Game of Stones
04:30 – Edinburgh, Scotland
It is early morning in Edinburgh. The rear doors of the pubs are open and so are their beer taps releasing a yeasty warming smell into the pre-dawn gloom. The beery smell competes with coffee brewers and bakers.
“Ah, Auld Reekie,” says Major Campbell, in full dress uniform under his overcoat, as he gets out of the rear seat of his car on the forecourt of Edinburgh Castle. Auld Reekie is Edinburgh’s ancient nickname due to its smokehouses of yore. The capital city of Scotland has never shaken this tag, but it no longer deserves it. Major Campbell pats his concealed side arm and looks across at Bishop Lennox getting out of the car. His ceremonial robes are hidden under his overcoat and his mitre is tucked into his armpit. A concealed weapon of sorts.
“Come in. Please sit down.” The interviewer gestured royally to a plastic stool and plonked herself down prettily on another opposite. She took up a clipboard and pen and gave Claire a warm smile over the table.
“Thank you.” Claire settled onto the stool feeling her arse spill over the edges and suppressed a grimace as her skirt rode up.
“My name is Ariel and I’ll be your interviewer today. First of all, congratulations on making the short list. We had an overwhelming response to our advertisement.”
“Well, I’m very glad to make the cut.”
The Dog Catcher
People these days, I don’t know. Philistines, the lot of them. I probably shouldn’t use that term. But there is no other word to describe someone who is wilfully ignorant and proud of it.
I’m wasted here I tell you. But it’s the only job I could get. Same old story. Study hard to the full extent of your intellect for as long as can, run out of funding, fail to get worthy work, and find yourself going cap in hand to the local council for a job.
Stephen, they said, there’s no work in academia after that last round of budget cuts. I know its rough mate but there aren’t many employers looking to hire someone with a PhD in Ancient History.
Softening the Blow
Simon queued behind the row of slowly shuffling arses. It certainly wasn’t humanity’s most flattering angle. The twin spectrums from fit to fat and concealed to revealed, joined in combinations from impressive to stomach churning.
The wide flat bum of the lady in front shuffled aside revealing a bored Indian teenaged girl manning the till. Her lovely black hair was shoved back into an untidy pony tail under an elasticated sunshade in the colours of the fast food chain.
Why do they make kids wear those things indoors? Simon wondered briefly.
The girl’s kohl rimmed eyes looked left and right. Then she looked down and spotted Simon. She startled slightly but covered it well. Simon rolled a bit closer and placed his order. She skipped the mandatory upsizing spiel and took his money without comment moving with almost rude haste to the customer behind him.
I should consider it a blessing, he thought grimly. He had once begrudged the spinning out of a commercial transaction as a waste of his precious time. But that was before.
He backed his wheelchair up against the wall near the order collection point, making his profile as flat as possible. He didn’t want to get in anyone’s way.
Couldn’t be …
“I’m not sure where to start,” said the frail shrunken lady in the hospital bed.
“Well, in my experience, it is usually best to start at the beginning.” Ray Dawson flicked over the top piece of paper on his clipboard. It was a printed green form. He licked the tip of his pencil and smiled at her.
“Just relax. Shut your eyes if you like.”
“Oh no. I’ve had enough sleep to last a lifetime.” She gave a wry smile.