Man in Debt
Chapter 5

Copyright© 2017 by Scriptorius

From:
Cedric King
Poplar House
Halfpenny Lane
Little Chinfold

To:
Aytuzi Finance Company
Unit 3, White Horse Yard
Newton Godfrey

For the attention of Brian Bodkin

Dear Brian,

I can hardly contain the anguish induced in me by your latest letter. Are you trying to drive me to suicide? If so, are you doing quite well. Your own efforts, combined with the recent intervention of your bully-boy enforcer and those dreadful legal people, are having the effect you doubtless desire. I find it difficult to believe that, after all that has passed between us, you are still pursuing your course of encompassing my downfall. Have I not tried? Have I not given you invaluable advice? And yet you trail me like a bloodhound.

Despite everything, I am persuaded that this risible matter will come to a happy conclusion. All’s well that ends well. Fortunately, the solution is at hand. You will be interested to learn that I have a maiden aunt, Ethel, whose days, like yours with cigarettes, are numbered. The old girl has been hospitalised with a complaint which is unpronounceable to the layman but is, I understand, invariably fatal. I have substantial expectations here, as I mowed her lawn, gratis, for six months, two years ago. I also did her shopping for an unspeakably trying three-week period. Heaven knows how she lived for seven days at a time on a small loaf of white bread, a pound of potatoes, a handful of teabags and a packet of cream crackers. Still, mine is not to reason why people do such things and anyway, I was able to unload the task in question onto her next-door neighbour, who is another old girl with Spartan inclinations.

Ethel expressed her undying gratitude and being of the old school, will certainly deliver. I can’t put a date on it, but believe me, she is failing fast and the outcome will be more than satisfactory for me – and by extension, for you. Just hold your horses and everything will work out right.

I am delighted to learn that you are to re-start your efforts with the pipe. I know the kind of thing you have in mind and you can take my word for it, the one you are thinking of will draw like a mill chimney, and you will not even need a boy to crawl around, reaming its innards. In your present state of unawareness, you cannot imagine the pleasures that await you. Persevere, old boy. Incidentally, I never had any illusions about the manufacture of good Havanas. It’s a business, like any other, with workbenches and the like.

I am so at one with you with regard to your experiences as ‘corporate man’. I once worked for a company which is, let us just say, of world renown. As you may have gathered, I do not make a habit of speaking ill of any individual or group, but the wretched people actually made me carry mail around their silly little offices. Can you believe it? Me! I can tell you that they did not have the benefit of my services for very long. There was a contretemps and, well, you know how it is. I left with the dignity you would expect of me. Nevertheless, the blighters pursued me even after the event, whining about some footling discrepancy in petty cash and a few office requisites. I ask you, Brian, a quid or two, half a dozen sheets of postage stamps, a calculator and various other odds and ends, none of which would have been missed but for an unscheduled audit and inventory. And that in an age when top executives write their own terms in advance and come out smelling of violets, irrespective of whether they do well or foul up. I despair of current standards of morality.

I’m pleased to hear that you are contemplating a cessation of your studies of what is known as the dismal science, the practitioners of which are subject to even more ridicule than are lawyers. Did you hear that if all the economists in the world were laid end-to-end, they wouldn’t reach a conclusion, or that if they were laid end-to-end, nobody would be surprised?

The only economist who has ever aroused my admiration was the fellow who once advised one of our prime ministers. I well remember reading a mercifully short book he wrote, in which he was frank enough to say that economists know next to nothing about how an economy works, and were only marginally ahead of the layman in terms of understanding the subject. Well said, was my verdict. These people are like the proverbial generals, who fight the current war with the mentality that prevailed in the last one. Do you wonder that we are required to endure one crisis after another?

Has it ever occurred to you that gross domestic product is not necessarily a measure of national or personal satisfaction? I mean, if a building burns down – let us say killing a dozen people in the process – and has to be replaced, then an economist would register the funerals, reinstatement work and so on as a plus in GDP terms? If you have considered this, you may wonder what the deceased individuals’ relations would think. I have got through the whole of my forty-two years without worrying my head about economics, and I think you will agree that with the exception of the present hiccup, I have done quite nicely. Now, I implore you, do as I ask before it is too late. Change to another path. My comment concerning land law was merely a suggestion. I can tell from your letters that you are a free spirit, enmeshed in a system that will break you, if you allow it to. Why not try origami? The products are pleasing and the field is not too overcrowded.

As for your idea of emigrating, I don’t know what has possessed you, but can imagine only that you have been overcome by your tribulations. Do not yield to them! My goodness, Brian, you are an Englishman. Apart from the spreading of the Anglo-Saxon good word – don’t think that I denigrate that activity – what would face you? You must remember that ninety-nine per cent of the world’s population comprises foreigners. Where would you go? It is (barely) conceivable that you might find your feet in, say, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, or – and I hesitate to say this – the United States of America. You would have a hard time in the last-named place, as the order of the day there is dog-eat-dog and devil take the hindmost. Do you really want that? Of course not. You wouldn’t last five minutes.

Face it, Brian. You are at best partially qualified in the financial sphere, where many of us believe ourselves to be experts. Wherever you were to go, you would find yourself swilled away as in a vortex. Also, you have a family, and no matter what the immigration officers say, they are looking for strong-backed, weak-minded, footloose chaps to grovel around in mines, or sweat twelve hours a day on some grandiose project. Do you see yourself as a latter-day toiler on whatever scheme has replaced the Hoover Dam or the Snowy River thing.

Now to more prosaic matters. I fully understand your desire to keep our exchanges from the prying eyes of your chief. The truth is that I do not keep a full record of my correspondence – further evidence that I am not small-minded – so don’t know whether or not you have missed anything. If you have, I am sure it will re-emerge if it is important. Don’t give this another thought.

I am depressed by your continual nagging about the small matter that lies between us, especially as you have seen fit to state that yet another of these annoying monthly instalments has been added to my woes. This is almost too trivial to discuss. Can’t you think of the sweep of history? Remember the words of Omar Khayyam. His text is not to hand here, but he said something about one’s being oneself with yesterday’s seven thousand years. In case you don’t get it, he meant that after we have spent a little time on this plane, we pass on to join others who have come and gone. You may think this minor debt thing is important, but I ask you to accept that in the fullness of time, both of us will be forgotten. Nobody will care who owed what to whom.

I have already supplied you with information worth far more than the monetary sum you mention, and you don’t know what else I have to reveal – do not think that my resources are exhausted. This episode will result in greater benefits to you than to me. It is all a question of karmic balance. One keeps on doing the right thing and eventually one reaps the reward. Brian, you are dealing with a man of honour, as you will finally recognise. By the way, I have just heard that Aunt Ethel is declining further and faster, and as she does so, my prospects rise in direct proportion.

Now, I am extremely busy, so you must forgive me for closing here, much as I would like to go on. Don’t forget to give my love to your wife – did you tell me her name? – and to greet the children. Sorry about the Jimmy and Sandra thing. They are my sister’s offspring and I must have been befuddled – no wonder when I am being pursued by what at times seems to me like that cur in the Sherlock Holmes story about the Baskerville family. Yes, I know that the creature was singular and you are, God knows, plural. Incidentally, since you are basically a conformist, I wonder why you have limited yourself to siring two children. I believe two point four is the norm. Couldn’t you add just a little one? You know, sort of treat it like a bonsai tree. A little pruning here and there to ensure that it always stays slightly below half-size. I wouldn’t put that past you.

Do buck up now. The clouds will roll by.

Yours ever,

Cedric


From:
Holliday & String
Solicitors
7, Main Street
Chinfold Major

To:
Trask, Blaimire & Co.
Solicitors
1, Haymarket
Lower Newton Godfrey

For the attention of Mr Henry Blaimire. Re: Aytuzi Finance Company v King

Dear Mr Blaimire,

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