EDitorial ± 5-Jul-2009
The Bean Counter
The iridescent floating girl was ladling more cassoulet on to his plate when the fire bell sounded. Bee-yip! Bee-yip!
He half-opened an eye and tried to focus. Of course, Friday, aka bin day. Couldn't that lorry reverse any quieter? Muscle memory made his left arm snake out and pre-emptively cancel the alarm. Another 30 minutes wouldn't amount to a hill of beans, not today. Mmm, beans. He loved beans.
"Your tea's there."
He semi-stirred. "Ta," his lips stuck together. Had it been his idea to switch to tequila? Madness. Thursdays, Queen's Head works outing, never missed it. He always left at 9:40 to catch the quarter-to. Last night they'd manhandled him into a cab gone midnight. Somehow he'd made it upstairs in the darkness, feeling his way past domestic landmarks: newel post, doorway, airer. Brushed his foot against an unfamiliar pile, then safely to bed. Toasty. Beans on toast.
"Half seven, you know."
He rolled over and considered propping up his pillow. Hang 'em, they'd seen the last of him. About time that Jarvis earned his keep within accounts payable at Lupin Marketing. He pondered his plans: legal? - certainly; decent? - debatable; honest and truthful? - not as such.
Seven years back, office apathy had caused the syndicate to fold. Come the following weekend, he'd wasted a pound playing the same numbers. Monday morning, the place was simmering with self-recrimination. Five of the six had come up, plus the bonus ball. "Hey, Mr Bean, know what we could have shared?" Jarvis had yelled. "Three hundred grand!" He'd slumped, stayed schtum, tried to think where he'd put that ticket. Thankfully he'd found it nestled in the sports section before it had been chucked. Left it a week then quietly claimed his prize: no publicity, thanks. Was he absolutely sure he wanted it all in cash?
With not a word to the wife, that briefcase had burned a hole under his bed. Then, flicking through a catalogue, he'd found it: a miniature safe disguised as a can of beans. Bingo! After ordering half a dozen online, he'd spent a nervy hour decanting the notes before placing the tins at the back of the pantry, hidden among the wastelands of quinoa and flax seeds.
Biding his time had been a picnic. Today, he'd wait for her to go to work, pack a holdall and jet off to see the world. He might send her the odd postcard as he sampled the local cuisine: Spanish fabada, Nicaraguan gallo pinto, American succotash, ...
"Are you going in today or not?"
He rubbed his eyes, pulled himself up and ignored his tepid tea.
"While you were out boozing, some of us were having a bit of a spring clean. There's a bunch of your old clothes down there, for starters. And you should have seen the state of those kitchen cupboards. Your bloomin' beans: way past their sell-by date, no ring pull, light as you like, and what with the recycling coming this morning ..."