Mr.Brinsley's three o'clock.
Nathan Brinsley wasn't a nice man. In fact he was downright horrid to everyone he met. The girl in the coffee shop bore the brunt of his temper most mornings. He demanded his drink as soon as he entered and as she'd been here long enough she should have it ready for him. This one morning a coach party had beaten him to his favourite seat, in fact they'd stolen it. Pushing four of the wooden tables together so that they could all be together their rowdy behaviour and childish even though funny ways gave Helen a laugh. She'd worked there for four years and in that time had picked up on certain customers quirks and strange requests. Looking over at the door she saw her least favourite customer in the whole world had entered. Giggling to herself she wondered if he'd stay or take flight. He stayed and eyed her with those black, bloodshot holes in his head that watched her most mornings giving her the creeps.
"I'll be with you in a minute" she called over to him as he found a seat at the counter, not his usual place he liked the table in the corner that was now commandeered by the coach trip from the local college.
"Going anywhere good?" she'd asked them, they answered that they were off to a theme park, a bonus for turning up everyday and working hard at their exams.
Nathan grunted, it wasn't like this in his day he didn't have trips as rewards he had a leather strap from his father for getting a b instead of the expected a.
Helen finally got around to pouring his coffee, three minutes and fifteen seconds later than he'd wanted but still, it was warm and tasted good.
He scanned his diary, two meetings and a visit from Miss.Frobisher. Who in the hell was Miss.Frobisher and what kind of name was that in this day and age.
Draining his cup he put it down on the coaster in front of him, this was why he liked this cafe. Old fashioned service, proper cups none of that polystyrene crap and wooden seats and tables, when you could get one that is. The coach party left and Helen cleared up after them, she started to put the chairs to one side in order to put the tables back, Nathan left her to it, it was her job and she got paid for it didn't she?. He took in the busy street and walked to his office passing a few shops that had closed down thanks to his creative mind. He was responsible for the decline of the town he'd grown up in, not fully responsible of course but he'd had a hand in folding a few businesses and then selling off the assets to line his own pockets. As fat as the wallet in his inside pocket he waddled into the building that had once belonged to his father that was left to him on his deathbed, including his debts which he'd only managed to wipe out with a little creative accountancy.
He took the lift to the first floor and walked into his office, his secretary of fifteen years Mrs.Hart sat at her desk taking messages, she handed him four pieces of paper which he duly put straight into the bin.
Nathan took off his jacket, it was unusually warm for February although it could have been the heater that he kept on religiously even when he was out and god help anyone who switched it off to turn his domain into a fridge.
Mrs.Hart entered the room.
"Miss Frobisher has moved her appointment to three o'clock instead of two", she announced in her clipped Home Counties voice.
He nodded and shooed her away, her lips pursed and ready to speak her mind, but she held her tongue as always, jobs were hard to come by these days and the competition was intense.
'Miss Frobisher, Miss Frobisher, who the hell is she?' he thought to himself looking through his diary again, his two meetings had thankfully been cancelled so he had more time to look at how his shares were doing, quite well in fact so he decided on an early lunch.
At 11.35 he told Mrs.Hart he would be back for his three o'clock and left.
Passing by the coffee shop he glanced inside and saw Helen serving in her usual cheery manner, if only he had met a girl like her all those years ago he wouldn't be stuck with two divorces and a child who he was convinced wasn't his, the dna test he'd forced his 'son' to take would be ready any day soon and then he could cut off all support. Yes, he skipped down the street, in his head of course, quite happy to be saving a few bob.
After a hearty lunch at his favourite pub he started back, two whiskys and a gin and tonic on top of a steak and kidney pie took their toll on his stomach, the pavement swam before him he didn't know if he'd make it back so he called in for a coffee.
Helen reeled backwards as the smell nearly knocked her out
"The usual?" she asked him as he found his favourite seat.
He nodded and burped at the same time and if it hadn't been so funny Helen would have scowled, but instead she smiled at him.
Tears rolled down his cheeks as he thought about what his life could have been like.
"Are you ok?" asked Helen putting down his cup and saucer. She sat next to him taking a break herself as business was slow that afternoon and asked him if there was anything she could do?.
Nathan shook his head and drank his coffee while the only person who'd ever shown him any sympathy in his whole life sat and drank her own coffee at his table.
He enjoyed her company. She was clever and knew about arty films and painters and foreign music, she went to night school to learn about the artists and sculptors she liked to talk about and her eyes were green.
When Nathan left he felt a lot better, sobered up from the coffee and chat he wanted to make changes, he wanted to give something back and make a difference.
He took the stairs two at a time, the spring in his step and the clarity in his mind pushing away the negativity of earlier. Mrs.Hart glowered at his happy demeanour she wasn't used to him singing and she certainly didn't want to dance around like an idiot. When he finally stopped larking about she told him his three o'clock had arrived and was waiting in his office.
"Take the afternoon off", he stated, "go and feed your cats or get drunk" he laughed, Mrs.Hart picked up her bag and coat and left, swearing under her breath with cut glass profanity she left him to entertain Miss.Frobisher.
Nathan Brinsley had been a horrid man, but things were going to change, his new found friend Helen with the green eyes had seen to that, he made plans in his head as he entered his office switching off the heater that was always on and opened a window.He turned to greet his three o'clock and stopped dead.
Now he remembered who Miss.Frobisher was, he'd stiffed her family for an awful lot of money and left them destitute, her father had killed himself and her mother went mad, her brother was in prison for attempted murder and she'd sent him a threatening letter saying that she had nothing to lose.
And now she was here in front of him with a gun.
He put both hand up like he'd seen on a film once and began to explain how things were going to get better for her, but she wasn't listening, she raised the gun and fired, the bullet hit him between his eyes and he went down in an instant.
Miss.Frobisher put her hand in his inside pocket and relieved him of his wallet, she emptied the contents and threw the leather bound pouch at him. The money she had taken wasn't enough to cover the thousands he'd robbed her family of but the bullet in his head was retribution enough. The gun was given back to the gangster who her father had worked with and the gloves she was wearing would be burnt. Mrs.Hart could be paid off or killed if she blabbed and his diary would disappear.
Miss.Frobisher stopped at the coffee shop and ordered a cappuccino, she sat at Nathan's favourite table and watched the girl behind the counter being run off her feet serving ungrateful demanding customers. She decided she'd leave her a good tip.
© Copyright 2016 Charlie Gibbs. All rights reserved.