"Bet you can't climb that tree?" Duffy said.
"Ten quid I can" I replied.
We shook hands and I proceeded to climb a large tree outside of my work. It was only when I was half way up that I realised he'd tricked me again. It was the oldest trick in the book - reverse psychology - but he got me with it every time.
I turned around to look at Duffy and I saw a small crowd forming around him (he was ushering them over). If I climbed back down now I would be labelled the idiot who tried and failed to climb a tree on his lunch break.
Last time this happened Duffy betted me that I couldn't eat more than three crackers in one sitting without a glass of water. Before I knew it I was munching them down. This is when Penelope - the girl we both fancied - arrived. He turned on the charm and I ran to the kitchen and turned on a tap. Needless to say he got the girl. Probably for the best as she had a fiery side but still... cheap tactic.
There would no doubt be an ulterior motive here too. I looked back down and the crowd had doubled in size. And there, marching towards the crowd was my boss Dan Taylor; no doubt intrigued - or more likely annoyed - by the commotion. And Duffy had vanished...
Then it dawned on me... Duffy and I were going for the same promotion today (as was Penelope). Dan Taylor was conducting three interviews after lunch. With Dan distracted by a crowd outside his work, Duffy had the perfect opportunity to sneak into his office and see what questions Dan would ask us in the interview.
To make matters worse for me, in ten seconds Dan would see me up a tree (definitely going in the 'against' column when considering me for promotion). I needed to climb higher up - where I would be shrouded from view - but the branch above was out of reach. My only option would be to jump up and grab hold of it; but what if it snapped? I thought of Duffy's smug face as he told me he'd got the job and before I knew it I was jumping up.
My hands reached the branch and clasped onto it; it made a horrible creak then it began bending like bamboo. I hauled myself up quickly just before it snapped; it hit several smaller branches on the way down then landed at Dan's feet.
"Who's up there?" Dan bellowed angrily (he always bellowed).
There was a murmur of don't knows from the onlookers. Thanks God nobody from the crowd knew me. If he knew it was me he'd sack me on the spot for attacking him with a branch.
What now? I thought. I was a metre from the top of the tree. The bet was of course now redundant but perhaps seeing over the top would bring fresh perspective. I found a thick branch and used my leg to lunge myself forward and up. My head popped out of the nest of leaves and twigs and immediately I saw my work building straight ahead.
It was a great view from up here. Never before had I seen what our office looked like from outside; nor had I seen my co workers from this angle. Sure enough, Duffy was in Dan's office searching his computer. Penelope was at her desk, sat in-between mine and Dan's desks as usual. Everything was as normal; except that Dan and I were outside. Then it came to me; I pulled out my phone and called Penelope.
I told her exactly what Duffy was doing in Dan's office; how he was in there trying to get the job by illegal means. The line went quiet - her notorious fieriness absent - not the response I had wanted. Finally I realised that in order to draw this fire out of her I'd have to resort to a familiar cheap tactic.
"I didn't think you would do anything..." I said quietly.
"What did you say?" she said angrily.
I hadn't even begun to reply when she slammed the phone down. I watched her march out of our office and barge into Dan's room. Duffy jumped with fright and stood up trying to calm her down. Suddenly she picked up a chair and through it at him; he ducked and it smashed through the window and crashed onto the ground outside.
"What the hell was that?" Dan exclaimed below.
As the onlookers below refocused their attention, I slowly climbed back down the tree. I landed on the ground with a small thud and silently joined the crowd.
The consequences of this were as follows: Dan was sacked, Penelope was given a caution and I got the promotion I had wanted. A few months later, on my way back from a client meeting, I bumped into Dan. He was unkempt and smelled of booze. We muttered some pleasantries to one and other then he finally addressed the elephant in the room.
"Congratulations on the promotion" he said stiffly.
"Thanks" I relied, smiling my smuggest of smiles.
I nearly turned to go then stopped. I just couldn't help myself.
"By the way, do you have that ten quid?"