Today’s prompt at the Inkslingers Workshop at the Irish Writers Centre was simply a park bench, and two people. And I’d like to say thanks to Máire T. Robinson, who is finishing up as our facilitator, for the wonderfully inventive prompts she has come up with over the last few months…
He was first to arrive. He looked at the bench, picked the end with the fewest bird-droppings on it, and sat down, putting his briefcase beside him.
He looked at the bench. A carving in the wood informed him that AP hearted VD. It takes all kinds, he thought to himself.
Another man approached and sat at the other, literally crappier, end of the bench. The first man spoke.
“On a clear day you can see Rathfarnham from here,” he said.
“Er, what?” said the second man.”
“I said ‘on a clear day you can see Rathfarnham from here’,” said the first man.
“I doubt it,” said the second man. “That tree is in the way.”
The first man sighed. “‘Yes, but when it’s foggy you can’t even see as far as the park gates’,” he hinted.
“I wouldn’t be here if it was foggy,” said the second man.
“Who cares?” said the first man. “You’re just supposed to say it.”
“It’s the password,” said the first man. “It’s so I’ll know it’s you.”
“But I don’t think it is me,” said the second man. “At least, it is me, but I don’t think it’s me you’re looking for, if you’ll pardon the Lionel Richie impression.”
“You mean you’re not the European Union mole?” said the first man.
“No,” said the second man. “I work in the Accounts Department at McDonald’s.”
“But you’re just what I was expecting,” said the first man. “P told me -”
“He’s the Irish Secret Intelligence Service version of M.”
“We have a Secret Intelligence Service?”
“Yes. The other countries kept making anti-Irish jokes about us being too thick to have one. Anyway, P told me you would be wearing a dark suit, carrying a briefcase and have a copy of the Metro turned to the puzzles page, with the Sudoku half filled-in.”
“Don’t you think that description’s a bit broad?” said the second man.
“I suppose you’re right,” said the first man.
“What was supposed to happen, anyway?” said the second man.
“We were to walk off carrying each other’s briefcases.”
“What was supposed to be in mine?” asked the second man.
“The secret plans for all of the Welfare and Health cuts and all of the tax increases that the EU are planning to force our Government to make,” said the first man.
“And what’s in your briefcase?”
“Two million Euro.”
There was silence for a moment. “That’s a million Euro each,” said the second man thoughtfully.
“I couldn’t,” said the first man. “ISIS would track me down.”
“They sent you to find a man in a suit in the centre of Dublin at lunchtime on a weekday,” said the second man. “And to say your half of the password first. There are only two words in the phrase ‘Secret Intelligence’ , yet they seem to be lacking either of them. I doubt they could find you if you turned up in P’s office delivering him pizza.”
And so it was that when the EU mole turned up two minutes he found an empty park bench and an abandoned briefcase. He looked around, then shrugged and swapped his with it.
And when he got home and opened it he found that it contained four biros, a calculator, a Motor Tax application form and a Marks and Spencer Roast Turkey and Stuffing Sandwich.