Eastern Standard Tribe – Day 63 of 64

Lester chuckled wryly. “Still a clever bastard. You look like you’re having some hard times, my old son. Maybe that you’re not even worth robbing, eh?”

“Right. I’m skint. Sorry. Nice running into you, now I must be going.” He tried to pull away, but Lester’s fingers dug into his biceps, emphatically, painfully.

“Hear you ran into Tom, led him a merry chase. You know, I spent a whole week in the nick on account of you.”

Art jerked his arm again, without effect. “You tried to rob me, Les. You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, all right? Now let me go—I’ve got a train to catch.”

“Holidays? How sweet. Thought you were broke, though?”

A motorized scooter pulled up in the kerb lane beside them. It was piloted by a smart young policewoman with a silly foam helmet and outsized pads on her knees and elbows. She looked like the kid with the safety-obsessed mom who inflicts criminally dorky fashions on her daughter, making her the neighborhood laughingstock.

“Everything all right, gentlemen?”

Lester’s eyes closed, and he sighed a put-upon sigh that was halfway to a groan.

“Oh, yes, officer,” Art said. “Peter and I were just making some plans to see our auntie for supper tonight.”

Lester opened his eyes, then the corners of his mouth incremented upwards. “Yeah,” he said. “‘Sright. Cousin Alphonse is here all the way from Canada and Auntie’s mad to cook him a proper English meal.”

The policewoman sized them up, then shook her head. “Sir, begging your pardon, but I must tell you that we have clubs in London where a gentleman such as yourself can find a young companion, legally. We thoroughly discourage making such arrangements on the High Street. Just a word to the wise, all right?”

Art blushed to his eartips. “Thank you, Officer,” he said with a weak smile. “I’ll keep that in mind.”

The constable gave Lester a hard look, then revved her scooter and pulled into traffic, her arm slicing the air in a sharp turn signal.

“Well,” Lester said, once she was on the roundabout, “Alphonse, seems like you’ve got reason to avoid the law, too.”

“Can’t we just call it even? I did you a favor with the law, you leave me be?”

“Oh, I don’t know. P’raps I should put in a call to our friend PC McGivens. He already thinks you’re a dreadful tosser—if you’ve reason to avoid the law, McGivens’d be bad news indeed. And the police pay very well for the right information. I’m a little financially embarrassed, me, just at this moment.”

“All right,” Art said. “Fine. How about this: I will pay you 800 Euros, which I will withdraw from an InstaBank once I’ve got my ticket for the Chunnel train to Calais in hand and am ready to get onto the platform. I’ve got all of fifteen quid in my pocket right now. Take my wallet and you’ll have cabfare home. Accompany me to the train and you’ll get a month’s rent, which is more than the police’ll give you.”

“Oh, you’re a villain, you are. What is it that the police will want to talk to you about, then? I wouldn’t want to be aiding and abetting a real criminal—could mean trouble.”

“I beat the piss out of my coworker, Lester. Now, can we go? There’s a plane in Paris I’m hoping to catch.”

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