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Max, Dave and Rab looking on the spectacle of confused Police divers.


Max Airedale, the large, scruffy, brown and black woolly dog lay with his head between his paws on the deck of the little wooden fishing boat “Minni”. His owner, Dave, and Big Rab, the fishing boat captain, sat on the cabin roof drinking tea and gazing across what had once been the peaceful, slow moving river and was now a wide expanse of anything but slow moving water. The river was in flood; whole trees with enormous trunks would occasionally shoot past, carried downstream by the torrent. Max was not over keen on water at the best of times and today he was even more apprehensive than usual. Max had a feeling that things were not going to go smoothly and as he gazed under the gunnels, watching the rapids and racing whirlpools, that feeling was getting worse. Max’s large wet black nose twitched and quivered; his only consolation was the odd aroma of some gently rotting farm animal that had strayed too close to the swollen river.

“Bit of a flow on, Rab!” exclaimed Dave.

“Too right,” replied Rab. “I’d better check my lines. I don’t want to be going out there unexpectedly.” Rab gestured towards the centre of the torrent where another large tree was racing past horizontally. Rab put down his tea and sauntered round to the bow of the boat. Max watched Rab’s progress as he slowly and methodically began checking each of the mooring lines and springers that kept “Minni” tight onto the pontoon. Suddenly Rab stopped and peered intently over the side of the boat, to where the hull and the pontoon met. Max pondered for a moment and then thought “Hmmmmm. Such strange behaviour warrants a closer look.”

Max got up and wandered over to where Big Rab was standing and stuck his large wet nose over the gunnels; his eyes followed Rab’s gaze to where a large, suspicious-looking, green, gooey object was wedged between the boat and the pontoon.

“Here, Dave! Come and have a look at this,” said Rab in a hesitant voice. “Looks like the flood has brought us something unpleasant.”

Dave got up and came over to where Rab and Max were looking. He too peered into the water to where the half floating, half submerged, suspicious, green, gooey object lay between the boat’s hull and the pontoon. Max’s large, wet, black nose quivered. “Hmmmm,” Max thought, “lovely. A definite aroma of decay and stagnation. That thing’s been at the bottom of the river for some time!”

Dave glanced in Max’s direction just in time. Max was eyeing the half submerged misshapen green gooey thing with longing in his eyes and pondering on whether he could drag it out and have a good roll in its sticky contents. “Oh no you don’t!” Dave exclaimed, grabbing Max’s collar with a free hand. “I’ll tie him up for a minute while you get a boat hook.” Dave kept hold of Max’s collar as he reached for a short length of rope and tied Max to a cleat on the wheelhouse so that he was out of the way of any lifting that had to be done.

Rab had now located a boat hook and was prodding gently at the green gooey thing. “It’s stuck fast whatever it is, Dave!” exclaimed Big Rab. “Here, give us a hand, will you?”

Dave and Big Rab gripped the long handle of the boat hook and pulled. The green gooey thing was indeed stuck fast, but as Big Rab and Dave heaved, the thing rose slowly in the water. Rab and Dave both stopped pulling.

“Ohh, Noooooo!” Dave looked down in horror as the collar of a jacket and then what appeared to be the back of a green algae covered human torso, rose above the surface of the swirling water. Big Rab and Dave glanced at each other and grimaced like a pair of horrified camels sucking lemons. “Ohhhhh, Nooooooo!” Dave wailed again.

“What are you going to do about it, Rab?” Dave enquired hesitantly.

Rab looked back at him in a despairing sort of way and exclaimed, “What do you mean by: what are YOU going to do about it? I don’t like the sound of YOU - after all, YOU helped pull it up!”

Dave shuffled uncomfortably and then replied, “You’ve got to feel sorry for whoever it is, but I think we better leave it there, Rab. It looks a bit..” Dave fought for words before continuing, “It looks a bit...” Dave’s face wrinkled into an expression that would not have looked out of place on a church gargoyle before spluttering, “It looks a bit... fragile.”

“I like that idea, Dave,” replied Rab, looking relieved. “Let’s ease it back in the water - we don’t want to pop it!” Max watched as Rab and Dave gently eased their grip on the boat hook and let the mis-shapen green gooey thing slide back into the water. The lifting of the green gooey thing had caused a host of new foul-smelling nauseous odours to waft their way upwards towards Max’s large quivering wet black nose.

Max breathed deeply; this was heaven. “Mmmmmm,” thought Max. “Rotting eel carcasses, putrid decaying fish and stagnant river mud with a hint of old plastic. There’s something not quite right about this, but I can’t put my paw on it.”

“Suppose I better call Newbold Lock and tell them what we’ve found,” announced Rab in a resigned voice as he turned to put the boat hook back in its rack, before disappearing into the little wheelhouse. Max watched as Rab unclipped the microphone from its holder and pressed the transmit button. “Newbold Lock Newbold Lock. This is fishing boat Minni. Over.”

The VHF crackled and then a voice came over the speaker. “Minni. Minni. This is Newbold Lock. Go ahead.”

Rab pressed the transmit button again, “Good Morning, sir. I appear to have what looks like a human body stuck between my boat and the pontoon. Can you send someone out? Over.”

The speaker crackled again. “Thank you for that, Captain. I’ll see if I can get the Police out to you. Out.”

Rab pressed the button again. “Thank you, Newbold Lock. I’ll wait here till they arrive. Out.” Rab hung the microphone in its clip and squeezed his way back out of the wheelhouse.

“Did you hear all that, Dave?” enquired Rab settling himself back down on the cabin roof.

“Yeah. Great,” sighed Dave. “I suppose it’s my turn to put the kettle on?”

“Best idea you have had all day!” replied Rab.

Max eyed Dave as he lifted up the cabin hatch and disappeared down into the little galley before returning some time later with two steaming mugs and a packet of biscuits.

“Oh I see you’ve helped yourself to MY biscuits,” grumbled Rab when he caught sight of the packet. “They won’t last five minutes if the law turn up,” moaned Rab.

Max had also caught sight of the biscuits and his rope was just long enough to allow him to lay his great head on Rab’s knee and look up at him with his big sad brown eyes. Rab looked down at Max and smiled. 

“You are as much of a scrounging git as your master,” Rab laughed. “But you do it with a lot more style than him!” exclaimed Rab as he reached for the biscuit packet and dropped a digestive into the gaping jaws below. Max crunched contentedly before collapsing in a heap at Rab’s feet.

“Aye up, Rab. Law’s here. They must have heard the news that you actually bought biscuits worth eating for once!” laughed Dave. 

Rab looked up to see a police van bouncing along the track that led down to the moorings. 

“Huh. Typical. They didn’t come that fast when I had my outboard stolen,” grunted Rab, shaking his head.

The van drew up alongside the gangplank and two large policeman levered themselves out. “Good morning, gentlemen,” boomed the older of the two policemen. “I hear you have discovered human remains. Is that correct?”

“Aye. It’s down there,” Rab gestured towards the green gooey thing. “You can borrow my boat hook if you like,” continued Rab generously.

The two policemen advanced down the gangplank and peered into the water. “Hmmmm. It doesn’t look very fresh, does it,” the elder policeman announced. “Think we will need the divers for this one. We don’t want it coming apart on us, do we?”

Rab rolled his eyes. 

“I suppose you would like a cup of tea while you are waiting?” Rab enquired.

“That’s very kind of you to offer, sir. Milk and two sugars for me, please. Just milk for the lad here. Oh and those biscuits look very nice. I’ll go and give the divers a call.” 

The older policeman turned and went back up the gangplank towards the van.

Dave started to chuckle. “Go and make yourself useful, Dave, and get the kettle on!” scowled Rab. Dave opened the cabin hatch and, still chortling to himself, disappeared down into the galley. Max’s ears had twitched at the mention of biscuits and he sat upright in a hopeful manner before making his way over to the handrail.

“Good looking dog you have there, sir. Is he friendly?” announced the younger policeman, coming over to give Max a pat on his large woolly head.

“He is if you’ve brought biscuits with you,” grumbled Rab. 

Dave had now returned with steaming mugs and the older policeman was making his way back down the gangplank. 

“The divers are on their way,” he announced before enquiring, “Is that my tea?”

“Here you go,” replied Dave, passing the mugs across to the policemen. “Can I tempt you to a biscuit?”
Dave grinned at Rab and offered the packet over to them.

“Thank you very much, sir, that’s very kind of you.” 

The two policemen sipped their tea and munched Rab’s biscuits, while pondering on their next move and handing a much reduced packet of biscuits back. Rab stared at the packet with a resigned expression and rolled his eyes.

“Looks like we’ve got company!” exclaimed Rab, nodding in the direction of the gate. Another van was bouncing its way along the track to the moorings.

“Ah. That’ll be the divers,” the elder policeman said. 

The new van drew up behind his colleagues and two more large, wide policemen extracted themselves from its interior. The two new arrivals sauntered down the gangplank and greeted their colleagues, before they too peered down into the water to inspect the green gooey thing.

“You lads better get your gear on then!” the elder policeman exclaimed. “I suspect it might break up if you’re too rough with it!”

The two new arrivals glanced sideways at each other and then back at the green gooey thing. “After you, Sergeant!” exclaimed one of the new arrivals turning to his colleague.

“Oh no! After you, PC Johnson,” retorted his companion. “I wouldn’t like you to miss this valuable experience. It will be good for your career development. Go and get your gear on!”

PC Johnson looked forlornly at his colleagues and then trudged up the gangplank towards the back of his van.

“While your colleague is getting ready, shall I get the kettle on again?” enquired Dave. 

“Thank you, sir,” replied the older policeman, “that would be very welcome.” 

Dave went back down the hatch and shortly returned with yet more steaming mugs.

“Biscuits, gentlemen?” Dave enquired, grabbing the packet from the cabin roof before Rab had a chance to move.

“Very kind of you, sir, I’m sure,” replied the older policeman. “It makes a pleasant change for us servants of the public to be made so welcome”.

Rab glanced at Dave and rolled his eyes. 

“Aye, and you can notice it’s my biscuits he’s making you welcome with and all. You wouldn’t be made so welcome if it was Dave’s biscuits you were eating!”

Dave looked back at Rab and grinned. 

“I’m just showing your appreciation for their hard work, Rab,” he replied laughing. 

Max had fallen asleep on deck, but now he raised his head as the sound of clanking air cylinders and an overwhelming smell of rubber and dead fish made its way down the gangplank. PC Johnson was now clad in his full regalia.

“What would you like me to do then, sergeant?” PC Johnson enquired.

The sergeant looked at him and replied, “You get into the water, PC Johnson. We will let the boat out a bit and you can try and gently coax the remains nearer the bank, while these two lads assist you in its retrieval.”

The small party of policemen then put down their tea mugs and got into position while PC Johnson eased himself off the pontoon into the river. 

“OK, lads. After three,” commanded the sergeant. 

A great deal of grunting and puffing went on as the ropes holding “Minni” to the pontoon were slackened and PC Johnson took a firm hold of the green gooey thing. 

“One. Two. Three,” commanded the sergeant. 

PC Johnson grimaced and pulled the green gooey thing towards the bank and his waiting colleagues. 

“OK. After three let’s try and lift it gently onto the bank,” the sergeant called again. 

The policemen all manoeuvred themselves into position and prepared for the lift.

“Ready, lads! One. Two. Three!” commanded the sergeant again. 

The policemen looked reluctantly from one to another and heaved. The green gooey thing rose from the water and the expressions on the policemen’s faces changed rapidly from reluctance to shock and surprise.

“It’s stiff as a board, Sergeant. I wasn’t expecting that!” exclaimed PC Johnson.

“That’s because it’s a shop dummy, you stupid boy!” retorted the Sergeant.

“Is this your idea of a joke, gentlemen?” the sergeant roared, turning towards Dave and Rab who were standing on the deck of “Minni”, their mouths gaping open like a couple of bewildered cod who had just found themselves on the deck of a trawler.

“Get that wretched thing in the back of the van, Johnson, before it confuses some other half wit!” 

Rab and Dave were now sitting on the cabin top, desperately trying to stifle their laughter as they watched a dejected group of policemen gathering together all their belongings and making their way forlornly back to their respective vans.

Rab then picked up the rather empty looking biscuit packet, shook his head and extracted the last biscuit before tossing it in Max’s direction. Max jumped, caught the biscuit in his great jaws before flipping it in mid air, catching it again and giving it a quick crunch before swallowing.

“Hmmmm,” thought Max. “Dinner and a show. I wasn’t expecting that, but I knew there was something not quite right about that green gooey thing.”

Rab grinned and turned to Dave and commented, “Like I said before. That dog might come here and eat all my biscuits, but at least he does it with a lot more style than his owner!”

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