The Last Magus

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Enemies unite...

With the start of April the weather started to improve. If January had been cold, February had been downright miserable, days of rain and more rain with cold and freezing temperatures. March had only been passably better, rain on top of more rain. Thankfully in Joe’s newly refurbished and properly heated home things were not so bad, he spent time practising his spells or out performing his shows for the children. Even after nearly three months of doing them he still got a massive kick out of their faces as he performed, it just made the whole experience worth it. Joe had rung Mr Curlew eventually and the TV company were test marketing their demographics to find the optimum time for a magic show and would therefore let Joe know in due time. Joe to be honest wasn’t all that bothered, if they came up with a TV show great; if not well didn’t bother him. The start of April though brought the first days of real sunshine and the first smells of spring. So one morning, when he felt at a loose end, he went into Nat’s office and seated himself in one of her chairs. He spent what felt like five minutes staring at her face.

“What?” She turned to face him smiling, “have I got something on my face?”

“No!” Joe cupped his chin in his hand and rested the elbow on her desk and continued to stare at her.

“Then what Joe? I’m a bit busy here!”

“How busy are you?”

“Why?” She raised an eyebrow as she looked at him out of the corner of her eye.

“Oh I just wondered if you fancied going for a walk.”

“Oh are we going anywhere?”

“No, nowhere in particular…just a walk”

“Just a romantic walk then?” She smiled as she said the word romantic.

“If you like…” Joe smiled back, “that is unless you’re busy!”

“Nothing that can’t wait, lover boy!” She teased and kissed his nose.

“Good! Sun’s out so we can probably forget the cold weather stuff, might be worth bringing in case it turns but I don’t think it will all that quickly.”

“I’m surprised you haven’t learnt to control the weather Joseph Winstanton, what sort of wizard are you that you can’t control the weather?”

“Give me a break Nat! That sun is ninety three million miles away, I might have some range on my spells now but ninety three million miles is stretching things a bit far.”

“What is your range now?”

“Well I extended that shooting range last evening it’s almost two hundred metres long now.” Two hundred metres was plainly not in any way possible of fitting inside the property but that was a curious thing about this house.

“Wow! You can shoot a fireball that far? That’s my man!” She kissed his nose again playfully.

“Fireballs, lightning bolts, magic arrows if it’s within two hundred metres I can hit it!”

“All the time?”

“All the time sweetheart, all the time!” For the word sweetheart he did his Bogart impression which left Nat giggling.

“Come on then cupid…take me for a walk!”

“Do I need a leather leash?” Joe smiled and raise his eyebrows suggestively a few times.

“Only in your dreams big boy, only in your dreams! Ha ha ha!”

The pair of them left the office room and turned to the front room. They walked into the front room to find Draco curled up on the rug in front of the fire, he was in his Persian cat mode and sleeping peacefully, the fire which Joe now kept in almost constantly glittered on Draco’s fur.

“Guess we won’t have the dragon for company then…Let him sleep!”

They crossed the room to the front door and after Joe unlocked the outside front door they both stepped outside. Joe closed the door quietly, locking it behind him. “You know I never thought of it before but I guess having a watch dragon leaves the house in safe hands…or claws!” he smiled.

“Joe why are you in such a good mood today?”

“Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies Nat. Who says I’m in a good mood?”

“Aren’t you?”

“Well…yeah I suppose so, it’s April, my life is going from strength to strength day by day. The sun’s finally starting to make itself known so things are warming up, life’s springing up all around. I guess I just feel all the possibilities, can’t you feel it?”

“Is this something to do with magic Joe?”

“Not that I know of. I just feel really really good today that’s all! In fact…” Joe flexed his shoulders rotating them both ways before stretching his arms above his head, “see no pain! I woke this morning for the first time in years with no pain.”

“Wow! So does that mean you’re healed?”

“Don’t know! If it does great! If it doesn’t I’m certainly going to ride this train to the end.”

Joe almost danced his way to the road, then just momentarily his face fell. However even the sight of his arch nemesis couldn’t dent his mood this morning, Paul was coming along the road!
Paul felt about Joe’s streak of good luck in many of the same ways that Franklin Jolly did, he despised Joe. Paul had been all set to make an absolute killing in January, a deal that would have netted him a good personal fortune, particularly one he did not have to tell his wife about!…but the land deal had fallen through at the last minute, because the inconsiderate bastard wouldn’t let go of the archaic pile he called a home, Paul had lost a bundle! He’d even had to give up his all the trimmings Bentley and that made him angry. All because Joe “the loser” Winstanton, the local hero saving the bloody bank from being robbed couldn’t let go of the bloody past! Paul had almost choked on his Mocha La-Te when he’d read the newspaper story and then the follow up piece the next day, it had all made him fume. What right did Joe “the loser” have pulling a girl like the one featured in the paper? Luckily or unluckily for Joe, Joe had not had any encounters with Paul in all the time since, so Paul had seethed alone. At sight of Joe, Paul’s face became as dark as a black thundercloud.

“Morning Paul!” Joe raised an arm and beamed a smile, “lovely day isn’t it?”

“Lovely day? It would have been…but then I ran into you…loser!”

“I’m sorry you feel that way.” Nat stepped up beside Joe. Joe curled his arm around Nat’s waist as she came close to his side, she curled an arm around his waist in response. “By the way have you met Natalie? Nat this is Paul, Paul this is Natalie” Paul was silent, he looked from Nat to Joe and back again.

“The paper was right then you two are together!”

“You mean that story after the robbery, that was rubbish! But Joe and I did go out the evening of the robbery just as friends, he took me to see a film I wanted to see…and we have become closer friends since…so maybe you can say the paper gave us the idea.”

“What the bloody hell does a gorgeous babe like you see in him? I mean him, he’s a bloody loser…always has been! Even as a kid in school he was bullied.”

“I seem to remember you were the one doing the bullying Paul.”

“Well, he doesn’t call me a babe for a start Paul, at least not that much. But I think he’s quite a winner…my kind of winner anyway!” Nat promptly turned to Joe smiled and planted a soft kiss on his cheek. Paul’s eyes goggled, what the hell was she doing with a loser like him?

“How’s your Bentley doing Paul? It was a Bentley with ALL the trimmings wasn’t it?”

“I had to give it back.” Paul sulked, his temper was beginning to rise.

“Oh I am sorry! What was it the quads, it was quads wasn’t it, weren’t quite right for you then? Didn’t give that particular sound quality. Or was it not such a pussy magnet as you thought after all?”

“Fuck the bloody quads! And you wouldn’t know a pussy magnet if they drew you a diagram of one! I had a good deal going and it bloody fell through…so I couldn’t afford the bloody car any more could I?” Paul’s sulk was quickly turning to anger and his anger was aimed at the lousy jerk in front of him, him and his tart!

“Oh really I am so sorry, did you lose much?” Nat asked.

“Yeah a bloody bundle…but I’ll make it back soon, you’ll see! I’ll have you know though it fell through because some inconsiderate bastard…” Paul paused for obvious effect looking straight at Joe with a look that would have had daggers flying in it, “wouldn’t admit his shit heap of a home should’ve been gotten rid of.”

“Oh really…anyone you know?” Joe asked with an innocent smile.

“Arrrrghh! BASTARD!” Paul screamed and pushed past the pair of them in now a fuming temper. “I need a bloody drink I’m going to the pub!”

Joe looked at Nat and smiled as he shrugged his shoulders, “Must have been something I said!” He curled his arm in a tighter squeeze round her waist and they both set off for their walk, it was a day for special things and Joe had something to ask Nat…something very special.

There was another person that observed the meeting between Paul and Joe, Franklin Moffett Jolly stood at his window looking out over the scene. Almost on an unconscious level his brain registered “another person who hates Joseph Winstanton…maybe an ally for the future.” Jolly sipped at his coffee, his wife had made it some time ago so it was almost cold, he barely noticed but still grimaced as he tasted it. He put the coffee cup down on the small table by the window and resumed his silent vigil. He continued just staring blankly, his mouth repeating the words that “something has to be done something has to be done…”

Jolly’s wife stood at the door to the front room silently watching, she despaired for her husband. Joe had been right, Jolly had married her for the money and the position it would give him, any hint of anything that would threaten a divorce was impossible though. She as a devout catholic would never countenance divorce and he would not dare to risk the rest. However, she still despaired for him, they had been together some twenty years now, unfortunately their marriage was childless and though she knew in her heart too that it was her money he had married her for, she still felt a passing love for him. But his behaviour of late had been so obnoxious, so irascible, so angered she had started to doubt for his sanity. The fact that the bank had put him on…what was that phrase they used? Administrative leave? Had left him with nothing to do with his day, she’d suggested taking up a hobby and he’d almost jumped down her throat!

Now, he just stood for long hours; from sunrise to long after sunset at that front window just looking out, many times scowling or angered, mumbling to himself. She couldn’t understand why Franklin should hate Joe so very much, wasn’t it a good thing that he was making a success of his life now? Why he had refurbished that little house, she had to admit he’d done a marvellous job of it too, it was a beautiful little place now! She wondered about the insides, because it was a curious thing, Joe never seemed to take in any visitors. Almost no one she knew in the village had seen the inside of the house and those that had had never ventured beyond the front room. Then there was that dark haired young girl from Franklin’s bank, Natalie, again mention her name and Franklin would fly into a screaming red faced rage before storming out of the room. Natalie, Mrs Jolly had observed appeared to have become a regular visitor these days, turning up each morning and leaving again in the evening. She had heard Natalie was working for Joe, but from the way Joe was acting towards the girl there was obviously something more going on, and though there was the obvious age difference Natalie seemed to be reacting positively to Joe. Mrs Jolly thought that was something wonderful, Joe had at last found a woman to share his life and Mrs Jolly could swear she could hear wedding bells in the future…maybe?

Mrs Jolly coughed quietly, and Franklin half turned at the sound, “Why don’t you go out dear? Get out for a little while, being cooped up here can’t be good for you. The weather’s improved and the sun has come out…maybe a walk might help your mood?”

Jolly barely acknowledged her and turned back to the window, Mrs Jolly heaved a sigh. It was at that point that Joe and Natalie had stepped out of their door, Jolly’s face had tightened into a grimace. In his mind it should be him with his arm around that little bitch, not Joe. Then he witnessed the icy meeting with Paul and heard the man scream and stomp off. Franklin’s face twitched into a sneering smile at the sight, “Yes I think you’re right dear…a walk might do me some good after all.” he said in a hoarse whisper, “I think I might spend a little time in the pub too…have a sherry maybe?”

Jolly turned from the window and loped at a half run to the front door, he hurriedly grabbed a coat and snatched the front door open. He was out and gone before his wife could say “Goodbye” let alone anything else. A disquieting thought surfaced in Mrs Jolly’s mind, she hoped her husband wasn’t going to try anything…well untoward.

Jolly, having shut the door behind him with a loud crash that almost caused the stained glass panels to shatter, continued down his drive and into the road at that same loping half run. He looked along the road to his right, there were Natalie and Joe walking. Franklin grimaced again, from the way they were locked arm in arm it just made him hate Joe with even more savagery. That little bitch Natalie was supposed to have been his play toy, not Joe’s! He looked round now to his left and about a hundred yards up the road there was Paul, fuming and stomping along. Jolly smiled with his half sneer and loped after Paul, finally catching him up as he turned at a gate and little path that cut through to the village’s shops.

“Wait up!” Franklin called, he was not the fittest of men at the best of times and the half run had left him breathless and in a sweat. Paul turned his head and stopped his hand resting on the steel of the gate. “Wait up please!” Franklin called again as he tried to close the distance before almost collapsing in a fit of coughing.

“You alright mate? Don’t rupture something I can wait.” Paul felt a small sense of glee seeing Jolly puffing and breathing hard, psychologists would have called it Schadenfreude.

“I…I…” Jolly coughed loudly, bending over double as he almost vomited, two hundred yards at a half run and he felt like he’d tried to race Carl Lewis in an Olympic hundred metres. “I…need to talk to you.” Jolly finally managed to say between huge lungful gasps of air. He drew up level to Paul and rested a hand on his shoulder as another bout of coughing gripped him.

“Bloody hell…” Paul said, “if you want me that bad it must be important…”

“I need to talk to you about Joseph Winstanton.”

Paul’s face dropped like a stone, “That bastard…why the hell would I want to talk about him?”

“Because I think you and I have a common enemy in him, I hate the man too! Ever since he found whatever it is he found my life has been in ruins.”

“Yeah? I lost a bundle on a deal because of that inconsiderate son of a bitch. Look I’m going down the pub for a stiff drink…I need one after meeting Joe, all loved up too!” Paul grimaced and pushed a finger into his mouth as if trying to induce himself to vomit, “Christ it makes you sick, to see him, that utter loser out with a babe like that!”



“Her name is Natalie, sorry please excuse me…” Franklin bent over with another bout of coughing, he spat onto the ground and came back up wiping his mouth, “she used to work at my bank.”

“Wait, you’re…” recognition dawned on Paul’s face, “you’re Jolly aren’t you? You run, or ran, the bank in town. Yeah I remember, the one that almost got robbed and set Joe up as the local bloody hero.”

“Yes, my name is Franklin Moffett Jolly and I think you and I may be kindred spirits. Sorry I don’t know you’re name…”

“Paul, you can call me Paul, and if you hate Joe half as much as me then we do need to talk.” Paul pushed the gate open, “coming? I think we could both do with a stiff drink!”

“Yes” Jolly replied and thanking Paul passed through the gate.

The pair of them followed the tarmacked path up and along until they turned as it intersected a road. For a moment Jolly looked lost. “Pub’s this way Frankie.” Paul called, beckoning with an arm. Jolly heaved a breath and loped along again to catch Paul up. After another right turn at a T junction Paul and Franklin approached the pub.

The pub was a typical country pub you might expect to find in travel brochures, single storey, whitewashed stone walls with horse brasses hanging by the door. Several cars occupied spots in the car park outside while the pub sign stood on a raised area of grass surrounded by a brick wall. There were four pubs in the village, for a small village that was quite an achievement. One was at the top of a rather steep hill on the way to town, Paul felt that would probably have had Jolly puking and vomiting from the exertion, plus it was being refurbished or redecorated as it was under new management. The second was at the bottom of the same hill but was frankly not Paul’s sort of place, he’d been there a couple of times with friends but it just didn’t feel quite right to him…too jazzy too much like a theme pub, more correctly it was the sort of place he felt was frequented by homosexuals. The third place, now that was way out on the far edge of the village and would involve a good two mile walk, if the hill would have Jolly vomiting two miles would kill him! But this last place was just about right, for Paul it had the quaint country pub feeling and atmosphere, he expected sometimes to hear patrons discussing crop harvests and farmer’s almanac as they supped at their beers or lagers. It also had quiet corners where people could talk undisturbed and he had a feeling that his talk with Franklin Jolly should be along those lines. He ushered Franklin in through the door, “Grab a table in the corner and I’ll get the drinks in…what will you have?”

“Oh anything I don’t frequent pubs as a rule. I don’t normally drink except at my club or a sherry at Christmas.”

“I’ll make it half a lager, no man should drink bloody sherry that’s a woman’s drink…an old woman’s drink! Me I need a bloody depth charge after Joe!”

“What’s that?”

“A Depth Charge? A pint of strong beer into which you get to drop a shot glass full of strong spirit. You drink the beer and then when you get to the end that shot just explodes inside you. Great for getting pissed on very quickly. A Russian depth charge uses vodka and only the strongest.”

“I think…” Jolly mused, “that when we’re talking about Joseph Winstanton I might try a depth charge too, the strongest Russian or any other type you can get!”

“You really do hate him that much then?”

“With a passion Paul…with an absolute passion!” Jolly moved away from the door and made his way to a small table in the back. With the small panelled windows the lighting wasn’t astounding so this small table was pretty well in shadows. This suited Jolly’s purpose perfectly! Jolly seated himself on the far side so he could see the door and after a couple of minutes Paul arrived with a tray, on it rested two large glasses of black beer and two small glasses filled with colourless liquid.

“There you go Franklin, strongest Irish Guinness and Russian vodka. Let me show you how to do it.” Paul picked up the small glass carefully, Franklin followed his guide. “One…two…three…” Paul released the shot glass over his pint of Guinness and dropped it glass and all into the pint glass, “Bombs away!” he smiled, “get that down you Franklin.”

Tentatively Jolly picked up his pint and tasted it. It lit a fire in his mouth, it was very strong and he could taste the burning of the vodka as it mixed with the beer. Jolly grimaced a little, he wasn’t used to very strong drink, he liked sherry…but he was here to talk about Joe and that required something stronger.

“OK Franklin so what’s on your mind about our local hero then?”

Franklin almost choked on his mouthful of beer, “Hero? That man is a complete nobody! A total incompetent, whichever person decided he was a hero must have been on drugs! Do you know where he was before that robbery? He was in my office, I was all set to bankrupt the man…” Jolly was emphasising his words by thumping a pointed finger onto the table. He paused, “and then he suddenly has almost three hundred thousand pounds in his account.”

Paul choked on his mouthful of beer, wiped his mouth and whistled softly, “Three hundred grand, where the fucking hell did he get that sort of cash from?”

“Claims he sold a rare coin to a friend of his.”

“I never knew he had any rare coins, I doubted he had many of any coins. And as for friends with three hundred grand you must be out of your tree.”

“My point exactly, he suddenly gets this six thousand year old solid gold coin, that no one ever heard of, seemingly from nowhere and boom! Three hundred grand the richer. I was all set to take his house too…”

“His house? Wait are you talking about a land deal, would have been January time?”

“Yes why?”

“I was an investor in that deal, that’s where I lost a bloody packet!”

Franklin paled, he was in a way cornered by an investor. Hesitantly he sipped another mouthful of beer and then spoke, “Well I created that deal. So how do you think I feel?” Jolly’s voice dropped to a half whisper, “I’d been syphoning off the man’s money for month’s to try to bankrupt him, thus forcing him to sell that hovel he calls a house to the bank. I had all the paperwork set…compulsory purchase orders everything. I was going to evict him then sell the land for redevelopment or just keep it to let me have my grand view. I own the house opposite his hovel!”

“Wait you’re admitting you…embezzled…from Joe?”

“Embezzled?” Jolly looked shocked, he almost shouted the word, then sank back to his hoarse whisper, “Don’t be ridiculous! The bank consider it to be financial irregularities but that money was taken legally and above board in administrative charges by the bank from Winstanton’s account.” Jolly adjusted his tie, then seemed to remember he wasn’t wearing one. “The morning of the robbery I will swear he was completely broke, a zero balance, with outstanding debts that would have let me take that bloody house of his, I thought I had him…then out of nowhere he deposits that three hundred thousand. The attempted robbery happens and Joseph becomes the hero. Because of all the attention I couldn’t do anything other than process that cheque. He then paid off all his debts, settled them when the cheque cleared and then he refurbishes that hovel!” Jolly’s temper was building and his voice rising in tone. “I haven’t found one builder that says they worked on it yet the repairs are faultless. Meanwhile bank examiner’s have been breathing down my neck over the financial irregularities! Just because I processed some credits to his account late and some outgoing debits early. I’m the one on administrative leave pending dismissal...and it’s all because of that man! That man!” Franklin thumped his fist on the table almost upsetting the drinks.

“Steady on, watch the beer! So what do you want to talk to me about then?”

“Well seeing as he cost you a packet and has practically cost me my job and my comfortable life I wondered if you felt that a little…”


“Retribution...restoration. I think it is time Mr Joseph Winstanton learns who really wields the real power around here.”

Paul bent forwards conspiratorially, “What have you got in mind?”

“I don’t know yet.” Franklin Jolly took another drink of beer, before wiping some of the foam from his top lip, “but I feel it needs to be something drastic, something dramatic…something terminally he can never ever threaten again!”

Paul’s eyes widened in alarm, “Hey, now hold on I may hate the guy and wish him all sorts of things, but I ain’t going to try to kill him?”

“No!” Jolly gripped Paul’s arm with a grip that made Paul wince, “nothing that drastic man! I don’t mean murder…though God knows a well placed bullet could solve both of our problems. I just mean something that might take him down a few dozen pegs. He’s walking around right now with that little bitch Natalie as if he’s…”

“King shit?”

“Yes! Do you know I’ve not met anyone who has been inside his hovel?”

“Doesn’t surprise me. He was the same as a kid, always a loner.”

“You went to school with him, you have my deepest commiserations sir!”

“I bullied him mercilessly though every day! Stole his lunch money till he started bringing in his lunch...then I stole that!”

“Good for you, he deserved everything I’m sure. I’m just thinking that it is not inconceivable he may have more of those coins in a room in his hovel somewhere. Place that size there can’t be that many rooms…”

Paul’s eyes lit up, “Yeah! Coins someone could…liberate from him maybe...put to better use?”

“Yes, a little petty larceny and a break in, you know…”

“Trash the place too?” Paul volunteered.

“Would the man notice the difference?” Jolly laughed with a sneer. He took another mouthful of the beer, he felt he could maybe get used to drinks like this after all. As he drained the glass the vodka shot hit him like a bullet between the eyes, he felt the fire in his belly and belched. “Excuse me!” he looked round self-consciously, “If he has got more coins then at three hundred grand a coin.”

“We’d could both be rich as Cresus!” Paul rubbed his hands together, that Bentley would be back in his hands soon and then the jet set life...

“Well yes especially if he has a sizeable collection of them.”

“You interest me Franklin, your glass is empty so let me get the next round, same again?”

For the rest of the morning Franklin and Paul sat drinking and quietly talking, occasionally Paul would have to quiet Jolly as he got demonstrative, more than once upsetting the empty glasses, luckily none of them smashed. Jolly started to feel he was getting more than a little inebriated as the pub suddenly felt as if it moved under him. He gripped the table with white knuckles showing, holding on like grim death until the room stopped its crazy swaying.

“The problem is…” Jolly slurred pointing a drunken wavy finger in Paul’s direction, funny how there were now two Mr Pauls looking at him. For a moment Jolly didn’t know which he’d come to the pub with, “The problem is...I don’t want to go to prison!”

Paul, who could obviously handle his drink better than Jolly, looked round a little anxiously in case someone might have overheard. “Shh! Are you trying to get us locked up? Neither of us do me old mate. There are more ways than one to skin a cat OK? We don’t have to pull the job ourselves, though God knows I’d love him to know it was me that trashed his place…we can contract it out! I know some guys who might be persuaded…You know I did a few things in the past, not strictly legal things. But they’ll want a cut of anything we can get.”

“You know someone…someone criminal? Someone who could rob that bastard’s house?” Jolly’s eyes widened, and his voice rose to just louder than normal speech, he was gaining a decent level of respect for Paul. Paul tried to hush him again, so with a drunken finger Jolly beckoned Paul closer, “sounds fair…” he hissed in a hoarse whisper, “tell me more Mr Paul…and I’m sure your identical brother can join us!” Paul looked confused momentarily as Jolly gave a beckoning arm signal to the other Paul to close in. “Tell me how we can meet this…gentle...” Jolly belched loudly, his mouth filled with the taste of stale Guinness while his breath reeked of it, “this gentle…” another burp this time with a distinct feeling he was going to be sick. He swallowed with a gulp and looked at the Pauls, why were the Pauls now moving around in their chairs like that, didn’t they know it was impolite? Jolly sucked in a breath and held it trying to focus his vision as his head swam. He let it out slowly as he spoke. “This gentleman!” Jolly smiled as he finished. Paul seemed to be dancing in front of his vision, he and his brother changing places and back again it was enough to make his head swim even more. How many of those depth charge drinks had he had now? He looked down at the empty glasses the effort of counting them was hard, especially with them appearing to dance and divide, and then there was the mental maths of trying to divide by two. Well how ever many it was it wasn’t enough to anesthetise him against Joseph Winstanton…the inconsiderate bastard! With a hefty thump Jolly pitched his head forward, slamming his forehead into the surface of the table with a very solid sounding thump, he groaned and rolled his head to one side.

“I think that’s enough…your mate is pissed!” Called the landlord from behind the bar.

“Nonsense!” Jolly drunkenly held up a finger, though for some reason the world was turned on its side now, “I am not drunk! Tell him Mr Paul…you have had as many as me, yet are you drunk Mr Paul?”

“No,” admitted Paul, “but then I’m used to them, you plainly aren’t! I’d better try and get you home, or sobered up…or both!” With an effort laden grunt Paul reached around the table and got his hands into Jolly’s armpits. Jolly giggled, he was ticklish! Paul manhandled him and managed to lift Jolly to his feet, to another loud groan and sick sounding belch from Jolly. Jolly smiled contentedly, at least the world was up the right way again. Paul tried to stand Jolly on his feet but the moment he released him Jolly canted over to one side or another.

“You…” Paul pointed a finger at Jolly, “are smashed Mr bank manager Jolly…smashed!”

“You know…” Jolly smiled again, “I think you’re right!”

The landlord from behind the bar made an exasperated annoyed hand sign to Paul of “get him out of here pronto!” His was a quiet respectable family pub and having a man clearly smashed out of his skull at midday was no sign of respectability. Paul made half hearted hand signals in reply that he hoped approximated to “I’m sorry I didn’t realise he couldn’t handle his drink.” With an arm then hugging Jolly to him Paul made his way to the pub’s door. For some reason Jolly looked down at his feet, they didn’t seem to be working!

“Why is the pub moving around?” He asked, “I like it in here I’ll have to remember it and those…whatever you called them…those charge thingies!” Paul more than half dragged him across the floor to the door, to an accompaniment of loud groans from Jolly, he felt he was going to be sick really soon! Once outside, the April air managed to clear Jolly’s head, at least enough for him to be able to stand on his own, even if he was decidedly unsteadily. He looked round at the world blearily. This was a nice village, it was in a nice rural location with lush rolling green hills and woods…why the bankers and stock brokers in the city would kill for places round here! The housing prices could go through the roof. Being the bank manager would mean most of them would come to his bank for mortgages. So why oh why, he thought morosely, did that bastard Joseph Winstanton have to go and ruin things! Didn’t he realise he was not only blocking Jolly’s ongoing financial success but was holding up the development and modernisation of the whole damn village! Part of Jolly’s masterplan was in fact to convert the whole village into a secure gated community with fences, security guards and checkpoints...a secure community solely for the banking elite such as himself.

It took a major effort on Paul’s part, but he eventually managed to get Franklin Jolly back home. Twice Jolly canted over to one side and vomited a seemingly endless stream of stale Guinness into the grass verge. Paul knocked on the door of Jolly’s house, he had to admit Jolly had things good, his was a large sprawling place with an impressive front garden and view over the hills and fields. As he stood looking around, the door opened and he was greeted by Jolly’s wife. She took one look at her husband, saw he was drunk as a skunk and with a horrified glare felt like shutting the door again.

“He just needs to lay down for a while…he’ll be fine in a few hours! I’d suggest a bowl in case he’s sick at all…poor guy tossed his cookies twice on the way back, very messy! Guess he can’t handle his booze as well as he thought?” Paul smiled, what he hoped was his most endearing smile, before leaving Franklin Jolly in the care of his wife. He turned as if to leave then slapped Jolly on the shoulder firmly, Jolly looked up at him with a look that just screamed please let me die! “What we talked about in the pub…I’ll see if my friend is interested in your proposal OK old mate?” Paul walked away tunelessly whistling he turned right at the bottom of the drive and made his way home.

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