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Welcome, friends old and new, to my blog. This is the place where I can share my scribblings and thoughts on loving life. I hope you enjoy them, make suggestions and come back to read more.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Stamp- part six

Hey, it's Wednesday! How is your week going so far? Poor old Ben is not doing very well: Cassie's gone, his boss is on his back and, to top it all, he has a mysterious stamp on his hand that stubbornly refuses to wash off. Surely things can only get better? Read on to find out..

Missed a bit? Catch up here: Stamp- part five or search for "Stamp" in the labels box (on the left-hand side of the page) for previous instalments.

Stamp- part six

Some people believe in fate, that things happen for a reason. Ben didn’t really subscribe to the whole “cosmic-Karma-God-has-a-plan” idea, but he couldn’t deny that the hated stamp changed his life.

The first effect was that he lost his job. It was ugly. Andy had been waiting for him the next day. He took one look at the shadows under Ben’s eyes and his dishevelled appearance and called him in to the office, told him to collect his things and phoned security to have him escorted from the premises. After a last-ditch attempt to save his job- not that he really wanted it- a pathetic display of pleading that fell on deaf ears, Ben finally lost the plot and told Andy to shove it. He marched out of the grim office, flanked by two shame-faced security guards, with his ex-colleagues’ applause ringing in his ears. Even though he’d blown a steady job, he couldn’t bring himself to care. He was free to do anything he wanted now. He just wished he knew what that was.

His future was taken care of, though. The next day, he’d bumped into an old school-mate, Jack, who owned a small but successful company specialising in sourcing and selling vintage vinyl. Over a pint in Ben’s local, Jack offered him a job, travelling around the country to view and buy collections from sellers. Ben had almost bitten his hand off. This would be a complete change from spending his days slouched over a keyboard, clock-watching until the time when he was released from the torment an unfulfilling jobs brings. He couldn’t believe his luck when he found out the position included a company car and an expenses account. They shook on the deal and ordered another pint to celebrate.

Time passed and life had turned out even better than he’d ever hoped for. He had money, freedom, and an awesome boss who- far from wanting to curb Ben’s social life- actively encouraged it. Ben was invited to glitzy parties at the coolest clubs, all in the name of promotion. The stamp had been a lucky charm, forcing him to change his life. He looked at it now with affection, still clear and as fresh as it had looked that night, all those months ago. His star was on the rise and he felt somehow that it was all due to those tiny black numbers, whatever they meant. He never had heard back from that girl on the forum. Probably she hadn’t needed to post anymore once she’d had her stamp lasered off. He didn’t think much about the date theory; the numbers probably didn’t mean anything. May was months in the future, anyway.

The seasons changed. The daylight hours lasted longer and the post-Christmas spending slump started to lift. Business picked up and Ben was busier than ever. He still saw Tim, though not so often now as he travelled so much. They caught up in Ben’s local about once a month. Tim hadn’t changed: still stuck in a dead-end job, still drinking in seedy clubs, still single. Ben suspected Tim was a bit jealous of his success. He urged him to quit and come and work for Jack.

“Seriously, it’s a doddle. You just turn up in your flash car, sneer at their collection like you’re doing them a favour, wave a bit of cash and watch them jump at the chance to sell it to you cheap. You can’t go wrong. Jack will take anything. He says that the weirder it is, the rarer it is, and that means that someone, somewhere, will pay bucket-loads of cash for it. It’s just a waiting game. The money’s great, the perks are unbelievable and you’d have your pick of the birds!”

Tim took a swig of his pint before replying.

“I dunno, mate,” he began. “It sounds a bit like hard work. All that driving around and networking and stuff? You know me, I’m can’t be bothered with all that- I’d be terrible. At least at my place I get left alone if I keep my head down.” He took another sip before continuing. “Thanks and everything, but I’ll sort myself out.” He leaned back and shoved his fists into his pockets defiantly, looking at the floor to avoid Ben’s disapproving look.

Ben sighed and shook his head in despair at Tim’s attitude. He just didn’t understand him sometimes. He seemed perfectly content to sit around and wait for something to happen to him. He reached for his pint and uttered what was meant to be a withering put-down.

“I suppose you’ll just be stuck at that rubbish job until your numbers come up, then.” Tim looked up at him sharply. A slow grin spread over his face. He pulled his hand out of his jacket pocket and held it in front of him, palm facing away. The green ink shimmered as he flexed his fingers. He gazed at it with a thoughtful expression.

“Numbers…yeah.” His grin widened until it split his face. “I’ll win the Lottery and then I won’t have to work at all! These numbers have got to mean something, right? What if they’re my winning numbers?” He peered closer. “It could be 1, 9, 42, 13… or 19, 21… whatever. I’ll just keep trying ‘til I get it.”  Satisfied that his problems were solved, he drained his pint and smacked his lips. Ben was incredulous.

“So that’s it? Some hot girl stamps the winning lottery numbers on your hand and fixes your life? Who do you think she was- Mystic Meg?”

Tim shrugged, unconcerned by his friend’s scorn.

“Well, why not? It’s no less likely than seeing them in a dream, like that girl that won last year reckoned she did. I’m going to give it a try. Another pint?” He waved his glass under Ben’s nose but Ben had had enough- both of beer and his friend’s stupid ideas.

“No, thanks. I’ve got to get off.” He stood up and pulled on his coat.

“Suit yourself.” Tim waved him goodbye as he headed for the bar, intent on spending his anticipated winnings.

Ben frowned as he waited for a cab. Why did he even bother with Tim any more? Old habits, he guessed. They’d been mates and drinking buddies for so long that he hadn’t seen how different they’d become until now. Without the shared experience of hating their jobs and getting wasted every weekend, the cracks had begun to show. He was no tabloid psychic but he predicted it would be a while before he rang Tim again. Lottery numbers… what a ridiculous idea. His cab pulled up and Ben climbed in the back, rubbing his stamp thoughtfully as he was driven home through the rain-soaked streets.  

Intrigued yet? The next instalment will be ready in a week- hope you can wait that long...

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