Nine Signs to Shilbottle Added£0.99
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(A short story of 2249 words)

Nine Signs to Shilbottle


by James Roderick Burns

Someone has been vandalising the road signs around the village of Shilbottle.

The day after the great storm, Miss Prendergast sent out Milo Patrick to see what damage it had done to the roads around the village.

‘Make sure you get any blockages shifted by dark. Business might wait a day – it was a big storm, after all – but don’t take any longer than that.’ She stood in the doorway in her tweed suit, drumming two fingers on the lid of a paint can, awaiting a response. He took off his John Deere cap and scratched around the bald spot, then settled it back into its accustomed groove.

‘Well, Miss P, I’ve quite a bit to do in the village, y’know. I – ’

‘I want them clear, you understand? Smooth as ice. And the signs perfect too.’ She drilled him with a meaningful look and turned on her heel. He listened to her footsteps receding down the floor he’d mopped that morning, then shrugged on his coat.

* * *

Though roads and verges weren’t his job, strictly speaking, it was clear as he walked the village that no one else had been out to inspect them. Milo thought he might get some satisfaction dragging the few downed trees clear of the footpaths, clearing mud and twigs from the drainage channels along this stretch of the A1 (oddly, it never seemed much of a priority for the DoT) and generally restoring some semblance of order. He had a panel of glass bricks to replace in the village hall, and the floor to wax for the pie and pea supper at the weekend, but thought he could see to those with a few hours extra tomorrow and the next day. He wouldn’t see them in his pay packet, of course, but there were still compensations to being outside and away from the chemical fug, the polisher shaking his forearms long after he’d finished.

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