I hate glass rooms, and I especially hated this one. If you’ve sand on your shoes, you make this awful scratching noise, and everyone in the room will roll their head at you and look you up and down - and you always remember just at that instant your jacket is riding up on your arse, so you look like you a complete idiot.
Anyway, sitting down with this chap, he tells me they’ve run out of money.
“You can’t be serious!” I hiss, everyone knows where I’m from, some people at the other end of the room near the piano have cleared off. Y’know that annoys me as well. Just because some big wig sent me down to your favourite restaurant at four in the afternoon while you’re trying to avoid your wife doesn’t mean you have to engage in some kind of private protest because I’ve suddenly invaded your private time.
Charlie puts a manila folder in my hands. “We need it,” he looks out the window now. “The first army’s been decimated.”
“But I thought we won that one,” I’m taking off my hat now, this is going to take a while.
“Yes, yes!” Quite a tone this one has. Everyone seems to forget I’ve been talking to people about the war all day! Anyway he goes on: “All the men and women jumped out of the trenches and ran for the landship, but the landship had listed too close to the mouth of the ravine, y’see? They all arrived far, far too early in the battle to be effective, and most of them were gunned down on the spot, running around looking for cover that just wasn’t there.”
“You want more money or more men?”
“Money, men’s none of your business, Mallow.”
“For what, then? Couldn’t you have just picked up all the guns and melted down whatever steel that blessed moving castle was made out of?”
“Roggs, there’s another twelve landships, man! We’ve got to topple another dozen moving cities before this is over, and The Minister wants more of your money.”
I was looking out the window now. ‘I’m going to be ruined!’ I said to myself. I know how The Minister works, he’s the quietest soul you’ll ever meet in person, but turn your back to walk out the door and he’s got dogs and cars and men chasing after you faster than you can eat your breakfast.
“You’re going to take it from me whether you get a yes or a no, aren’t you?”
“Sign here, Roggs, I don’t like doing this either.”