This is the twentieth part of a fiction serial, in 762 words.
It took a month for the vetting and references to go through. During that time, Jimmy discovered that Lesley had a driving licence. She had passed her test aged eighteen, but never had the money to buy her own car. Jimmy suggested he buy her one, using some of the inheritance money from his mum. They went to the nearest main dealer, and he paid by cheque for the car that Lesley chose, a Mini Clubman 1275 GT. She picked a rather garish orange colour, and it had a black stripe across the bonnet. As Jimmy cared nothing about cars, he allowed her to choose all the extras, then paid the salesman without haggling.
Before she collected the car, Lesley thought she had better have a refresher lesson. She hadn’t driven since the day she passed her test, so arranged for a two-hour lesson with a local driving school. That went well, and the instructor dropped her off at the dealer to collect her new Mini. Now she had the car and had arranged the insurance, they would no longer need to get the bus. They could also drive to the new large supermarket to buy their groceries. Lesley was beside herself. Nobody had ever been so generous to her in her life.
For Jimmy, there was another agenda. If he got the job he had applied for and they moved to Wiltshire, a car would almost certainly be essential.
The interview date came through by letter. Jimmy had to take two days of his holiday entitlement, and arrange train tickets for the journey to what was almost the other side of the country. Using a copy of Dalton’s Weekly, he found a respectable bed and breakfast establishment in Salisbury, and phoned them to book an overnight stay. That was around eight miles from Porton Down, and he would book a taxi once he got there.
On the day, the taxi had to drop him at the entrance, and he showed his letter to the guards at the gate. A lady came to get him, and gave him a temporary identity card to clip to his jacket lapel. She took him to a rather unimpressive office, where two men were waiting. Unknown to Jimmy, they were excited. His interview was little more than a formality, as his qualifications and references were exceptional, and his background vetting had been one of the cleanest they had ever seen. They asked him some questions about where he might live, and what his wife would be doing. Lesley had been checked secretly by them, and she had also come up squeaky clean.
Giving no indication of his success or failure, they thanked him for coming, and he was shown back to the gatehouse, where one of the guards allowed him to ring the same taxi firm to collect him. He had been told that the decision on his application would be sent by letter. The taxi took him to Salisbury station, where he arrived almost two hours early for the train. He bought a selection of the available local newspapers, two of which had property advertisements. A quick browse while he waited showed him that property in the outlying villages was affordable, and with a good deposit from his inheritance, they would have a very small mortgage.
That evening, he spoke to Lesley about them leaving Hopgood’s. They both had to give three month’s notice, so even if he got the job, he would not be able to start that year. He had told the men interviewing him that, and they hadn’t seemed concerned. Lesley told him she was going to write to Boots, and ask about work as a trainee pharmacist. Jimmy told her there was a really big branch of Boots in Salisbury, and she seemed excited about the prospect of a move, and a new job. She said it all seemed too good to be true.
But it was true, Jimmy knew that. And he knew for sure that God was fixing it for him.
The letter arrived in less than a week. A full job offer, including details of salary, pension arrangements, and a contract to sign and return. The pay was fifty percent more than he was getting at Hopgood’s, and that was a nice surprise, as he hadn’t even asked about the salary. Lesley jumped up and down with excitement, wrapping her arms around Jimmy.
He told her that they had to give notice the next morning, as he would be starting at Porton Down the first week in February.