According to Blue Pearl Investment Management’s vastly interconnected computations, Kenny sovereign – self-proclaimed mayor of Mockerton, landlord of the Sovereigns pub, proprietor of Sovereign’s cars a’bargain and lead singer of Kenny Sovereign and the Go Hards – was a grade A, titanium coated, two spits to the wind, asshole.
It hadn’t always been so – when the markets dove deeper than a beaked whale, Kenny’s money had popped and bobbed Blue Pearl to safety. Kenny was square on the donut list.
Then came the call. I’m moving my money he’d said, I’m doing something down here, for the community.
Fucking community snarled Gerald – VP, son of MD, and the tantrum rippled out, accruing significance until it reached Duggan – the best asshole wrangler in the business.
Not officially – officially Duggan was an Asset Intermediary. But everyone knew, from the cleaner up, when an asshole needed wrangling, you called for Duggan.
Didn’t smoke, didn’t drink, ran before breakfast. Only one year out of college, Duggan could have done anything. But he had this knack for manipulation and control and there were always so many assholes.
Two days later, Duggan tottered out of Blue Pearl’s strategy pod like a new born foal – new shoes for tough clients: a superstition. He had others, his mother’s scarf, his father’s watch, a feather he’d found on a fallen gravestone. They kept him calm, focused him – everyone hated Kenny, Duggan couldn’t. Rule 1: never hate the client, especially if they’re hateful.
They’d arranged to meet at an ice cream parlour – just past the parish pump, Kenny had said. Parish pump – Duggan liked that. He relaxed – compared to other jobs he’d worked, this one felt like a holiday.
The journey was long but the views bucolic and Duggan arrived at Mockerton in good spirits. The village was small and intricate, wound in on its self. Blue washed cottages and deep green lawns. Veils of ivy and tiny lanes converging on a pond – the heart of the village – surrounded by a pub, a restaurant, a smattering of shops, all emblazoned with Kenny’s name. As Duggan passed, eyes peered out.
He parked up and found Kenny in the parlour, sitting alone, sipping from an espresso cup, his filthy boots resting on table cloth.
“So what can we do,” said Duggan, sitting.
“Seems you don’t want me bringing my money down here, helping out all these good people.”
Duggan was already ahead. Whatever the question he knew the answer. He paced and spun, constructing in the parlour’s cool air, the perfect home for all of Kenny’s boundless desires.
“We’re all looking for that place,” said Duggan.
“I’ve seen them on trains, at restaurants, heard them in taxis. Mistakes.”
“And hindsight is a terrible thing.”
“Would you do me a favour please?” said Kenny, pointing.
Dugan stood, continuing to talk until Kenny raised a hand. “Enough, we’re done. You got me,” he said and walking behind the counter, unplugged the ice machine. The temperature rose a couple of degrees and Duggan felt the urge to pee.
“A good day,” said Kenny, “despite the season.”
” A good day,” agreed Duggan, running a hand down his aching back. Tonight, he’d open a beer, maybe two. He’d earned it.
“See you tomorrow,” said Kenny, “and don’t be late.”
“No chance,” said Duggan, hanging up his apron and turning off the parlour lights.
GJ Hart currently lives and works in London and has had stories published in The Molotov Cocktail, The Jersey Devil Press, The Harpoon Review, and others. He can be found arguing with himself over @gj_hart.