Short story 23

Michael de Boise was a very good chess player. He had just beaten his girlfriend, Jane, when George arrived. Jane shared a flat with George’s friend Pamela, on the edge of Parliament Hill. “Do you play? How about a game?” said Michael as he set out the pieces. Much to both their surprise, George beat him.

“You’re no fool are you? We must have a drink some time Give me a ring. I’m staying here so you know the number.”

They met up and went down to Portabella Road,  and had a drink in the X. As they walked along the road between the stalls everybody seemed to know Michael   and were very friendly towards him. They showed him photographs and asked him about their council rates

It was a month later when George got a call from Michael and they met for Michael to take him to the Dorchester for lunch with some friends.

The head waiter, who met them at the entrance to the dining room stopped them. “I am afraid you have to wear a tie to come in here. I’m sorry sir,“ he said to Michael.

“But I’m meeting friends for lunch.”

“Well we keep a spare supply for just such occasions.” He beckoned to a waiter, who rushed off and returned with the necessary garment. Michael made a feeble attempt at a knot and they entered.

“What’s that crazy thing you’ve got round your neck? Take it off!” Beatrice, one of the guests that was waiting for them exclaimed.

A waiter approached but seeing the scowl on Beatrice’s face, he quickly retreated.

This is James Colson, a friend and business partner, and this is Beatrice, my girlfriend. George looked at Beatrice and was puzzled but he shook hands and sat down, Beatrice turned out to be a very aggressive, self assured Newyouker.

They ordered lunch; much more than George was used to and then they got down to what was obviously the purpose of the meeting.

“We have a friend, a young girl who is very attractive, but rather isolated and lonely. We thought we might introduce you to her and you could cheer her up.”

“What me?”

“Yes. I am sure she would like to meet an attractive young man. She is the daughter of a high court judge, and he keeps guarded. She sees very few people of her own age, only his fogies. We’d like to introduce you..”

Another couple of weeks passed and George was invited to Beatrice’s flat where George was introduced to an aatraactive, but quiet young girl. They drank and had nibbles. It was indeed a pleasant evening. However the girl suddenly realised it was late, so they called a taxi to take her home.

“She’s a nice girl isn’t she?”said Beatrice turning to George.

“Yes. Very.”

“Why don’t you get to know her, and perhaps propose to her?”


“You’d have a very nice life. Her father is very rich.”

“Riches have nothing to do with it. I already have a girlfriend!” He looked at Michael, who nodded..

“You could still see your girlfriend.”

George thought of Jane who shared Pamela’s flat.He then suddenly remembered where he had seen the name James Coulson before. There had been a scandal in all the newspapers, where a chinless wonder had run off to Gretner Green with the daughter of a judge, and had only been stopped at the last minute.

As George drove home he diverted to drive past his girlfriend’s house.

Michael was very good company so George often met up with him for a drink.

“Can you come round to pamela’s flat next Friday? We are trying to get a project off the ground and we’d like you to be part of it.”

On the appointed Friday George arrived at the flat to find a fairly large group of very distinguished looking men and woment waiting there.

Michael took the chair, “Now we are going to set up an open university where young people can study at a high level who have not had advantages which enabled them to get qualifications to go to university. It will be free and open all who wish to study. We are going to call it Project Sigma.”

Every nodded agreement.

“It has been long ovedew”

“It is what society needs.”

“Knowledge should no loger be the  perogative of the privileged few”

Michael again brought the group to order, “That is agreed then. We need aa structure and I propose James here should be our chairman.”

They all nodded in agreement.

“And I suggest George here should be our financial adviser.”

“Who is George and does he have any financial experience?”

Michael answered with a long diatribe of this man George, who was obviously a financial wizard. Michael did not recognise him. Nevertheless the company agreed.

“I have already got promises of socially minded companies for contributions to our starting up funds.

 “I would like to put myself forward as the co-ordinater and treasurer,” continued Michael.

“Why yes of course.”

They all had a drink and they all left. Before you could hear the last of them going down the stairs, Michael turned to James an George, “Now how do we carve this lot up?”

George was beginning to feel a bit uneasy about Michael when he got a phone call from him. “WE’ve been given a fish and chip shop in X for our headquarters and a gtoup of volunteers are going across to clear out the cooking gear and clean it up. Are you coming?”

There was quite a large crowd of volenteers at the shop getting out the oil vats and scrubbing the floor when a well known beat poet turned up with a bevy of accolades who retired to the upstairs room and held court. The smell of pot drifted down the stairs. They ignore it, with a bit of apprehension.

“Where’s Michael? Shouldn’t he be here?”

James offered an excuse. “I think he is seeing someone to raise funds.”

At this point a respectable looking businessman arrived. “I have come to view the office premises advertised in the Evening Standard.”

“Office premices?”

“Yes look. This is number 27, isn’t it?”

At this point George made his excuses and left.

A year or so later Michael read in the newspapers that Michael had  set himself up as Michael X, leader of the Black Muslims in Britain.

It was not much longer after that that George read that he had fled the country with the police, several banks and a lot of women after him.

The last George heard of him was that he had been hung for murder in Trinidad.


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Thank you, Keith Beal