This is a short story – to find out more about the Whisper & The Hurricane Short Story series, read the introduction here.
To listen to the Life In The Tannery track, click here!
Life In The Tannery
‘I don’t quite understand,’ was Cyril’s usual response. He was the son of a wealthy investment banker in London. As his father’s only heir, he was due to inherit the firm and a large sum of money when his father died. Though that wouldn’t be for a long time, and Cyril was only sixteen years old, his father often brought him along to his office in the City to try and drum some economic sensibility into him.
Cyril was uninterested in such things, though. Since he’d been a small child, he’d been fascinated by space and wanted to be an astronaut. His father tried to discourage him, saying that the public had little interest in space travel and therefore there was little money it. Working in investment banking would set Cyril up with everything he’d need.
Cyril being misunderstood by his father was just one teardrop in a problem ocean. He was bullied at school, he was bullied by his dad’s co-workers, who seemed to treat him like a zoo exhibit and his parents seemed indifferent to his plight.
He didn’t know how to talk to people, you see. He talked about what he thought was interesting, which was usually space; but few seemed to share his enthusiasm for the subject; and even those who did would want to talk about other things, which Cyril understood little; at least in comparison to space.
What he didn’t understand today was why his dad’s co-workers were calling him four eyes. He’d been running up and down the corridor to see if he could run fast enough to slightly levitate, when one of such co-worker had pointed to a sign and told him to stop. Even with his glasses, Cyril couldn’t read the sign, and he’d received the insult as a result.
‘I don’t understand,’ he repeated, ‘I’ve only got two eyes, everyone’s got two, if I had four, perhaps I could read the sign?’
‘Oh my God, this is priceless,’ the man laughed, ‘here Hames, come and listen to this!’
Hames was the worst of the lot; Cyril was afraid of him. His full name was Hamish Viscount, but Cyril couldn’t figure why that was shortened to Hames. He had tried to look at it in several different ways, but he could only reconcile shortening it to Ham. He’d tried to call the man this once, but Hames had picked little Cyril up and thrust him into a potted tree. Cyril’s dad had appeared at that point and scolded Cyril for playing with the decor and getting his clothes dirty.
‘What’s the dweeb got to say for himself then, eh chaps?’ guffawed Hames.
‘I can’t read the sign because I’ve only got two eyes,’ mumbled Cyril.
Hames could barely contain his laughter. He grabbed Cyril’s shoulder and pinned him against the wall.
‘The sign says that speccy little gobshite virgins like yourself aren’t welcome here, you don’t deserve to kiss the ground we walk on.’ Cyril could feel anger rising within him.
‘Why are you so horrible to me?’ he asked earnestly.
Hames sucked his lips and said, ‘It’s a fun sport. What can we get away with saying to the boss’s son? Besides, hopefully we can snap you, then the company will fall into our hands!’
‘Well that won’t happen,’ protested Cyril, ‘One day I will own it with my wife and children and all of you will be fired and I won’t know you any more!’
‘What woman would take you?’ sniggered Hames.
‘Yeah, you’ll all be gone,’ shouted Cyril with new found confidence, ‘you’ll all be dead, you’ll all blow up and I won’t be out of place because it will be my place!’
Hames and the other bankers paused for a moment, then all started laughing at this bizarrely childish threat. They began to walk off down the corridor, past the window. In its light, Hames looked back towards Cyril, his face still contorted with mean laughter. It was the last look anybody saw on Hamish Viscount’s face.
At that moment, there’s was an almighty bang and the window shattered. Hames and the other bankers were lost in a cloud of smoke. Cyril was thrown backwards, but was largely unharmed apart from a ringing in his ears.
As the ringing lessened and the smoke began to clear, Cyril could see Hames lying in the corridor, which had partially collapsed, pinned in place by some beams. Glass had torn into his face, and blood was streaming out of it. Cyril could only recognise the man from his tell-tale stylish beard.
‘Oh my God!’ Cyril’s father had ran in behind him now. ‘Hamish!’ he cried, and ran towards the bloodied pulp of the man. ‘Help me get him out of here, Cyril.’
‘No! He deserves it!’ said Cyril.
‘Each time we disagree it hardly endears you to me!’ snapped his father, ‘Come and help me get him out of here!’
‘I said they’d blow up and they did,’ said Cyril, now smiling serenely to himself. To his surprise, however, his father didn’t react.
‘Stop messing around, Cyril, we’ve got to get Hamish to an ambulance!’ Cyril joined his father, now feeling oddly deflated. He realised that he would always be carrying more important men, in more senses than simply literal; and perhaps that was what his father really did.
Then Cyril began to realise, that in a sense, he wasn’t really there at all.