“Yeah, no – I can’t tell you, Larry – it’d hurt too much, wun’t it!”
Gappy’s catarrh edged voice cut through the tannoy like a gutting blade as they hurried from a night sky filled with more air than water, and down the ramp into Edinburgh Waverley. They made an odd pair – Larry’s bulk seeming to eclipse the barely wrapped bones of Gappy’s hunched figure slinking along beside him.
“Was that our train?”
“Dunno, Larry, I was talking weren’t I!” He glanced in the larger man’s direction, grimacing in a way that that bore more resemblance to a piano keyboard than a smile.
Larry’s face took on the look of a gorilla in a jail with a bad case of piles. Stretching out his nose, he sniffed the air lightly as if testing it for things he would never get; places he would never go.
“I am smelling something, my friend, and let me tell you – it is not sweet. It is not seductive. It is not even sanitary. I suspect that it is the smell of bull!”
“Nah, really – I din’t hear what train it was.”
“You know exactly what I mean. Do not play with me.”
“Aw come on, Larry, it in’t like that. You know it in’t! I got responsibilities is all. I mean, you’re not a family man so you wun’t …”
Larry held up an arm, instantly imposing silence with its formidable bulk. They were fast approaching WHSmith, its facade as out of place there as a pinball machine in the main hall of the Natural History Museum.
“Listen. If you do not want to tell me out of a sense of pride then that is one thing. But if you do this out of disrespect for my own character then that is something else. I will find out the truth of this matter. Believe me. I will.”
“Tell you what, Larry – let me get you a book.”
Larry stopped moving so suddenly that his stunted companion was three paces ahead before he could stop himself. As he turned back, the larger man inflated his chest, opened his mouth and bellowed into the suddenly silenced train station.
“I do not want a book. I want you to tell me -“A tannoy crackled into life, eviscerating Larry’s voice. His head rolled to one side like a bowling bowl and his neck crackled in response as he listened to the announcement.
A tannoy crackled into life, eviscerating Larry’s voice. His head rolled to one side like a bowling bowl and his neck crackled in response as he listened to the announcement.
“That is our train. Come, let us go to the platform.”
“I just gotta get some mints. Won’t be a sec.”
“No. Our train is here.”
“But the shop’s just here, innit! Look!”
Larry’s hand on his collar, gathering the material like he was screwing up the paper from inside a margarine tub, was all the persuasion needed to get Gappy’s scrawny frame moving towards the train that was just pulling in.
“Ere, watch the cloth, it was hand sewn that was!”
Larry ignored the squeaking voice and only snorted lightly at the sudden burst of indignantly expelled foul wind rising from somewhere below his dignity.
“Right. Tell me now.”
“No – I in’t gonna.”
“Then I am going to have to …” A shriek bit off his words as (choose one):
- he pushed the small man onto the track an instant before the train arrived.
- the train signalled its arrival in time-honoured fashion.