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Sleaford Noir 1


I first heard Sleaford called Sleazeford in a mock Tudor gastropub out on the A15
highway. The woman had iron-grey hair and had come straight from the golf course.
At first I thought the woman was joking me. Then I thought I'd misheard her.
Although not drunk she and her friends had sipped on a few gins already that
afternoon and had reached the stage of laughing too loudly. Much later I realised she'd
hit the nail dead centre on the head.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. How could this sleepy little Lincolnshire town
deserve to be called Sleazeford? The mean streets of Gunchester, Shottingham or
even Londonistan it isn't. That's what I thought then.
Full from my dinner, I walked out of the gastropub and saw two youths right next to
my white Audi A5 coupé. They straddled two BMX bikes; their low riser jeans
showing the white band of their Calvins. I gripped my car key with the serrated teeth
sticking out through my knuckles. But I kept my hand in my pocket.
"You Hennessy?" the taller youth asked with a grunt. His face was half masked by his
hoodie but the roll- up dangling from his lower lip gave him the look of a much older
man.
"Might be. Who wants to know?"
"Turn your car round and go home. We don't want you here." He pushed away from
my Audi. As he did so, a pocket knife appeared in his hand. Before I could stop him,
the yobbo ran the blade down the side of my car in a jagged line. The blade made a
terrible screeching sound on the metalwork that set my teeth on edge. His skinhead
mate followed and gobbed in my direction – the phlegm landing centimetres from my
shoes.
I shouted and ran towards them but they were already out the car park a nd pedalling
down the road. So much for arriving under the radar.
No way was I having that. I ran to my disfigured Audi. The scratch looked like a scar
on a lover's face. I turned the key in the ignition and pulled out of the car park. The
two youths were cycling down the A15 like they were coming down the Champs
Elysée on the final sprint stage of the Tour de France with the Yellow Jersey still up
for grabs. I gunned the engine and pressed the pedal to the metal. The two litre turbo
howled and the rev counter needle swung over into the red. But the Audi's protesting
engine hurled the car forward.
The rear yobbo looked back and shouted something to his mate. I had almost reached
their bikes but they knew the local area better than me. They looped off the highway
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