At 9.30am, on a cold Monday morning I stood outside 25 Church Street, Godalming. I generally like to survey the outer shell of a building of which I have a particular interest. I pictured its location correctly but I don’t remember seeing it before and I certainly didn’t remember noticing the business before. I was left to assume that it was a recent venture in the town.The plan of the office felt green with the companies name on glass above some tepid solemn curtains that appeared to stretch rather than hang. I also noticed a small, rather old fashioned looking sign saying ‘situation vacant’ hanging about the doorway giving the impression of neglect and loneliness. I entered.On hearing the sound of the bell above me I directed my vision at a gentleman who stood behind a low dark wooden counter. He held a smirk of droll wit and was grey in colour. He was fashioned by a sturdy dark blue suit, so as to save his comfort. A curt whisper emerged from his thin grey lips.
“Can I help you – sir?” he prolonged. “The job.” I pointed at the vacancy sign. “I’ve come about it.” He held silence for a moment; a power thing I assumed, as he looked at me a touch deeper than I am used to being looked at.“What is your name?” He ordered. “Wesley Burnell, sir.”Once again he paused, seeming to chew while transfixing his gaze rather uncomfortably directly at my eyes. At last movement as he glided around the counter towards me then passed me and continued to the door. I stayed as I was. He locked the door and was in a flit before me, hand out ready for shaking. I naturally obliged. “Shall we” he assumed, directing me toward a separate office at the back of the shop.
We are seated, him one side of a large old wooden desk and I am seated directly opposite. “Do you require a drink?” He smiled.“No thank you, I am fine.” “So be it.” “Okay Mr Burnell, I am Mr Spooner, Mr Alfred Spooner, you will address me; as I prefer, as Mr Spooner. I always think that it is a person’s right to be addressed as they prefer.” “That Mr Burnell is my first step in helping you.” I said nothing. “I need; no, we need, a reliable young person with aims to the positive to help me in the office and in the running of the business. Just some oiling at first but in time, someone to learn of the business and it’s depths.” He gave me a check and then continued.“I know what is what, so I will be the one who will say ‘what’, that is my second step in helping you, is that understood Mr Burnell?” Another check - I nodded to the affirmative. “You will need to be polite, no flouting or history of such things, no ratifying of numerifications alone and in the initial stages you must forefend from any customer relations without me, is that understood?” another check – I nodded again.“Work as I ask, do as I ask, and you will feel; in time, that this meeting; upon hindsight, will be a fond and learned one and that, Mr Burnell, is a third step to your benefit.” He looked at me as if to gain some reassurance to continue. He then put his arm out, palms down upon the desk to indicate it as his property.Next he pointed to his computer screen then in turn to his filing cabinets and drawers until finally waving his hands about the room to once again indicate his property and his domain. I fully understood his gestures but I was baffled by his technique and reasons for it.After a pause he flinched open a drawer and pulled out a paper document and a pen and laid them before me on the desk. “Now Wesley; can I address you as Wesley?” “Yes, Wesley is fine, Mr Spooner.” “Good, now Wesley, if you could complete this document for me, it won’t take a moment then I can look to complete your application, okay?” He glared. “No problem Mr Spooner but I am confused, I don’t know the details of what I am applying for, details of the job?” “On satisfaction of its contents;” he pointed at the document “I will move on to explaining your duties in some detail and what you shall need to know about the companies trading and regulations referring to such.” “I hope that is clear?” I just nodded. “We are traders in time Mr Burnell and have advertised as such, now be so kind as to complete the document.” He stood up, looked at me and then he sat down again.
There I sat with pen in hand, browsing over the document in a rushed daze of confusion. The character opposite did nothing in helping me relax and concentrate. Through the silence I could feel his stare, edging me to start writing.Once my mind clouds had turned to mist, I set about the task of form filling, despite my original trepidation the simplicity of the form was a surprise to me. I turned it over and examined it in search of more questions but there were none. A simple form that just required; full name, date of birth, address and last position. It took me a minute to complete and pass to Mr Spooner who snatched it, turned to face his screen and set about on his computer. He typed the information into the screen, hitting the keys on the board as if to discipline them. Then he sat back, made one last whip of a key and looked at me as if he were about to pass sentence.“Okay, Wesley, satisfaction seems to me to have been underlined.” “Is the position filled Wesley, would you like to take it up?” I thought, I might as well just go for it, I could do with the money. “Yes, when do I start?” “Excellent, start, yes, shall we agree on seven days from now?” I smiled and started mental spending. He waved the back of his hand while nodding. “You shall be seated where you first saw me. It shall be your desk and your area but not your midden.”
After some more tedious dialogue had passed through the lips of Mr Spooner, he went on to explain my part in the strangest trading practice I had ever heard, seen or dreamt of. I received no panoramic view; as promised, but what I was told was enough to continue my confusion whilst creating some clarity on my duties.Nupe & Spooners are traders in time. He explained “people come to Nupe and Spooner, either through the doorway or along the telephone lines with the intention (one would hope) of either buying or selling their own time.” “Most of the people you will encounter are brokers who represent many clients but there will be passing traffic, curious visitors and on occasion voyeurs.” “If their intention is to sell time, they would be passed an application; he held up a green sheet of paper, to be completed, which, you may well observe is similar to the one you completed so expertly for me.” “When the ‘body’ has completed the form, the details are transferred to this computer for verification.” “Is that clear Wesley.” I nodded. Then you will need to enter a code, I will give you the code and demonstrate next Monday, then you can complete the application assuming there is enough credit on their account.” “If there is not enough credit a notification will alert you to the fact by way of a bar across the screen stating ‘insufficient time balance’ which; you may like to know, is very rare.” If the application is a successful transaction, you will pay the client for their time, in cash or bank transfer.” He paused and stared to seek acknowledgment of my understanding. “good, the time purchased will then be transferred to the Nupe & Spooner ‘total active balance fund’ which is then used to sell on to a ‘body’ who desires to purchase more living time.” “Are you with me Wesley?” “Yes Mr Spooner, it all seems straight forward to me.” “It is straight forward Wesley as we have designed it that way but be assured, be very assured that it is only straight forward due to the diligence and hard work of others, which I hope I wont need to remind you of too often.”
My duties in the initial stages will be directed only at those wishing to sell their time. Mr Spooner will concentrate on the selling of time and overseeing the more established clients which consist; so I am told, of a handful of local brokers.The transaction was a simple process which was enhanced by the fact that the purchasing and selling of time has a ‘book’ price not to be wavered from.We would buy and sell time in the following way: Single hours – buy £50 sell £110, 24 hours - buy £1,000 sell £2,500, 1 week - buy £5,000 sell £ 16,000, 26 weeks - buy £65,000 sell £162,500, 1 year - buy £100,000 sell £300,000.I accepted the position with my mind full of contradictions and started as agreed.
During my first few weeks employed at Nupe & Spooner there were some outstanding points that took my notice over everything else. Most notably, there was Mr Spooner, who had appeared eccentric and cold during our first meeting but had advanced that appearance with his actions or lack of actions. He did little to acknowledge my presence and my feelings. He continually closed his office door whenever I paraded within ear shot. He would go out of the office with not even a murmur of his intentions and a lack of in-depth conversation between us was a constant part of my daily working life.“Outside experiences.” He once said. “Are of no interest, unless there is business at the end of it.” I was either corrected or praised for any attempt of adjusting the particular palpable surroundings with conversation or mere sound. Tea and refreshments were just ‘not’ on the agenda and lunch for me, a solitary stroll to the bakers and back. After my first week I gave up asking Mr Spooner if he would like me to purchase something for his lunch while I popped out to get some for myself. I eventually gave up informing him of my intention of popping out, altogether. On one occasion of self-made opportunism, during a quiet spell, I ask Mr Spooner “Is there anything I can do to help?” Completely ignoring the question, he just stood up, invaded my space, pushed his chin out and said “Fey, Fey, we are in a position to make adjustments on request of, surely that is something to help with, is it not?” On one occasion I ask if I would be meeting Mr Nupe at any point. He just started fossicking about with documents before kicking his door shut and returning to his normal habitat.
On the average day there could easily be up to a dozen in house visits. Many were first timers, curious about what we do. The sign outside simple states ‘Nupe and Spooner’ with no hint at the business that goes on behind the door. However we do advertise in a cryptic fashion of sorts plus word gets around in small pockets of the local community. Some would enter as if they were in the possession of kind of curious foible, all stretched and strange in manner. They would search the walls and corners for some information about what could be achieved from a visit. The majority of the time they would avoid eye contact with me until they had exhausted their search for answers. Many ‘bodies’ would retire and invert from where they had come from once they were left with the only option of asking me for help. Those I do speak with often required confirmation of what I had explained as well as a repeat performance. At first I related to the bafflement but after time I started to weary of it and found often; I am not proud to say, of telling them to call back. I transacted the purchase of hourly time from the inquisitive most often during my initial stages of employment. Passing a ‘body’ £50 for an hour of their time was easy, they neither believed that they would lose and hour of their lives or cared if they did. Gradually I gained in enthusiasm and I started to feel great pleasure in my ability to persuade others to sell more than they were originally comfortable with. However, like so much at Nupe & Spooner the novelty started to fade and then disappear almost entirely as my mind wondered towards the dark and hidden depth of the transactions. I was also bored and needed feeding of information feeding of knowledge; any normal person would feel the same. If you don’t stretch your mind a little every now and then, then it can easily start to shrink.
Then one month after my inception, a gentleman of some age and worthy pomp, entered the offices while Mr Spooner was elsewhere. He approached me while directing his eyes towards Mr Spooner’s office, and then with a nod in the same direction he asks. “Is he in?” “No Sir, I am sorry to say he is out at the moment, can I be of assistance?” His manner immediately started to descent from high to low as demonstrated by the fact that the arm sleeves of his jacket appeared to stretch past his hands. “Oh no, oh no, that is not good, that is not good at all, when is he likely to be back, young man.” “I really can’t say sir; he made no mention of it to me.” “What is your name young man?” “Wesley Burnell, sir.” The gentleman’s stare although directed at me seemed to fall just short of its target; there was a clear boundary between his ability to converse and his ability to decipher his own thoughts.I attempted to take some control by raising my voice and smiling with confidence.“I am sure I can help Sir, can you let me know what concerns you?”
“Well Wesley, you see I am in urgent need, I require, urgently to purchase some time for my client and Mr Spooner is the one I deal with, I was told only he and no other can transact on my client’s account?” “Unless, I am wrong and you are in a position to attend to the matter, it is urgent you know.” He spoke with nervous speed and physical agitation fumbling with his words. “Can I ask your name sir?” “Martin Brogue, can you help?” “So you have an account with us Mr Brogue?” “Of course, I have an account here are the details.” With that he handed me a form with the name and the account number which are supplied to brokers. I typed the information into the screen while Mr Brogue paced the floor, the screen informed me that I had no authorised access. “I will call Mr Spooner now sir, I am sure we can resolve this, can you let me know what you need?” Mr Brogue showed some signs of relief at my actions and stopped pacing and replaced it by standing closer and watching me as I held the phone in my hand. “He will know what to do Wesley, just tell him Mr Murphy Hewitt requires a day, just one day, for now, please call him, it is rather urgent.” Thankfully and to the delight of Mr Brogue, Mr Spooner answered without delay. After a few ‘ums’ and ‘ahhs’ Mr Spooner gave me a code ‘9888’ to access the buying portal. I was ordered with firm assurance to only accept cash as the account in question has a history of bobbing on its credit limit.I took the full instruction and inserted it into my confidence by informing Mr Brogue that ‘I can take it from here.’ I proceeded to type the necessary into the purchase portal that; although new to me’ was a very simple set of instructions and directions. Mr Brogue was tasked with purchasing 24 hours of time for Mr Murphy Hewitt a local gentleman of ripe age and good standing. Mr Brogue armed me with the extra detail required for me to complete the process. “Mr Spooner requested that I take only cash from you Mr Brogue, would that cause any difficulty at all?” “Cash, you say, cash only?” “Mr Spooner requests it Sir, I have no influence on the decision.” At that he proceeded to reach into his case in search for the money. “I came prepared Wesley, I assumed Mr Spooner would be a wall, a big unmoveable wall.” He passed me the £2500 required for the transaction, I put it to one side and pressed ‘process’ on the keyboard. “Is it done?” He ask “It is done Mr Brogue.” “Thank you Wesley, thank you.”
I wrote out a receipt for the £2500 and handed it to the much relieved Mr Brogue whose appearance seemed to relax so much I would not have been surprised to see him take a nap there and then. He poked the receipt deep into the inside pocket of his jacket pushing it down hard to be sure of its security before stroking his chin and brushing his sleeves. “Now Wesley, young fellow, do tell me, will Mr Hewitt be alright for Thursday?” I thought for a moment; as the implications of my answer weighed heavy on my brow, before answering. “Thursday will be fine Mr Brogue, Mr Hewitt will still be with us on Thursday.” With that he leaned over to me and took my hand in his while he patted it with his other hand in long drawn out motions that gave me concern, before he muttered “thank you Wesley, you have been marvellous, outstanding stuff, thank you.” Then he left at speed.
After sufficient resting of my mental chords alongside a cup of hot tea, I spent some time in the afternoon searching through files on the database using the code that Mr Spooner had given me. Having been able to see the exact time and date of Mr Hewitt's death aroused my sense of curiosity. I wondered what to do with my new access and at the same times I struggled with the implications of searching for people that I know. What would I do if I could catch sight of the dates of my sister’s ,my brother’s, fathers and mothers death? However the most difficult but fascinating search would be the search for my own information. I kept putting in random names, random dates and places of birth which were needed to match up, to get a correct result, however I had no success. I could get lists of names but nothing else without their dates and place of birth I was searching in the darkness. Then I had an idea, an old friend’s image came to mind and I realised right away that I knew his date and place of birth. I hadn’t spoken to him for many years; I felt detached enough from him to make a search of the data base. I entered the information required and waited for each simple step to flash green. Once the information was complete I only had to press the enter button to reveal the result. I sat somewhat motionless, my heart was looking for an escape from my chest, similar to the way the sweat was escaping from my palms and forehead. Without more delay I hit enter and there it was, clear, bold, unmistakable, the date of his death; reality in numbers seem so much colder than in words. I was lost for expression but my understanding was strangely viable although the terms of my knowledge felt corrupted. My old friend was not due to die for some forty six years but it didn’t stop me from missing him already.
I was up and about pacing the office floor in a flummoxed state of pigue. I only wanted to comprehend all that I knew and learned across a vaster space than my own mind. Empathy neglected me; I felt mortality in my breathing as a temporary visitor for unknown purposes. The thoughts of others waved through my mind; although detached, I didn’t care but I wanted to care as if reality numbed my empathy and drew me towards calculation and fact. My mother, my Father, my friends, all of their faces full and real, where clear to me but still vague in their existence. On one hand it was clear but on the other it was a kind of passim state of thought. Then I began to move towards my position of manipulation and of power. Am I able to rectify and change the life and death of others, of the ones I care about just by the touch of a few buttons? And if so do I want to, do I feel it right to do so? For the very first time I was truly introducing my psyche to my work and the profound implications of the duties to others. I was armed with a cache of deep and dark knowledge that questioned the fraudulent activity of my known reality. I spent a restless night facing up to the facts, facing and meeting many fears, my emotions were draining any real sense of reason. Eventually I slept and dreamt of colours bouncing and clashing in search of a place to rest. When I awoke I decided that I wanted to use my position and power for my own best interests, just how I planned to do that I had not yet decided.
The next day after Mr Spooner’s curtly delivered questions about Mr Brogue and his visit had passed, he decided; as he often did, to close the door to his office with a command of ‘no disturbances and no distractions’ while he set about his business.This left me with an opportunity to start searching the data base again. My nerves found this a good time to show disloyalty to me by presenting all kinds of twitches and shakes. It was in vain though as once I over powered the nerves I was presented with a blank screen. Mr Spooner had clearly de activated my access. It deflated me.Over the next few weeks while I continued my mundane duties of buying small amounts of time off bewildered visitors, I started to search for a new position. The struggle to work in such an environment with no access to information had made my decision for me. My eagerness was oscillating daily as job after job presented low opportunity and even less excitement. Something wasn’t letting me leave. Then there was a change; just as the ink was drying on my latest, artistic and highly creative job application Mr Spooner invited me to lunch. “Wesley, I think it is time we conversed and lunch would be a good companion for both of us, what do you say?” “Yes, that sounds good to me, do you mean now?” “Today Wesley, at 12.30, clients know how to get hold of me if they need to.” I wondered if he has been able to sense my recent mood and concluded upon my plans to leave. “We will leave at 12.30 prompt and we will visit the refectory in Milford.” He said in one of his manufacturing idiom kind of ways.
At the refectory I accepted a drink, without the offer of one, we sat near a window that look across farmland. “Wesley, I am sure you are wondering somewhere in there” he pointed a folk in the direction of my head “as to the reason for this lunch?” I nodded “Yes?” “I am impressed with your progress at Nupe & Spooner, whether a surprise to you or not, I am impressed, therefore Wesley, Nupe & Spooner has decided that it is the right time for you to be given, a little more responsibility.” He laid these words across the table as if he were presenting me with a gift. “Thank you Mr Spooner.” My smile; I believe, offered a genuine reply of pleasure.
I ate while Mr Spooner spoke, for the first time; in my company freely and with an eagerness to impress upon me. It was agreed by him that I would be offered access to most of the clients but with restrictions in place that included the ability to sell no more than three days per transaction per client without his authorisation. He told me ‘not to be rash’ with the information regarding dates and deadlines and to ‘sell before you tell’ which was a cliché I often heard him mutter. “We run our business on a strict regulatory strategy; honesty must stay on the surface at all times.” He laboured on this with a cosmetic philanthropic manner, which he used by accompanying the words with a flutter of pats to his chest. “We are in the honoured position of being one of the most accomplished franchises in the time accountancy space.” “We can extend life and offer hope to those that can afford it, is that not something to be proud of Wesley?” “I agree Mr Spooner, it is something very special.” “You are Wesley Burnell, trader in time a man who can extend a person’s life!” He was looking for something from me an impression of gratefulness or excitement, which I obliged the best way I could and smiled. Whatever I expected I didn’t expect Mr Spooner to sell me at change of heart, a positive direction at the company but he did exactly that.
Over the following months, my access to clients expanded including a deeper insight into the individual brokers and their methods of managing clients. It became, on the whole, a lot more interesting. I started to strike up relationships with Mr Spooner’s brokers, although still at arm’s length, I was able to get enough of an understanding of them to have some influence over their decisions. At that time it was the main fuel for my eagerness and my hunger to learn, however I saw an additional opportunity that would take me somewhere a lot darker – it all started with Mr Tuck.
“Mrs Crinkleton, of Charter square is; I am sad to say, very poorly, she is very poorly indeed Mr Burnell.” Explained a rather worried, Mr Thomas Tuck. “Her friends and Family are all but one, at her side, lining her vision with their support.” “Mrs Crinkleton has decided not to continue her journey any longer as the pain of movement has become over powering these last six months.” The Doctors; who are such marvellous people, don’t you agree, fear that she has passed her time on many occasions and is holding on by the thinnest of threads.”
Thomas Tuck is a man of exaggerated presence; he and his wife manage an ever increasing portfolio of local clients of which Nupe & Spooner have been servicing for many years. His attire is always bright and well fitted and topped off with a hat that sits just a little too high on his large round head. “I am sorry to hear that Mr Tuck.” He made his way to my counter before placing both his hands firmly down to help rest his bulk. “Although Mrs Crinkleton is a lady of wealth, she finds little consolation. She has grown somewhat – tired, the poor thing and feels the relegation to hourly pain a tad more than she can accommodate. I have known her for many years, Mr Burnell, it is a sad business for everyone.” “As regards to the ‘one’ who is missing from her sick bed; through no fault of their own, it has brought around my visit here today.” “You see, brave, courageous Mrs Crickleton has instructed me as her adviser and friend to purchase ‘directly’ three days of extra life. This we are sure will enable the one missing mourner from Mrs Crinkleton’s bed to appear in plenty of time to receive some pressing communication from the great lady.”
Mr Tuck spoke rather jittery, his lips were in immediate need of lubrication and there was such a nervous manner about him that I could help but empathise with him. I had served Mr Tuck on a few occasions recently and on every one of those occasions I have found him to have a seemingly natural gift for humour. So this was very much out of character but I still needed to deal with the matter in hand professionally and so I did exactly that.I collated all of the information required and pulled up Mrs Crickleton’s file to view on screen. The information revealed the fact that Mrs Crickleton had over 24 hours on her account and therefore only 48 hours were needed. I knew that Mr Spooner would have informed Mr Tuck that, 48 hours was all he needed to pay for but I decided not to pass that information. You see, immediately after viewing the screen I directed my eyes at Mr Tuck, on seeing his manner had not changed, I was overcome with a strange feeling which was led by my superior state of mind at that moment.
“Am I on time Mr Burnell, have I faltered?” “No Mr Tuck you haven’t faltered you are indeed on time, but only just.” “Oh thank the existence of coincidence for that. I must say Mr Burnell, I was; as I am sure a man such as yourself would have noticed, rather worried about this one.” “We’ll all is as requested Mr Tuck, you have followed your request.” I entered the expiry date required and pressed enter. “All done Mr Tuck.” “Oh wonderful!” he shouted, while throwing his arms up. “That’s the stuff Wesley, that’s the stuff.” “Now I must inform the poor grave lady and her crew with a nod to the good.” He was almost raining with relief when he dropped on the counter a pad of cash that totalled £7,500 which was the payment due for 72 hours. I purposely decided to neglect writing out a receipt and as his mind was still doing summersaults he didn’t notice my error.He placed his hat back on to his head, gave a nod and left with a “Thank you again, thank you.”
The office was eerily quiet, my breath seemed to hang over the silence, I had a quivering funk deep in my stomach. I glanced at the pile of cash it held my stare but just out of focus. I knew I was going to take it. Somehow it felt too late to change my mind so I counted out £5,000 for the safe and wrote out a receipt for the same, I took the clients copy and put it in my pocket to destroy later. I put the remaining £2,500 into my jacket, fumbling a little as I carried out the crimes of theft and fraud. I placed Mrs Crickleton’s paper file on Mr Spooner’s desk, placed the money in the safe and retreated back to my counter.
I kept going over and over my actions searching for ways in which I could get caught, I concluded every time that the only way of detection was if Mr Tuck returned for the copy of his receipt. I knew that I would have to insist that he gave me £5,000 and not £7,500 but I also knew that my word would hold little water. My nerves kept returning no matter how hard I tried to suppress them. I paced the office from corner to corner hoping that I could walk my nerves away. If a client came into visited the offices at that moment there would be little doubt that I would display a jittery countenance. The money was so hard and heavy upon my chest that it felt sure to rip free at any moment.
As I left to go home that evening I checked and double checked everything. I was looking for anything that gave me away. The phone angle looked suspicious, the chairs were judging me with their stances and the safe had a strange sense of emptiness. As I locked the door for the second time I was sure that I had left my sinful deed floating in the atmosphere of the office like a fog of convicted guilt.
The next morning I sat in the company of a heavy conscience and a pounding heart. I waited with nervous anticipation for the arrival of Mr Spooner. As the door clicked I looked up, Mr Spooner entered the office in his sober manner and presented me with a ‘nod’. He continued to his office without a murmur and proceeded to close his office door with the swift use of his hand. I wondered about his expression, I wasn’t sure if I was seeing it for the first time, reading too much into it through the lenses of my paranoia but his expression gave over that of a man preparing himself to devour and discard another man. As the morning passed I served a couple of passers and took a few telephone enquiries all the while I was watching for Mr Spooner’s door to open. I began willing the door to open, to be called in to decide my fate, anything but this nerves limbo state that I was swimming in. Then I took my lunch and on returning as I entered the office Mr Spooner’s door opened with a stutter. He stood in the door frame with the Crinkelton file in one hand a pen in the other and a crooked grin upon his face.
“This transaction, was Mr Tuck in good spirits did you notice?” “He was a little…. on edge and a bit rushed but nothing too dramatic.” “What about on conclusion, was he satisfied?” “Oh yes, Mr Spooner, he was very satisfied, why is there a problem?” I ask while attempting to camouflage my true feelings. “No problem Wesley, he has had difficulties with the Family but all is done and the body will be met on time.” On that he stood his ground for a brief moment informed me he was going out, turned his back and left leaving me to sink into my own relief.
As time passed I began; gradually, to believe that my chances of detection had faded to such an extent that I was almost free of guilt. Also Mr Spooner had become a little more receptive toward me due to business being healthy and the fact that he was able to take his leave of the office as often as he chose. This also created a much more comfortable atmosphere around the office which in turn led to me feeling; for the first time, welcome. In addition I had found a great relief in spending my guilt by purchasing luxuries that had taken my fancy, working through the money in a matter of weeks. It is then sad and shameful to say that I didn’t learn my lesson as some time later I found myself with a very lucid opportunity to repeat my action and for the second time commit theft. Money unfortunately has a way of opening up to people’s weaknesses and I am sorry to admit that I was one of those people carrying that type of weakness. I wasn’t stupid enough to deceive the same parties; I spread my victims as I moved from the second one to the third and so on. The after effects to my nerves system were not at all similar to that of my first exploits, my nerves naturally eased with every deception as I started to feel a rather brash immunity to detection.
My ‘adjustments’ to trades were not as large as with Mrs Crickleton’s transaction as I knew that human error was my best defence and the smaller the error the more likely the ability given to me to plead with innocence. I had total access to client files, data bases, documents, receipt control and various client and broker details that enabled me to manipulate with ease. Mr Spooner spent less and less time in the office but when he did his civility was of a high level and his communication with me was a warm but professional process. I kept a firm eye on the figures as I knew a large drop in revenues would be clearly noticed. The business made on average 12 ‘out’ trades a day averaging 48 hours of time which we would sell at £60,000 and ‘in’ trades of 72 hours on average seven times a day at £21,000 showing a transaction profit of £39,000 before administration fees and broker commissions that equated to approximately 8%. Even if you take into account salaries, utilities and rent, the business was healthy. I chose the days and transactions that enabled Nupe & Spooner to hold theses healthy numbers and on occasion, exceed them. The safe was cleared by Mr Spooner every two days and the receipts and files were kept up to date so that all figures corresponded. My weekly theft never went above £2000 and never below £500, after a few months I had collected and transported home in excess of £60,000.
Meanwhile Mr Spooner showed his ignorance of my dealings by presenting me with his total trust. My monetary gains were spent; on the whole, on luxury items. I had the taste for very little else. In a short period of time I had purchased a guitar; which I hope to learn to play, a top of the range television, a computer system with printer and dozens of programs, a snooker table for me and my friends, clothing of the highest quality; never to be worn at work, two chronographic watches of high expenses and a few useless items that I just liked the look of. I had become a jaunty man whose condensed experience with wealth was satisfying my undiluted greed.
Then one evening while I was out with friends one of them; Carl made a remark that had an exposed impact on me. He said; in short “they must be paying you well, do they need anyone else?” I knew that if a friend could see my change in fortune even though I had tried to conceal it then I was not treading as carefully as I thought. At that moment I decided not to continue my fraudulent acts and to try the very best I could to repent. In addition the realisation of what I was doing appeared to me naked and true, I felt lonely and ashamed. Although there was no way I could reverse what I had done I knew that the only way my conscience would be able to feel lighter was for me to stop and stop for good. I settled on a plan of working tightly at Nupe & Spooner for at least another year so that I had time and opportunity to ‘pay back’ in some way Mr Spooner’s trust plus it would enable me to limit the chances of detection by holding the position and covering my tracks.
My business transactions remained as planned as I ignored any opportunity to go back to my olds ways. This was to my personal delight and in lots of ways helped me erode some of the bruised conscience I was still carrying around. I started to live better with myself and with some much more ease, I looked back at those events as only parables of my former self.
Mr Tuck’s visits were now much more welcome. I had faded out the Mrs Crickleton experience and only discussed or mentioned it if led by Mr Tuck. The good news was that Mrs Crickleton had passed away as planned and with reported comfort. She was fortunate enough to have been able to converse with the missing member of the ‘Mrs Crinkleton’s mourners association; as put to me by Mr Tuck. There was some honour in being in the presence of so many clients who chose to consult and confide in me on matters both professional and personal. Also, Mr Spooner was tripping over to praise my conduct and work almost on a weekly bases although he still chose to keep a silent distance and often hibernated away in his office for days. I hadn’t changed my mind about seeking a different employer but I had some reservation about the impact on the business. I was almost certain that Mr Spooner would be forced to feel some vexation when I presented him with my letter of resignation. Then one Friday afternoon during normal times of no particular importance, Mr Spooner needed a word.
“Wesley, I have for some time been keeping an eye on you, a sharper eye than previous and do you know what I have concluded from my spying?” Naturally I was tense at this moment which I displayed openly by sending blood through my veins to my face.“No Mr Spooner, I have no idea?” “Well Wesley, I have made a discovery.” I was forced to cease breathing at this point as my faculties had evaded my person and I was numb with anticipation. “I have concluded in my discovery – that my decision to employ one Wesley Burnell at Nupe & Spooner, has been fully justified.” “What do you think of that?” I began breathing again at once and attempted to reply but before I could utter even an utter Mr Spooner’s hand was almost flat against my nose in an attempt to prevent my reply. “Mr Nupe.” He said with a rolling tone “my senior partner and I believe that the time is right for you to meet with Mr Nupe accompanied by me.” “We wish to discuss your future and the future of our partnership.” At last he moved his hand away but his vision remained fixed on my eyes. “This evening; after completion of your work, you are invited to dinner at Mr Nupes residence. Mr Nupe and I believe that this will be a good opportunity to progress our relationship in more comfortable surroundings.” He relaxed his vision and dropped his tone as he faded off on the last word. “Do these arrangements suit Wesley?”“This evening?” I stuttered. “Yes, this very evening.” “Of course, that sound great, I look forward to it.” “Fine that is settled I will inform Mr Nupe of your decision and suggest a time of 6:15 prompted.” “I will meet you there as I have other pressing business to attend; his address is on this card.” At that he produced a business card from his top pocket and handed it to me, blank side up. The Mr Spooner went to his office collected his coat and some files and left the office. As he passed through the doorway he shouted “Till this evening.”
I am sure you appreciate my feelings of discomfort upon the prospect of a dinner meeting at Mr Nupes home. There was lots of jittering about my head, the prospect of the meeting opened lots of worry doors in my head that transferred to a sickening feeling deep inside my stomach.Had I been found out? Was I being fired? Had I got away with it? What is expected of me? What will they say? What does Mr Nupe look like? I could hardly keep up with the thoughts that were running around in my mind, colliding and dispersing and colliding again. Once I was able to gain a prospective; although it felt false, I reverted to thinking about Mr Nupe, the man I would at last meet. I had often wondered if Mr Nupe existed at all or if he had long gone as I never once spoke to him, he was never mentioned by clients or Mr Spooner in a way that would suggest he is in the present. I wondered what appearance he reclined upon and what sort of man he was in comparison to his junior partner.
To my pleasant surprise Mr Nupe lived local in a large Edwardian house that I had often admired that sat on a corner near overlooking the local church. It dominated the local surroundings even seeming to bully the church with its bulk. It was only a few minutes’ walk from the offices so I arrived in plenty of times, just me and my nerves. I pushed open a large iron gate and stepped into a spacious walled garden that was largely barren, all except for a spluttering of artificial tulips that stood and stooped in random areas and a few sharp looking shrubs that lined the base of the walls. At the door I took a deep breath. I couldn’t find a bell so I rattled the door with my knuckles. Almost immediately Mr Spooner open the door. He said nothing, turned his back and led me into the hall. I closed the door and followed. Although the house was somewhat grand, it was dusty, empty and dull and it seemed to me to possess some kind of passim silence that weighed heavy upon its rooms and walls. I followed Mr Spooner, focusing on the tail of his jacket with its thread bare buttons and embroidered clock motif. We went along a slim corridor on the ground floor that had cabinets on one side full of stuffed animals. I only noticed them briefly as I had no reason to study such things while in a state of nervous fever. Eventually we stopped at a white unassuming door which Mr Spooner opened without sound and turned to invite me in.
The first thing to strike me as I entered was the fog of flatulence that grabbed my throat as if it possessed a physical body. I fault back my surprise and disgust by concentrating my vision directly ahead of us where there was a large fire burning and dancing around and about the chimney breast. The door closed behind me to indicate the exit of Mr Spooner. Almost immediately a strained voice made the first human sound of my visit. “Please, take a seat Wesley.” I moved towards a chair as I searched the sofa for the person who had just spoken. It wasn’t easy to see as all of the windows were covered and the flickering flames from the fire made distinction almost redundant. When he spoke again; insisting that I sit, I was able to decipher his appearance. I would say that he looked rather stretched and very grey. His hair existed of just a few strands that stuck to the side of his tight head. His bones; although exaggerated by the smothering shadows of the room, were peeks upon his aged face. The veins on his head and hands resembled a thick spider’s web that had been built for permanence. Only his head and hands were visible as the rest of him was tightly covered in a large heavy looking blanket. He was obviously very old and I am a shamed to say, very ugly in appearance however his manner gave me some comfort.
He introduced himself as Mr Nupe and went on to inform me that he had heard a lot about me from Mr Spooner and was therefore looking forward to meeting with me for the first time. He also said that he hoped I didn’t find his appearance to unobjectionable as the free radicals had long since dispersed and left little to build upon. I remained seated, a little , nodding and responding with only small talk but in the same context as Mr Nupe until we were interrupted by the entrance of Mr Spooner. Mr Spooner’s manner in the presence of Mr Nupe was unchanged. He coldly entered the room, still wearing his dour grey jacket and frumpy expression and pulled up a small, stick like chair and then placed the chair and himself next to Mr Nupe. They whispered together for a few moments staying at a tone that was just out of ear shot. All the while Mr Nupe directed his gaze directly at me. Then silence, a cough, a nod, and then Mr Spooner looked up and joined his partner in directing his vision at me just before he brought down a large pile of papers onto the table in front of him and said, “right.” Then, brief a pause. “Now that you have had the pleasure of meeting my senior partner, Wesley, I will explain to you; in detail, the reason for your visit here, do you understand?” I nodded slowly and reluctantly to the affirmative. “Mr Nupe, my senior partner, here.” He directed his hand towards Mr Nupe while his eyes remained fixed on me. “Has been trading profitably, in time since the year 1841.” He paused for a reaction but got none. “This was the year that he was honoured with the opportunity to be employed by a time trading Franchise Company known as Wittle & Swarm. They were; at the time, located in the royal town of Kingston upon Thames, located next to the great river. He then turned his head towards Mr Nupe and asked him. “ Please, tell young Wesley at what age you were when this happened.” Mr Nupe, cleared his throat and uttered “Nineteen.” “And if you please Mr Nupe, tell him at what age you had the opportunity of becoming a partner at Wittle & Swarm?” “Thirty seven, I was thirty seven.” “Did you hear that Wesley?” Mr Spooner checked me; I raised my brow in answer to him. “Thirty seven he said, thirty seven, is that not something?” “And how old are you Wesley?” “I am twenty two sir.” “Twenty two, ah, twenty two is young, it is the beginning is it not?” “Yes, I guess it is young Mr Spooner.” “Mr Nupe, here” He said again pointing. “Is a man of extremely ripe age, both in fact and in appearance.” “Mr Nupe, Wesley, has reached the age of one hundred and seventy three, which, will explain to you Mr Nupe’s exterior frailty.” At that moment Mr Nupe began to cough, first in shallow bursts and then quite violently, Mr Spooner did nothing to ease his partners coughing, he just waited in silence until it calmed back down.
“Please tell me Wesley, do you know why and how Mr Nupe is of such an extended age?” “I assume that he has been able to purchase much of his time?” “Correct!” He said with a clap “How very astute of you.” Mr Nupe also attempted to clap but failed to connect his hands and in doing so also set off a chain reaction of coughing fits. Mr Spooner must have decided that Mr Nupe’s coughing was to be a lengthy process, so as to counteract the noise he remained stagnant and raised his voice to gain the effect of clarity. “Yes, Mr Nupe purchased some but earned most of his time while he was employed at Wittle & Swarm and then as a partner at Swarm and Nupe as well as Nupe & Spooner.” “That is the only reason that you and I have the pleasure and honour of looking upon and conversing with, him today.”
Mr Spooner took some time on the conclusion of this to smile at Mr Nupe, who was obviously in some discomfort as his coughing continued and his attempt to manage the coughing had little effect on easing it. “You can no doubt detect by my partners distress that living beyond one time can have a negative side.” “Pain, Wesley, is still apparent, there is no reversal for dying cells, nature takes the lead and the conclusion is pain and discomfort, alas there is nothing to be done but to manage it.”“We have been forced to seek a new partner so that Mr Nupe can finally rest his poor old, tiered and pain ridden body.” I got up to search for Water for Mr Nupe as the coughing could not; in my view, be left, but I was told firmly to “sit down.”“Mr Nupe will be fine in a moment, just concentrate on what I have to say and nothing else, it that clear?” “Yes, sorry, I just thought.” “Well don’t think.” He interrupted. “You see Wesley, I employed you; despite your age, with the full intention of taking you on as a partner, you were not the first I have employed with such a goal but I hope, truly hoped that you would be the last.” I remained still and quiet.
“I knew, however, that you would need time to prove your worth, which is why Mr Nupe and I have followed your progress patiently.” “Up until today, Wesley, both Mr Nupe and I have been very satisfied with your contribution to the firm. We have had floods; yes floods, of compliments from clients directed at you, Wesley Burnell.” ”For the first time in many years I bore witness to Mr Nupe smiling at the prospect of his legacy moving on to pastures new.” “Everything was going as planned and hoped until today, Wesley, until today.” I was terrified as Mr Spooner sat back in his chair and stared at me with a smile of repulsive measure. Mr Nupe stopped coughing and hauled himself into a sitting position with and looked at me with the same malicious frown as the one owned by Mr Spooner. My Face spoke for me, it betrayed my feelings, there was nothing I could say, my throat was stuck. “This afternoon Wesley, I received a phone call from Mrs Damingle who is an senior auditor for the ‘time traders regulatory organisation’. She promptly informed me that of a balance defect in our accounts which amounts to the sum of £76,000 to the bad.” “I informed her that I would prioritise the matter and respond accordingly.” “Initially I assumed that a miscalculation here, an administration error there, a simple mistake, a combination of trifles, that is what I initially assumed.” “So, being good to my word I investigated.” At this he lifted the bundle of papers from the table. “I have spent the day going through the information supplied by the ‘TTRO’ and the information on our system in minute detail, covering every dot, tick and cross.” “Mrs Damingle, has been at the end of the phone for most of the day, helping me; with some difficulty, to decipher the accounts in question.” He sighed and shook his head, I sat silent, with my hands under my legs, wet with sweet. “Wesley, please tell me, where is the money?”
I had to look away, I focused on the floor, the pattern on the carpet, I searched for an answer, something that would save me but I found none, all I could do was answer the truth. “I have no money left, I spent all of it.” Thoughts that could shatter the strongest of men, fired through my mind, as I sat, with my body holding a pathetic pose that signalled the defeat of my arrogance. I could sense Mr Spooner raise himself while Mr Nupe remained motionless. “I see, gone is it.” He said while pacing the room. “Well that is that, Mr Burnell, that is that, repentance cannot be an influencing friend to you now.” “I am sure I don’t need to educate you Mr Burnell as to the value of the £76,000, the fact that it amounts to nearly 28 weeks of purchasing, that is 28 weeks, Mr Burnell, 28 weeks!” “And then there is the fine that Mrs Damingle and her colleagues will present Nupe & Spooner on the grounds of fraudulent behaviour. I assure you Mr Burnell that the regulator will not show leniency to Nupe & Spooner when calculating the fine.” “What else do you think we would have to take into account, well?” I looked up to see Mr Nupe counting on his out stretched fingers, with a fierce glare focused in my direction.
“The loss of business for a start!” “Customers trust, gone, trust that took years to build, wiped out!” “Millions, that what you have cost us, millions!” Then there is the pain, to Mr Nupe and I as well as clients, how could you, you imbecile, what came over you?” “Well, are you going to speak?” I solemnly shook my head. “Well that is that, we have to move on, we have to pick up the pieces, the pieces scattered by you, Mr Burnell.” “I spoke to Mrs Damingle when you arrived and she has agreed to allow us to pass judgment and make the appropriate measures needed to enable Nupe & Spooner to resurrect our fatigued partnership.” “You understand that there are rules and there is a disciplinary process when these rules are broken.” I ask Mr Spooner what he disciplinary process he meant.“A young man like yourself; although agnostic, should be aware of the principles of a punishment following a crime, is that not so?” “I understand, but what punishment do you mean?” “Wesley, allow me some play time, I have earnt it, all will be clear in a moment.” His words were relayed through a sinister smile.I didn’t reply, I was as deep as I could be and felt in desperate need of air. The odour in the room seemed to grow heavy on my chest.
“Wesley, let me show some kindness in my heart by getting to the point of punishment however my heart is to full to find room for any leniency.” “I have your file here.” He waved it about his head. “It holds all of your personal information, much of which you have no access to.” “In bold, at the bottom is the date of your expiry, the all-important date.” “Why are you telling me this?” I said curtly. “Tut tut Wesley, you’re in no position to be arrogant, you understand that the business has lost a lot of money due to your actions.” “The money has gone; you told us that, there is no immediate way of counter balancing that fact, so if we can’t have funds we have to take something else, something in its place.” I was still rooted to the spot and my heart was pounding. “It is a simple transaction Wesley, we have taken as payment and compensation, fifty three years, six days and twelve hours of your own time, taken and processes.” My mind and body were numb, I could see Mr Spooner, I could hear him but I couldn’t register any of it.Mr Nupe clapped loudly and laughed with a cackle, it jerked me back to reality. “I think I have been more than generous leaving you with seven full days to live, enough time to make the appropriate arrangements and repent on your actions.” He pushed my file in front of my nose with my date of expiry as he described; in bold and at the bottom of the page. “Now leave here Wesley Burnell, leave here!”