Like every Friday at 3.15, Gloria takes a pot of tea and a scone with jam and cream to table four. Like every Friday she says “I could set my watch by you Mr. Brown!” Then she chuckles. Like every Friday Mr. Brown smiles and says “Call me Charlie.”
It’s just a small little Tea shop but as she often says to her husband Phil. “You see all human life come through those doors but we would never survive without our regulars.” She has a lot of time for Mr. Brown, she would never dream of calling him Charlie, it wouldn’t be proper. She knows so much about the old dears that stop by before or after a jaunt into town but next to nothing about Mr. Brown. She thinks he must be a widower as she notices a wedding ring, yet has never seen a wife or would dream of prying. He only ever meets with a young man for about twenty minutes, they go through some folders, she thinks he must be a Lawyer who likes to have these meetings in the tea shop. She secretly thinks he is rather dashing but has never said. Not even to Lisa who works the till as she can be a little uncouth at times. Four Pm exactly the young man enters and heads for table four.She doesn’t even ask his order anymore, just takes over a black coffee. As she approaches they both fall silent. She smiles at the young man and he smiles back but never speaks. Winnie is waving from table six so Gloria walks off to see if she has lost her glasses again.
Mr. Brown leans forward. “You find this place repellent don’t you?” His companion, Monaghan is slightly taken aback by such a direct and personal question.
“Forgive me My Lord. I spend so little time in their company anymore. I forget how to make small talk.”
Mr. Brown smiles. “You just talk about the weather or cricket. So down to business.””
Monaghan relaxes a little. “Just two this week My Lord.” He takes two manilla files from his satchel. Mr. Brown opens them one at a time glancing at the contents. A4 typed sheets with photographs paperclipped to both. “Give me a précis.”
“The first is Faringdon of the Mohacan Clan. He was the last person seen of CCTV footage speaking to a young man late last Wednesday. They found items of the mans’ clothes and blood in a nearby park, one of our informants at Scotland Yard made sure we got the information. Unfortunately the footage had already been seen. You can make him out quite clearly.”
Mr. Brown closes both folders as Gloria walks past. “Anything else Gentlemen?” Mr. Brown smiled. “Nothing thank you, just the bill please.” When she left earshot he leant forward. “Leave a confession note and slit his throat.” Monaghan nodded. He would have done the same.
“The second is Lady Fisher, she is…”
Mr. Brown cut him off. “I know who Katarina is, she is a relative.”
Monaghan blushed. “Sorry My Lord. She is petitioning your permission to marry a human.” He coughed awkwardly. “She asked, ordered me to say that ‘she would have asked you herself and when are you returning to your rightful place, ruling your Clans?’ Forgive me but she was very implicit that it be word for word.”
Mr. Brown chuckled. “Tell her she has my blessing and permission but I have two requirements. Firstly I want to meet this man and secondly, if she marries on May Day, I will give her away myself. It is almost 4.20. Oh and tell her if I come for the wedding, I will stay. I rather liked being Mr. Brown but I think my people need me more.”
As Monaghan leaves Gloria brings the bill to the table, everyone else pays at the till but she saw Mr. Brown queue once and she was mortified.
He doesn’t even check the amount, just like every other Friday he hands her a £10 note and says. “Keep the change.” Just like every Friday she smiles and says. “I always say to my Phil,’Phil, if all my customers were like Mr. Brown we could retire to Spain!” Chuckling to herself she does her funny little waddle back to to the til.
As he collects his coat and scarf, Mr. Brown makes a mental note that when he returns to his own kind. Gloria will receive a letter from his personal lawyers saying that Mr. Brown passed away peacefully in his sleep and always spoke so fondly of her. He will arrange enough money for them to live in the sun, in one of his own properties in Spain.