Running Away With Itself

I sit at my desk, watching people walk through the heavy glass doors. People coming in, people going out. Sometimes, I make up stories about these people. For instance, that man there, muttering to himself in an agitated manner – he’s actually wearing a tiny earpiece and is at this very moment communicating with someone at M15. And that woman in the expensive looking suit holding the briefcase – she’s transporting highly valuable and top secret documents to a, er, secret location. And those two Russian guys … well, you get the idea.

I sigh quietly and begin lining up all the pens on the desk in order of colour. Then I start to doodle three dimensional cubes on a memo from head office. I am just adding a spiral staircase with people tumbling down it when a man comes to the desk to ask for directions to a meeting. He is smartly dressed and very handsome. In fact, he looks a lot like Rupert Graves. No, I tell myself, he is Rupert Graves. He is here researching for a role.

I direct him to the room and then check to see what the meeting is about. ‘Marketing meeting’ is all I have here. Hmm, ok. So he is researching for a role as an advertising guru PR person type thing. Or maybe they are doing ‘The Apprentice: The Movie!’ No, they wouldn’t want them to actually know about marketing for that. Well, whatever, it’s not important. What’s important is that he is undercover researching for a role and I must help protect his identity, or something.

I glance at my watch. Bloody hell, is it only half ten. I’ve already eaten my sandwiches. It’s very quiet today. This marketing meeting is the only thing we’ve got on and that finishes at lunchtime.

A woman from the marketing meeting comes to the desk to request some photocopying. I tell her I will get it done “stat” and she gives me an odd look then backs away slowly. I get someone to cover the desk for me and run to the copy room. Well, I walk  fairly briskly. There are five paper jams when I get there and in retrieving them I get toner all over my sleeve. Brilliant. Now Rupert Graves will think I am a stupid cow who walks around covered in toner all the live long day. I bet this stuff doesn’t wash off either.

I put the papers into the copier and gaze idly out of the window. There is a man sitting on a bench, shaving. He’s using one of those old-fashioned shaving brushes and, rather worryingly, no mirror. Wait, I tell a lie. He is using a mirror, of sorts. He’s using an imaginary mirror, holding it up in front of his face and turning from side to side. He must be some sort of illusionist of magician. He can probably escape from locked cabinets and chains and all sorts. I bet he does the sawing a woman in half trick. They always do the sawing a woman in half trick.

There is a disturbing noise from the photocopier, like a small bird getting caught in a draft excluder. I pull out another paper jam in annoyance, this time giving myself a paper cut. What a piece of crap machinery this is. I throw a few choice swearwords at it, then resume copying. Despite a lot of squeaking and clunking it makes it to the end without further problems. I have another look out of the window  but the shaving brush man has gone. Vanished. All right, not quite vanished, he’s just walked out of the off license. Probably buying something for his act.

I take the pile of photocopying round to the meeting room, knock once on the door and then enter. The woman who came to the desk is giving a presentation. She nods at me, then at the man sitting closest to the door. Oh no! It is Rupert Graves. I am suddenly convinced it really is him – perhaps my imagination is too good at times – and all the blood in my body immediately makes its way to my face. Rupert Graves smiles at me as I hand him the papers. I smile back and manage to leave the room without tripping over anything. I do slightly bump into the doorframe but I don’t think anyone notices.

Back at my desk there are several new emails about very boring things like an upcoming visit from the Prime Minister, and one with pictures of kittens doing funny things. I open my desk drawer and take out a packet of maltesars. I could really do with a coffee right now. A woman comes in holding a Paddington Bear teddy and asks me if I can spare and change so that she can get a drink. I tell her no but offer her a maltesar. She takes two – one for her and one for Paddington, presumably – then thanks me and leaves. I finish the packet then start doodling again. I wonder if there’s anything good on telly tonight.

I fancy a bit of a walk and I need some caffiene so I go out on my lunchbreak. The shaving brush man is sitting on the bench again. I go and sit next to him with my coffee. He is polishing his shoes now.

‘See them?’ he says, nodding at the shoes. ‘You could eat your dinner off them.’

‘Hmm. I mean, I wouldn’t, personally, but I’ll take your word for it.’

He reaches into his pocket and takes out the shaving brush. He holds it up in front of him, as if it were a skull and he Hamlet.

‘My old dad gave me this, before he died. It’s worth a fortune, believe it or not.’

‘Mm. Probably not.’

‘It’s the only thing I’ve got left of him. The only thing he ever gave me worth having.’

‘That’s nice,’ I say. ‘That you’ve got something to remember him by.’

‘Nah.’ He puts the brush back in his pocket and chuckles. ‘I’m going to stick it on eBay, say it belonged to some famous bugger. See how much I can get for it.’

‘Oh. I see. Well, good luck with that.’

Ok, so maybe he isn’t a magician after all. I get up and start heading back to work. As I am walking away I turn to look back again. The man winks at me, then pulls a string of brightly coloured handkerchiefs out of his sleeve. I grin and walk back to work with a spring in my step. That marketing meeting will be finishing in a bit.

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