“Excuse the interruption, Hugh,” he said, “only… Could I ask you to sign this card, and maybe put a little something in the collection?”
“Not another blasted card?” I complained, “What’s this one for? A birthday, someone leaving, somebody’s cat just had kittens? What?” This was becoming tedious. It seems there was at least one card to be signed, with the obligatory collection, every week!
“Nothing like that this time,” Harry said, “Sally here, the site agent’s daughter, has just had confirmation that she is pregnant, so we’re having a bit of a whip-round for her.”
“Aren’t these things supposed to be, you know, secret?”
“Normally, yes, but this is special.”
“Generally, we’d get the father to organise it, but she isn’t sure who the father is.”
I looked at my engineers, Freddy, Henk and Charles, and shrugged. My instinct was to suggest that the girl should have been more careful. I mean, not sure who the father is? Not doesn’t know, but not sure. That suggests it could be any of a number of men. Couldn’t do that though; stupid girl was right in front of me, and she was a pretty young thing. Instead, I took my pen out of its box – my special pen, the one I use for signing completion certificates – and wrote in the card, Congratulations, I hope you find out who the father is and signed it Hugh Humphries. I dug into my pocket, put a handful of coins into the proffered envelope, and handed the card and envelope back to Harry.
“Thanks, Hugh,” he said.
“Ta ever so, Mr ‘umphries,” Sally echoed with a cheery wave, and the two walked off, presumably to see whom they could mug next.
“How come none of you three signed it?” I asked.
The three men regarded each other, fidgeted and looked somewhat sheepishly back to me.
“We… we…” Freddy started.
“We did it at the office before we left,” Charles blurted out, to the obvious delight of Freddy and Henk, who immediately started to nod furiously.
“Dashed curious that the girl’s not sure who the father is,” I thought aloud, “I could understand if she’d been, erm, enjoyed, while she was passed out drunk or something. That would be terrible, of course, and the blighter responsible should be horsewhipped, then castrated, then horsewhipped again; but then she’d say she didn’t know who the father was, and that’s not what she said. She said she’s not sure. Hmmm.”
My three engineers all thrust their hands into their pockets and tried to look nonchalant and unconcerned, but I knew them too well for them to get away with that little ruse.
“Do you three know anything about this business?” I asked.
“What, us? No,” Henk said, followed by, “well, I don’t anyway. Obviously I can’t speak for Freddy or Charles.”
Freddy and Charles shook their heads vigorously and muttered something that I took to be a denial; then Charles spoke.
“There was a party, Boss. At the club, after it closed. A couple of months ago.”
“Who was at this party?” I asked.
“Oh, lots of people.”
“We were there, and Sally.”
“Just the four of you?”
“No,” he rushed to deny, then, “well, yes, actually.”
“And did any of you three gentlemen have sex with Sally at this party?” I asked.
“Yes,” Charles replied, examining his shoes.
Three hands went up.
I wrote this in response to Kreative Kue 37, issued on this site earlier this week. Feel free to join in; just follow the link.