Casually walking down the street, chewing gum, trying to look hard and unconcerned, heart pounding like a steam hammer gone mad, palms sweaty, and a huge claw tearing away in the pit of my stomach.
It's just another scare... They are trying to set us up... It's a booby trap... There's a hidden sniper. It's for real this time... All the possibilities ping round my brain. Holy fuck, why not call in the bomb blokes?
The street looks just as always. Drab terraced housing sloshed with rain. Half a dozen in a derelict condition, the others empty, a few at either end inhabited. Stall for time.
“Hello 3, this is 33 Alpha, say again number of house, over.”
“3 wait out.” Pause.
“Hello 33 Alpha, this is 3. Number is 21, over.”
“33 Alpha, Roger out.”
Come on, Clarke, get your finger out, if you're going to go, there is not an awful lot you can do about it. Twenty-one is just across the street. Position a tom on each corner and take one with me. Hell, why die alone.
In through the upstairs window, I think. Climb on a willing back. I collapse through the window and sit there shaking like a leaf. The whole room is littered with old clothes, newspapers, shit, and God knows what else. just look for any pressure pads, trip-wires or pull switches. Top floor search over. Nothing. Move to the top of the stairs. There could be a pressure pad on any one of those steps. We look around for something heavy. A piece of wardrobe, that will do. It clatters down the stairs and lies at the bottom looking at me.
“You O.K., boss?”
“Yeah.” I join it at the bottom of the stairs.
Twenty minutes later I'm standing on the street, enjoying the cool rain splashing on my face.
“Right, guys, just another rubber dick. Let's go.” One day one of these tips is going to be real. I just don't want to be around when it is. Right now, I'm just very relieved.
Back to Leopold Street and up the stairs. I must have some sleep if only for an hour or two. The average for the past week has been two hours in twenty-four. The mileage per day does not bear thinking about. Flop onto the bed. I've only been between the sheets three times in the month the tour has been going. Some time a change of clothes would be very welcome.
It's daylight outside, but in here with the light off it's dark. A pale grey light struggling through the black-painted window. All the windows in the place are painted out and the Ops Room is encased in two-foot-thick concrete with a further layer of sandbags on the outside.
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Genre – Autobiography / Biography & Memoir
Rating – 18+