Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Westwich Writers Club. 9

By Saturday morning, Stephen had decided he was going to need another pair of hands to help get the new computers built. He thought about contacting the job centre but then remembered Mark. He pulled out his mobile and dialled the stored number.

'Mark? It's Stephen King, the man you rescued the other night. I wonder if you could help me out again? I may have some work for you if you're interested. It would only be a temporary position, but it would give you something to add to your CV.'

He smiled as heard Mark's reply.

'I sort of hoped you'd say that. Look, I know it's short notice and I know it's Saturday, but do you think you could come into town this morning for a chat? I'll show you what we need help with and you can see the set up we have here...You can? Great stuff, I'm here until one. Cat Computers, on Bradfield Road...'

Mark arrived on the stroke of midday and stood by the counter while Carole went to find Stephen.

'That young man is here, Stephen,' she called. ' Hands off, Mel, I saw him first.'

Mel leapt from her stool and sauntered into the shop. Mark was reading a promotional poster on the wall.

'Hello, I'm Mel,' she offered.

Mark turned to face her, a smile on his lips.

'Mark,' he said.

Mel looked him up and down, then smiled back.

'Nice suit. If you're out to impress, it's working.'

'There are times when you have to make the effort,' he agreed.

'Is there a woman in your life?' she asked.

Mark shook his head and laughed.

'At the moment, just my mother.'

Mel pursed her lips and thought for a moment.

'Well, that's the interview over,' she said. 'When can you start?'

Stephen walked into the shop and offered his hand to Mark.

'Hi, Mark, sorry about that, I was on the phone in the back, glad you could make it. I see Mel's been looking after you.'

'I couldn't be in better hands,' smiled Mark.

Mel opened her mouth to reply but Stephen cut in.

'I think we'll leave it at that thanks, Mel.'

He led Mark into the workshop, then turned back and stuck his head round the door.

'Ok guys, you can get off now. I'll lock up.'

Carole retrieved her coat but Mel returned to her seat at the bench.

'I can hang around a bit, it's no trouble, Boss.'

'Thanks Mel, but I want to show Mark around and we have personal things to discuss. I'll pay you until one.'

Mel pouted as she pulled her jacket from the back of her chair.

'Hire him,' she advised.

Stephen walked them to the front door and opened it to let them out. He winked at Carole and put on a concerned face.

'I feel rejected now Mel, I thought I was the object of your desire.'

'Sorry, Boss. It was a close run thing, but you lost out.'

'Just my luck,' he grinned.

Mel thought for a moment, then came to a decision.

'On reflection, I could give you a second chance. I suppose you could fight for my favours.'

'I'm no good at jousting, Mel.' Stephen laughed. 'I can't seem to stay in the saddle.'

'I made the right choice then,' said Mel thoughtfully. 'Can't have you falling off, can we?'

Stephen feigned shock.

'You're incorrigible, Mel.'

Mel looked puzzled.

'I'm in what?'

Stephen laughed as he closed the door.

'See you on Monday, ladies, have a good weekend, or what's left of it.'

The phone rang as Stephen got back to the workshop.

'Cat Computers... Hello Margot, how did you...? Ah, from Mick, What can I do for you?'

Stephen jotted down her address and phone number on his pad.

'I can nip round in the week, how about Tuesday? Elevenish? No, it's no bother.'

He turned to Mark who was reading the test results on Stephen's screen.

'Sorry about that.'

'That's okay. Looks like this PC has a faulty graphics card.'

'Does it? I haven't had time to look at the results yet.'

'Video memory fault, I'd say. What were the symptoms?'

Stephen read from the customer job sheet.

'Intermittent lock ups, getting more frequent. Freezes at times when the mouse is moved across the desktop.'

'Case solved,' said Mark.'

'I tend to agree with your analysis. Do you want to fit a new card while we chat?'

Stephen picked up a new graphics card from the stockroom and handed it to Mark. He made coffee while the younger man installed the device into the computer. They sipped their drinks as Mark loaded on the software driver.

'I would imagine we would need you for at least two months, what with the building, installation and integration of the new computers. Paul will do the networking but he'll need a hand with that. Ben is very capable, but we have watch him all the time or he'll be online, playing games and chatting to his mates.'

'I did network administration as part of my IT diploma,' said Mark. 'I'm really keen to do more of that.'

'There may be something along those lines in the not so distant future,' said Stephen. 'I don't want to get your hopes up though. We have been asked to price for a networking contract but if we don't get it, there won't be a job to offer.'

Mark nodded.

'I understand. I'm available if you need anyone though.'

Mark clicked the mouse to close the video memory, stress-test program, printed off the results and scanned them quickly.

'Job done,' he said.

Stephen checked the results.

'I can run to £7.50 an hour, plus overtime rates?'

'Really? I was only expecting minimum wage.' Mark offered his hand and Stephen shook it. 'Thanks for the chance.'

'I'm delighted to have you on board,' he smiled. 'As for minimum wage. No one gets that here, not even Ben, though you'd think we paid him peanuts to hear him talk.'

'You keep saying we. Do you have a partner?'

'Force of habit, we're all in it together, so I see it as a joint enterprise.'

'Why Cat Computers? Are you a cat lover?'

'No, I'm not really a cat person; my ex girlfriend chose the name. I'm dog lover, but would you buy a PC from somewhere called, Dog Computers?'

Mark laughed and shook his head.

'In a word, no.'

Mark got up from his stool and looked slowly around.

'It seems my luck is finally changing. I'll be celebrating in the Wagon and Horses tonight if you fancy a jar.'

'Can't tonight, sorry, ' said Stephen. 'I'll be doing a bit of work on my novel; I'm just starting to get somewhere with it.'

'You're a writer? I guessed we had something in common when we first met.'

'You write too?'

'I scribble,' said Mark. 'I jot down my thoughts, nothing serious.'

'I'd like to read some of them, ' said Stephen.

Mark grimaced and shook his head.

'It's not for human consumption, I read it out to my dog, she listens and doesn't criticise.'

Stephen laughed along.

'I used to be like that, but I figured that if I wanted to be a successful writer, my work needed an audience, it's the only way to find out if you're improving. I joined an online writers site to get some feedback, now I'm a bit more confident I've joined a writers club, you should give it a go.'

'You need money to belong to clubs and I haven't had any to waste on things like that.'

'Sorry,' said Stephen, quickly. 'I didn't' t mean to...'

'No need to apologise, it's the way of the world; you either have money, or you don't.'

Stephen led Mark to the front of the shop, opened the door and shook his hand.

'I'll see you on Monday then, Mark. Welcome to Cat Computers.'

Mark grinned, faced the street and punched the air.

I'M IN WORK!.' he shouted.

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  1. Love the Dog computers gag. Great stuff Trevor, Keep it coming.