Con gave one of his rare, shy and apologetic laughs. ‘For shure ’tis deep out of the ground they came and isn’t that where they belong anyhow?’
The words were hardly finished before the distant roar of engines pierced the quiet winter’s night. Martin’s men needed no instructions. Without further word, Con slid back into the laurels. He and three others pulled out from the darkness heavy wooden beams taken from the ruined barracks. Martin’s boys lifted lumps of fallen masonry over the wall and set them across the road. Within sixty seconds, they had set an ambush through which no car would try to pass. Back in their positions, they watched the brightening glare in the sky.
‘This is it boys,’ called Martin. ‘Our chance has come. Long live Ireland! Up the I.R.A!’ Weapons of death waited on both sides of that little unpaved road, where humble donkeys had carried their loads since the beginning of time.
The first lorry’s driver, surprised at what appeared through his windscreen, pulled hard on his hand brake. He had drunk more wine than some of his fellow men. What was this unexpected obstacle in the road? The men behind him in the open lorry lurched forward and continued to sing ‘Bonnie Scotland’. Major MacTaggart, satisfied with his night’s success, had dozed off. ‘What the hell!’ He never spoke another word. From both sides of the road a cascade of bullets showered into the leading truck. The major slouched back, a thin stream of blood flowing from his right temple.