Start tonight

“Okay,” you say, trying to sound off-hand, “If you’re that desperate, I’ll be here. What time should I turn up?”

Metcalf seems unusually relieved. “Thanks. Otherwise I’d have had to do it, and I’m getting enough grief from home as it is. I owe you one, right? Any reasonable demand considered.” He swigs his coffee before continuing. “I suppose it’s only fair to tell you. The previous person we hired, the one you’re replacing. That didn’t turn out too well. I mean, we went through all the checks, took up the references, I interviewed them right here in this office.

“Turned out they’d managed to hide a long history of being in and out of hospital. First night they were left alone here, they climbed to the roof and threw themselves off. We made a mistake. We can only go on what we’re told, and I suppose we would have found them out eventually, but we never got the chance.”

He drinks more coffee, and asks: “You’re telling me everything, aren’t you?”

You assure him you are. It’s not that much of a lie, really, and you’re better. You’re getting a job, right here, today.

“So I’ll meet you in reception at ten – I’ll hand over the keys and any last minute pointers, and that’s that. Bring a flask and something to eat, and something to keep you occupied. If I’ve learnt anything from my stints, is that it’s really very boring.” He leans over the desk and proffers his hand. “Welcome aboard, and see you tonight.”

You shake his hand again, and leave his office, feeling slightly dazed. You have a job.

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