Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Sex Gods from the Planet Metal - Chapter Six


Mondays are never great, but Mondays that come two days after you’ve found a dead body on a school trip are slightly worse, if you catch my drift. Despite two nights of pretty much sleeplessness, I had managed to actually catch some zeds on the Sunday, probably through exhaustion. Unsurprisingly, Monday morning hit me like a hammer. A big hammer. Mum had made it quite clear that if I didn't want to go to school I didn't have to. A free pass! Such a thing is rare from most parents, but my Mum was normally of the opinion that the only real reason to miss a day of school was death, and even then she’s want a second opinion.
It had been a pretty weird weekend for me, with everyone badgering me about the whole thing, when all I want to do is forget it, like I could. It seems the guy had died of a heart attack, no foul play involved, but because of the commotion the performance was halted. I knew it wasn't my fault, because he would have been found by someone else soon enough, but I still felt guilty, as well as petrified the police would bang me up for it. Like any teenager I was convinced that the police were evil, and was quite surprised when the one that chatted to me turned out to be a really nice bloke who didn’t at any point try to throw me down a set of stairs then make me sign a statement confessing to the great train robbery and the murder of Archduke Ferdinand.
I guess I've just got a naturally guilty conscience. I'm a prime target for anyone with a collecting tin, they seem to sense my weakness, like a lioness pouncing on a crippled gazelle. I try to resist, but all they have to do is show me a picture of a starving child or injured puppy and I can't shove the coins in fast enough.

We all went home in silence, the coach seeming more like a hearse, and I knew that everyone was dying to ask me about my unusual experience but they were too aware of being the First To Mention It, so all I got was continued sideways glances, even from Peter, who should have known better. Instead, he called me later that night and we have a good natter about it all. Naturally, he found it exciting, and predicted much female interest in me as a result. Every cloud and all that, but at that point I wasn’t really that cheered up for some reason. Probably the whole dead body thing. Instead of rejoicing at my probable future sex prospects, I just went to my bedroom and sighed a lot, like you do, waiting for the weekend, and wondering what Monday would bring.

There was a gentle knock on the door, and my Mum came in.
"David?" she said tentatively, as if I had a gun to my head and a mad gleam in my eyes. "Are you going to go to school?"
"I suppose so," I affirmed reluctantly. "I have to face this thing out, and get it all out of the way."
"Okay. If that's what you want, love. Breakfast in fifteen minutes, okay?"
She left, possibly on tiptoe, and I got myself washed and dressed, all the time wondering if I'd made the right decision.

Breakfast was a subdued affair. We didn't have family breakfasts at the weekends, as there was never a reason for everyone to get up at the same time. I usually languished until at least midday on Saturdays, and spent Sundays listening to music and reading. That weekend gone, however, I just couldn't relax. If at any time I started to get into my groove someone would stick their bloody head around the door to ask me if I was alright and I'd start to feel awful again, whilst assuring them that everything was fine. I thought by Monday things would start to be normal again, but even Nick refrained from bugging me, because he'd obviously been told not to. At least I knew that he'd be the first one to crack. Indeed, he was no doubt storing up in his mind a million and one cruel jibes about dead bodies to torment me with as soon as he thought he could get away with it. With this in mind, I tried to pretend it was a normal breakfast time, except that my Brother had had his mouth glued shut, which was a nice thought, and waited for my chance to escape. Finally it came, and I picked up my bag and made for the door.
"Dave?" said Nick.
“Do you want me to walk down with you today?" Oh Christ, this was just embarrassing. How feeble minded did they think I was?
"Why?" I asked pointedly. "Just because I discovered a dead body three days ago does not mean I am suddenly incapable of functioning. Just stop treating me like a little kid, both of you. I feel like the fucking Elephant Man lately!" I stopped suddenly, aware that I had broken a taboo - we did not, ever, swear in front of our parents. We may well have been foul mouthed little urchins in our own time, but not here, and not now. Nick looked at Mum, as aware as I was that a line had been crossed. At least, I thought, this might actually get a voice raised at me, a first step on the road to normality.
”Go on, David," is all she said. "I'll see you when you get home."
And that was it.

Dumbstruck, I left the house to call on Peter, who lived a couple of streets away. After I'd rung the bell his mother came to the door.
"David," she said, obviously surprised to see me. "Um, Peter's already gone to the precinct. He didn't think you'd be going in today. Are you okay?"
I gritted my teeth when I heard those very over used three words, and forced myself to be polite.
"Yes, thank you. I'll just see him down there." With that, I turned and left. It made sense that Peter would think I wasn't going in today, because I had told him that Mum said I didn't have to. To Peter, going to school when you don't have to was as bad as admitting that not only are you gay, but you fancy the Headmaster. Peter was of the firm opinion that the ultimate insult you could ever use was to accuse another boy of being gay. To be honest, I didn't understand it all myself. How could a bloke fancy other blokes when there are girls about? It beggared belief to me, but I wasn’t as obsessed about it as Peter. My Dad told me in a serious voice that his attitude meant that he was probably a latent homosexual, but despite laughing with my dad about it I figured it wouldn't be a sensible thing to say to Peter, at least not if I wanted my nose to stay where it was.

When I arrived at the precinct, I got looks. There's really no other words to describe it - I got looks. I really did feel like the Elephant Man, one of the weird movies my parents made me watch. At the time I thought it was a load of old bollocks, but standing there with all eyes on me I had the tiniest inkling of what the lumpy freak felt. I wove through the throng, all waiting for their coaches to arrive, trying not to meet anyone's eyes. To get away, I sloped into the newsagents, where the proprietor immediately eyed me like a hawk. I sympathised with the man, having a shop besieged by schoolchildren every weekday, most of them with the intent of nicking whatever they can get their grubby little paws on, but I really despised him as well. It was an odd sensation, because the rational side of my brain said I knew why he hated kids, because a lot of us are thieving scumbags, but the non rational side of my brain kept insisting that he was, in no uncertain terms, a git. To make myself feel better, I swiftly pocketed a bottle of Tippex from under his beaky nose. Not to sniff, I must point out, I just liked writing on the toilet walls with it.

When I came out of the shop, Peter was waiting for me, a confused look on his face.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" he asked, straightforward as ever.
"I'm on a pilgrimage to Mecca," I replied sarcastically. "And as you know, pilgrims need their Monster Munch. What the fuck do you think I'm doing here?"
"But... you don't have to go to school today," he said incredulously, in the same tone an archaeologist might say “It’s the holy grail.. and we found it in Ikea”.
I could see the cogs of disbelief grinding against each other in his head.
"Yeah well, I thought why not. I've got to get all the shit over with, haven't I?"
"Yeah, but you don't have to go in today," he asserted again, just in case this was a fact that had somehow escaped me.
"I know Peter," I said firmly, looking him in the eye. "I want to go in. I know it goes against all your instincts, but I actually want to go to school today."
He stared at me like one would a wolf that is foaming at the mouth and looking uncomfortably hungry with it.
"You're mad!" he exclaimed, obviously glad to have reached this conclusion and thereby explained away my mysterious actions. Maybe he was right, but there wasn’t any time for debating my sanity as our coach arrived and we joined the general crush to get on.

"'Thomas Covenant," read Miss Wright aloud, "in an attempt to stay sane, went into town and got knocked over by a car.' What is wrong with that sentence?"
This was the none too insightful book report by Big Bob Pullar, written about some fantasy nonsense he’d read but no one else would touch, a ludicrously hefty series of books that looked dull as anything. Big Bob always did his reports on this kind of book, and was rarely seen without the company of some two inch thick fantasy tome. Personally, I thought then and think now that all the wizards and warriors stuff is stupid. I refused to join the select handful of nerds who gathered at lunchtimes in a maths classroom and threw twenty sided dice around whilst pretending they were elves, wizards, plumbers or whatever. Bloody spanners the lot of them if you ask me.
Nobody seemed to have grasped the silliness of Bib Bob’s sentence, so I tentatively stuck my hand up.
"Yes David?"
"It sounds like the way he tried to stay sane was to get hit by a car," I said confidently. "What he did to stay sane was go into town, and whilst there he got hit by a car. There is definitely a lack of comma somewhere"
"Very good, David," she said with a smile, and continued with her reading.
God I was glad the day was nearly over. Once people got it in their heads that I wasn't going to crumble into dust if asked about last Friday they came out in force to quiz me about finding the body. It wasn’t too bad, I suppose, but mentally I felt like I’d played Gary Kasparov at chess. Peter stuck by me when we shared a lesson, and he'd successfully diverted a few people who got a bit morbid or pushy. Friends are important. Of course, he had a fair few questions of his own, but I didn't mind. Miss Wright let us know that the theatre had refunded our money, including travelling costs, and had also invited us all back for free near the end of the plays run. She gave everyone a week to decide what they want to do, but I was confident that most would be happy to give it another go, if only in the hopes of finding their own dead body. Several people had unsurprisingly asked me what my decision would be, mostly girls with sympathetic looks on their faces. Each time I assured them that I would be going, and that I was grateful for their concern. I suppose Peter was right, and it was a nice flip side to the morbid interest of the boys, which seemed to concentrate of exactly what the body smelled like, and whether its cock was still in its hand. Peter was now very happy that I came in, as it gave him an opportunity to reflect in my weird glory. I really wasn’t worried at all about going back, although I suppose I should have been. All that happened was a man died from natural causes and I found him. After the Carolyn Thomas experience I’d been careful not to bullshit about everything, and I told the same true story to everyone who asked, with no embellishments whatsoever. Predictably this didn’t stop other people from adding their own embellishments, and Peter faithfully reported a few interesting variations that he'd heard, including one where the guy had been savagely beaten to death, and I came out covered in his blood. Nice. Oh well, I thought, as long as I deny any of this shit I'll be happy with myself. Just Geography to go now and I can go home.

The Boomtown Rats had a big song called "I Don't Like Mondays", which you must have heard, as it’s great. It came about after a girl in America was so pissed off that she took a rifle, found herself a cosy vantage point, and proceeded to pick off her schoolmates one by one until a SWAT team finally bagged her. Bear in mind that this was way before violent video games. It may seem incredible that anyone could have such deep, powerful feelings that they'd actively put a bullet in the people they spend most days with, but standing where I was standing I really thought I knew how she felt. At that point I'd have gladly sat on top of the Admin building and taken potshots at a select few of my fellow pupils, one fuckwitted bastard in particular, and possibly the Deputy Head as well. You see, I was standing outside his office, awaiting a bollocking, as you do. Despite a reasonable start, the day had turned into a right shitter, and somewhat predictably, it was my big gobbed nemesis Carl Lewis that managed to push me over the edge.

It was in Geography, and the lesson was only about ten minutes old when he started off.
"Heard you fucked a dead guy, banner," he sneered.
"Funny man, Carl," I replied calmly, determined not to rise to his baiting. "I found a dead guy, big fucking deal. He still stood a better chance of getting laid then you do, though."
"I heard you gave him the kiss of life and tried to stick your tongue in," he said, snorting at his own comic genius. "Bet he was more receptive than Carolyn Thomas."
"Shut up, Carl," I said. He was really beginning to piss me off by this point. Okay, so I was determined not to raise to it, but you really had to be near this guy to realise what an absolute genius he was at making you want to punch him.
"Banner kissed a dead guy, Banner kissed a dead guy," he chanted softly, all the while a stupid leer on his face.
"Carl," I said. "If you don't shut the fuck up I'm going to smack you in the face." I said this in a low growl that was supposed to be menacing, and like to think I did a good job.
At the front of the class, Mr George was, as usual, droning on, lost in a world of volcanoes and different types of rock. When I was in junior school I thought Geography was all about Capital Cities, not all the bollocks it actually is about, Cumulonimbus my arse.
"You haven't got the guts, Banner," came back Carl. "All you’re good for is kissing dead guys, same as your Mum."
And that did it. What is it about guys that we can take almost any insult about ourselves, but if someone says anything slightly derogatory about our mothers we go nuts? Well, he said it, and I went nuts. I stood up, propelling my chair out behind me, then I pulled back by fist and gave Carl a thump right on the nose. Looking back, I am still proud of that punch, and still get a warm glow thinking of it. He, naturally enough, collapsed back in his chair, blood spraying from his nose. I don't think Mr George could believe his eyes. He stopped his monologue and just stared at us. I was still on my feet, fists clenched, and Carl was staggering back onto his chair, one hand on his nose and howling with pain and not a few choice swearwords. I'll tell you this much, it felt really fucking good.

Of course, It got me in the shit, as Mr George sent Carl with a chaperone to the school nurse, whilst he dragged me up to see the deputy head. As I waited outside to “think about what I had done”, Mr George was inside, no doubt explaining in gory detail what I did. I didn't really care what happened to me, because the bastard deserved what he got and I was glad I was the one to finally give it to him. It made me realise that there had been a lot of rage and frustration building up in me over the last couple of days, and by pure luck I had found a very healthy way to let it all out. I mean, I could have lamped someone who didn't really deserve it, at least this way I’d done the world a favour.
The door to the office opened and Mr George asked me to come in. I entered and sat down opposite the Deputy Head as Mr George left quietly to return to the class, most likely praying to himself that they hadn’t reverted to savagery and started worshipping a pigs head in the ten minutes he’d been gone. Some chance. We sat in silence for a minute, and I studied my opponent. Mr Maynard was not an imposing man, physically. He was stick thin and must have been sixty years old at least. His main distinguishing features were a mop of very wispy grey hair and eyes that could bore into your very soul. Those eyes were doing a very good job of tunnelling into my own soul, and I suddenly had a horrible urge to bust into tears. I swallowed very purposefully to keep them down. As if this was the sign he was waiting for, Mr Maynard finally spoke.
"What am I going to do with you, eh David?" he said. I figured it was a rhetorical question and kept silent. The only thing I could have possibly said is "Dunno, Sir," and I wasn’t going to get into that, because it reminded me too much of Grange Hill. All the kids ever seemed to say when they got a bollocking on that show was "Dunno, Sir," and I was not going to do it, no way.
"Well?" Mr Maynard pushed after a few seconds. "Any suggestions?"
”Dunno, Sir," I mumbled. Shit.
"Why did you do it David?" he asked, not unkindly. So I told him.
I didn't pull any punches, and poured it all out, like Hitler suddenly deciding that after killing millions of Jews and assorted others it's time to go to confession. He just sat there and nodded occasionally, as I told him that I was sick of being treated like a freak, that I wasn't going to take any shit from Carl Lewis. I actually said "shit", and didn’t even realise I was doing so. I told him exactly what Carl said, and he didn't bat an eyelid. When I finished, he leant back in his chair and steepled his fingers under his chin. I think he honestly didn't know what to say, and we sat again for a minute in silence as he no doubt considered what the heck to do with me.
"You know David," he said eventually. "I really do sympathise with you. I've had Carl Lewis up here far too many times than is healthy for either winding people up or bullying them. My problem is that you punched another pupil in the middle of a class. I can't let that go unpunished, no matter how much I realise why you did it. I want you to understand that I'm doing this as much for you as for appearances sake. I'm going to suspend you from school for the rest of the week."
I didn't say anything, but my mind was in a whirl – forty degree quick wash with extra powder. Suspended? Doesn't that stay on your permanent record or something? I knew my parents would go apeshit. "I'll have my secretary call your mother or father, and they can pick you up today and take you home. Who would it be best to call?"
"My mother," I said immediately. She was close, and she had a car. Unfortunately, she also had a temper that made a hurricane look fluffy.
"Okay. If you could go back outside and take a seat, I'm sure she'll be here soon. Have you got all your stuff with you?"
"Yes." Sniff. Now the tears were really getting close.
"David. Don't worry about this. It's better for all concerned that you take a few days off. Relax, read a book or two. Don't think of this as a bad thing. I know you're not a bad boy, all I ask is that you get this out of your system, and make sure it never happens again. Can you do that for me?"
"Yes, Sir."
"Good. Don't worry, David. I will be speaking to Carl, and I'll make it very clear that if he tries anything like this again I'll have his guts for garters. By the time you come back it will all have blown over, and that's for the best. Now go on, I'll call your mother."
"Thank you, Sir," I said, not knowing what else would be appropriate, then I went back outside, feeling like an aristo on his way to the guillotine. A few of the tears crept though, but I wiped them away with my sleeve and ordered my thoughts. I knew damn well this could have been a lot worse, and I also knew that he was telling the truth when he said that suspending me was the best thing to do. It struck me that Peter would be jealous as hell, and that thought made me smile a little. I figured that if I explained it to my Mum and dad like I did to Mr Maynard, they'd understand. Sometimes parents don’t have to be monsters, even if their children can’t help it.

“Fuck off, y’little bastards!” I shout, with passion and belief, at the two schoolkids who think that calling me gay as they pass the level crossing in front of me is the height of humour. I want to take them aside and tell them that calling someone gay is sociologically wrong, and that one day one of them may discover that he has feelings that way, and he will rue the day he once used the term as an insult. Instead, I just tell them to fuck off again, which is quicker and makes me feel like the big man.
Yes, it’s that old favourite, Monday morning, hated by Garfield and anybody who has a shit job. I faithfully count myself amongst the latter, and as I leave Mini all alone for another day (hopefully less) in the staff car park I wonder why I bother to come here five days out of seven to write letters to a load of idiots who can’t grasp the fact that if you own a car it should be serviced at least once between ice ages. The answer, of course, is money. Money allows me to buy the shiny things that make a mans life complete – I shop, therefore I work.

After flirting badly with Clare on reception, I settle at my desk at precisely one minute to nine, as I do every working day. I may not have many talents, but arriving at work on time is one of them. The worst timekeepers will arrive about twelve minutes or so early, which is too late for breakfast, but too early to sit down and start work without feeling you’re somehow being cheated. Lindsay, my fat, lazy supervisor glares at me as if I am an hour late, but them she probably glares at her husband like that when she is in the throes of the best orgasm of her life – she’s got that sort of face. We don’t, it should be said, get on. The problem is that I think she’s a fat lazy bitch, and she knows I think she’s a fat lazy bitch. So far I’ve proved to be beyond her reach, as I am an expert in knowing just how much work to do so as to allow myself ample skiving time whilst looking nicely efficient. Truth be told, I could clear twice my workload if I wanted, but there’s just no incentive, save that it would make the bitch queen look good, so I don’t.
“You like putting the tea towel in the anal tea towel holder” flashes up on my screen. I grin and quickly delete it, peering over my computer to catch the eye of Greg on the other side of the room. He smirks like a twat and flashes me the wanker sign, then ducks down to type on his keyboard.
“Well you are” flashes up on my screen.

I think one of the biggest mistakes the company made was to allow instant messages to be flashed up on staff members screens. Each member of staff can type in a message and have it appear on someone else’s screen, supposedly so that important messages can be easily relayed to several people at once. Yeah, and the Internet isn’t just a massive porn database, it’s there for research and education. Naturally, certain members of staff abuse the facility for their own amusement, and I’m one of them. Greg is another. I feel it is necessary to explain why he sends me messages of a distinctly homosexual nature, beyond the obvious reason that he’s a twat. Greg, you see, is fascinated with double entendres and the like. He was educated in a public school, miraculously emerging liking girls, but the environment still managed to twist his brain up a bit, leaving him the sort of bloke who will fall into a fit of giggles if anyone says the word “nob” too loudly. Thus, every day he tries to ensure that he finds as many ways of calling me gay as possible without actually saying the word. I, of course, am far to mature for this sort of thing. Am I bollocks.
“You like driving down the Marmite motorway” I type carefully before finding his ID and pressing send. I am rewarded with a snort of laughter from his side of the office. Job well done. Well, it makes a change from Battleships, which we usually play in the afternoon if we get really fed up of actual work, which equates to nearly every afternoon.

Speaking of work, I decide to reply to a few letters before asking for the rest of the week off. You know, show willing and all. We have what is known as a paperless office, and all letters are scanned onto computers. You just choose the type of letter you want (or have) to work on, and the nest in the queue will pop up. Great stuff, unless it’s a letter from the likes of Mr Patel. Now I don’t know Mr Patel personally, but I know his ilk. He’s a taxi driver in the Midlands, and since taking out breakdown cover three weeks ago he has required assistance six times. This generated an automatic latter telling him in no uncertain terms that we were revoking his membership because he was taking the piss. Of course, I’m reading between the lines here, and the actual letter is more like “…although we value you as a customer…” or some such bollocks. Mr Patel is not a happy bunny at this, and so writes a shitty letter because he is one of those people who thinks that customer service people just love letters that are half written in CAPITAL LETTERS. In fact, the first time a customer service person even glimpses capital letters in a missive they automatically think “wanker” – this is a scientific fact.

Mr Patel, it turns out, is a wanker. He drones on about terms and conditions (it’s in them as it happens – he just didn’t read them), fair play, and the fact that of course he’s going to break down more because he does more miles than other people. Like I said – wanker. There’s a standard reply to this sort of drivel, but I feel creative, and I’m still in a mood from yesterday, so I bash out a reply to soothe the itch in my subconscious:
Dear Mr Patel etc. Thank you for your letter, which, after it has been laughed at by the entire office, will make good, if misspelled, toilet paper. I understand your reasoning as to why I should bow down and worship the grass you float above, but I do have a few queries: If you make a living from your car, how come you don't feel the need to actually service the piece of shit every once in a while? I know that people like you think that we're here to subsidise your lack of maintenance but, and I hate to break this to you, we're not. You are a cancerous boil on the backside of my company, and I would feel better about myself if I allow you to be lanced. Go and take your rusting piece of fucking gnats piss car to another company please. I would like to take this opportunity to stress that it's not your race, religion or occupation I object to, it's just you. Now fuck off, and don't come back. Love and kisses, Dave Banner.
It is so tempting, but of course I don’t send it, I just print out a copy to show Greg later, as it should give the uphill gardener a laugh.

I quickly run off a “Thanks, but no thanks” reply to Mr Patel and a few others, and decide it’s time to chase the dragon about getting time off. I saunter over to Lindsay, who puts the phone down as I approach.
“Ah, Dave,” she says, all smiles and fluttering of eyelashes. “I was just talking about you.”
“Good things, I hope,” I say with a smile. “Actually, I was wondering if we could have a little chat. I want to ask you a favour.” All staff and immediate bosses have this little fake respect dance, because if they actually said what they really wanted to there would be bloodshed, and that’s just not a great way to run a business.
“Well,” she says, stretching the word. “I was going to ask for a meeting myself, but in a bit. Hang on.” With this, she picks up her phone again and dials an internal extension. “Hello? Yes it’s me. Look, Dave Banner has just asked me for a meeting about something or other, so are you free now for ten minutes so we can sort that other matter out? You are? Good. We’ll see you in a minute.”
Other matter? What the fuck is going on?
“We’ve just got to go and see Tina in Personnel, Dave, and we can talk about your little favour as well.”
“Why do we have to see Personnel?” I ask, quite reasonably.
“”You’ll see,” she replies happily, which is the big neon warning sign saying ‘You are in the shit and I am absolutely loving it’. “Coming?” So off we go.

We sit in one of the small offices set aside for staff meetings with Tina shuffling my personal file in front of her like a Nazi commandant. I half expect her to bend over me and shout “So! You think you can escape, pathetic Englander!” but she doesn’t, and I resolve not to read so many Commando comics.
“So,” I say, trying to break the ice. “You found the body, then.” Nobody laughs, possibly because it was a shit joke.
“I’m afraid we have something to discuss with you, David,” says Tina solemnly. She’s normally quite nice to me, so I know she’s not mucking about. I look at Lindsay, and inwardly admire her for not jumping around the room letting off fireworks.
“Go on then,” I say, half worried and half not caring. After all, it can’t be that bad or I’d remember it.
“Well,” Tina continues, “you know we allow staff to communicate via the instant messaging system?” I nod. “It has come to our attention that you have been using it to send, how shall I put it, offensive remarks.”
“Like what?” I ask, purely because I know I’m bang to rights and want to hear her say it.
“Well, there’s ‘browneye bandit’, ‘anal adventurer’ and ‘backdoor botherer’ to name a few.”
“I have a good excuse,” I say.
“What is it?”
“I thought it was funny.”
“Funny?” cuts in Lindsay. “As a gay person myself I must say I find it extremely offensive.”
“You’re not gay Lins,” I say. “You’re married.”
“It’s a loveless marriage,” she says huffily.
“I’m not bloody surprised,” I snort. This is mental.
“We’re getting a bit off topic here,” Tina interjects. “You admit to sending these messages, Dave?”
“Yes. I was having a laugh with a colleague.”
“And who would this colleague be?” asks Tina.
“Don’t you know?”
“Well, to tell the truth we haven’t set up monitoring on all the computers yet, just the ones in Lindsays team, as a test.”
“Well I’m not going to tell you if it’s gonna get him in the shit as well, am I?”
“We would be more lenient on you if you did.”
“This is like being arrested!” I exclaim. “We’ll knock twenty years off your sentence if you’ll squeal on the Godfather and all that bollocks. Look, I’m not in the mood for all this, so give me a written warning or whatever, slap me on the wrist and I’ll promise not to do it again, okay?”
“Actually, there is another thing,” says Lindsay, really working hard on the not smiling thing. She takes out a letter and hands it to Tina. “This was in our printer tray this morning.”
Oh shit. Mr Patel’s letter. I forgot to take it out of the communal printer tray, and the bitch queen got her claws on it. I watch as Tina reads it with horrified disbelief. An official letter, on official paper, with my name and computer generated signature at the bottom, telling a customer to fuck off. Whoops.
“Dave?” says Tina, aghast. “Why on earth did you write this?”
“Look,” I way reasonably. “I wasn’t going to send it. I wrote him a proper letter as well. I just wrote that to get some of the frustration out of my head. I have just had a very nasty weekend and it helped calm me down. I only printed it out to show to my mate. No harm done.”
“No harm done!” shrieks Lindsay in triumph. “Do you realise someone could have put this in the post? If the papers had got hold of it the company would face a major backlash.” I swear she couldn’t be more like a cartoon villain if she had a speech bubble coming out of the side of her head with “Bwah Ha Ha!” in it.
“Was it sent?” I asked calmly.
“Well… no.”
“Then as I said. No harm done.”
“I’m afraid that as it has been brought to my attention I have to act on it,” says Tina. “I understand why you did it, but you have to consider the potential ramifications.”
“You are in it up to your neck, Dave” says Lindsay gloatingly. To my credit, I don’t punch her, mostly because she has about ten stone on me.

And then I snapped.

“You said what?” asks Simon, wiping tears from his eyes.
“I said ‘Fuck you and fuck your job’” I reply, as if it’s something I do every day.
“Then what?” he asks.
“Then I called Lindsay a fat evil bitch, which I have wanted to do for sooo long, and I went downstairs, picked up my bag and left.”
“You my friend, have balls of steel,” he says admiringly. “But no job.”
“Yes,” I confirm. “I am unemployed, and I feel great. I’m sure when it hits me I’ll feel depressed, melancholy and even suicidal, but for now I’m going to enjoy it, and whenever I feel down I can just revisit Lindsays face in my mind and I’ll cheer up all over again. Get me a beer”
“Yes sir, Mr Unemployed Balls Of Steel Man,” he says, saluting and going to the kitchen.

It’s only been an hour since my rather sudden quitting, and Simon is enjoying my dramatic representation, which is, I would like to say, totally accurate. My phone has almost continually rung since, all workmates wanting the dirt, so I turned it off, leaving an answerphone message that says “Sorry I can’t come to the phone, but yes I did quit and yes I did call Lindsay a fat evil bitch.”. That should give them something to gossip about, if nothing else. Thoughts of my phone remind me of why I wanted the meeting in the first place, and I turn it back on as Simon comes back with a couple of beers.
“Simon?” I say, taking mine gratefully. “What are you doing this week?”
“Nothing that can’t be put off,” he replies, reading my mind as ever. “What did you have in mind?”
“Let’s go for a road trip,” I say, and dial Waynes number.

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