The monks parted for their Abbot. A malt shovel was strapped across his back and with one hand he picked it up by the handle. The hog came wheel to nose with the back of our van. Barry hurled a bottle-grenade at the Abbot but he deflected it with the broad shovel face, and then brought it down in a crushing arc. One of our van doors was torn off.
Barry lobbed a whole crate at the Abbot. Most of it was shunted aside but several bottles shattered, spraying the Abbot’s beard with shards of glass and spilt beer. Now he looked truly pissed off. He bellowed something in Flemish and a monk on a scrambler bike rammed us. The Abbot took the other door off the van with a sweep of his malt shovel and the monk leapt in, tackling Barry to the ground.
“Hold on to something, man,” Fuggler shouted back to us. I quickly pocketed the bottle I had been about to throw. Barry and I barely had time to grab onto the harnesses before there was a sickening crunch of metal. Something shrieked and exploded beneath us. The van was suddenly airborne and tilted at a bad angle. A few more crates slid out of the van, taking the monk with them.
Then we landed with a resounding bang. The suspension nearly buckled entirely. There was a low, slow whine as the gears screamed and the van began to gain momentum again. From out the van we could see Fuggler had somehow driven us up over a log pile, across a barn roof and over a high wall. Both the log pile and barn had collapsed beneath us. The monks were stuck on the other side of the long wall.
A monk on a scrambler bike tried to jump the wall but landed in a pig sty.
“We made it, man,” Fuggler said.
“No, don’t say it!”
Too late. The van suddenly careened off the road as a tyre exploded. Bottles and crates slid everywhere. We went to ground, stopping a few feet short of a deep ditch. “Quick, get the wheel changed over,” Fuggler shouted at us.
Barry led the way, showing me where the tools were. I jacked the van while he worked to loosen the nuts. We changed the tyres over. With the adrenaline and Horse drink still pounding in our veins, we did the changeover as quick as any Formula One pit crew.
Fuggler leaned out of the window and gave us the middle finger. “Nice one. See yous around.” There was mud and exhaust in our faces as he gunned the van and disappeared over the Belgian horizon. Barry was surprisingly quiet.
“How come you aren’t pissed off?”
Barry stroked his chin. “It’s righty tighty, lefty loosey, yeah?”
“I think so. Been awhile since I last changed a tyre.”
“Me too. I didn’t put the wheel on right.”
I grinned. “I’m sure we’ll catch up with him, then.”
“Hey,” there was something cool and smooth in my coat pocket. “We still have one beer.” I took out the precious bottle and examined the label. “Barry…” I showed him the bottle, “…you’re a fucking bell-end. You took us to the wrong monastery! This is Westmalle, not Westvleteren! We could have gone to Sainsbury’s for this.”
Barry took the bottle from me, chewed the cap off and took a long swig. Then he scrunched up his face in disgust. I sighed and we trudged off down the road. It wasn’t long before a tyre rolled past us, bouncing merrily down the lonely country road, and further on an imprint of tyre tracks that led into a pond.
The van bobbed in the water, slowly sinking. On the far side we could see Brother Fuggler swimming for the bank, floundering pathetically in his cassock. With effort he pulled himself up, his robes drenched with water and weighing him down.
“Fuggllleeerrrrrr!” Barry bellowed. The former monk saw us and fled for the distant treeline. Barry glugged down the contents of the bottle, belched, and hurled it high into the air. It arced lazily over the pond, gliding on gusts of air as it sailed toward the far treeline. Fuggler was only a few feet away from vanishing into the undergrowth when the bottle seemed to pick up speed, plummeting from the skies like a bird of prey and clonking him squarely on the head. Fuggler went down.
Barry grunted in satisfaction and turned away. “I know a luvverly greasy spoon near here.”
“Interesting if true, Barry.”
“Of course it were true.”