“Brian! Brian Simmons, is that you?”
Brian turned, taking in the figure that was rapidly approaching him. Similatiously, he tried to hide the tin of supersaver beans he had been studying.
“John! John Booth – we were in the Co-op together – remember: you worked there for a week back in ’99, stacking shelves! I had a smaller moustache back then though!”
Brian looked slowly up and down the little man in front of him… yes, the moustache was familiar, and so was the excitable figure it was attached to.
“Oh yes, you were acting manager that week, weren’t you... That was supposed to be your ‘big break’. [Here Brian laughed nervously] So, how’d that work out for you anyway?
“Oh…” John replied, “Well, remember June? There were allegations. I lost the sexual harassment case.”
“Ah… yes, that would be bad.
“Anyway, how’s the family? I remember you talking about your kids – Tom and... and Lucy, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, that was them. Caroline got custody after the divorce. I haven’t seen them since she moved to Carlyle. Of course, I tried to get joint custody, but it’s hard when you live in a Ford Escort.”
“Yes, I can imagine” Brian muttered. For a moment, all he could think to ask was ‘what model of Ford Escort?’ but suddenly, a memory surface:
“How are your parents then? I remember them picking you up one day in that old camper van! Always looked like it was about to explode.”
“They’re dead, I’m afraid.”
“Oh… what happened?”
“The camper van exploded. Dad survived, but he didn’t make it through the year.”
“Ah, that’s often the way, I suppose.” Brain attempted to reassure him, “broken heart, was it?”
“No… not really. He was savaged by bears.”
Brian tried to think of something to say, but he couldn't think of any words of sympathy that seemed appropriate. Smiling politely, he began to back away slowly until he was first out of the store, then by his car. He got in, and reversed out of the car park. By the time he was backing onto the main road, all he could see was a moustache, sadly watching him through a pair of automatic doors.