Meanwhile, Tristan managed to get some farm hand a mile away, to give him a lift. He had to ride in the front of the tractor, with a traffic jam of angry commuters behind him. There wasn’t even enough room for him to sit down. When he got back to the hotel and tried to check back into his room, they told him that he had to pay again.
That’s when he realised he didn’t have his wallet. He was exhausted, pissed off, and stranded. All in all not a good morning for Tristan .
Now he was sat in a café down the street, with a cup of watery coffee, and his laptop. Even though the cafe was nearly empty, He put his headphones in so no one else could hear what was said.
When the image of a bloated, red faced, miserable boss in a huge, blue, unnecessary decorated office appeared on the screen, Tristan immediately put on airs.
“Nigel! Hi! Good morning I hope I didn’t wake you,” Tristan smiled over enthusiastically.
Nigel sneered back. “I’ve been awake for hours. What do you want?”
Tristan gulped. He hadn’t yet planned how he was going to break the news.
“I err… I have… um… that is to say-”
“Spit it out man!”
“I lost the girls.”
Tristan bowed his head and screwed his eyes shut so he didn’t have to see the fury slowly descend in his bosses face. He couldn’t escapes the fury in his voice though.
“You. Did. what?!”
“I KNOW WHAT YOU DID YOU IDIOT! YOU LOST FIVE INNOCENT CHILDREN WHO CAN’T LOOK AFTER THEMSELVES!”
“I’m not sure that’s true-“
“You didn’t lose them?”
“No, I did-”
“Then it is true?”
“Sorry?! You lost five little girls and you’re sorry?! You’re more than sorry you’re doomed! How did they even get away?!”
“They stole the van keys. And the van.”
“The van’s gone too?! And the camera equipment?! And the camera girls?! You’re killing me Tristan – killing me!”
Tristan sighed. He was going to lose his job. He knew it. Nigel started planning out loud. The more he said, the deeper Tristan receded into himself.
“We have the girls’ phone numbers. And their emails. We could send them messages. They need to be getting money from somewhere, probably your company card, we’ll track that,” Nigel thought out loud.
“Why don’t you just get the police to follow the tracker of the van and get the girls back? Or the licence plate?” his assistant called.
“That’s impossible Sheila! If the police find out we allowed our van to be stolen by uninsured unlicensed teenagers, we’ll be further up the creek. If we can somehow keep a lid on this, we can get the girls back and no one needs to know,” Nigel called back.
“If you find them, what are you going to do? How are you going to get them back without the school or the police or their parents finding out?” Sheila asked.
Nigel furrowed his potato face into a grumpy confused expression. He glanced at the disheveled image of Tristan on his computer screen.
“You’re on thin ice Tristan ,” Nigel said.
Tristan ’s head shot up in surprise. “I’m not fired?!”
“Not yet. If you can get those girls back to their school, back on schedule, before anyone official finds out that they’re missing, you can keep your job. Is that understood?” Nigel demanded.
Tristan nodded fanatically. He grinned and thanked Nigel repeatedly, as if this was all he had ever wanted. Truthfully the promise of keeping his job had no effect on Tristan ’s emotion. If anything he felt worse. He really hated this job. Losing it would be the kick he needed. But Tristan wasn’t giving it up without a fight.
“Thank you Nigel. Thank you so much. I will not let you down. I promise!” Tristan insisted.
“You already have. Just don’t make it worse,” Nigel spat.
The screen went blank as Nigel hung up on Tristan . Tristan stared at his reflection blankly for a few long moments. And then he flipped off the screen.
Back in his overly extravagant office, Nigel turned in his spiny chair to face his assistant standing in the doorway. She raised an eyebrow over her glasses.
“You’re sending the man who lost them, to find them?” she said.
Nigel shrugged. “He’s the one who saw them last.”
“They’re not a pair of scissors Nigel. They’re people. You keep calling them children, they’re not children. They teenagers. They probably ran away because they were being treated like children. If you send someone who will treat them like the age they are, you might be able to bring them back home again. Properly,”
“Who’s going to do that? They’re little girls who are trying to make a fuss. If you validate that they’ll just keep doing it,” he said, matter-of-factly.
Shelia’s eyes were daggers slicing into him, above her glasses.
“I’m glad you’re not a father. Hopefully your opinions will die with you, like the rest of the dinosaurs,” she stated.
“Be careful Shelia sweetie, or it’ll be your job on the line too,” Nigel warned.
Shelia scoffed loudly. “Yeah right, like you’d ever find someone else willing to put up with your shit who wasn’t a care home nurse.”
Nigel scowled as Shelia sashayed away, leaving him alone. He was furious at the fact that she was right, but even more so at the fact that both of them knew it.
He cleared his voice and called to the door, “Shelia!”
“I’m already tracking the credit card accounts and I’ve sent an email to IT to have one of them hack into the van’s tracker,” she called back.
She was too efficient.
Nigel would have to think of some other way to spite her.