“Quick get up wind, snake man’s coming!”
Ace pushed Josh behind a row of wheelie bins. A finger to the lips silenced Josh’s questions as snake man shuffled along the alley.
Geoffrey Mortimer - snake man, had earned his reptilian moniker for two reasons. One he kept snakes, two he looked remarkably like one. The skin on his face stretched to peeling point over a high boned brow and small flat nose.
A pale tongue tasted the air, darting from dry compressed lips, and his scant hair clung to a shiny liver spotted pate. He stood six three but weighed no more than 10 stone, adding weight (or lack of it) to the overall serpentine appearance.
A tin can found its target with a resounding thump. Geoffrey hissed and dabbed at his head with a filthy handkerchief. Blood. Those little bastards were at it again. His beady black eyes darted around the alley but found no one.
“Why don’t you clear off and leave an old man to go about his business in peace!?” he rasped.
Ace boldly stepped out.
“Because you’re not an old man you’re a snake, and you stink,” he picked up a brick. “It’s up to people like us to clean the streets of scum!”
Lucky for Geoffrey, this time the missile fell short. He hissed again and hurried away.
“I think you went a bit far,” Josh said “You made his head bleed; we were just supposed to scare him.”
“If you want to hang around with me shut up and behave OK?”
Josh nodded. He’d just moved there and he didn’t want to get on the wrong side of Ace. Besides, he didn’t like the threatening look in his eye.
“Follow me!” Ace yelled sprinting off.
Ten minutes later they hid in the bushes outside a dilapidated terraced house.
“What are we doing?” panted Josh
“Quiet! Just do as I say.”
Geoffrey appeared seconds later and started to unlock the door. As he turned the handle Ace sprang up pushing him inside. Josh followed.
“What do you want? I’ve no money,” Geoffrey whined.
“You have snake man, and we want it.”
Josh didn’t like the way things were going.
“Ok we scared him, let’s go.”
“Go? No way! This man’s a pet killer, feeds em to his snakes. My dog Shandy went missing the other day.”
“These snakes are too little to eat pets!” Geoffrey pointed to a few docile worms asleep in tanks.
“Give us yer money.”
Ace flicked open a knife and speared the nearest snake.
This was enough for Josh - he ran out.
“Ok, please stop! Go through that door and open the door under the rug.”
Ace grinned and went in. He kicked back the rug and wrenched open the trap door.
It took a few minutes for the screams to stop but at last calm was restored. Geoffrey smiled indulgently as the constrictor began to swallow its meat.
“Looks like you won’t be needing that Alsatian for a while eh Boris?”he chuckled.