Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Black Cherry 

Neil, my former team leader, came round this morning shaking a bucket.
He said he was collecting for Guide Dogs For The Selectively Deaf but we pretended not to hear him.

He stood there jiggling for a good ten minutes, maybe twenty, looking dumb and hopeful, as if he'd arranged to meet somebody on a blind date - “Meet me at ten in the sys admins' office. I'll be rattling a bucket of loose change. Wear something foxy” - before Terry, quizzical and sucking a cheap ballpoint, was the first to crack.

“Hey Neil,” he said, “Any good at crosswords?”
“Furious? Livid?”
“No, I mean newspaper crosswords.”
“Yes. I've heard of those.”
“OK then. Good.” Terry cleared his throat. “Overburdened postman?”
“How many letters?”
“Fucking hundreds.”
“Yes, but how many letters?”
“Fucking hundreds. It's a joke.”
“Oh, absolutely. A joke. That's very good.” He gave his bucket a little jangle. “But you're going to have to tell me. How many letters?”
“You've still a long way to go,” said Terry. “Somewhere between eight and nine hundred, if you must know.”
“I see. That's still quite some way, isn't it?” He stared long and hard into his bucket, then walked to the door. “I can't stop but ping me, would you, when they're all counted? The letters?”
“As soon as I hear anything.”

“That's pretty good, that,” I said to Terry, as soon as Neil had left the room. “'As soon as I hear anything.'”
Terry looked at me blankly.
“As soon as I hear anything? Guide Dogs For The Selectively Deaf?”
“Forget I even mentioned it,” I said, and poured a yogurt into my lap. Black cherry.

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