Bells tinkled over the door; another customer either in or out. The smell of food — bangers, mash, coddle, shepherd’s pie, etc — hung in the air like a fog, making Jorah’s stomach growl. The harsh lights in the kitchen hurt his eyes, but he stayed there anyway, at least long enough to tap his cook and order helping of shepherd’s pie for himself, to be brought to his office when the boy had a minute.
“You got it, sir,” the words were accompanied by the clink of a metal spatula on a flat top, and the diner’s owner then moved along the slightly slick floor and into his office, situated at the back corner. Closing the door, a finger flipped the switch and the small room was flooded with light. Not such harsh light, either, thankfully; that of the kitchen was giving him a headache.
Flipping open a binder, eyes began scanning over lines of names, numbers, dollar signs; a list of food items to be ordered for next week, composed by his kitchen staff and only needing to be signed. A pen was picked up once the list was properly gone over — mostly to make sure everything seemed accurate — and a scribbly, semi-legible version of ‘Jorah H. Wayne’ was inked on the proper line. For a moment, the debate of whether to order anything for himself, for personal use — at wholesale prices, what other reason to own a diner? — but opted against it. The fridge at his flat was properly stocked, no need to get extravagant.
“Mr. Wayne, sir,” the door opened, “your shepherd’s pie.” the binder was practically thrown out of the way to make room for the plate, the elder of the two’s stomach almost violently growling as he nodded his thanks and made a mental note to give the boy a bonus for being such a talented cook — nearly rivaling himself. When Phillip wasn’t manning the grill, on days when his other ‘ventures’ lulled and he was bored, he’d do the cooking, and he felt himself and his chef were on fairly even grounds, at least where the type of cuisine served in the diner was concerned.
The first bite was delicious — hot, steaming, and most importantly: uninterrupted. Before the second could be lifted from the plate, the mobile device in Jorah’s pocket vibrated to the tune of ‘Ohio’ by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young. Sighing heavily, the fork dropped to the plate with a clank and a calloused finger swiped the green button to answer.
“Yer timin’s awful,” grunted the Irishman, “what d’ye want?”
“Pick-up’s tonight,” a voice, sounding rather disingenuous, replied. “Two am, by the port. Whoever your buyer is will be pleased; this piece,” emotion finally found its way into the voice, “it’s beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“It’s a surprise,” Edgar Kingsley had said, when Jorah had inquired as to just what, exactly, he’d be picking up that was so wildly valuable as to earn him thirty-five-thousand pounds just for the pick-up and delivery.
“Aye, I’ll be there; anything I need t’know?”
“Know anyone good with computers?”
“...maybe, why d’ye ask?”
“There are cameras that need to be disabled before you get there; I would do it, but I believe I’ve already done my part.”
“Well yeh’re a chincy fucker, aren’t ye?”
“I was paid for a delivery to this location, not to disable security devices.”
“Then why can’t we bugger off to a different location? One without, say, surveillance?”
Gods, the Irishman was thankful for burn phones.
“Because,” the Englishman on the other end of the line responded, exasperated, “it’s secure.”
“Aye, against people like us.”
“Precisely, which means it’s also most secure for us, providing we take the proper measures. Have them disabled, I’ll call you thirty minutes before we meet to make sure you have someone able to do it — and keep them scrambled long enough for it to appear as though we were never there.”
“D’ye have any information on these cameras?”
“Yes, I’ll have it sent to you.”
The line went dead, and Jorah’s stomach twisted into a thousand different kinds of knots; sure, this sort of thing paid extremely well, but the anxiety — was it worth it? His hair was already silver, could it get any more so? Personally, he liked the little black patches in his beard.
Who did he know?
Siobhan; Jorah’s very own daughter was the most tech-savvy person he knew — she’d been caught hacking in primary school to up her friends’ grades for money, and Jorah had kept it a secret from her mother. He didn’t want to do this, but was there a choice? The internal battle had begun.
Looking at the clock, the hands rested so as to tell him it was nearly four-thirty in the afternoon. Yes, there was time, but did he want to waste it? Surely, just an hour for deliberation would be enough, right? The device dinged, signaling a document with information — probably make, model, serial numbers, etc. — about the cameras had arrived.
“Mr. Wayne, sir, the man for the food order’s here…” Phillip’s knuckles had rapped on the door so meekly that Jorah’d barely heard him before he spoke. “Did you sign it?”
“Aye, Phillip,” standing, he grabbed the sheet of paper and opened the door, handing it out. “Crackin’ on, Randall?” the Eatinvale food delivery driver tipped his cap and nodded.
“Crackin’ on, sir. Thank you, have a good day.”
The door closed once more. Five-forty-five. Would he call her?
“Have a good day, sir,” called Phillip from the kitchen as he went to clock out, his replacement having arrived to work the night shift — that meant it was nearly eight o’clock. RayAnne’s voice could be heard as the two bid one another good day as well, and he opened his door to call out his farewells — and greetings.
“Bugger it,” he murmured to himself, picking up the cell phone and glancing into the black mirror of the screen before double-tapping and swiping it open. A finger hovered over the call button once he’d gotten his daughter’s contact open; anxiety shriveled his stomach, the shepherd’s pie from earlier — despite how ravenous he’d been — still sat, mostly uneaten. Finally, after a few more moments’ deliberation, the pad of his digit pressed ‘call’ and eyes closed behind black-rimmed glasses, nostrils flaring as he let out a shaky breath. What kind of father would ask his daughter for help with something like this? Jorah Wayne definitely wasn’t getting any ‘father of the year’ awards, as the phone was pressed to his ear and he listened to the monotonous ring, waiting, every second seeming to tick by slower and slower. “Pick up, m’lovely daugh’er, please, daddy needs ye…”