Protected Species

“Come on, time to leave. You’re going with the bear.”

Hennessy marched Jack out to the pick up. The last glimmer of daylight was disappearing fast, removing it’s scant warmth from the air. Ice steam rose from the bags packed around the bear on the bed of the Hilux. Bill and  Ben, the two Alaskan teamsters who had loaded the bear, were waiting in the truck’s cabin with the engine purring for them.

“I ken ye laddie,” repeated Hennessy. “You want the money, same as we all do. I’m not here because I like these pricks. No-one likes these pricks.” He took a nip of his single malt from the bottle, and studied Jack before continuing.

“I like you’re willing, but if you wanna be asked back you got to know the rules of the game and follow them.” He raised a finger.

“Rule one. Do what you’re told. You get that already. You put your head in the bear’s mouth. You take their shite. Get paid.”

“Rule two. Don’t sark or sulk. No-one likes a cry-baby, and these pricks are thin-skinned. Don’t make them feel bad. Get paid.” Two fingers.


“Rule three. You’re not their friend. Sure, they may have a bant with you, pat on the head from time to time, but you’ll never be one of them. Know your place. Get paid.” Three fingers.

“Rule four. Be useful. I’m useful, they need me to clean their shite up. They need us more than they let on, because we’re the guys that keep their little bubble clean. Without us, they’d be hung by their bollocks years ago. We protect them. Get paid.” Four fingers.

“Rule five. Don’t get greedy. If you’d been patient and not begged for the small change your bonus would’ve been twice as big. Get paid.” Five fingers.

He handed Jack the GlenDromach bottle. Jack hated whisky, single malt or not. He started to unscrew it for a dram, just to please him. “Don’t even think it laddie.”

Jack was only holding the bottle so Hennessy could remove the parka. He handed the padded coat to Jack, and snatched back his whisky. The parka skimmed the Alaskan bite a little. Jack picked up his holdall and nodded to Hennessy.

“Now get in the back of the van.” Jack did as he was told, and climbed onto the pick up bed. Hennessy held up his hand, as a command, not a wave, and the truck lurched away from the lodge.

It took four hours to get to the runway, four long freezing hours of already sore bones juddered black and blue on rough tracks. Jack was glad he’d been given the parka, especially when he found a couple of Reese’s bars that Hennessy had stuffed in the pockets. It helped a little, along with the knowledge that Leo’s right hand man didn’t ken him as much as he thought and he’d taken the first step.

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