Tell A Tale in 500 Words

MR CASHBACK By Andy Szpuk

Craig knows he’s got to keep digging, but it’s nearly midnight and they’ve been at it for hours, him and his dad. The spade sticks in the clay soil and is hard to budge. They’re making progress, but it’s slow and it’s breaking their backs.

But they have to keep going, because Mr Cashback says so. He gives them another bundle of fifty pound notes and tells them to keep digging.

Mr Cashback can buy anything, or anyone. But, if you work hard for him he looks after you. The hole he wants them to dig is eleven feet across and four feet deep. Craig slaps more spadefuls into a wheelbarrow and take it across the garden, through the gate and beyond, into the vegetable garden, and dumps it next to the compost, and dad follows him with another barrowful. Mr Cashback hasn’t said why he wants the hole. Maybe it’s for a hot tub, for some wild party at the weekend. That’s the kind of thing he gets up to. He watches them digging for a few minutes then says he’s going inside to get them some drinks. He comes back with a huge tub full of ice-cold bottles of beer. He’s got the tub perched on a big kitchen trolley, and it wobbles as he pushes it across the lawn, but he gets his cargo over to them without any calamities. The beer is imported. From Eastern Europe. Well, that’s where the best beer comes from these days, the rest is brewed on licence on some industrial estates in English heartlands. Disgusting stuff, alcoholic piss for the people. Most of them throw it down their necks without a thought.

Craig and his dad knock a couple of bottles of the lovely cold beer back and Mr Cashback watches them, a smile on his face. He tells them to keep digging and wanders back into the house.



But the strain is beginning to dig into them.



It feels as if his spine is about to snap in half. The pain snatches at him, grabbing fistfuls of energy from inside him. His breath becomes short. He looks across the garden and makes eye contact with one of the garden gnomes, the one with the fishing rod. The gnome winks at him. He looks relaxed and, boy, what he wouldn’t give to be out by the river, away from it all, with his fishing gear.

Just then, Mr Cashback comes back and asks them how they are doing, and presses more notes into their hands. They look at the money they’ve been given. It’s a generous amount. More than generous.



And it means they can’t stop digging, not until Mr Cashback tells them they’ve finished. They stop for another beer, then get back to it.


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