Physics and Phones
Chapter 15 Physics and Phones
The building was low construct, two stories, with glass windows to trap the sunlight. She stood in the foyer with her mentor, her spirits low, her confidence cracked with fissures of self doubt waiting to show themselves.
Youth in its many forms surrounded her playing on her fear that one of these young men or women would recognise her from her school days. Unfortunately, this was the same building she had briefly attended for a six form course. Telling herself no one would know her since she rarely attended here or school, she tried to bolstered her nerve.
Along side her, like a chaperon was her elderly mentor and sponsor. In her nervous state she had forgotten the paper work needed to be an external candidate with the result her guardian angel
had to bring the paper work as well as offer considerable support.
“You will be fine.” he kept saying all the time looking at her and thinking she is a nervous wreck.
His mind raced thinking what he could say or do to pull her out of a nose dive to failure. ’She cannot go into the examination in this state he thought.”
Then God, for there must be one, provided Mr Penthorpe. A tall gangling mess of a man with shiny rimmed silver glasses he had a very distinctive loud voice. He always wore a suit even on the hottest of days and rarely talked of anything bar his subject which was physics.
“Well, if it is not Fay McSomething or other” his voice arrived well ahead of the anatomical Mr
“Shit” said Faye under her breath hoping Clive had not heard her. For his part her companion
decided he had not heard the expletive for her nervous state was too fragile to warrant a rebuke.
Her ex-teacher duly caught up with his voice to look down on her , “And what are you here for,
Religious Studies.” he quipped. He wore a narrow mean grin on an equine type face showing a
propensity to have fun at another mortals expense.
“Higher Maths” she confessed in a sheepish voice devoid of confidence.
He looked at her in silence than began to laugh, outrageously so.
Slapping his sides in merriment he said, “You will tell me next you are doing the physics paper this afternoon.”
Anger rose within her. “Of course ” she retorted, “Why not?”
The man broke into more peals of laughter then stopped suddenly, “My God you are serious” he exclaimed looking at the stern face before him.
“Young lady you rarely attended any of your classes since about the age of 14 and last I heard you were running with some undesirables and now here you are about to sit higher maths! ” The last two words he stressed as if they were miraculous.
Her elderly companion saw his opportunity for here was the answer to his prayers .
Faye was about to explode he feared, so he stepped between them,
“Sir” he addressed the learned teacher for indeed Mr P was highly qualified, “I have agreed to
sponsor this young lady and if need be pay for her to go to university.”
“University!” gasped Mr P
Such was the astonishment in his voice a small number of teachers and pupils began to take an
interest in these proceedings.
“Yes , sir, are you saying, in your professional opinion, I am wasting my money?” Clive laid the trap with just those few words.
“And who may you be?” asked the teacher.
“Her Uncle from Australia, I have taken her under my wing.” Clive could barely contain himself
trying desperately to maintain a dead pan tone and expression.
“Young Faye never showed any aptitude for intellectual thought when I taught her, so yes in my
professional opinion your finances would be better served by another course.” He looked around to get support from two of his fellow teachers.
“Indeed, ” purred the elderly man, ” being from Australia I would like to ..“, he paused and
produced an envelope from his pocket, it had a grocery list written on it in Mr Potts hand writing,
“put some money in this envelope and give it to you. If she does not get the top grade in every
paper you may keep the money but if she does you should double the sum and give it to Faye.”
Mr P felt challenged and felt the urgent need to either back down or accept the bet. But he now
had an audience.
“Top grades in all subjects?” asked the teacher slyly as if such a thing was too good to be true.
“Naturally” answered the older man.
The on lookers by this time had swollen to six or more.
“How much are we talking here,” asked the teacher a little cautiously.
“Say something small,” said the older man, “say one hundred.”
Mr P could not afford to look mean or poor by saying a 100 bet was not small, yet it was not
Clive for his part felt he had judge the amount just right.
“I will tell you what Sir, ” said Mr P, “I will here and now, ” he looked around him boasting as he
plucked his wallet from inside the coat pocket, ” match your money and suggest we leave it with
the Principals secretary to opened on Result day.”
“Will you be here on results day?” enquired Clive.
Faye put a hand on Clive arm, saying “This is madness Uncle.”
Her uncle turned towards her and winking said, “I have faith”
“I will certainly be here on results day, ” asserted the teacher.
Clive produced a wallet and placed the money in the envelope.
As Mr P departed to deposit the envelope with the grocery list on it in the Principals office, Clive turned to his charge,
“Now my girl you are going to show that pompous prick just what you are made of. I know you can do it, I have marked all your work, and you are up to university standard already.”
“The anger in the girl subsided a little but the idea of teaching the ‘pompous prick’ a lesson thrilled her beyond reason. Fear and anxiety had been swept away by anger, determination and her total loyalty to this strange man standing by her.
“Screw him” she said as he went to hand in her registration paper and surrender her phone.
Turning to Clive, “at the end of these exams we need to sort out your female.”
Clive nodded. “That we do, but first the prick” he pointed in the direction of the Principals office.
She gave him a thumbs up wrapped in a smile.
In less than ten days she emerge from the hall having sat her last paper which, like the rest had
gone well. She had found the questions to her liking so much that she wondered if Skip, Mr Nolan’s on tap computer boffin, had hacked the questions. “Yes sir,” she said under her breath as if talking to her mentor “that could not have gone better.”
Such was her mood she ran out of the building across a public area onto the wide pavement.
Various cars were waiting containing anxious parents picking up their ‘darlings’ and she scanned the vehicles for her mentor. The was no sign of him or his car.
With the passage of time and the steady departure of the waiting cars her mood changed from excitement to disappointment to one of concern. ‘He would be here’ she thought even though
no formal arrangement had been made.
Now all the vehicles had gone along with nearly all the students, only a trades van with the letters “Smile Vendor Machines” remained. A big emoji on its side was very bright and cheerful appeared to mock her.
Slowly the drivers door opened and a tall dark haired man with a moustache and dressed in
traditional work overhauls emerged. He waved to her.
Cautiously she approached him, “Clive?” she asked at last.
“The name is Gary, for the day.” he replied with a broad grin, “get in and how did it go?”
“Splendid.” she replied so happy it was all over.
Inside, the van cab was full of litter and some tools .
“What is all this?” she asked waving her hand at the detritus.
“I have borrowed this van from a good friend who does work for Smile Vendor.”
Knowing her Clive as she did, she asked ” for what purpose , very undercover I suppose.”
“Yep ” confirmed Gary for a day with a big smile.
“I am so proud of you but now that you have finished having fun with those exam things we have some serious work to do.”
“Having fun” she exploded, “having fun ah!”
“I have not been idle since that night with Skip” explained her companion.
“Tell me more” she interrupted.
“First ” he said pulling an old shoe box out from under his legs, “I want you to call that number.”
A certain fear gripped Faye, “Me!” she exclaimed.
“Your my PA” Gary for the day gave her a big grin.
The box contained two identical mobile phones except one had red spot paint on it.
Removing one phone he opened the phone up and places a sim card in to the little socket.
“These phones have been modified to give a false GPS signal” he explained in a serious voice.
Faye knew that voice, that of teacher to pupil.
“We will establish contact and see what we can gleam from the opposition. I have also been
looking at possible meeting places that give us an advantage. Hence the van.”
Faye looked worried and spoke almost to herself.“What on earth do I say to someone who wants
to kill you.”
“She may not be hostile. She could equally be from my mother or from the Greys.” Gary said.
“Look, Gary just for today, ” Faye was trying to sound angry without success, ” you are asking me
to participate in something that could end very badly when we can just lay low or disappear.”
“Faye” he almost shouted her name.
His companion took the phone, “What is the number.”
A single word which to Faye’s mind hinted at some strange origin. Not an accent as such for
accents portray origin, location or at least personality. This word was mechanical which is why a
little alarm bell rang at the back of Faye’s mind.
“Yes” the voice had said. Faye stalled mainly because she was not sold on this idea, this course of action. However, the voice at the other end held it’s nerve for there was no repetition of the word on static silence..
“I am Clive’s Personal assistant.” the young woman read this from the paper she had been given.
“And” another single word came down the line. The same slight mechanical tone ringing the bell a little louder in the girl’s brain.
“He has agreed to a meeting sometime in the future.”
“Fine” yet another single word. ‘My ’ thought Faye ‘she is economical with her words.’
“Can we always reach you on this number?” was the next line of the script.
“Yes” that single word again.
With a click the line died. Faye looked at her comrade with a puzzled look. A look her mentor
called the lost puppy look, wide eyed and forlorn to the point of mystification.
In the time it takes an alligator to snap close its jaws Gary was on the other phone.
“What do you mean Hong Kong?” she heard him say.
A pause followed with Gary for the day giving a sigh, “So we have nothing except a message saying, “Don’t try that again.”
She looked at him with the puppy eyes and guessed part one of his plan had failed.
He looked at her “We tried to trace the call through the modified phone.” he offered as an
She put her hand on his shoulder, “Alien 15, Gary just for the day love.” she said with a smile of
In an act of resignation he started the van engine saying, “We press on with a meeting then, but
first a lot of research and vending machines. ”
“I am getting my hair cut, cut really short.” she announced with determination.
The engine idled in a soft tone as if a waiter waiting to take the order.
She went on ” I grew it because you asked me to and it was fine for a prissy maths girl , a student no less but... we need...a street fighter.” the voice was assertive as well as hesitant to say the least.
“It is called getting into character.” He said then laughed outrageously which at first annoyed her until he pulled from his inside pocket an appointment card.
The card read, “James Halton Martial Arts Trainer.”
Garry for the day spoke as she studied the card, “I didn’t know how to say that the months of study at a desk had made you soft and flabby . You have 6 weeks tops to get into shape.”
“Who is James Halton, another of your good Samaritan acts?”
“Hell , no ” replied Gary for the Day, “Ex special forces and costs a fortune, you have him for 6
weeks. He needs help from nobody. If anything happens to me you will be able to take care of
yourself at the very least.”
Faye tapped the card on her knee, “Now that is what I call fun study.”