Story by Big M
Foodge felt strangely optimistic, as opposed to pensive, or a sense of ennui. For, as Emerson once stated, “Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquility that no religion can bestow.” Yes, our freshly re-barred hero had bought himself a new suit, well, not just a new suit, new suits, and shoes (not brogues, proper dress shoes), and socks, and cufflinks, and handkerchiefs, and seat covers (undies) and a new black Fedora. Why, you may ask? Well our lad was looking forward to some serious coin as a lawyer, and viewed his sartorial expenses as investments, rather than mere costs.
Foodge deftly piloted his conveyance, or car, or for us at the pub, his Zephyr, around the back streets of Lewisham, and into a parking space at the back of a particularly dilapidated red brick and tile edifice. The bottom of the building housed a fruiterer, so the back stank of rotting vegetation, and fruit flies, but Foodge recognised that the offices upstairs were really the centres of action. What better place for legal chambers than being nestled in with organisations such as, Cayman Island Investments, the Lewisham Music Institute (specialising in banjo and nose flute), and the Inner Western Cyberian College, with courses on everything from acupuncture to zooanoses?
The lift was broken, and smelt like it was being used as a public
urinal. ‘No problem’, thought Foodge, as he started climbing the poorly lit stairs. His foot found something soft, that seemed to be connected with the scabbiest cat he had every seen, which simultaneously dropped it’s toxoplasmosis filled treat, screeched and fled up the stairs. Foodge remained shaken, not stirred, as he liked to say, so progressed upward. He was surprised to find the door to Number Three ajar. He was more shocked to find the scabby cat in the reception area drinking from a bowl of milk. He was even more shocked to find his former secretary, Fern, at the desk.
“Good morning, Mr Foodge.” Fern smiled although her eyes could barely conceal her hostility.
“Wha…wha…what are you doing here?” Foodge stammered, as he pushed his Fedora back from his forehead.
“It seems fat I’m your new secretary.” Fern didn’t bother to smile, this time.
“I thought you were debarred, or deregistered, or de-whatever they do to bad secretaries.”
“Nah, there’s no such fing for us secretaries.” Fern slipped some more gum between her overinflated, red lips. “Plus it’s handy for me as I’m studyin’ Beaudy Ferrapy next door.”
Foodge had the habit of handling these personal challenges in an affable manner. “Well, ‘err, perhaps you could rustle up a sign for the front door?”
“Sign writer’s coming fisarvo.” Fern was wrapping and unwrapping her fingers in her hair.
“Anything in the diary?” Foodge hoped against hope.
“Yep, fere’s a feller comin’ at ten for some conveyencing, whatever the hell that is, then fere’s a bloke dropping in at eleven wiv some coffee samples, fought you’d have your normal lunch from twelve ‘til two, fen fere’s some bloke who wants to sue the council…”
“Well, ar…just a couple of points, one, I’m a barrister, not a conveyencer, so you can cancel the first chap. Two, I’m a barrister, not a barista, so the second needs to be contacted, and three, is the third chap coming here with a solicitor? Foodge removed his hat, and wiped away the rivulets of sweat, which always seemed to form on his brow when he spoke to Fern.
Fern decided to fight fire with fire, or, at least with the same tone. “One, you need to tell me these things. I don’t know what the fuck a conveyencer is. Two, my bad, I can never get the spelling right, which reminds me, I may need to fix the ad in tomorrow’s Daily…. Oh, and free, why does he need his solicitor?” Fern was pouring more milk into a plastic bowl for Scabby the cat.
“I’m a barrister, I can only work under the instructions of a solicitor, not directly from the client!!” Foodge expected his secretary to have some idea of the workings of a legal chamber.
“So, you need to have instructions on how to do your job?” Fern tossed the empty milk carton into the bin under her desk.
Just then Scabby threw up half a rat, and about a litre of semi-digested milk.
“Oh, fuck!!” Foodge slammed the door behind him.