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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/1977404
by Stuart
Rated: 13+ · Chapter · Comedy · #1977404
Chapter two of my work in progress novel.
Fortune and Fate

Sixweek Smallmole was sitting in the kitchen of his modest London flat chewing a piece of toast and reading the newspaper on the table in front of him when he suddenly looked up and spoke to the man sitting opposite.

"There's an article here about a political storm emerging in Nicaragua where it appears the government is being infiltrated by a group of superior badgers. Apparently they're taking over key posts in the Civil Service and party political offices.

"A spokesman for the Nicaraguan government said in a statement today that the badgers had taken over a number of high-ranking positions but denied a wholesale takeover by the stripy mammals. He refused to discuss progress of the highly controversial  Rooting and Snuffling Bill, currently undergoing its second reading in Parliament.
The explanation for these surprising phenomena is widely believed to be merely that the badgers in question are:
""Much cleverer 'van uvver Badgers{/u}""

Scanning down the page, he went on;

"There's also been another tea towel displacement, this time in...where is it...near Chudleigh in North Devon. That's the third this month!"

Sixweek sighed and tutted

"You know something ...I really think it's time to change my cocking newspaper"

The man opposite looked up briefly from his own paper and shrugged his shoulders with only casual interest and then carried on reading.
His name name was Adam Gestetner, affectionately known to his friends as "Railhead", mainly because of his size, which was considerable. 6ft 5" tall with shoulders that resembled a sturdy Victorian wardrobe and hands that looked as though they could demolish a small town library without too much trouble.

After a brief pause he exclaimed:

"What's your star sign Six?"

"Aquarius, The Water Carrier, why"?

"Ahh, then it's your birthday month, it's says here that you're going to hear from long lost friends and receive a surprise gift. Uncanny how they know these things, certainly makes you wonder doesn't it....some  tosspot actually gets paid for coming up with crap like that "

Sixweek looked absently out of the window and said:

"I wonder what star sign the Nicaraguan badgers are"?

"Don't be silly Six, badgers don't have star signs.... they're too SET in their ways" Guffaw, Guffaw

With a painful wince, Sixweek continued

"Bloody hell Adam, ....anyhow,  if they can take over South American governments I don't see why they can't believe in a bit of harmless astrology"

Adam looked pityingly at his friend.

"Believing everything you read in newspapers is a sure sign of softening of the brain Six, that badger story must be wildly exaggerated, now if it was foxes or perhaps pole cats I might believe there was a grain of truth in it, but badgers, no chance....... and any way astrology is not harmless, it's exploitation of the feeble minded in its cruellest form"

"Ooh, get you ducky! You can get down from your soapbox I was only thinking aloud." then suddenly springing up out of his seat he exclaimed

"Right what's the plan for today Railhead?, I'm full of beans, just like the cat in the Whiskers advert"

Adam gave his friend a  slightly worried  look and said

"You have an appointment at those daft solicitors of yours at 10.00, where no doubt you will simper sickeningly over the receptionist, who, as far as I can tell, is only  kept on there because she's the daughter of one of the senior partners"

Sixweek sighed and said

"Ah yes the beautiful Agnetha, a lovely creature and one day, hopefully  before long, destined to become the future Mrs Smallmole"

"Poor cow" said Adam, disparagingly, "If only she knew what fate awaited her she'd be on the first bus to Nicaragua to join the badgers".

Sixweek walked up to his friend who was now standing and reaching up tapped him on his wide chest.

"Enough of that Mr Gestetner, get your coat and let's get out of here before I have to dunk your face in the butter ".

And so suitably coated and shoed they left the flat and made their way out into the crisp London morning.

The reason for their, as it turns out to be, fateful visit to the firm of Atterwood, Crispstick, Rosebury and Yip, Attorneys at Law was on the face of it a fairly solemn one. Sixweek's father had recently passed on and the legal machine was in full motion organising and overseeing the distribution of the not inconsiderable Smallmole senior's estate. Freytag Smallmole had made his mark and money in the sweet confectionary trade. He had a number of factories dotted about the country churning out all manner of sugary death in the form of harmless looking delicacies. His reputation as a king amongst the cupcakes was mainly founded on the strength of the Smallmole Sticky Bun - a legend in the baking fraternity and revered in many parts of the world but in particular, for some unknown reason, North Staffordshire, where a whole day was set aside to celebrate its very existence.

Sixweek was not terribly downhearted at the death of his father, who was a man quite unknown to him due to family circumstances.  His mother and father had separated when he was still a baby and he had spent much of his early years in North Africa where he enjoyed a fairly happy if unconventional childhood with a slightly scatty mother who adored him and a number of dodgy "uncles" who seemed to come and go with the seasons but who all treated him with great affection and from whom he learned many valuable life lessons.

Freytag did not completely abandon his son and saw to it that he was furnished with sufficient education to avoid dribbling when he read and that his mother always had enough monies to fund their rather eccentric lifestyle. After his mother's death 4 years ago, Freytag had provided Sixweek with an annual allowance which permitted him a small rented flat in an unfashionable part of London with enough left over to champ on a slice of bread and butter when he was hungry.

Now that his Father had passed on of course meant that Sixweek's lifestyle was about to change dramatically, or so he hoped. The exact details of Freytag's estate were a complete mystery to him and in truth he had no notion as to what his Father may have left him, but given that throughout his life this estranged parent had ensured a fair degree of comfort for the young Sixweek, it did not seem inconceivable that in death he would similarly take care of his only offspring.

So it was with a certain nervous but hopeful anticipation that Sixweek Smallmole, orphan of this parish, just entering his thirty fifth year of life, beetled off to his solicitors on this fine early summer morning with something which approximated to a spring in his step.
Arriving at the offices of said Atterwood, Crispstick, Rosebury and Yip they entered via the flight of steps leading up from the pavement and then through the large, heavy oak varnished doors, across the plush carpeted foyer and approached the art deco curved, polished wood and metal reception desk resembling the bow of a mighty cruise liner. The girl behind the desk had her back to them as they came in, filing some papers into a cabinet just out of sight. She turned just as they got to the desk.

"SIXY!" she squealed, and then realising where she was, put a hand to her mouth looking round guiltily.

"Hello poppet, how are you?" returned Sixweek, trying hard not to appear at all surprised or moved by the exuberance of her greeting, all the while secretly grinning from ear to ear on the inside.

Adam merely looked skyward and muttered

"Sixy? for god's sake" under his breath, but otherwise just smiled and said nothing.

"I'd forgotten you were coming in this morning, haven't seen you for ages"
Agnetha Crispstick flushed a little and then collecting herself consulted the laptop screen in front of her. After pressing a couple of keys on the Apple Mac's keypad she obtained the required information.

"Here you go, you're seeing Mr Atterwood at 10.00, just in time. Take a seat and I'll let him know you've arrived". She was now brimming over with bustling efficiency.

"Thanks Aggie, may we help ourselves to coffee?" said Sixweek, with what he hoped was a winning smile, but which Adam thought looked more like the onset of chronic constipation.

"Oh sorry Six, the machine's bust, keep meaning to get it fixed, I could make you one if you like?" Agnetha was eager to please.

"No problem, don't bother, we'll just sit over here and let you get on" Sixweek moved towards the leather chairs with Adam following, as they walked over Adam bent down and whispered in Sixweek's ear, Sixweek swiftly responded by booting his friend up the arse. Adam just laughed and flopped down into one of the expansive leather armchairs, filling it with ease and chuckling to himself.

After a couple of minutes Agnetha looked up from her copy of First Crass celebrity magazine and said

"Mr Atterwood can see you now"

"Thanks Aggie, see you later" Sixweek and Adam rose and went to one of the large office doors which led off the reception area in a wide semi circle. They stopped in front of the one with Atterwood on the plinth, knocked and walked in.

Emerging some 45 minutes later the two friends looked slightly ashen.

"I think we'd better have that coffee now if you don't mind Agnetha" Adam called across to her.

"Sod the coffee" exclaimed Sixweek, "I need a strong drink and right now".

"It's a bit early to get a drink Six, they won't be open for at least another hour, have a coffee and then we'll go and get a belt at lunchtime".

The details of Smallmole senior's will had come as something of a shock. It appeared that just at the time of his Father's demise the company he founded was the subject of a hostile takeover by a large US corporation. In the aftermath of the buy out most of the factories and the majority portion of the stocks had passed out of the Smallmole family ownership. Sixweek was left with a small annuity for life but it was certainly far short of the substantial sum he had secretly been hoping for.

"I salvaged what I could for you Sixweek." Talbot Atterwood was gruff but sympathetic. "But those buggers from the US play real hardball, it was all I could do to safeguard the sum for life".

Somewhat dazed, Sixweek said " I appreciate your efforts Mr Atterwood, I guess I should be grateful to get anything at all, but truth is I had hoped to be on the receiving end of a small fortune today, I can't say it doesn't come as a bit of a blow all the same".

As he walked out of the office and spotted Agnetha sitting pertly at her desk, Sixweek was struck by the awful realisation that any thought of marriage was now definitely on hold. He was painfully aware that his stock with Agnetha's Father, the rather formidable Paisley Cripstick Esq., was decidedly on the wrong side of low. He had expected that his inheritance would go a long way in terms of softening the old boy. Certainly he had enough to live on, just. But it was clear his stipend would not support two and a family was out of the question. Was it really fair to drag Agnetha into that sort of struggling lifestyle? Sixweek knew the answer to that before he even asked it of himself. Absolutely not. Then the terrible thought struck him that he may have to get a job. Oh hell this was turning into a really bad day!

As he was standing in reception turning all of these thoughts over in his fevered mind,  a door to his left opened and the figure of the aforementioned Crispstick stood in the doorway.

"Can you spare me a few minutes Smallmole?" Paisley Crispstick was not one for formalities, he immediately walked back into his office without waiting for a reply, but leaving the door open.
Sixweek looked drunkenly at Adam and said

"Would you mind waiting here a moment Adam while I go and talk with that delightful old gentleman?"

"Go ahead Six, I'll grab a coffee and be right out here" Under his breath he then muttered

"If you want me to come in and kick the old bugger out the window, just give me a yell".

"Cheers bud, see you in a bit, wonder what he wants, maybe just to have a gloat do you think"?

With that he gave a lopsided smile and walked into the office.

Inside Paisley indicated a chair and got right down to business.

"I'm familiar with the terms of your Father's affairs and understand you must be somewhat disappointed at the outcome".

Sixweek, unsure how to respond let the old man continue.

"The settlement you receive, although enough to live on will hardly enhance your current standard of living to any great degree, have you considered what you will do now"?

"It's all a bit sudden really, I need some time to think". Sixweek felt like he was up before the beak and at a distinct disadvantage, but he was determined not to be bullied by the man opposite.

"Well while you're thinking I have a proposition to put you. I am aware that there is a certain fondness between you and my daughter, needless to say you are not in a strong position to marry and must be appreciative of the fact that you have little to offer Agnetha in the way of a comfortable lifestyle".

Sixweek did not like the way this conversation was going. He rose from his seat and approaching the desk.

"Now just hold on a second, that's none of your goddamn...."

"Now, now don't get heated, I'm just stating facts, have the good grace to hear me out before going four no trumps and a coronary. Given your circumstances I was wondering if you'd be prepared to take on a bit of freelance work for us, that's all"?

Sixweek was more than a little taken aback

"Me, why do you think I would be either suitable or interested in working for you"?

"Well for one you have plenty of spare time on your hands at the moment and no immediate demands on your time if I'm not much mistaken, two; you're in need of earning some ready money and three: I'm also aware that you have a reputation for being a chap with a good, smart head on your shoulders".

"Hmmm" Sixweek was always wary of flattery in any shape or form.

"OK...what's the job"? he continued, uncommittedly

"Are you familiar with the recent spate of murders involving vicars and ironing boards"? Paisley looked closely at him as he asked this, searching his face for a reaction.

"Of course, its been in all the papers and the telly news, all very bizarre" Sixweek was more at ease now and beginning to feel interested despite himself.

"Quite, well we happen to represent the church diocese that the first chap, Stephen Porridge, belonged to. They're pretty unhappy with the police investigation that so far has turned up nothing to explain the death. They're also desperate to avoid any church scandal, I suppose you're aware that there has been the inevitable rumour mongering about his being mixed up with the underworld, gangland dealings etc. no proof of course but that sort of thing is hard to shake off. After the other two bodies turned up of course they're scared that the church may be being targeted by a serial killer or something."

Sixweek interjected

"I'm not surprised to hear that, it certainly smacks of a sick and twisted mind from what I've read of the case".

"Well as a result the Bishop has asked us to make some discreet enquiries on their behalf and report back directly to them if we dig up anything, before going to the police you understand".

For the first time Sixweek thought he smelled a rat.

"Tricky one that, I believe the police call it withholding evidence, or obstruction of justice, some such anyway. Can get you into an awful lot of trouble".

"Yes well that's why we need someone we can trust and can rely on to be careful and above all discreet".

"Yes, especially someone who's broke, with no job or prospects and wishes to marry the daughter of a senior partner of a certain firm of solicitors".

"You seem to have an excellent grasp of the situation, I knew you were the man for the job, well will you take it on"?

Sixweek looked at the shrewd old man and decided that on no account should he ever fully trust him. But on the other hand he was in need of a job and some money. Certainly anything he could do to get in Paisley Crispstick's good books would be no bad thing either. In short it didn't appear that he had any good reason for not doing a bit of amateur detective work, it might even be fun. He idly wondered where he could obtain a good second hand magnifying glass and deer stalker but was interrupted in his musings by the suddenly abrupt voice of Crispstick.

"Well, close your mouth and give me an answer, are you willing to take this on or not"?

Sixweek sat up in his chair and quickly wiped his mouth with his handkerchief.

"Yes, OK give me all the gen, tell me what it pays and we may come to some arrangement Paisley me old fruit".

With a withering glance Paisley heaved himself up from his chair and walked over to a filing cabinet.

Thirty minutes later Sixweek walked out of the office carrying a thick buff coloured manila folder under his arm. Adam was leaning over the reception desk, chatting easily with Agnetha, the two of them roared with laughter just as he emerged. Agnetha saw Sixweek and let out a loud unexpected snort, she looked at Adam and they both roared again at her unfortunate and unexpected pig impression.

"Whoops me"! she laughed, "Peppa Pig of the law profession".

"When you two have quite finished. Adam, we've got work to do, let's repair to the nearest pub and talk".

Just as Adam was about to reply, a door from one of the other offices opened and a tall elderly gent wearing a long woolly cardigan shuffled out. Everyone stopped and watched as he made his way towards the main door across the office.

"Morning Teddy" said Adam in a friendly, warm greeting.

"Good morning Mr Yip" said Agnetha slightly more deferentially as befitted the oldest partner of the law firm.

They all barely even acknowledged the fact that as usual he carried with him his faithful old kettle, so much a part of him these days that everyone had long since wondered why he carried such a strange object wherever he went, like a metallic security blanket. But he was never seen without it and it formed much speculation in the office as to whether he slept and bathed with it. Most of his law practice had long since ceased with the passing of old clients, but he remained a stalwart of the office and everyone saw to it that he was treated at all times with the respect due to him after 40 years excellent service. The kettle had appeared for no adequately explained reason some years ago and had remained with him ever since. No one thought to ask him what it symbolised and he never offered any clarification as to its meaning and origin. It just became Teddy Yip and kettle, everyone just accepted it and got on with their lives.

Watching him now make his way to the door, Agnetha asked

"Going out Mr Yip"?

Teddy suddenly turned and looking at the three people by the desk exclaimed

"Blasted Femidoms again you know, can't control them for buggery, really giving me the pip this time"

"Know what just you mean Teddy" said Adam, "They're always bad this time of year"

"No shit Gestener, you said a lot" said Teddy and turning around with kettle in hand, went back to his office.

After a brief pause where they all just looked momentarily at each other, poker faced until Adam said

"Well Sixweek did you mention the pub and the need for a chat, OK I'm your man let's go and let this lovely piece of wool with a severe adenoid condition get on with some urgent secretarial work".

So they said tatty hoops to Agnetha and left the building.

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