Donald has spent the few days since the trial wondering just how much work he was going to get out of Kevin. The cellar and two spare bedrooms were stacked to the gunnels with house clearance junk and maybe the odd pearl. He could certainly use a willing pair of hands. Donald had also thought long and hard about how he was going to persuade the surly and presumably work shy youth to comply. Donald had certainly had plenty of experience in controlling unruly and unwilling lads. He knew that he would need to take control of the situation from the very first moment and let Kevin know that he was the alpha male, the leader of the pack. There was something else gnawing away at the 59 year old antique dealer. Why had he gone out of his way to persuade Callum to collude with this unconventional and not quite legally correct scentence?
He had talked it over with Callum a few nights previously in Callum’s hotel suite. “You want to see the little b*****d punished. That’s why!” Callum passed Donald his refilled whiskey tumbler “not a 6 month break in travel lodge cum open prison, but some real” the red faced judge paused and took a swallow of 20 year old malt “correction”. Donald winced at the word. Even though his old friend was well aware of his penchant for corporal punishment, hearing his thoughts spoken back to him made him redden at the ears. Once the idea was on the table, as the drinks flowed the pair regressed right back to the nasty scheming younger selves and a plan was hatched whereby poor Kevin Sharp was going to be set up to fail.
Kevin was up in plenty of time to shower and dig out a clean tee shirt and some not quite as clean jeans. He even brushed his hair in a half hearted attempt to smarten up for his first day at the shop. Even with his arrogance, Kevin couldn’t shift the fluttering feeling in his stomache at the thought of being confronted by one of his victims. He glanced around the unkempt bed sit which was becoming more unkempt by the day since his girlfriend had moved out the shortly after his last arrest. Her parting words “my mother told me that your family were all losers and now you’ve proved her f*****g right!” Still smarted. Kevin checked that he had the key in his bomber jacket pocket and pulled the door closed.
The shop was two bus rides away in the leafy and monied old town. The designer bus shelter offered no protection from the elements and the icy November wind carried fine droplets of rain that stung his cheeks. He was glad when the bus arrived and went straight to the back seat to get the comforting slightly diesel smelling warmth from the heater. It was just gone half seven. ‘I haven’t been up at this time since school’ thought Kevin as he rested his forehead against the steamed up window.
Kevin’s forehead smacked off the window jolting him awake. A shout came from the cyclist who the bus driver had almost killed as he pulled out from the last stop before the bus station “Arsehole!” Kevin forgot where he was for a moment then he remembered when he got that familiar feeling back in his stomache and as he sat up straight he also realised that he needed to pee. ‘Probably nerves’ but he made a note to pop into the gents at the station.
The double decker lurched into bus station and pulled into the stand at the far end of the concourse. Kevin watched with the driver as a pale looking girl struggled off the bus with a folded pushchair and an unimpressed looking toddler. As she blocked everyone’s exit while she assembled the buggy, Kevin noticed the no 6 bus two stands down which was the bus he needed. He managed to get past the buggy and checked his watch as he walked towards the bus. Just gone five past. Plenty of time. He headed off towards the toilets which were halfway down the concourse next to WH Smith. As he was passing the no 6 started up its engine. Kevin walked up to the open front doors “what time you leaving?” Without looking up from his paper the driver replied “now”. Kevin glanced towards the concourse “what times the next one?”. This time the driver actually raised his head. Not to look at Kevin, but to check the monitor to see what the school kids upstairs were doing “every 20 minutes”. Shit! That would make him late. The driver finally deigned to look at Kevin. “You a bus spotter or are you actually getting on?” Kevin got on and flung his handful of coins into the slot “quay street”.
As he got off the bus at the start of quay street, Kevin still had 5 or 6 minutes before he had to be at the shop a couple of hundred yards down the cobbled lane. He wondered if there was a public toilet or a MacDonalds around. It had been dark the last time he was here! He glanced around and saw a collection of boutique style accessory shops. The was a tea room but it was well shut. He felt another twinge. ‘What’s up with me. It’s a shop. It’s got a f*****g toilet!’
The blinds were down in both the window and the glass panelled door. Kevin walked down the path between the side of the shop and the stream and found a side door. And knocked.
From the front upper floor window, Donald had seen Kevin get off the bus and had noted his furtive glances up and down the street and had a pretty good idea what he was looking for. He thought about changing his plans for the morning then thought better of it. Best that we stick to what we decided. Still, he could use the lads predicament to reinforce his message and to find out how difficult it was going to be get total compliance from the ex burglar.
“Come in. It’s open” Kevin pushed open the door and walked into the shops back room. Part shop area and part workshop and storage. Donald was standing on the bottom step of the staircase that partially divided the shop into two halves. There was a moments silence before Donald spoke “glad to be back lad?”. Kevin stuttered “I’m sorry..look mr..I didn’t..” “You can call me sir. I think that’s appropriate in the circumstances don’t you?” A ripple of fear passed through Kevin as memories of school teachers, policemen and borstal staff flashed before him. “I suppose” mumbled Kevin. “You suppose what?” Kevin blinked like a deer in the headlights. Donald’s voice softened slightly “you suppose so Sir or yes sir would have been more correct” he walked down to meet Kevin and led him to the old pine table that was stacked with all manner of old books and ornaments and motioned for him to sit.
“Now if this arrangement is going to be entirely to my satisfaction. And you are here to satisfy me that you serve out your term of punishment..” Donald saw Kevin’s mouth twitch slightly. “Oh yes it is punishment Kevin. Punishment for damaging my property and for attempting to take from me the objects that I have worked hard to pay for” Donald let the word punishment hang in the air for a moment and was pleased to see Kevin’s thighs clamped tightly together. The little thief knew that this was just the start of a lecture. A long lecture that he was just going to have to sit there and take and no matter how badly he longed to relieve his swollen bladder, there was no way he was going to ask if he could use the toilet.
“Don’t look so serious! It’s not all bad. For instance, we start the day with tea and that can be your first job. There’s a kitchen through there. You’ll find a teapot and tea bags and everything else you need on the side”