LAUGHING LARRY • by Derek McMillan

Laughing Larry earned his nickname by being the most miserable soul in Shoreditch. He was not a philanthropist. He was not an animal lover. So when I saw him lobbing a beefsteak over a ten foot wall I was interested. If I could tip off the rozzers about one of Larry’s capers I could reckon on at least a fiver. It may not sound much but a fiver was a good week’s wage back in those days.

The wall belonged to The Export Company and I knew they had some reasonably valuable stock on the premises and a dog which barked at its own shadow and would reputedly tear out the throat of any after-hours visitor.

There was a housing block nearby and the security was non-existent. From the third floor balcony I was treated to the sight of the break-in.

Larry’s cousin, Harry, had a legitimate fishmonger’s business. Larry had obviously borrowed his lorry for the night. A pair of bolt-cutters disposed of the padlock and Larry and Harry’s lorry were inside the yard. Larry had three known associates and I expected them to be helping him to load the lorry.

I should have been on my guard when I noticed that there were only two of them. So I found out where the third one was when a sandbag sloshed into the back of my head and my lights went out for the night.

When I woke up the overpowering smell and the darkness told me I was in the back of the lorry with a number of cardboard boxes. I always carry a stethoscope. I am no medic but it is remarkably useful, for example for overhearing the conversation on the four villains in the cab of the lorry.

Gagging on the fishy atmosphere, I listened in. They were planning to take their ill-gotten gains to the market in Fish Street and collect a nice wad of cash from a dealer. The rendezvous was at 3 am.

They then intended to ‘ditch the snitch’ (they were so rude!) into the river with some chains for company.

I had one of those illuminated watches so I could see the time was coming up to two.

I also carry a knife and those numbskulls had completely failed to search me properly. I used the knife to search some of the cardboard boxes; fumbling around in the dark, I realised one of the boxes was full of clocks, another of perfume which I had to try (frankly I preferred the smell of the fish but each to his own). Then I had an idea.

When they opened up the back of the lorry I was there with my knife but I didn’t have to use it. The tough villains all just ran away.

I could stroll casually to the phone box on the corner and put in the call to the duty sergeant. I was going to claim my fiver all right.

Of course the sarge had a job hearing me over the sound of 150 alarm clocks all going off at once.

Laughing Larry isn’t laughing now. But then he never did.


Derek McMillan lives in Durrington with his wife, Angela, who is also his editor. His book, The Miranda Revolution, is available from all good bookshops or from your library.


If you want to keep EDF around, Patreon is the answer.

Rate this story:
 average 3.5 stars • 2 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction

  • S Conroy

    For some reason this reminded me of reading the Beano comics as a kid. Vintage slapstick humour. Good fun!

  • S Conroy

    For some reason this reminded me of reading the Beano comics as a kid. Vintage slapstick humour. Good fun!

  • Fun read, but I think it’s a bit too short. There’s room for more here and I think the story would benefit from it. Perhaps some character development (I know almost nothing about any of the characters).

    I’m also a bit confused by the events that took place. Three guys have him and are planning to kill him, but when they see he has a knife they all run away? Not very believable.

    Still, I did enjoy the story and I think with another pass or two, it could really be something. Thanks for sharing.

  • Fun read, but I think it’s a bit too short. There’s room for more here and I think the story would benefit from it. Perhaps some character development (I know almost nothing about any of the characters).

    I’m also a bit confused by the events that took place. Three guys have him and are planning to kill him, but when they see he has a knife they all run away? Not very believable.

    Still, I did enjoy the story and I think with another pass or two, it could really be something. Thanks for sharing.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    I found it difficult to suspend disbelief with this one, even though it was meant to be farcical. The crooks failed to search for a knife, and the good luck in having a stethoscope on his person were a bit too much for me.

  • Paul A. Freeman

    I found it difficult to suspend disbelief with this one, even though it was meant to be farcical. The crooks failing to search for a knife, and the good luck in having a stethoscope on his person were a bit too much for me.

  • MPmcgurty

    Ah, Derek, your stories always make me smile (my favorite is “The Best of Pies”). I always imagine you winking at your readers. “They then intended to ‘ditch the snitch’ (they were so rude!) into the river with some chains for company.”

    I think I remember, on one of your other stories, reading a comment from someone who thought you had a dark streak waiting to surface. I can see here the validity of that comment, and I’m a big fan of dark stories, but there is nothing wrong with light fiction or shaggy dog stories. You have the right touch for them. On this one, I agree with Scott Harker, that there’s room to expand. It felt to me, in a couple of places – specifically ‘graphs 3 and 4 – that some transition from sentence to sentence was missing. It’s infrequent that I think more is good, but it’s happening here.

    I also agree with Paul Freeman on the stethoscope; at least give us the main reason he carries one other than it’s useful. The sense of humor threading through your story demands that it be an odd reason, too.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks for your comments. They have given me something to think about. The stethoscope perhaps required more explanation. They are very useful for listening at doors or walls. This was in the days before more sophisticated electronic methods of surveillance

      • MPmcgurty

        You scoundrel, you sound like you carry one around with you. 😉

  • MPmcgurty

    Ah, Derek, your stories always make me smile (my favorite is “The Best of Pies”). I always imagine you winking at your readers. “They then intended to ‘ditch the snitch’ (they were so rude!) into the river with some chains for company.”

    I think I remember, on one of your other stories, reading a comment from someone who thought you had a dark streak waiting to surface. I can see here the validity of that comment, and I’m a big fan of dark stories, but there is nothing wrong with light fiction or shaggy dog stories. You have the right touch for them. On this one, I agree with Scott Harker, that there’s room to expand. It felt to me, in a couple of places – specifically ‘graphs 3 and 4 – that some transition from sentence to sentence was missing. It’s infrequent that I think more is good, but it’s happening here.

    I also agree with Paul Freeman on the stethoscope; at least give us the main reason he carries one other than it’s useful. The sense of humor threading through your story demands that it be an odd reason, too.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks for your comments. They have given me something to think about. The stethoscope perhaps required more explanation. They are very useful for listening at doors or walls. This was in the days before more sophisticated electronic methods of surveillance

      • MPmcgurty

        You scoundrel, you sound like you carry one around with you. 😉

  • Netty net

    I love held up a beefstake over ten feet makes her interest.

  • Netty net

    I love held up a beefstake over ten feet makes her interest.