The Four Musketeers: Part Twenty

This is the twentieth part of a fiction serial, in 755 words.

It dawned on me that Terry didn’t seem surprised to see us when we turned up at his end-of-terrace in West Ealing. He answered the door, didn’t invite us in, and said he would come out with us but we had to wait in the car. Then he directed us to a boring little pub five minutes away, where only bar snacks were available because we hadn’t booked in advance.

Once we had bought a drink and sat waiting for the uninspiring snacks, he spoke up.

“So, you two have come to check on me, I suppose? To find out if I’m going to grass you up, or if I have told anyone? You both seem to be doing alright, and I don’t s’pose you ever think about Johnny. Well I do. I can’t get that night out of my head. I find it hard to sleep, then I’m too tired to work regularly, and if I ain’t careful, I’m gonna lose the house. We are already four months in arrears on the mortgage, and I get my ear bent by my missus morning, noon, and night. Well she don’t know, does she? I ain’t told her what happened. Reckon she would leave me if I did”.

His flow was stopped short by the arrival of three very sad-looking Ploughman’s Lunches, plopped down onto the table by a mature waitress who winked at me as she did so, then flashed me a knowing look as she walked away. I decided I definitely would, but it would have to be another time, if ever. West Ealing was too far from where I lived.

Keith took over.

“Actually, Terry, I have come to offer you something. As you know, I have the ear of a member of parliament, and many of his colleagues in the house. I happen to know that a friend of a friend is looking for a plumbing company to service his portfolio of rental properties in the West London area. Naturally, I have suggested that I know someone. You would have to employ some people, as it is a big contract. But I have every confidence you could cope. It could change your life”.

Not only was I surprised by Keith’s offer, I remained completely surprised by the way he talked by then. Being maried to Maddy had honed his skills at speaking posh, and he sounded completely convincing. Terry didn’t seem remotely excited, but he thought about it for a long time before replying.

“Course, I would love to build up the business. Show my in-laws I’m not a waster, and provide some sort of future for little Sophia. But I don’t trust you, Keith. How do I know it’s not just a way to stitch me up? Get me involved in something that you end up controlling?” Keith managed to look very offended.

“Why the hell would I do that? I have my own career to think about, and it doesn’t include plumbing, believe me. I got Danny to bring me all this way to make you a genuine offer that even includes a few grand up front, so you can get another van and more stock. But if you think I’m not to be trusted, then forget it”.

Terry looked at me. “What about you, Danny. You think it’s a good idea?” I told him I had no opinion. He was the businessman, and could work things out with Keith. He knew about plumbing, and a contract servicing rented places seemed like a good regular income to me. I didn’t say it was the first I had heard of it. Terry got up to get three more beers. None of us had so much as touched the unappetising cheese and bread.

The waitress reappeared, nodding at the untouched food. “Anything wrong, lads?” I told her that there was nothing wrong with her, only the food. Her smile went up to her ears. Well, I couldn’t resist it, especially as I might never see her again.

Whe Terry got back with the drinks, he had made a decision. “Okay, let’s say I go for it. How soon does this all happen? Keith produced an envelope from his inside pocket, and slid it across the table. “This is enough for another van, and more spare parts. Once you have taken on a second plumber, I will get the company to send you the contract and the jobs by post”. Terry took the envelope, and seemed pleased.

As for me, I knew it wasn’t Kosher.

21 thoughts on “The Four Musketeers: Part Twenty

  1. (1) Does a flat earth have an end-of-terrace?
    (2) The mature waitress winked at Danny, but to no effect. So then, summoning up some courage, she reached across the table and whispered, “I have an old furrow that could sure use a plough!”
    (3) Bad citation: “As you know, I have the ear of a member of parliament, and many of his colleagues in the house. That’s why you see so many one-eared politicians on television!”
    (4) Overheard:
    Terry: “I don’t trust you, Keith. How do I know it’s not just a way to stitch me up?”
    Keith: “Think about it, Terry. I want you to earn some money so you can go shopping. Look at you. You don’t have a stitch to wear!”
    (5) The devil offered Terry a long-term plumbing contract in the underworld in exchange for his soul. Terry mulled over the offer, drank a few beers, and said, “Why do I have a feeling that you’ll get me involved in something you end up controlling?” The devil replied, “Why the hell would I do that? I have my own career to think about, and it doesn’t include plumbing, believe me.”
    (6) Is there a pub called Goldilocks and the Three Beers?
    (7) Danny didn’t touch his food because he was too busy dreaming about where he could touch the waitress.

    Liked by 1 person

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