The Big Steal

by Stredwick
The Big Steal
short story by
Austin Mitchell

Mr. Burton couldn’t believe his eyes. Two hours ago he had left the two goats tied to the guava tree to go and attend to his cows, now all that was tied to the tree was the rope. He wondered if by chance the rope had gotten loose and the goats had wandered off. He began to worry as they were quite a few small farmers around like himself. They planted a variety of crops and he knew the damage the goats could cause. He called over to his nearest neighbor, Garnet Green but only Velma, his wife, was there. Mr. Burton went to the line and called to her.
“What’s happening, Mr. Burton? Garnet had to go up to Ocho Rios this morning,” Velma said. “He told me that you were going down to Falmouth this morning.”
“I had planned to do that but right now it’s my goats I am looking for,” Mr. Burton replied.
“Are you sure Mendy hasn’t stolen them? It’s a lots of goats been stolen from up here these last few months,” Velma replied.
“Isn’t Mendy in jail?” he asked.
“No, he came out last week. I don’t know who bailed him,” Velma stated.
“I’m going down to the police station to report it and then I’m going to Mendy’s house to look for my goats,” the man said and trudged off.
When Mr. Burton reached the police station he saw Delton, Westin and Miss Monica there. He was soon to learn that he was not the only one who had lost goats
“Let’s go down to Mendy’s house. I’m sure that he knows something about what happened to your goats,” Corporal Ellis told them.
All five of them went down to Mendy’s home. They knew that Mendy only had a room on the building. When they enquired after him, Miss Dassy, another tenant said that she hadn’t seen him since morning. The policeman went to knock on Mendy’s front door.
“Mendy, Mendy,” he called out. There was no answer but after a while there was a rustle of bedclothes and a male voice called out.
“Who is that out there calling me?”
The Corporal motioned to Miss Monica.
“It’s me, Monica. How come you’re still sleeping at ten o’clock on a Saturday morning?” she asked.
“What do you want, Monica?” Mendy asked.
“I just want to talk to you. It’s about my brother, Luddy. He told me that you threatened him.”
“I’ll soon come, Miss Monica. I’m going to put on some clothes and brush my teeth.”
“How come he’s waking up so late and he doesn’t live with a woman?” Westin asked.
“Since Reba left him last month it doesn’t seem as if he has found another woman,” Miss Monica remarked.
“No woman can stay with a man like that and he’s such a big thief,” the Corporal remarked.
They were there waiting on Mendy to emerge from his room when the Corporal looked at his watch and said.
“I wonder what’s keeping him? Call him again, Miss Monica,” the Corporal requested.
Miss Monica called out to Mendy but there was no answer.
The Corporal called out too but like Miss Monica he got no answer.
Miss Cloris, Mendy’s landlady, was awakened from her mid-morning nap by the shouting and came to open the front door of her house.
“Who’s that shouting like that?”
“Miss Cloris, I’m sorry about disturbing your sleep but we are looking for Mendy,” the Corporal apologized to her.
“I’m sure I heard him in his room, come in Corporal. You can knock on his room door,” Miss Cloris instructed.
Mendy’s door was open but there was no sign of the man.
“But he was talking to us from inside his room,” the Corporal complained.
“Look under the bed, Corporal,” Mr. Burton advised but there was no sign of Mendy.
They heard Miss Cloris calling out from another part of the house. It was the kitchen door which was open and through which Mendy had probably escaped.
They all ran out into the yard and looked down at the gully and thick bushes through which Mendy must now be making his escape.
“Corporal, what did Mendy do to make you come here looking for him?” Miss Cloris asked.
“Mr. Burton here and several of these people said that they’ve lost their goats. I wanted to question him to see if he knows anything about their disappearance,” the Corporal explained.
“But I’ve never heard of Mister Mendy being involved in any praedial larceny, Corporal. I mean if people have their goats missing why come to him?” the slight, middle aged woman asked.
“That’s true, Miss Cloris, but if he had nothing to do with it why did he run away?” the Corporal asked.
“I don’t know, Corporal, maybe when you catch him he’ll be able to provide you with some answers.”
“We’ll be doing just that, Miss Cloris,” the Corporal told her as he led the little group of people out of the yard in search of Mendy.
Clifton Mendy had come to live in Byfield district a year ago and promptly rented a room from Miss Cloris. He said he had a woman and children living in St. Mary and that he was from that part of the island. Two months after he arrived in the district he met Reba Sawyers and they became friends. Reba had left him after she found out certain things about him. She had disappeared, fearing that he would kill her for leaving him and probably revealing his secrets. Mendy said he was a businessman but nobody saw him doing any business but he was always prompt with his rent and paid cash for everything he bought. Six months ago he returned to home with half a dozen goats which he butchered and sold off to various householders and a hotel and a supermarket in Ocho Rios. He was able to show a receipt for the purchase of the goats and a butchers licence thus allowing him to slaughter the animals.
Then he got into a fight with Monica’s brother, Luddy, and wounded him after Luddy accused him of being a thief. Luddy reported him to the police who arresting him on a charge of wounding.
Now Mendy was in another district, one mile away and he was talking to a man, Peter Dalvey.
“They came for me early, Peter, so you know what, let Stenneth take back the goats. We can make the move another time,” he was instructied Peter.
“He’s already done that because from you told me what was going down I told him what to do.”
“So he took them back already. That was good. There are a lot of animals in the villages. We want to make one big sweep and disappear. I know a man who can handle them for us. His farm is in a woodland area and once we get the animals there we can easily sell them off them in ones and twos,” Mendy explained.
Mendy was of medium height and built while Peter was tall and thin. Mendy was in his late thirties while Peter was in his middle twenties.
Mendy returned home that night. The next morning as he woke up he was confronted by the Corporal and a Constable.
“Why did you run away after you knew we were looking for you, Mendy?” the Corporal asked.
“I didn’t want to get into any more trouble with Miss Monica and her brother, Luddy,” Mendy replied.
“I should arrest you for goat stealing but the people have back their animals. I’m sure you had something to do with the stealing in the first place but any more goat stealing and I’m coming for you,” the Corporal warned him.
After the policemen left, Mendy looked after his breakfast then tidied up his room. Last night Miss Cloris had given him one month’s notice to quit her place. He wondered if she knew who he really was. He went and opened his suitcase and took out his pouch. He took out his knife and his Smith and Wesson revolver. He could kill Miss Cloris but he didn’t want to. He knew she had money locked up somewhere. He would leave but would return for it. After all she had four tenants collecting money from plus her children in the States were sending money to her and he didn’t see her doing any banking. He had also kept an eye on the two shops and bars in the district. He felt that both shops were making money as most times they were full of customers.
The two bars had a lot of customers and he had sat in both of them drinking beers and stouts and playing dominoes but observing their operations and thought he knew everything about how they operated.
Mendy moved to the nearby district of Riverside by the next week Saturday. On Monday morning he woke up to find men armed with machetes and other implements outside his gate. There were some women too, Mendy noticed.
“We don’t want any goat thieves in Riverside. Mendy, leave our district,” the gathering was shouting.
Mendy felt like using his gun on them. He took out his machete and went into the yard.
“Any man who feels brave enough, call me a goat thief and step into the yard and face me,” he threw out the challenge.
A man called Allan Gray went to pull the gate. He was a big strapping man but a woman rushed up to him and drew him back.
“Get rid of the woman and come big man. Don’t hide behind her skirts,” Mendy mocked the giant. Allan Gray made for the gate again. Other tenants had come into the yard now including his landlord, Ezekiel Duffus and his wife, Beulah.
“Allan don’t bother with that. What has this man done to you?” Ezekiel asked.
“He was accused of being a thief over in Byfield district. We don’t trust him and we don’t want him in Riverside,” Allan Gray who had now become the spokesman for the gathering, stated.
Ezekiel looked at Mendy. He had rented a room to this man and he didn’t know anything about him.
“Mr. Duffus, these people are just spreading rumors about me. I’ve never stolen anything from anyone,” Mendy said as a police car came up and Corporal Ellis and Constable Taylor came out of the car.
“What’s happening here? What are so many people doing here with machetes and other weapons?” the Corporal asked.
“They want me to leave this district. They are accusing me of being a thief,” Mendy told the Corporal.
“Wasn’t he accused of being a thief in Byfield district before coming here?” Allan Gray enquired.
“All right all of you people, return to your homes. I don’t know why anyone of you believe that you have a right to tell people where to live,” the Corporal stated.
Mendy went to put away his machete and came back out into the yard to see the people moving out. The policemen didn’t say anything to him nor did his landlord.
The next week Mendy moved to the village of Latchmore which was five miles away from Riverside and Byfield districts. He knew that nobody knew him in Latchmore.
The next week a man broke into Miss Cloris’ house and stole all her money amounting to almost eighty thousand dollars.
Mendy met his partners the next night at around seven o’clock.
They were Peter Dalvey, Stenneth Jacobs, Casley Benjamin and Denzil Jack.
Mendy had known these men before. He would live in a district, find out who had money, move on to a different location then send his cronies to loot those people’s wealth and this was what he was now proposing to do.
“We have to have a loading point that you guys can bring the animals to. I’ve decided to use Johnson Valley. All of you should know where it is. You bring the animals there and we load them into the trucks. It will be enclosed. We are using two of them. Sam Dillard is the name of the farmer whose place we’re going to use. He’ll be ready to take them off our hands immediately we get there,” Mendy explained.
“How will we be paid?” Peter Dalvey asked.
“After we pay the delivery and transportation charges Sam and I get twenty per cent and each of you get fifteen percent,” Mendy replied.
“When do we re-start our other operations. Seems to me that this could pay us better than what we’re now proposing to do,” Stenneth opined.
“This is just a one time sweep, grabbing everything we can, although we’ll leave some animals behind to make it not look so bad,” Mendy told them.

There was great consternation in Byfield, Riverside and Huntingale districts that Friday morning.
“They stole everything. Took all our goats, pigs and cows. Not an animal is left down here,” Allan Gray wailed. He had lost two cows, five goat and six pigs.
They were in the police station yard of Byfield district which served several other districts including Riverside and Huntingale.
“You mean to tell me that everybody was sleeping so soundly that nobody heard anything?” Corporal Ellis asked. He knew how difficult a task the police had in patrolling so many districts with one vehicle and three personnel.
“I have a feeling that it’s Mendy’s work. He threatened to steal our animals already and now he’s done it and we don’t know where he is,” Mr. Burton opined.
Corporal Ellis didn’t want to go on suspicions. He preferred to investigate and then lay charges but all the signs were pointing in Mendy’s direction but where was the man now.
“All right folks, we’ll do our investigations and I promise you that it’ll be quick but if any of you know anybody who knews or saw anything, let them come to us with the information. In the meantime I want you all to be on your guard and if you see anything or anyone acting suspiciously you just bring it to our attention,” the Corporal addressed the gathering.
The gathering broke up after the address by the policeman.
Men raided Latchmore the next night. The four richest men in the village were robbed. Geoff Cameron, the richest man in the village, lost almost four hundred thousand dollars plus a Prado motor vehicle. The next night it was Byfield’s turn and the two bars were help up and robbed. The men were on their way to rob Mr. Burton when they came upon a road block.
“Something’s wrong,” Peter Dalvey, the driver said.
“Turn around, Peter, we might have to forget about this man,” Stenneth Jacobs said.
They could see the big tree blocking the road.
Peter turned around the car and started driving.
“That tree wasn’t in the road by accident. It was put there,” Casley Benjamin said drawing his gun. Stenneth Jacobs and Denzil Jack had also drawn their guns.
About a mile down the road they came upon another tree blocking the road. Peter stopped the car and climbed out.
“This is a trap, they are trying to trap us,” Peter warned.
“Well what do we do? We can’t stay here all night and the other road is blocked too,” Stenneth remarked.
A shower of rocks came at them from up on a hill. One of them smashed the back windshield of the car. Peter fired the M-16 at the hill. Then a huge boulder came off the hill dropping right on top of the car and sinking the roof. The four men ran in all directions.
Then men came out of the bushes and started pursuing them. Only Peter fought by firing his M-16 at his attackers but he missed on each occasion and was chopped on his hand. The police had reached there by this time and took part in the pursuit. Casley Benjamin was shot dead but Stenneth Jacobs and Denzil Jack surrendered to the police.
Peter led the police to where the stolen animals were being kept and Sam Dillard was arrested. Mendy was arrested at around dawn the next morning. He confessed to being the mastermind behind the recent spate of robberies and murders in the communities and was charged and is in jail along with his companions awaiting trial. The End.Please visit my blog at:
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