The old homeless man walked up to the door of the Witchery, one of the most lavish restaurants in Edinburgh. He didn’t look like the normal customer here. His clothes were old, torn and filthy. His beard and long hair, dirty, grey and matted.
Nobody stopped him. Nobody even noticed him arrive and walk towards the private dining room.
He arrived at the door and entered. Two people looked up. They all nodded a greeting as the man sat.
To his left a young woman wearing a tracksuit and too much makeup. Her long, badly bleached hair tied into a shabby ponytail at the top of her head. She reeked of cheap perfume. She chewed her gum and toyed with the cutlery.
In front of him a younger man. Luxurious oiled beard well dressed in a waistcoat and expensive jeans. He was reading a book “Introduction to Jung”.
The homeless man sat and glanced around the room. There were staff around the small room. Standing to attention with a familiar glazed look on their face. Clockwork toys waiting to be wound.
“She’s not arrived then?” He asked to the room at large.
The young woman stopped her fidgeting for a moment, “I don’t see why we even have to wait. I mean why here?” She whined.
The young man put down his book with a sigh, “you know why. The Royal Mile is neutral and it’s where she said to meet. She’s in charge so she decides where we meet”
Deflated the young woman went back to her irregular movement. The old man knew she was coming down off something. He said nothing but sat in a resigned and dignified silence.
Time passed to the tipping point of rudeness and then she arrived.
She was in her forties, well dressed, coiffed and manicured. She obviously thought herself to be more elegant than she was but still walked with her head held high.
As she sat the staff moved bringing food, filling glasses and snapping napkins.
“You’re late” said the old man.
“Oh, my dear but so fashionably and you know that” she replied in her high-toned nasal voice.
The young woman started eating the moment food was in front of her. Everyone watched until she stopped and put down her fork.
The older woman lifted her glass “To our annual gathering” they toasted then ate in silence.
Five courses and copious small talk and sullen silence later the coffee was served, and the staff withdrew.
The old man looked into his cup deep in his thoughts.
“It’s time for a change in management” he said eventually.
The older woman stopped mid sip. She’d been slapped in a way that was unexpected.
“And why do you say that m’deer?” attempting to remain calm and level.
“You know why. Things are changing and not for the better. You’re becoming weak and irrelevant. Soon you won’t be able to command things the way you do now”
“And you think that your paltry junkie friend is going to be of any use to you?”
The young woman looked disgusted at the statement. She wanted to stab the older woman but was bound by rules as old as the city. The younger man smirked at her.
“Oh, and you’d be much fucking use eh?” spat back the old man to his young counterpart.
The older lady sat back in her chair with a smug grin. “It seems that we’re at an impasse. As by the rules I remain in my position until next year”
The old man started laughing. Steps approached that caused a silence to fall. Everyone turned their head to the door.
In walked a beautiful lady, her skin the colour of coffee, her hair in a long dark braid. She wore a saffron coloured dress.
They watched as she walked to the table and sat down. A cup of coffee appeared in front of her.
“Now” she said, stirring her cup, “it would seem we are at an impasse”