“Thanks for coming,” I said just after opening the door. Enrique was at the door. He rubbed his nose, nodded and then entered. I showed him into the library. “Drink?” I asked clicking my fingers at my butler.
“Si, sometimes,” he replied. He was taking in the opulent surroundings.
“No, drink… so what have you been up to?” I asked holding up my hand to halt my butler’s progress. Enrique looked at me and thought about it.
“Not mas, I move to town,” he replied. I nodded, I knew that. Enrique had moved to town. The doorbell chimed.
“Let me get that,” I said beckoning my butler with a finger and then pointing that finger at Enrique. It wasn’t Paula, it was Barry Autistic. I brought him in. “You know Enrique?” I said questionably. I couldn’t even remember if Barry Autistic had made it in let alone met Enrique, anyway, Enrique extended his hand and Barry Autistic counted Enrique’s fingers until Enrique lowered his hand. Rui and Paulo arrived, Phil Jupitus. Carol from the Jungle Gym. Vince and Graham arrived together. The depressed artist arrived and while I was greeting her I was looking down the drive for Paula but there was no sign. That was disappointing.
There was quite a crowd in the library now and I got my butler, Blackie, to hand around some canapes. I tried to make chit chat but I was thinking about Paula and then the doorbell rang and it was Paula so that was all okay.
“You look great, mate,” I told Paula giving her a low five.
“What are we doing here?” She asked.
“All will become clear,” I told her and then I showed her into the library with the others. After a few moments I hit the gong. This was his cue to ring the triangle which was the sign we should all go into the dining room. I’d made place names for everybody and everybody sat where they should sit.
“Okay,” I said sitting at the head of the table. “I bet you want to know why I’ve called you all here?” I orated and then noticed an empty chair. “What does that say?” I asked Paula who was sitting next to the empty space. She picked up the card.
“Marcel,” she read.
“Fuck, forgot about him,” I pulled a pained face and thought. “Ah, fuck him.”
“Is Steve coming?” Asked Phil Jupitus.
“Steve, the guy who replaced Paula?”
“Fuck!” I said. I’d forgotten about him so much I hadn’t even made a place name. “Nah, he’s not coming.”
“Oh,” said Phil Jupitus.
“What about Stan?” Asked Paula.
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” I said. “Hang on.” Blackie appeared at the door with Stan and Marcel.
“Stan and Marcel,” he announced and they both came in. This was taking ages. I watched patiently as they took their coats off. Stan didn’t have a chair and spun a little with his arms out.
“Blackie, get a chair,” I said and eventually he returned with a chair and when we were all sat down I began agin. Begin agan. Began again. I began again.
“Okay, recap, yeah?” I said. “For the last year, and I don’t even have to tell you guys this, but for the last year Jamiepbarker.blogspot.com has been a massive fucking success. Yeah?” I looked at Enrique. He was staring at Barry Autistic. “Enrique!” I shouted to get his attention. “It was a big success, yeah?” Enrique nodded but I don’t even think he was listening to me. “Everybody loved it. I loved it and we had a lot of fun, yeah?” I looked around the table. Nobody looked like they’d had a lot of fun although they were all looking at me. “Paula, you loved it?” I asked.
“It was okay,” she replied.
“It was better than okay,” I snorted.
“Thing about something like that is you have to go out at the top, you know? There’s nothing worse than keeping it going when the magic’s gone. I didn’t want that to happen, to.. to you guys and so I pulled the plug. There’s only so many times you can cut the ends off sausage rolls, eh?”
Phil Jupitus looked confused.
“Listen, I’m going to pull the plaster off quickly here. You, you, you, you, you and you,” I said pointing at Graham, Rui, Vince, Paulo, Phil Jupitus and the depressed artist. “You’re out of here.”
Graham heard these words and his face screwed up and after a stuggle he managed to say, “what?”
“Take it easy, Graham,” I said. “You just weren’t very good although I did quite like how you’d get really angry.” Graham punched both fists down on the table causing his name card to bounce. “Sorry mate,” I said and Graham stood and put his coat on and barged past Blackie who was stood obediently at the door. Vince followed. I looked at Rui and Paulo and nodded my head towards the door. “Sorry guys,” I said and they stood up and left. The depressed artist was crying. “Out you,” I shouted, she wailed louder and stumbled out, bundling between Rui and Paulo in the doorway. I shook my head. “Oi, Jupitus, out!” I said when I noticed he hadn’t moved.
“Did you have to bring us here for this?” He asked putting on his rubbish padded coat.
“Get the fuck out, fatso,” I said and he did. “The door,” I said to Blackie when he’d left. Blackie closed the door with him on the outside of it. I looked around at the remainders. Marcel, Barry Autistic, Stan, Carol, Enrique and Paula.
“We’re fucking back, lads!” I said a smile spreading across my face. “This just feels… right, you know?”
“Feels right,” snorted Paula. “You mean you couldn’t think of anything else?”
“It’s not that-” I managed.
“Not that,” she snorted again, “it is that, it’s exactly that. You thought you were so great you could do it on your own. Didn’t need us.”
“No, no, no,” I pleaded. “I wanted… I didn’t want it… I didn’t want you turning rubbish.”
“And what if it turns rubbish now?” She asked. A good question.
“Ah, fuck it, it’s worth the risk. I missed you idiots. Even you Marcel,” I said looking at Marcel. Marcel looked around. Enrique was looking at his fingernails.
“So, how’s this going to work?” Asked Stan always with the business brain.
“Well, Enrique,” I said. He looked up from his fingernails and raised his eyebrows. “You get back in my garage.” He nodded with the sides of his mouth turned down and then went back to looking at his fingernails. “Stan, it’s okay if Enrique’s the boss again?”
“Fine by me,” said Stan. “And I’m the area manager again?”
“You sure are, and it’s lucky, because your app fucking bombed.”
“Yeah, what was I thinking?” Said Stan and we all laughed.
“Paula, you’re moving back from England,” I said and she sighed. “Come on!”
“Only just unpacked,” she whined and moaned.
“You can bring Wellington with you.”
“Fine!” She said but the fact she’d put up no argument made me smile internally and externally.
“Marcel, you’re back, Carol, you didn’t even go anywhere. Barry Autistic… we’re going to find a job for you.” Barry Autistic traced the shape of a treble-clef in the air with his nose. “We cool?” I asked the room and there was grumbling but no real dissent. “Tomorrow morning we’re back at work, okay?”
We had a drink and a chat. I explained how I saw our future panning out and then, just before midnight, I stood at the big doors like a one man and his butler guard of honour as they left. I gave them all a pat on the back as they passed. Enrique stopped next to me before stepping outside. He leant close to me and said, “I wanna drive, man!” He said.
“We’ll see,” I told him and then patted him on the back. He stepped outside rubbing his nose, looked around and then headed off.
“I hope you know what you’re doing, Sir,” said Blackie as we looked down the dark drive.
“So do I,” I replied. “So do I.”