Fiona had got it all back to front, but she
had got Lloyd all the same.
Day One for Lloyd was given over to induction.
The five minute meetings with the colleagues who happened to be in the building
that day. Unlike their many fellows who, in some cases, had not now returned
for over two years since the first Covid lockdown.
Day One for Lloyd was also given over to the
computer. Tickling it into some kind of grudging acceptance of his inputs. The
usual new-boy abasement that had to be performed to the device hed be
wasting so much of his life on and with in the months to come.
Presuming he lasted that long, of course.
Fiona could have left him to entering and
re-entering what Derek in IT kept assuring him was his password. She could have
left it at the checking in at the start of the day, when he had been altogether
too sullen for her liking, and then at periodic intervals, perhaps over
coffee or whatever until he finally went home at 5. Or earlier. (Fiona
had scheduled herself until half 5 today precisely to check on exactly when
She could, in short, have left him to the
typical Day One chores. But she needed to know who he was and where she stood.
Only, as she told Tina the Tease at the wine bar on Friday night, shed
got it back to front.
Ive made a mistake, was her
opening on Day One, and that had him looking up from the entirely empty screen
still asking for a password the computer wouldnt accept and Derek
Lloyd said nothing to this. Which was good.
Fiona gave him that.
Ive arranged with Colin the Coins
to come in on Wednesday to go over the payroll
But Im not in
Wednesday. Now, I know you dont work Wednesdays
Lloyd worked Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
The pair of them knew this, even though Office Manager Sally was unlikely to
get his contract to him before Christmas and, right now, he could almost do
whatever he liked.
I dont suppose, Fiona said
again, you might be able to
Lloyds eyes flickered back to the screen
telling him where he could put his latest attempt to sign in.
Sorry, he said.
Its only for a couple of
hours, Fiona told him.
I am sorry, he said again. And
there was no attempt at an excuse. No lengthy description of what he was going
to be doing with his Wednesday. Just the sorry. Cant help you. The
computer says no. Which, indeed, it then stopped doing as it let him in.
That was a mistake, Fiona said to
Tina the Tease over their cherry flavoured Bourbon. But shed tried again
a few days later, when shed been checking over his induction paperwork,
noting that he had failed to arrange an appointment with Hannah the Head.
Although he ought to be given a little slack when she was a home worker whose
email responses could be timed with a calendar.
Its a small stall and we run it
every year. Sunday afternoon. The Working Mens Club. I dont
And, again, Lloyd was sorry because, again,
shed gone in too big.
Yeah, but he might have said yes,
said Tina the Tease. Shed got the second round in while Fiona had been
off at the loo.
He might, but still too big, Tina. Still
too big, Fiona said, before remembering the prawn cocktail crisps
shed fancied and offering to look after Tinas bag while she popped
back over to the bar.
It was Day Nine before she finally got him.
Had him worked out and precisely where she wanted him.
Ah, no milk, shed said,
bringing the milk bottle down to the office with her so that Lloyd could see
the precise nature of the quandary. No milk and the Dennisons are going
to be here any moment. I dont suppose you
Lloyd had a list on his screen. A To
Do list she recognised from checking up after him on the shared drive.
His priorities were all wrong, although he was certainly assiduous about the
upkeep of the document. He paused, mid-way through deleting the item relating
to the filing he still hadnt got right (or, indeed, started), and he
looked at the milk and he looked at Fiona and he looked at the door.
Nip to the shop? he asked.
Youd like me to nip to the shop?
If you dont mind, she
Of course, he said, taking the
bottle from her. Hed have to tip it away down the sink, too. You
only need to ask, he said.
Got him where I want him, Fiona
told Tina the Tease when she returned with the prawn cocktail. She could smell
the ciggy on her, but you had to allow a bit of leeway, didnt you? Long
as you got what you wanted. It was all part of the give and take of people
He went and got the milk, Tina the
He did. Took four weeks before the last
one did it. Seven weeks, the one before that.
You asked him to get the milk, and he
got the milk?
Tina mused for a moment over her cherry
flavoured Bourbon. Her third. Fiona hadnt noticed shed got a third
cherry flavoured Bourbon.
That shops a good mile up the
road, isnt it?
It is, Fiona said. She wasnt
wasting petrol or shoe leather on a trip like that, several times a week.
Does he drive? Tina asked.
Uh-huh. Well, Ill give him this.
Youve got him where he wants you and no mistake. He knows you backwards,
I thank you, Fiona said, with mock
It was only when she was halfway through the
packet that she realised Tina had bought her cheese and