SCAM - Based on a true story of innocent criminality

Written by Steve Bridger

Gather round.  This is an almost true story.  The names and places have been changed to protect the guilty from the Police, and from themselves.  It starts as a piece of innocent criminality, but finishes in a different place altogether.   Ready for a trip to a not so quiet rural retreat? Then I’ll begin.

The three of them were deep in thought.  They sat as they always did on a Wednesday night, at the corner table of ‘The Poacher’s Moon’, out of earshot of other regulars, swathed in smoke, hands clasping their pints and set on coming up with yet another idea of ‘How to Make Money’.   Tonight was a night they’d never forget.  They couldn’t guess the twists and turns the future would hold.   A future they’d want to stop, delete and start again.

I say ‘deep in thought’ but in truth, a brain cell was active inside the mind of only one of them that night.  Any thoughts inside the heads of JoJo Rudge and Matt Tyler would have died of loneliness.  They sensed something was up when Deacon stopped moving.  He sat frozen, paralysed, his eyes staring into his pint fixed and unfocused, his breathing deep and rhythmic.  Then the faintest twitch of his left upper lip, followed by a tiny movement of his neck, his head ever-so-slowly sweeping from left to right, his eyes  unfocused then snapping back with a zap into reality, insanely bright, the second before his body erupted, from total stillness into frenzied movement.

“I’ve got it!  What a beauty. What a beast! This is pure gold!  It’s sex and it’s money and it’s great, what a cracker!”  He was six foot, fourteen stone of pure adrenalin and devilry. He was up there.  He was flying.  Surfing a wave of his own electric energy.

“So, you like it then?” Matt ventured timidly, moving a couple of inches of greater distance from the human whirlwind that had just struck Sussex.

“C’mon spill!” JoJo was trying to calm everyone down and avoid the looks from the public bar and Sarah the landlady, her giant hand gripping and squeezing the Courage Best pump as she shot them a dismissive glance, immediately sensing something bad was happening, for as she lived and breathed, no good would come of it.  She, of course, was right.   She could guess that ‘violence’ would not be long in joining ‘sex’ and ‘money’ as the oldest threesome since snakes, Eve and apples in Eden.

Deacon was thinking of another kind of threesome altogether.  Moments before his temporary paralysis, he’d been leafing through the well-thumbed, ink-smeared pages of ‘The Sunday Sport’.  A fine cleavage shot of a magnificent pair of 38DDs, his stimulation and inspiration.  “This is it”. Deacon, lowered his voice and took a second longer between each of those three little words to telegraph the fact that something momentous was about to land and they should get ready for impact.  He spoke in a whisper.

“There are some dirty, filthy, disgusting, perverts out there and we’re going to love every single wonderful one of them!  We’re about to give these poor specimens of humanity a reason to live, a home, a meeting place, a club, a sense of belonging to something even more depraved than themselves.  We’re about to create a fetish heaven on earth.  Whether you’re into PVC, rubber, sadism, masochism, bondage, whipping spanking, whether you’re into swinging or orgies - we’ll be your friends!”  Deacon was evangelical his voice growing in volume – he’d seen the light and it was coloured bright red.

Deacon’s heart rate was now pumping blood to supply a complete Casualty Ward. “We’re going to create ‘The Kinky Klub of Great Britain’ or K.K.U.K for short or or rather KKUK.CON!  And what a Con, it’s going to be”.  The boys knew better than to question their leader head-on but chose the rapt, attentive wide-eyed-and-waiting approach until they grasped exactly what was to be done, and how much it was likely to cost them.  £200 each as it turned out.

“Right, hand me that copy of ‘The Sunday Sport’ and let’s get going”.   Deacon zeroed in on the ‘Classifieds’ and started to fill in the particulars.  “Problem! We need a postal address and my Lillian, your Jane or your Sally, will not take kindly to unsolicited mail dropping through the letterbox - especially as we’re the ones who are doing the soliciting!”  He loved that one. “ I think we should ask £20 to join K.K.U.K for all that juicy disgusting debauchery.”  He became so totally engrossed with the advert that he hadn’t realised his lips were coated with biro ink where he’d put the pen in his mouth the wrong way round, making him look like a giant blue-lipped lizard.  
“How about this.”  He read aloud, liking his own style with every word.  “Come One - Come All!  That’s the headline.  “ Join the Kinky Klub of Great Britain - If you like way-out sex, have a kink and want to link, send us your £20 joining fee for full membership, a monthly newsletter and details of our next big Kinky Klub Nite – rumpy-pumpy-munchy.  True fun-lovers only!”
JoJo and Matt were obsessed with the blue tongue.  They were expecting it to flick out to reveal a doomed insect.  They had to admit the advert was quite good too.  Deacon’s work done for the day.   “Right boys I think it’s your round”.  To be fair, he deserved it.

Time passed.  Over a week went by, and they parted with the £600 advertising fee and paid for a box number at a dead-letter business address – Box 69 - what else?  ‘The Sunday Sport’ arrived the following weekend.  There it was, ‘The Kinky Klub of Great Britain’ in grubby glorious newsprint.  The game was on.  The ball in-play.  They knew it would take a little while before they could expect any response, so they waited for a week, then two.  And when they couldn’t wait any longer, they paid a kid at the Job Centre to visit the letter-drop address and pick up the mail, avoiding any connection with themselves.  Ten letters perhaps twenty at the outside was their estimate.   A bulging sack-full waited for them.  Applications, letters and cash from all over the country, enough to cover the cost of ‘The Sunday Sport’ and pay for several pints. The education was priceless -astonishment, excitement, hilarity and disgust in equal measures.  You see, they didn’t ask for the letters, these were personal outpourings from their soul mates in sex at the Kinky Klub.  The weeks passed and more and more arrived.  Thousands of pounds, I mean thousands and all for nothing.  For there was never, ever, going to be raunchy, racy, weekends of unbridled hedonism.  Nope.  Just the gentle swelling of three bank accounts.

Let me take a break here, and tell you about ‘The Poacher’s Moon’.  The mark above the chiselled beam of the front door dated 1656.  The pub was then the haunt of scoundrels and highwaymen – so nothings changed, just the same as today - highway robbery still a mainstay of the community.  The n’re-do-wells were the same - they just wore modern clothes.  ‘The Moon’ was set apart in an isolated hamlet, tucked away just off the main road to London and was a key stopover of the smuggling trade for over a hundred years.  Contraband was rowed ashore near Shoreham, the barrels of fine French Brandy, Tobacco and Jamaican Rum then loaded on carts bound for Southwark.  ‘The Poacher’s Moon’ was the overnight stay.

So much for the history lesson, but there’s a reason for a pause in the story.  If you looked carefully at the far end of the saloon bar you’d see some wooden pigeon holes, all scarred with initials carved and marked from years of continuous use.  They were kept clear, not full of darts or chalk for the Pool Table, not clogged with packets of Porky Scratchings, but open and ready to take messages, letters and secret notes from the pub regulars to warn friends, expose a snitch, tell of undying love or predict an untimely death.

The boys had managed, God knows how, to keep things quiet, although the more observant members of the Public Bar had noticed Deacon, JoJo and Matt quietly improving their minds by reading letters from abroad – obviously from distant relatives.  They grimaced at bad news or sneered at something distasteful or laughed at a joke or two.  All normal, everyday stuff.   Wrong.  The boys were broadening their worldly education, but with knowledge comes danger.

It was a Friday night.  The bar was packed.  For Ricky Robinson it was his first sip of the first pint, a moment of pure pleasure.  Carrie, his beautiful young bride lifting her first Smirnoff Black Ice to those welcoming full lips. It was Rick’s Friday escape from the grease and grime of the garage, his weekly change from mechanic to matinee idol.  As fate would have it, JoJo was really pissed off.  He’d been hunting for his brand new M.O.T and couldn’t find it anywhere.  He was just about to give up when his fingertips brushed against a crumpled piece of paper, stuffed down an inside pocket.  Success!  Had he not found the paper, the connection would never have been made.  A connection that changed lives.

JoJo, pleased with finding his M.O.T, spread it out on the table being careful to move the glasses and ashtrays out of the way to make space. He began flattening the crumpled paper with the edge of his right hand.  To this day he can’t remember when it hit him.
He recognised the writing and signature on the M.O.T.  There was no mistaking it.  The man at the bar, so smooth, so handsome with that girl who made JoJo go weak at the knees.  He’d seen Rick’s writing before, somewhere else, but where? 

As usual Deacon and Matt had brought a couple of KKKlub letters to the pub as entertainment.    JoJo was not in the Jeremy Paxman league in the brain department, but he did have a decent memory.  Tell me, what’s the odds of JoJo remembering a letter to the KKKlub and recognising the handwriting and remembering the contents of one letter out of the hundreds stacked in his own garage – the answer, most unlikely.   It was recent, so recent that the letter was not in his garage; it was in Deacon’s pocket, pressed between a couple of swingers and a naked fire-eater.

In a village like theirs, news travelled fast.  The boys knew that Ricky Robinson had been at war with his boss, complaining about working conditions and generally causing trouble.  They also knew that Ricky owed Gerald Sinclair £800 and had not paid up. The boys owed Gerry a favour.  You do the Maths.  It’s simple as that – no emotion, no judgement – no involvement with the ‘rights and wrongs’.  By closing time, the letter to the Kinky Klub of Great Britain was tucked inside a fresh envelope and placed by an unseen hand into the pigeon post at ‘The Poacher’s Moon’.   It would fly to its destination. 

Ricky and Carrie were bathing in the afterglow when his mobile pinged a message alert.   The lovers, bodies glinting with a sheen of soft sweat, didn’t move.  Rick’s hand didn’t reach for his Sony Ericsson.  He was still waiting for his beating heart to resume its natural rhythm after their role-playing climax.  Carrie as a Page 3 Model.  He, as the man behind the camera.  She, losing herself in the moment, wantonly turning soft porn hard.  His arousal monumental.  They held each other close, arms and bodies joined as one.  They slept a blissful sleep.

The Sony was insistent.  Beep, ping, beep ping.  The machine demanding an answer.  He read the text message in the dark, the glow of the screen impersonally spreading the news of his downfall.   Just letters making words, words making sentences, sentences making mischief.  His hidden secret revealed.  It took a few moments to work it out.  He was reading his own words, a text of his own text.  His mind reeled.  How could his private words sent in confidence be staring up at him, betraying him, exposing him - and his gay lover?

Saturday merged with Sunday, the pinging repeating and repeating, each time another sentence taken from his letter, another dagger stab, another slicing cut.  Each message as anonymous as the last.  Who was doing this?  Who knew the truth to wreck his marriage and ruin his life?

Monday morning clocking-on.  The answer waiting with unfeeling eyes.  “ A moment of your time, Rick – before the start of another week in our little fun factory.   Time to talk I think”.  Gerry Sinclair, a cat with overflowing bowlfuls of double cream.  Gerry having the greatest time just could not resist it – the remark that sealed the source of the messages.

“So, how was Brighton this weekend – did you have a ‘spanking’ good time with Michael?”   His face a picture of vengeful, rosy, mocking mirth.  “ Look, I’m a reasonable man, quite open minded – but not that open.   Pay me the £800 you owe me by the end of the week and you’ll have an extra piece of original personal paperwork in your pay packet on Friday.  If not, you’ll be finished”.  Gerry spat that last word with malicious intent.

Now change places with Ricky for a second.   Feel his rage.  Feel his total impotence.  He’s trapped and he knows it.  Run through yet again all those frustrating ‘why’ questions he’d lived with since first seeing that threatening glow from his Mobile as the text screen flickered its taunting message.  Why did he continue the relationship with Michael?  Why did he write the letter in the first place?  What on earth was he thinking? He has a beautiful wife, a lovely house, a steady job – what were his options, what could he do?  Pay the money in the hope that Gerry would wipe the slate clean?  Leave the village, take Carrie and start afresh somewhere new – Canada, Australia?  Retrieve the letter then leave without paying a penny?  Keep quiet, and plan a calculated and chilling revenge to be taken cold at sometime of his careful choosing?

In the Movies, on TV, you’d expect the cornered victim to suddenly transform into a strapping man of action.  Bruce Willis invading Sussex.  No, this is not the Movies.  This is real life.  A mortgage to pay.  A job to keep.  A wife to please.  “I’ll have the money by Friday” Rick limply, pathetically, surrendered, trying to keep his voice level, trying to keep some self-respect, feeling crushed, feeling like a beaten, whining dog.  True to his word, £800 in £10s and £20s were counted by Gerry on the Thursday evening, taken and placed in the safe with an accountant’s briskness – purely business.  The debt paid, his side of the bargain to follow the next morning.  And it did.  The original letter folded and placed in his pay packet as agreed. Relief on one side.  Money in the bank on the other.  A slate, not clean but terminally stained with resentment.

A resentment that festered, Ricky hating the power Gerry had over him.  Yet Gerry seemed okay.  He treated him the same as always.  The transaction was done.  Gerry had moved on.  No animosity, everything back to normal.  Rick on the other hand couldn’t help himself, he returned to his old workplace self.  Arguing with fellow workers, questioning decisions taken by Gerry on work rotas or weekend working.  Generally being a pain, an aggravating thorn in his side.

A month had passed since the letter burned, the scattered ashes of his past life blown away, but it seemed to Gerry that nothing had really changed.  Ricky was reverting to type.  A quiet word was needed. 

The workshop was about to open for the day. Ricky had arrived early and was quietly working on a piece of stainless steel tubing, a new connecting rod between two lengths of hydraulic hose for an Aston Martin.  “What is it about spots and leopards?”  Gerry’s voice sneering, so close Ricky could feel his breath and smell the garlic. “ You’ll never learn, not your type, you had the chance to put the past behind you – but you’ll never change.  Forgive and forget that was my motto.  Notice that I said ‘was’ not ‘is’.  You don’t really think I’d give you the original letter without the insurance of some nice crisp copies do you – copies to keep you in-line and on-the-hook?”  Gerry let the threat hang in the air.

Red mist exploded in Ricky’s mind.  His reason shot to pieces, his body a spinning, unthinking weapon, a hate-filled avenger.  His left hand gripped the hollow steel rod, he swivelled off his right foot, turning with furious martial-art momentum, his forearm shooting out with lightning force to pierce Gerry’s windpipe, the sharpened steel cutting cartilage with terrible ease as it ripped through skin and tissue, blood and air jetting through the silver rod.   Gerry’s startled eyes bulged, his lungs were rasping, his throat wheezing and gurgling, his body jerking with insane spasms pulled like a manikin puppet dancing on invisible strings.

In an instant it was gone.  The mist cleared leaving the twitching injured body writhing in the oil and dirt. Ricky could not believe what he’d done.  Not comprehending the violence of the wild creature buried deep inside his soul, he grabbed the phone and screamed for help. 

Flashing blue lights filled Matt’s rear-view mirror.  The ambulance carved its way through the morning traffic at speed and gaining on him fast, Gerry strapped to the stretcher bound for A&E.  It was Matt’s turn to check on the Monday KKKlub mail after another advert in the Sunday papers.  He was due to meet their go-between at 9.30am and retrieve the latest haul of Kinky Klub applications.  This was definitely the most successful scam to date.   ‘Dire Straits’ were so right – ‘Money for nothing and your drinks for Free’.   Glorious.   Matt was just thinking it was too good to be true, when he realised it was.  Standing by the side of the road waving him down was the ‘kid’ – they still weren’t on first name terms.

“Turn around and drive away – the place is crawling with the Law.  They’re looking for anyone connected with a thing called The Kinky Klub of Great Britain. Readers are complaining they’re sending money and getting nothing back.  Apparently, even perverts have rights!”   The kid grinned, grabbed his wages from Matt and was gone, disappearing in a swirling cloud of early-morning car exhaust.

Weeks later, Matt and JoJo were completing a car insurance claim form.  Deacon was checking the form of a different kind - the 2.30pm at Lingfield and deciding between ‘Southern Lad’ and ‘Chance Encounter’ both at odds of 33 to 1.  Apparently, some kids had smashed a rear window and thrown fireworks into their garage causing considerable fire damage.  The carefully executed ‘fire’ destroyed all links with the Kinky Klub – leaving not a trace, all the mailbags now in ashes.
PO Box 69 was shut unexpectedly and no one could remember who was responsible for opening it in the first place.  Memory banks wiped clean.  Somehow, a rare classic Triumph TR3 housed in the garage was burned to a crisp and a total write-off.   The car was valued at £15,000 – strangely enough, a figure divisible by three.

Gerry spent two weeks in hospital, making a full recovery. He took a short holiday in Ibiza and never returned.   Perhaps deciding blackmail was a dangerous business.  The Police accepted his injury was an unfortunate

workplace accident – no charges were brought.  Ricky?  Well, he was standing by the bar, Carrie raising a Smirnoff Black Ice to those delicious lips.  Ricky looked across at Deacon, JoJo and Matt, his gaze lingering on a crumpled copy of The Sunday Sport.  He started to think.  Realisation dawned.  Deacon looked up and slightly raised a hand in greeting.   An excuse for a smile accepted the truth and posed the question – what now?  Peace or War?
Ricky returned the gesture.  His raised hand, an open palm of peace sealed the past into history.  Sleeping dogs.  Let them lie. 


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