Road Trip to Belgium: Part 2

Barry has a knack for getting people’s backs up. After five minutes of arguing with Barry, the monk cursed us in Latin, excommunicated us and our van, and shut the gate on us. I threw my hands up in despair.

“Let’s just go home, Barry.”

He gunned the engine and took us off-road, prowling the perimeter of the walled monastery until we had nearly gone round the back. We stopped alongside a low point on the wall. “Brave ‘eart, lad. We’ve come this far. I’m not leavin’ wirrout me West Terrier.”

“It’s fucking Westvelteren, Barry.”

“Aye, thas what I said,” he gave me a look as if I had crawled out of a sewer, which didn’t feel too far from the truth, and then stumbled out of the van. I followed him. He was studying the wall and stroking his heavily stubbled chin. “Right then. Up you get.”

“You what? I can’t climb…” Barry didn’t let me finish. He bent down, grabbed me around the legs and threw me on top of the van.

“There you go. Easy peasy now.” He was right. From the top of the van, the wall was an easy jump. I hopped across. On the other side was the pristine monastery grounds, and no one in sight. Barry tied a rope to the tow bar and tossed it up to me. Then he threw up a second rope, untethered to anything. “Throw first rope o’er side o’ wall; tie second rope to summint on t’ other side and toss it back.”

“Right.” I did as he said and Barry climbed over the wall with the second rope.

“This way…” he skulked through the outer cloister with the easy grace of an escaped gorilla, following the scent of malt and hops to the brew plant. It was a little further back. There was a side door a short sprint across a cobblestoned yard. Barry was about to run for it when I pulled him back suddenly. Two monks strolled past in vowed silence. We were unseen.

When they had gone, Barry tried the door. It was locked. We looked at each other in panic, trying to spot another way in. Just then, the monastery bell began to chime in the clock tower. I gestured for Barry to kick the door on the chime. He grinned, listened for the rhythm, and then gave the door a mighty wallop. The ancient oak creaked but held firm. We paused. Bong. Kick. Nothing. Bong. Kick. Nothing.

Sweat rolled down our foreheads. I looked around warily for monks. Did Trappist monks know kung fu, or was that just the Eastern brethren? How dangerous could this get? Bong. Kick. Nothing. Bong. Kick. Nothing. We had just one more chime left.

Barry tensed his leg, powering it up for an almighty last kick, channelling the spirit of Horse Energy Drink. At the bong he flung his leg out. The door opened in mid-kick. The same bearded monk from the gatehouse looked at us in surprise. Barry’s kick connected with his holiest of holies. He emitted a high pitch shriek like a steam boiler about to implode. Here, in this most serene environment, the noise carried like an air raid siren.

Footsteps thudded toward from inside the brew plant.

“They’re on to us, Barry!”


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