Don't You See How Dark It Is? Added£0.99
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(A short story of 6248 words)

Don't You See How Dark It Is?

Literary

by Kevin Doyle


Set during Ireland's ill-famed Celtic Tiger era. A job must be done, a contract must be honoured...


Philpot was doing his accounts. Invoices, receipts, cheque stubs and bank statements were arranged in neat piles on the dining room table. He was totting up yet another column of figures, meticulously aggregating his expenses, when he heard a rumbling outside. It was a truck’s engine, labouring as it climbed the steep hill leading to his home.

The noise died away and he expected to hear his doorbell at any moment, but no one rang. Eventually he cursed and went to the window. Peering out into the dark winter’s night he could see no sign of the truck or its headlight beams.

‘Idiot,’ he proclaimed. ‘Gone to the wrong place now most likely.’

He grabbed his fleece and went outside. It was cold and the nearby trees swayed in the wind, their branches making a rustling noise. At his front gate he unhitched the latch and walked out to the centre of the road. Almost immediately, further uphill, he saw a faint light near where the road turned into the quarry.

Approaching he could make out a man’s silhouette. The driver was talking on a phone and the phone’s queer light was partially illuminating the truck’s cabin; newspapers and paperwork of all sorts were jammed along the dash.

Philpot knocked on the side window. Immediately the driver gesticulated at him but continued speaking into the phone. Philpot rapped on the window once more. This time he received a thumbs-up signal that said plainly I see you, I see you. But the driver continued with his phone conversation.

Shaking his head Philpot cursed and decided to leave. He retraced his steps, closed his front gate firmly and returned inside. Fuming, he sat down to his accounts. He had just restarted his calculations when the bell chimed. He went to the door and yanked it open, ready to let fly about appointments and punctuality and keeping to your word. But abruptly he stopped.

The man who stood before him, though stocky and tired-looking, had an extraordinary face. It was covered in beautiful golden freckles. Philpot had never seen such a display: they decorated his pudgy cheeks, his forehead and the bridge of his nose. Even his chin and neck were dotted with with gold.

Before he could think what to say, the workman thrust his mobile phone up between them like it was a piece of evidence in a court case and said, ‘The wife. Wanted to know where I was and how long I’d be. Good thing someone is checking up on me, I suppose.’

‘Yes,’ agreed Philpot weakly.

‘Is it around the back then?’ the workman asked. Philpot nodded. ‘I’ll go ahead so and get my gear unloaded and I’ll be back in the morning to start. Will you be here or should we go through it now?’

Finally, Philpot reacted. ‘You’re lucky,’ he snapped. ‘I will be here in the morning. I do quite a bit of work from home.’

The workman stared. He had heard the brusque tone and a look passed over his face. ‘Okay,’ he said and turned to go. Then abruptly he asked, ‘Why is it exactly I’m lucky?’

Philpot hesitated. Although confrontation was his forte he had suddenly lost his appetite. ‘Just that we don’t have to trudge around that back area in the cold and dark right now.’ He gesticulated at the night. ‘Don’t you see how dark it is?’

The workman shrugged. ‘Makes no odds to me. If you have a good flash lamp we can go now and that way I won’t have to be bothering you in the morning when you’re at work.’

Philpot stalled. He was a worrier by nature. He wasn’t happy to have the job looked over in the dark. He didn’t want any mistakes and he didn’t want any misunderstandings…


 

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