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Something to Think About
- What theme or themes did “Not a Proper Job” have?
- What might Sheila’s Grandma say if she understood Sheila’s line of work?
- What famous story or character does Sheila remind you of?
- Who do you imagine Sheila’s employer is?
“Not a Proper Job” by Philip Cumberland
The guided bus was an unusual getaway vehicle, but it had served Sheila well in the past.
It’s their vanity that makes them vulnerable, she thought. What dignitary full of their importance could refuse an honorary doctorate from one of the World’s leading universities?
“More wine Mr. Ambulant? Yes, the glass is a bit dirty I will fetch you a clean one, it was the Chardonnay, wasn’t it?”
Fortunately, Sheila was in the kitchen and nowhere near Mr. Ambulant when he collapsed. When they all rushed to see what was happening, she was in the ladies’ room, changing out of the waitress’s uniform into jeans and a tee-shirt. Nipping out through the Masters Garden was a bit naughty really but not as naughty as poisoning someone. Thank goodness for the tourists. It was easy to get swallowed up by the crowds.
The bus was waiting in its bay when she arrived at Drummer Street. Some of those academics can be a bit handy when a girl is carrying a tray of drinks, in a fairly short skirt. Women were the worst.
Had she been missed yet? The thought crossed her mind.
The Park and Ride is very useful, you can park for free, get into the middle of Cambridge then back to pick your car up. The luggage lockers are useful too; the jiffy bag was waiting for her in one. Sheila would check its contents later; no doubt instructions for the next job were in there too.
The policemen standing waiting by her car were a surprise. She noticed them as she closed the locker door. It is always sensible to park near the bus shelter. Fortunately, the bus was still waiting to move on, she climbed back on flashed her day rider ticket at the driver, and found a seat next to the emergency exit. As she left the bus at Huntingdon, she thought it was always good to have a plan B. Her backup, an elderly Renault Clio was inconspicuous and could be left anywhere without arousing suspicion provided there were no yellow lines or parking restrictions.
She drove to her cottage in nearby Wistow. It wasn’t her main address but somewhere out of the way when life got complicated. With a wry smile on her face, she opened the Chardonnay, poured herself a glass, and reached for the Jiffy bag. Inside was a few hundred in twenty and ten-pound notes for expenses, the lottery ticket was there too. The photograph of her next target was a bit of a surprise. He was nasty and odious enough but well connected.
He must have really upset someone, Sheila thought, and then she remembered a story, well a rumour of a story, which would explain it. No matter how big a bully you are, there is always someone bigger and nastier.
Right, London on Monday to claim her lottery prize and perhaps a call to Grandmother. The Sunday papers headlined Ambulant’s sudden death, a heart attack was the suspected cause, hopefully; the college had secured the endowment before his demise.
Sunday passed quietly. It was the eleven-thirty train from Huntingdon on Monday that delivered Sheila to Kings Cross.
About Philip Cumberland
Now retired, I have been living and working in the Cambridgeshire Fens for most of my life. Blacksmithing and wrought ironwork started as a hobby and became my profession, I have been involved in engineering in various forms all my working life.
Making things for the garden is not only an outlet for my artistic creativity but it also helps others, garden designers, and gardeners realise theirs. I am conscious that what I create, although satisfying to me, in itself, will only be complete as an object when it is in place, within its’ final setting.
Since retiring, I have joined my local University of the Third Age branch (U3A). One of the groups I belong to is Whittlesey Wordsmiths, a creative writing group. Together as a group, we have published two anthologies of our work, Where the Wild Winds Blow and A Following Wind.
Other members have been encouraged to publish their own books to see what is available from them click here: Whittlesey Wordsmiths Books
You may notice a book title on the page, Killing Time in Cambridge. With the help and encouragement of the group, I have completed my first novel.
Please take some time to check out Philip’s blog and social media presence.
Thank you, Philip, for contributing to Story Chat. Philip is the fourth author from Whittlesey Wordsmiths writing group to be published in Story Chat.
Now it’s your turn.
Did this story strike a chord in you? Like all our authors here, Philip loves writing and values your honest and kind feedback on his story. Story Chat is a place for more than “Nice story, Phil.” Mention specifics that you liked and questions you would like to ask him. Raise controversial issues and writing suggestions with care and compassion for the author who bravely submits their work for our appraisal.