I went for a walk that night. It had become a commonplace lately. Jennifer would come home, we’d eat and then eventually argue about me being out of work. It would get heated, so I’d grab my keys and coat then head up Queens Drive around the park. I liked it because it was a climb, it was quiet and possibly one of the few places I could get peace to think.
The first few times Jenifer and I fought I’d never noticed him there sitting on the low wall. Mostly you got tourists up there, so it wasn’t unusual to see an old man sitting catching his breath even late at night.
Lost in my thoughts I tripped in the dark and fell to the ground. I thought for a few moments, scrambling back to my feet, that I was going to be mugged. Looking around for the first punch I saw the old man sitting on the low water all with the lights of the city behind him. He was readjusting his walking stick.
“You sir need to get out of your own head and enjoy the word around you” he said in a well-educated Edinburgh accent. I stood agog at him.
He patted the wall beside him and indicated I should sit down.
To this day I have no idea why I sat. I should have just just walked on but I sat on the cold damp wall. We sat in silence, my heart returning to normal. We watched the odd person pass by, to head up the hill and get that “perfect night view of Edinburgh”.
The man eventually piped up “So what has you out here this evening?”
“Just needed to clear my head”
“I think your head is quite clear to the point of empty” he chortled.
“Fuck You. You haven’t got a clue about what’s going on with me” I was shocked at my own response.
“Jennifer isn’t for you and you’re not going to get work if you don’t look” he responded with a level tone.
“You need to take the responsibility and own your faults otherwise things will just remain as they were, and you’ll be miserable”
My mouth was open, my eyes looking around to see if there was somebody nearby watching for my response.
“I can help you know”
Finally, I found my voice.
“Who are you and how do you know my girlfriend’s name?”
“I’ve seen you walk past here a number of times and I think you could avail of my service”
I put my sarcasm hat on, “Who are you? Some kind of bizarre job agent eh? Someone who has a fantastic network of corporate clients who could do with an out of work web developer!”
“Well I’m not too sure about that but I do think that I can help you and the cost will be low” his tone remained jovial.
He shifted on his seat. His heavy wool coat probably wasn’t keeping out the increasing cold.
“Right and what would that be Mr Fixer?” I was well into the thinking that this guy was taking the piss and I wasn’t going to let him get away with it.
He was starting to become uncomfortable, something about him started to dislike the situation but he was persevering since he’d started this whole thing.
“I’ll tell you but only if you wish to take me up on my offer”
“Right but you have to tell me who you are are what’s your deal”
He shot a scowl at me, I could see it even in the low light.
“My name is Mr Finn Black” He handed me a hard, it was embellished with silver and gold, a stylised Finn Black on a black background.
“I’ll be in touch” He got up and started to amble down the road the way I’d come.
I woke up the next day I was woken by the door closing. Jennifer going to work. I had no memory of how I’d gotten home.
I wandered to the kitchen to make some coffee and shake the feeling of strangeness that had settled over my head.
Looking around I noticed it. Jennifer had left but not for work. She’d left me. Her things were all gone. I suddenly felt a waver of relief. She was gone and I was alone here in the flat.
We hadn’t been together for that long. I knew I’d get upset later but for now I drank my coffee.
I noticed the card sitting not he kitchen counter. After another cup I pulled it out and looked at it properly. This wasn’t something made on a cheap card website, this was something bespoke and beautiful.
A quick search online got me all the information I needed. Mr Finn Black was not just a millionaire, but he was worth billions. He made his money in shipping but had branched out into so many different industries, shell companies and enterprises that I gave up searching.
Around midday there was a knock on the door. When I opened it, the postman had me sign for a package.
The box was heavy. Inside was a suit, it looked band new and tailored for me. A fresh shirt and a silk tie. Underneath an envelope with me name on it. Inside a letter.
Please attend my offices tomorrow morning. You should wear the suit for your first day of work. Please familiarise yourself with the company policies and procedures.
Underneath a slim elegant laptop.
I opened it and started flicking through the documents on the home screen. I found the office address and all the details I needed.
The next morning, I arrived at the glass fronted building. The lobby was glass and marble which seemed to glow from within.
The women at the desk smiled an impossible smile. She was truly happy at her job. I was ushered into a beautiful office by an assistant. He laughed a little when I sat in front of the desk.
“Sir, this is your office”
He looked at me a smiled again then explained that this was my office and he was my assistant, he wandered off to get coffee.
An hour later while I was settling into things there was a knock on the door.
Mr Black walked in and say down the other side of my expansive desk.
“Oh, my good boy, I’m glad to see you settling in on your first day” He was almost proud.
I couldn’t keep from smiling. “Mr Black, Sir. Thank you so much. I can’t, I don’t know, I just…” I was stumbling over my words.
“Jolly Good, jolly good” He didn’t seem to mind my verbal nonsense.
“So now it comes to sticky part of remuneration”, he closed the door and pulled the blinds.
“What I need you to do is very simple. I want you to show up, work and do your best every day” I nodded vigorously.
He paused, “also, and this is the most important part, you must pay a trip to the crossroads on the full moon, place a coin a piece of bread or some milk. If you do this then you’ll be happy, you’ll be successful”
I was a bit stunned, “what?”
“The crossroads, you need to pay your respects or else these things can go …. wrong”
He stood and left, that was the last time I spoke with him. I thought about it for a while then figured why not?
It’s seven years later, I’m head of GenDex. I’m married, the first kid is on the way. Of course, the house, well I have deliberately bought one at a crossroads. Every summer the wife and I plant flowers, we make sure the council keeps it well repaired and of course we always leave a libation during the full moon.
Occasionally I see an old man with the walking stick wander past, he looks at the flowers, nods, smiles and moves on.