This evening I was covering breaks.
Jimmy was a long time gone.
I know this because he said he’d be back in 15 minutes and this was 35 minutes later.
Just before he left he’d told me a story about a Nigerian fella last night, on the next floor up, that took 40 minutes for his break because he’d ordered food, had a slow coffee after, and then went for a causal smoke while Jimmy stood there waiting and wondering if he’d ever come back.
Jimmy wouldn’t do that to me he promised. He had big ideas about a future in the security business. This was a temporary job for the week but he wanted to make a good impression.
Show them he could handle it, be punctual, had a good head for thinking on his feet.
Once he got his licence it would be plain sailing.
They’d hire him on the spot if he didn’t mess anything up.
So there’d be no mistakes from Jimmy. He was on the ball.
People around me smoked, asked for directions and got drunk.
It was a cold evening and the last race was over and the steps were littered with losing tickets, like dead dreams.
I thought about writing for a while, and ideas for a new book, and then Jimmy arrived back in a fluster.
He was just over five feet in height.
His suit was a bit small on him.
‘I’m sorry,’ He said. ‘I got caught up in something.’
‘No problem. Everythin ok?’
‘Not really, no.’
His face was all red and he was out of breath and was looking worried. I asked him again. ‘Are you alright?’
‘Well,’ he says. ‘do you know them cabins where they sell the sweets? They look like little tree houses?’
‘Yeah, by the bottom door?’
‘Yeah, well I was walking passed one of them and it was locked.’
‘So there was a padlock on the front of it and it was totally locked down, right?’
‘Anyways, didn’t the thing start shakin…’
‘How do you mean?’
‘Like, the whole little cabin just started shaking back and over as I was walkin passed.’
‘And what did you do?’
‘There was loads of people around but no one noticed, only me. So I walked up. The door was bright green and brown. And the lock was rattling up and down – like someone was trapped in there. So I shouted in: “Hello?!!”
(He cupped his hands here and a couple of people looked around to see if he was talking to anyone in particular.)
‘And what happened?’ I asked.
‘It just stopped.’ He said incredulously.
‘Yeah. For s second, and then it started again. I thought it was goin to fall over! So I tried to pull out the door, but it wouldn’t give cos of the lock so I just kept shouting: ‘Hello, Hello?! Are ye ok?!’ But no one answered, so I ran to get help.’
‘Where’d you go?’
‘Down to the office.’
‘And what they say?’
‘They said to talk to the boss.’
‘And did you?’
‘I did, he was busy as fuck. There was fights, and traffic, and women falling all over the place and he was like: ‘What’s wrong?!’ So I told him – there’s someone locked in one of the sweet cabins, and we need to get them out – He looked at me like I was mad and said: ‘Where?!’
So we walked over anyway, and we got there, and I showed him what I was talking about, but now it wasn’t shaking at all.’
‘No. I knocked and I shouted in the door and I tried to see in through the cracks but there was nothing happening. And the boss says: “We’ve more important things to be doin.” And he walked off.’
‘And that was it?’
‘Yeah, except now I look like a DickHead!’
‘Ah sure, you were doin your best.’
‘Which is why I was late back.’
‘I’ve another break to cover now.’ I said. ‘I’ll have to go. Do you want me to tell the boss I believe you about what happened?’
‘Doesn’t matter now anyway.’ He said. ‘They all think I’m fuckin loopers.’