“Stanley. Where the hell’s my tea?”
Stanley flinched, but couldn’t tear his eyes from the glowing screen in front of him. The excitement of realising that someone had posted a review of his book, the book that had taken him ten years to write, had been quenched when he saw the single lonely star, and read the scathing words.
From George Witherall
Not only do I regret ever laying eyes on this appalling book, I also regret looking at this author’s profile to see what manner of fool could write so badly, and coming face to face with the ugliest man alive. Load of rubbish. The only recommendation that I could give for this trash would be incineration.
“Yes Mother. I’m coming!”
The cold shock of reading his very first book review had rendered him incapable of movement. The rage that now filled him as he clicked away, looking for more information on George Witherall, threatened to blow the top of his head off. What had he ever done to this person? What sort of thing was that to say about his book? Had he even read it? And how dare he comment on his appearance? In a few minutes he was looking at his foul detractor’s Facebook page. Scrolling down, he sneered at the smiling, handsome face. And then with a shock, he realised that he recognised it.
“Stanley. You bastard!”
“Bloody hell,” he muttered, leaping from his chair and heading to the kitchen.
He looked around the immaculate room. His kitchen now. He’d been born in this very place forty seven years ago, he’d been told. Smiling, he remembered gleefully setting about scrubbing it from top to bottom on the day his mother had finally taken to her bed properly a few months back. Dirty old woman. He adjusted his red bow tie, still smarting from such terrible insults being so casually posted on an international book vending site, for all the world to see.
Scowling, trying to remember where he recognised that face from, he measured three spoons of Earl Grey into the teapot. He carefully placed four chocolate digestives on a side plate, and then it hit him. Of course! George Witherall’s face had lately been plastered on billboards all over town. He owned the new department store on West street.
Stanley rushed back to his desk and dialled enquiries. Soon, after a few short rings, a melodious voice answered.
“Mr Witherall’s office. How may I help you?”
“Is he in?”
“Yes Sir. Who may I say—.”
He hastily disconnected, and rushed to his room.
“Stanley. My tea. What’r you doing you bloody little shi—!”
The kettle clicked off and the tea remained unmade. Stanley was loading his .38.