Story continues from yesterday:
And so the morning continued. Dad read the paper; Dudley sniffed, peed and eventually laid down; and Luke resentfully picked up other people’s rubbish.
He spotted a set of six-pack rings in the long grass and reached for it. It moved. He reached for it again and it moved again. Luke parted the long grass and found, with one of the rings caught tight around his body, a little hedgehog.
“Oh dear oh dear,” said the vet, “come on fella, let’s get this horrible thing off you.”
She cut it off and then gently cleaned the hedgehog’s wounds.
“I would say, going by the severity of the cuts around his neck and behind his forelimb …”
“His armpit,” Luke clarified in case anyone was unsure to which wound she was referring.
“er, yes, if you like,” the vet went on, “and the fact that he is quite undernourished, that this unfortunate animal …”
“Spiker,” said Luke.
“That’s his name.”
“Oh, I see. I would say that Spiker has been struggling with this horrible appendage for over a week. It’s very lucky you found him when you did.”
Luke suddenly saw the job of picking up litter in a very different light. It was a very important job and, in conjunction with punishing droppers, was outlaw work.
The vet said that she would take care of Spiker until he was better and then she would call them to pick him up and they could release him where they found him.
“That means,” thought Luke, “I need to make sure the park is safe for him to come back to.”
On the way home, Luke formulated a plan:
➔ First he would clean up all the rubbish;
➔ then he would keep watch and record the names of all the droppers and what they dropped;
➔ then he would teach them a lesson.
All afternoon Luke and Dad picked up litter. They filled three and a half large dustbin bags with bottles and cans, crisp packets and sweet wrappers, fast food containers and carrier bags. Luke also found a £2 coin which Dad said he could keep for being such a good worker.
“Nice to be ‘preciated for a change,” thought Luke and spent 99p of his hard-earned cash, on the way home, on a giant gobstopper.
Part one of his plan was complete. Now, on Sunday, he was carrying out part two.
It was slow going. His eyes glazed as he stared across the empty park.
“There’d be no shame in bringing more than one comic in future,” he decided.
Then, at 10.06, on one side of the park, seven Year 6 boys entered, laughing and pushing and kicking a football between them. At the same time, on the other side of the park, came Simon Butler, Kenny White, Becca Nithercott and Christina Burkiss, all from Class 4 – Luke’s class. Becca and Kenny were carrying large, brightly-coloured kites.
Luke shrank down behind his Beano. The Year 6 boys raced around chasing their ball and shouting insults at each other. The class 4 kids took it in turns to run across the field trying to keep their kites aloft in the windless sky.
Luke kept his eyes on them all as discreetly as he could. No litter was dropped. He was getting awfully tired of sitting still.
Then the football suddenly flew higher and further than intended and landed in one of the back gardens. Luke watched as one of the Year 6 boys vaulted the fence to retrieve it.
“What are you doing here all by yourself?”
Simon Butler! Where did he come from? Luke tried to look nonchalant. With slow deliberation he took the gobstopper out of his mouth.
“Readin’ me comic. What’s it to you?”
“Reading my foot!” Butler scoffed, “you’ve been sitting here with your comic against your chin for the last ten minutes. Are you waiting for someone?”
This was no good. Butler was drawing attention. And he was distracting. Now there were only five Year 6 boys – where did the other two go? Simon Butler climbed onto the bench next to Luke and sat on the back of it, his feet on the seat.
“Who are you waiting for? What are you waiting for?”
This was infuriating. Flamin’ Butler! Luke had to get rid of him and he could only think of one way to do it.
“Is that yours?” he pointed to a £1 coin on the ground.
“er, oh yeah, I must have dropped it just now,” Simon lied as he stooped to pick it up.
He called to his friends.
“Anyone fancy some crisps?”
And he ran off without giving Luke another thought.
“Expensive,” thought Luke, mourning the loss of the last of his money, “but worth it.”