“Pat, come-in, come-in, do you read me?” Ryan asked into his radio. ”Silver Transit van backing up into the woods at the Torc car park”, he continued in a whisper. “Yes, the Torc waterfall car park. It’s 11 pm the night before Christmas Eve, I don’t think it’s tourists.”
He crept behind a tree and continued, “Not sure how many there are yet. Ok, the van’s parked but lights are still on. One suspect out, two, three…I think there’s three men. They’ve gone around to the back and opened the doors. Are you on your way? Did you call it into the station?” Ryan asked.
He was about 100 yards away from the van. The moon was covered in thick clouds and a fine mist shimmered in front of the van’s front beams. Good thing he’d bought those night vision goggles. Deirdre was bitter that he had spent €200 of their money before Christmas. There was no way those plastic ones the department bought would have cut it tonight. Not in these conditions.
He squatted and rested his shoulder against an oak trunk and put the radio to his ear again. They should really have ear pieces too. He didn’t fancy ending up in the back of a transit trundling to Tralee, or worse, Limerick if these guys heard him. €200 wouldn’t seem so important if he ended up bashed and hanging over Ladies’ View.
Ryan shook his head while listening through the static. He depressed the talk button and shouted, “What, they’re not sending anyone?” He continued in a whisper “I don’t care what’s going on outside the night club. This is supposed to be a priority. How long will you be? Ah Pat…. No, having a pint in the Lake House bar does not count as patrolling. Forget it. I’m on my own. Over and out.”
Ryan unclipped his official uniform cap from his belt and pulled it on. He shoved the silent radio into his belt, pulled out his flashlight and took a deep breath. He headed towards the van. Seconds into his march, a roar smashed the night’s silence and bounced around the trees. A chainsaw!
He broke into a run but as he neared the van the roar was replaced by the sounds of crashing and crunching. As he neared the van he saw three shapes emerge from the dark dragging two full holly trees.
“Stop! Killarney Park Ranger. You are breaking the law. Put down the holly!! “He shouted towards the men. They hesitated long enough for Ryan to hear laughing before throwing the trees into the back of the van. Slam. Two more slams and the van took off into the road as Ryan reached the clearing.
“Fa la la la la, la la la la” his phone trilled over his heaving breathing.
“God damn, what?” he barked.
“Hi honey, just me. I’m here at Niamh’s house and everyone is very intrigued by your special patrol. Is it very exciting tonight?” Deirdre giggled above tinkling glasses and music.
“Special and secret, Dee. It’s a secret patrol.” He crouched down and picked up a broken holly twig.
“Sure it’s just Niamh and few others. Anyway let me finish. She was saying how fabulous the holly looked on her neighbour’s front door but she forgot to get some in town. She was delighted when I said you could bring her back a nice big bunch tonight. You don’t mind do you, ‘tis the season and all that…Honey? Ryan? Are you there? Why are you panting?”