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4 - Appointment Part 3

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“Quite the bowler,” said Jay from somewhere to Jo’s right.

“With a coiled spring for an arm,” Jo winced, looking at his rouge emblazoned palm. “Would have taken my head off, the - Hang on - where is he?”

“Half-way home I suspect,” said Jay, sitting back on his chair. “Went through the doorway like a gazelle.”

“Not like this he can’t,” said Jo through clenched teeth and clenched, then unclenched, palm.

“Afraid so, Jones,” said a new voice. Or rather, a familiar one that should be downstairs in the reception.

“What did you do to him? Ten degrees paler at the least when he passed by.”

“I haven’t done a thing,” said Jo. “If anyone set him off it was Pirate-Stand-in Number Three.”

“What did I do?” said Jay, adjusting his bandanna tails.

“Sounds warmer than steam from a boiling pan didn’t help.”

“It was a kettle.”

“Same trigger.”

“I take it a potential job has just gone out the door,” said the Voice, complete with a screen like a rayed sun.

“Oh, we’ve got one alright, Recept,” said Jay, adjusting one of his satin waist sashes. “Although Jo thinks the Insure won’t be too happy about the goods.”

“Sounds like you wanted this job all along,” said Jo, shoving sand from his sleeves.

“And how many times have I said not to call me Recept, James,” the Sun disk said as the face of the violet-haired lady from downstairs crystallised into it.

“But you don’t want me to call you Suze,” said Jay, raising his hands. “Remembering what you did to Jo the last time still makes me shudder.”

“That was you again,” said Jo, dusting off the front panel to his trousers. “Patchwork knows how many times you hit the pendulum and I get the backlash.”

“It’s Suzé, James. Suzé. It’s like if I were to call you Altan.”

“You said you wouldn’t call me that…” Jay whispered.

“Not quite as chipper when the sil-heels are on the other foot,” Jo stifled a yawn.

“You also agreed not to call me that,” Jay continued.

“I haven’t called you that name. Although I can’t understand why - Altan sound’s wonderful.”

“Like Glandon...”

The pendant returned to the sand, coupled with an azure glint in Jo’s upswept-lashed eyes.

“Oh no,” the solar face said, coming between the pair. “We’re not having another punch-kick-up. It’s codenames for you two and Suzé for me. Write them down on a piece of paper if it’s better for you, James.”

“If I apologise can I give it a miss?” said Jay, sitting on the lounger. “It’s like I’m back in school with Mr Jungle.”

Jo and Sun-disk-Suzé both looked at him.

“Didn’t your teachers have unusual names?” Jay continued. “It’s how I learned about natural features.”

“Like Miss Prairie and Lady Spa-Town,” said Jo.

“…How did you know about…them?”

“He doesn’t,” said Sun-disk-Suzé, glancing at a staring Jo. “But if you do say sorry, do you really mean it.”

“And would you agree to a forfeit,” Jo added, retrieving the pendant. “Plus, accept that your comment set Mr Martens off.”

“I apologise for both utterances,” said Jay, getting back up and flowing into a bow. “And I might have gone a little towards the Equator with the heat remark.”

“Accepted,” said Sun-disk-Suzé, floating over to where Jo was holding the pendant. “Hmm, you were right to want to delay acceptance, Jo. The Insure might get queasy at this.”

“See, she thinks it’s hot too,” said Jay.

“Delcorf does have something about it,” Sun-disk-Suzé continued. “More like a name than a motto. I can make an enquiry about whether they would cover it.”

“Something I was prepared to do,” said Jo, putting the pendant in a pocket. “Before he nearly took my head off and bolted for Ullista Road,” he added whilst picking up the crystal. “A return of goods is in order.”

“I’m out if that’s what you’re thinking,” said Jay, leaning back on the lounger and tapping to a new phase of melody. “Some of us are in need of a light repose.”

“Wasn’t going to get in the way of you and your music,” said Jo, placing the crystal in a pocket after the notes of ‘transfer complete’. “Is there enough time for me to make a drop-off, Suzé?”

“If Montarion hasn’t organised any more surprises, Mr Mergensa was meant to be the last.”

“What, the Goosander,” said Jay sitting up. “I thought we’d finished his predicament.”

“Was the last,” Sun-disk-Suzé continued. “Cancelled only moments ago; something to do with a sit-down and clear-the-air appointment with Mr Mallard.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea?” said Jo. “He nearly took a shovel to him the last time.”

“That was Misses’ Pintail and Shoveler, and the item involved was a baseball bat.”

“How can I forget,” said Jay. “It was me between Miss Pintail and the bat.”

“Who both sound like more of your teachers, Jay,” said Jo.

“In any case, the window is wide, sunny and open if you wish to make a return,” said Sun-disk-Suzé. “Plus I can ask the Insure about the pendant.”

“Up to you, Suzé,” said Jo, walking toward the doorway. “But it’s going back to Martens-truly, where he can keep the heat to himself.”

“Hang on,” said Jay, “what kind of surnames did your teachers have at school?”
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