While he waited for the University to answer his call, Jake looked around at his workshop. It really was a mess. Tools and clutter everywhere. Stains on the tiled floor. It just wouldn’t do. Tomorrow he was going to have to have a good tidy up. It wouldn’t hurt to get some fresh air in the place, if he dared risk opening a window.
At last his call was answered. A young woman’s voice. Cultured but rather nervous.
‘Hello, can I help you?’
‘Yes please’ said Jake. ‘I’d like to enrol on the fish and chip course’
A pause. The kind of hesitation Jake especially didn’t like.
‘I’m sorry’ she said. ‘Could you say that again?’
‘I’d like to enrol on the fish and chip course’
Why did people never understand first time?
Another pause. Whispered questions as she forgot to put the phone properly on hold. Did he hear laughter?
‘I’m sorry, but we don’t do a fish and chip course’
Oh dear. This didn’t look good.
‘Are you sure?
‘Just one moment’
He was unmistakably on hold this time. Some ghastly ballad assaulted his ears. Jake looked around his workshop again.
She was back.
‘Did you see the course on our website?’ she asked. ‘I can’t seem to find it’
‘I was in the fish and chip shop yesterday. It suddenly occurred to me that it might be the sort of job I’d like to have. So I asked the man and he said there was a special course I could do at your university’
Jake remembered the twinkle that he’d seen in the fat man’s eyes and the tiny doubt it had caused him at the back of his mind. He heard the same twinkle now in the girl’s voice as she answered.
‘I’m sorry but it’s not a course we do here. We could offer you a catering course’.
‘Never mind’ said Jake. ‘Thank you for your time’
‘Not at all. Have a nice day’
Jake ended the call. So the man in the fish and chip shop had been making fun of him after all. What a pity.
He looked down at the fat man, gagged and strapped to the workbench. His batter smeared hands were still struggling feebly against his bonds.
Jake picked up the first of his tools.
‘Oh well’ he said to the man. ‘Time for Plan B’
Damian Mark Whittle