the plant. The two bouncers turned away, one of them dabbing his reddened eyes, leaving Steve 1 and Steve 2 shaken, in soily debt, but in one piece.
To be continued….