Somehow, I managed to miss the beginning of ‘Timony Souler’s new writing challenge, #DearValentine. But although I’m too late to sign up properly, I only missed the posting date of the first prompt by a day, so I decided to participate anyway. This week’s prompt was: a note, a photograph, the docks.
It’s all that anyone in the office can talk about, unsurprisingly really. Why on earth would Barry, who wears string vests under his suit jackets, chews with his mouth open, and seems incapable of continuing a conversation for longer than thirty seconds, why would he have a picture of a beautiful woman on his desk?
“Maybe it’s his sister?” Someone suggests, but this suggestion is quickly shot down. How could that gorgeous creature possibly be related to Barry?
“Maybe he’s stalking her.” This whisper spreads across the office, and heads nod in agreement. It can be the only explanation.
Emily, the giggly girl who was hired to be the boss’s assistant, but who seems to do nothing but gossip and dispense phony relationship advice, creeps over to the desk and studies the photograph. “There’s a note on the back!” She announces, as the assembled crowd hold their breath. “I think it’s a love letter!”
There’s a collective gasp, some quiet murmuring, and then someone speaks up. “He probably faked it.” The voice is malicious, it belongs to Roberta in Accounts, who hasn’t had a date in thirty years and probably never will again. “He just wants us to think he has an admirer. Why else would he have left it out there for everyone to see?”
More quiet murmurings. No-one likes Barry, but no-one much likes Roberta either, so they’re reluctant to pick sides.
“Well we’ll soon see.” Emily declares, with the expected giggle. “According to this note, he’s meeting her at the docks tonight. If he comes in looking like the cat that’s got the cream, then we’ll know that it wasn’t made up.”
But Barry doesn’t come into work the next day. In fact, he doesn’t come into work ever again. And when, a few weeks later, the body of a fat man in in a suit jacket and a string vest is pulled out of the water at the docks, the whispering in the office quietens guiltily. Only for a day or two, though.