By: Tris Smith
The people carrier pulled up to the canal, headlights off in the dark. Five teenagers stepped out, dressed in black, their faces obscured by balaclavas. Each carried a holstered pistol. From the boot, each took a tricorn and neatly written name badge. There was minimal bickering over who was allowed to be who. Their leader selected a stuffed parrot to sit atop his shoulder.
They untied the moored canal boat, and started its engine. The people carrier’s driver looked on. Ahead of her lay a long night of waiting, with only BBC Radio 2 and a large pack of Jelly Babies for comfort.
"Tonight we hit the mother lode. An antique teaspoon auction down at the Randolph forgot to hire security. We go in, we get the teaspoons, we get out.“ Jeremy said, "Boats we see on the way, we plunder. If offered a cup of tea, we politely refuse. If they insist, we abort the raid and make a polite excuse. We don't have time for biscuits."
The boat glided through the Surrey countryside, only the occasional sound of a kettle coming from inside.
"Captain, boat up ahead" said Francis.
"Francis and Charles, you're with me at the back. Laurence and Bartholomew, take the front. I'll do the knocking. I’ll text when you can break-in." Jeremy said. "We move when I do the bird call."
Their agile craft pulled up alongside a permanently moored houseboat, twice their craft’s length and three times its width. At the sound of a robin, two figures leapt onto the houseboat's roof, sprinting to its secondary entrance. The others jumped onto the space in front of the houseboat's main door.
Jeremy knocked. The door opened.
"Hello good sir, might I take a moment of your time?" Jeremy said.
"I'm sorry, but it's quite late, and I'm sure we’re not interested in whatever you're selling" the man replied.
"No problem. We're pirates. We steal, not sell. We're appropriately registered and accredited. If you'd like, you’re welcome to see our paperwork?"
"That doesn't sound necessary, you look like trustworthy young men. Would you like to come in?"
"Thank you. Would you mind if I quickly sent a text message?"
They went in. Laurence and Bartholomew joined them.
"Would any of you like a cup of tea?" the man's wife asked, glad to have visitors.
"That's a very kind offer, but we don't want to be any trouble, and we did have one just before boarding" Jeremy said. The others nodded in agreement.
"It's no trouble dear, I do insist. We haven't used the nice china in years, and I've had a pack of nice biscuits waiting since 1994, just for an occasion like this."
"Is that the time? Crumbs. We've made a terrible blunder I'm afraid. We’re going to have to go. Laurence promised his auntie he’d help sort out her attic at 2 AM, and the journey is at least two and a half hours. My apologies for any broken glass."
"That’s a pity. Do pop back."
The boat traveled on. It pulled up to the bank a short walk away from the Randolph. The pirates finished their coffee, and began following the wooded path to the hotel. Once in the grounds, they sprinted to take cover behind the hotel's neatly kept shrubbery. Jeremy made the Robin birdcall.
The teenagers walked to the front door. They pulled out their guns. Jeremy pushed the door open. Walking calmly to the desk, he aimed his gun at the receptionist’s head.
"Please, do shut up" he said. She nodded. The others joined him.
"We don't want to be too much trouble, but we need you to tell us where the spoons are."
"I don't think you understand. We are very nice young men. We do what we have to do."
"The Penthouse suite. The Lady with the spoons is in the penthouse suite” she said.
“The teaspoons” she said.
“Good. Laurence, keep an eye on her.”
They holstered their guns. They took the elevator to the top floor. Jeremy knocked on the Penthouse door. He waited and knocked again.
“Who is it?” someone inside said.
“Pirates. Properly accredited and regulated pirates. We’re here for the teaspoons.” Jeremy said
“Oh. I’d rather not give them to you, truth be told.”
“I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that. I can show you the forms if you’d like. There’s even a number you can call if you’d like to double check. We really do need those spoons”.
“I’m not giving them to you.” The door opened, showing a woman in a business suit who’d clearly just woken up.
“I’m sorry?” Jeremy said.
“I’m not giving them to you” she said.
“I don’t want to” she said.
“I’ll call my lawyer.”
“Feel free” she said, closing the door.
They returned to reception. Laurence looked up from the game of dominoes he was playing with the receptionist. "What happened?" he asked.
"She didn't give us the spoons."
"What? Did you tell her about the paperwork?" he said.
"She didn't care. Just said no."
"Unbelievable" he said.
"Unbelievable" the receptionist said.
"Francis, could you give Laura a call? Maybe ask her to pick us up from here? I don't really feel like taking the boat back now. Not after such a letdown." Jeremy said.
"Good idea" Bartholomew said.
"Maybe she'll have brought biscuits" said Charles.
Forty-five minutes later, the tricorns were placed back in the boot, and the parrot carefully packed away. The people carrier pulled away slowly, disappearing into the night.