by Rae Cod
‘I heard he used the cash to buy a boat, called her Dignity,’ said Dave, taking a sip of his second pint of the evening.
‘Who told you that one?’ said Carl laughing as he made his way over from the bar to join them, ‘Deacon Blue?’
Dave looked puzzled for a second as John and Deborah laughed and the penny dropped.
‘It could still be true,’ he protested, ‘got any better ideas?’
Carl shrugged, ‘If it was me, I’d buy a huge island somewhere sunny, build a mansion where no one could find me.’
‘He was only collecting the parking money for twenty-five years,’ said Deborah, ‘not sure he’d have quite enough for that.’
‘Go on then Carole Vorderman,’ said John, how much did he get away with?
Deborah’s expression went blank for a few seconds as she retreated inside her head, lips moving silently as she calculated, ‘about seven million pounds, give or take,’ she concluded.
Carl whistled and they all sipped their drinks in silent contemplation for a few moments, while their imaginations went on a spending spree.
‘Course, it’s robbery, s’what it is,’ said Dave, ‘he should give it all back.’
‘How could he possibly do that?’ asked Deborah incredulously.
‘Why would he possibly do that?’ added John, ‘Good on him I say, ten out of ten for creativity.’
‘Entrepreneurship at its best,’ nodded Carl.
‘What I don’t get,’ said Dave, ‘is how come he was never found out?’
‘Simple lack of curiosity,’ said Deborah, ‘the museum thought he was collecting for the council and the council thought he was collecting for the museum. No one thought to check until he didn’t turn up for work one day. Then, poof! He’d vanished, like a ghost.’
‘You’re awfully quiet there, Matt’ said John, suddenly conscious of not excluding the newcomer, ‘what do you think he did with the money?’
‘Maybe he gave it to charity,’ shrugged Matt, as he drained the last of his pint and everyone laughed.
‘Good one,’ said Carl, ‘imagine getting all that money and then just giving it away!’
Matt laughed along with them. ‘Yeah imagine. He’s probably sunning himself on a beach somewhere. Now, what’s everyone drinking?’ he asked as he rose from his seat, ‘It’s my round, a thank you for welcoming me to the island.’
‘Look at you, Mr Flush,’ said Dave genially, ‘thanks very much.’ Everyone voiced their thanks as Matt made his way to the bar with the drinks order.
‘What a nice guy,’ said Deborah, ‘What’s brought him all the way out here, anyway?’
‘Work, I think,’ said John, ‘said it dried up on the mainland and apparently there’s lots of opportunities here when the summer crowds come in.’
‘What does he do?’ asked Dave.
‘Not sure,’ said Carl, ‘hey Matt! Whatdaya do for work?’ Carl shouted across the bar.
Matt turned, ‘Me?’ he said, his expression so innocent the others thought they must have imagined the ghost of amusement that flickered across his face, ‘I’m a car park attendant.