They say there's no rest for the wicked. But the three shady men who had turned up at McGarry's farm that December and offered to clean and maintain their pen of prize Christmas turkeys were doing just that: resting on a gnarled, wooden bench while the hungry birds pecked around them.
Larry, the tallest man ran a towel over his legs, grimacing and gagging with each stroke. 'These jeans were blue when I put them on,' he said. 'Now they're brown.'
Next to him, the widest man named Crunch, tried to clean his filthy shoes by splashing them with a bottle of water. 'These shoes were brown, but not this brown. This ain't mud brown, this is real unpleasant brown.'
The spotless, smallest man picked at his teeth with a cocktail stick and said nothing. Crunch looked hurt. 'Hey, Boss,' he said. 'How come you didn't have to clean up all the turkey doo-doo with us?'
'Yeah,' agreed Larry. 'We're all being paid by the Farmer to look after these birds, aren't we? How come it's only us two picking up poo?'
Boss spat the cocktail stick to the ground. 'Turkey makes me sick.'
'I ain't so hot on them myself,' said the tallest man. 'Neither is Crunch.'
'That's right, Larry,' said the widest man. 'Unless you roast 'em, then I love 'em.' A smile broke over his lips. 'Boss?' he grinned. 'Boss?'
'Yeah?' said Boss placing a new cocktail stick between his teeth.
'Can I see it?'
Boss sighed. 'See what?'
'You know,' Crunch beamed. 'The sparkler.'
'Yeah,' said Larry. 'Let's see what we've been so busy picking up muck for. I don't get why we couldn't have picked somewhere more comfortable to lie low.'
'The police will be looking miles away from here. They'd never expect us to hide out at the farm next door.' Boss chuckled. 'The Duchess will have them running half way around the next county by now.'
Crunch began stamping his feet. 'Go on, Boss! Lemme see!'
'Quickly then,' said Boss. 'We don't want the farmer seeing it.' He reached into the inside pocket of his jacket and presented his balled fist to the others. Slowly he peeled his fingers back to reveal a huge diamond.Crunch marvelled at it. 'It's purty. I want to hold it.'
'No,' snapped Boss. 'I'll hang on to it. Keep it safe.' His fist snapped shut and he pocketed the diamond once more. 'Right, you two, back to work. We've got to clean this whole pen before the farmer gets back.'
'What about you?' muttered Larry.
'I'll be thinking of ways to sell this little diamond on.'
Crunch and Larry returned to work, buckets and shovels in hand. Boss lay on the bench by the perimeter, keeping an eye out for the farmer. From time to time he would take out the diamond and look at it until the sun's reflection caught the eye of Crunch who would drop his bucket and walk spellbound towards it. Boss would then pocket the diamond again and so it continued. Eventually, feeling the farmer was far away, Boss drifted into sleep.
Crunch looked up. 'Hey, Larry, look over at Boss. He's fallen asleep, he has.'
'Lazy bleeder,' said Larry. He threw down his bucket and lit a cigarette.
Crunch put his bucket down and began again to walk over to where the small man slept. 'I'll just sneak a peek,' he whispered. On tiptoes, he crept across the yard, avoiding what was left of the dung until he reached Boss. Tongue out in concentration, he fished in Boss' inside pocket and pulled out the diamond. It sparkled more than ever in the late afternoon sun. Crunch was mesmerised, staring at its beauty. Larry turned round; the sight made him spit his cigarette to the ground.
'Put that back!' he said through gritted teeth.
'Ssshhh! You'll wake the Boss,' said Crunch. 'Anyway, I'm only having a look, I'm allowed to do that, ain't I?'
'Boss will kill both of us if he catches you with that, put it back!' Larry ran over to the fence and tried to wrestle it from Crunch's huge hand.
'It's mine.' Crunch's other colossal mitt covered Larry's. He squeezed it hard. 'Let go, Larry!'
Larry yowled as his hand was crushed and he began to pull away. As he did so, Crunch let go of Larry but also of the diamond. It fell to the ground where it bounced twice and rolled backwards into the turkey pen.
'Quick,' shouted Larry. 'Quick, get it back!'
'There it goes,' shouted Crunch.
Boss had stirred. 'There what goes?' he grumbled.
'The bucket,' said Larry.
'The spade,' said Crunch.
'Boss looked into the turkey pen and was dazzled by the hit of sunlight off the jewel. 'The diamond!' he shouted and ran into the pen.
Now, at the very same time, one of the more stupid turkeys sauntered along and spotted what it thought was an extra-large turkey feed pellet. Before Boss, already down on all fours and scampering, reached the diamond, it had been swallowed and thoroughly enjoyed by the bird, which briefly looked around for more morsels before trotting back among the other turkeys. Boss, on his knees, began to weep.
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