12th May


‘Right, William, trolley duty,’ Kev said. ‘There’s dozens of them all over the car park. Folk can’t get parked.’

William was not happy, but then he never was. ‘How’s it always me that has to do the trolleys?’

‘Two reasons,’ Kev told him. ‘One, because I’m telling you. Two, because you’re the best at rounding them up. You’re like a cowboy out on the range. Away you go and enjoy the sunshine.’

‘It’s chucking it down,’ William said.

‘Aw, so it is. Here.’ Kev handed him a yellow visibility jacket. ‘Better stick this on. Don’t want you being knocked over by mistake, do we?’

He had that nasty smile on his face, the one that told William he was paying for something. He had plenty of time to think about what, as he collected stray trolleys, shunted them together, then manoeuvred them in long, rattling serpents down to the store entrance. As fast as he collected, which wasn’t that fast, shoppers wheeled their purchases out to their cars and abandoned the trolleys again. Because it was raining they were being even more thoughtless than usual.

William had been sent out because he’d seen what was going on between Kev and Joan, one of the floor walkers. Joan was engaged to Bob on the fresh-fish counter, but William could see there was a wee thing happening between Joan and Kev. They kept meeting in the home-entertainment aisles, where the fewest people were. William was collecting boxes and cardboard, he saw the way they were together. But Kev had clocked him watching them and he didn’t like it. He’d liked it even less when he saw William heading down to the fish counter. In seconds he’d cut him off at the fruit and veg. ‘Right, William, trolley duty.’

The rain was getting worse. As soon as he’d got the next batch of trolleys up to the store, William was going to speak to Bob. ‘How are you and Joan these days?’ he would say. ‘She’s a fine-looking woman, Bob, and I’m not the only one who thinks so.’ That ought to do it. Bob wasn’t daft.

One more round of the car park, then he’d go in.

Reader: Tam Dean Burn
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Piano: Kit Downes
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