He stared down at the green parcel on his lap.
Feck’s a kneeler, he suddenly thought, un-raveling the thing. It looked a lot like a padded placemat, all soft and pillow-y on the inside. It really was for kneeling on, he marveled. Now that’s a product. Utterly stupid, and with great margins too, he shouldn’t wonder. He could see where he’d gone wrong, now, looking back on his career as an insurance agent.
When he’d folded the thing away and looked out onto the high street, it was a little quiet. The afternoon rush was over, and the evening one hadn’t quite began. Glass towers knelt upon old 2-storey bricklings preserved by the twin powers of government might and historical societies.
He found himself doing it again: scanning the pedestrians, looking for that tell-tale gait. The giveaway height-advantage. The neutral expression. He couldn’t help himself. In any case, it was a rare occurrence. It didn’t stop him, though.
It looked like it could rain.
He could see the pub now, less than a block away. A giant round sign jutted out from its façade, over the sidewalk. It had on it the head of a jester, one that looked rather like the Punch end of a Punch & Judy puppet spread: its big red nose had a giant wart on it; its mouth gaped so that painted juicy drops of blue and white spattered forth from it, while a little red uvula convulsed cartoonish at the back of the throat. It seemed to quietly defy the damp grey air, holding the fort all on its own until the streetlamps would come on in the early evening. It always made Helmand smile.
Presently, the car signalled and pulled over.
It said: We have arrived at the, Cough & Spittle. There is no parking here, so please call me to arrange your pickup. Take care when exiting, and have a pleasant outing.