As Roger Fforbes - two Fs in the surname, proud of both and given the chance would add a third - inhaled from his pipe, he nudged himself ever-so-slightly deeper into the hollow of the cushion that his buttocks had burrowed over the years. This forced his body to slide down a little and thus created a sitting position that was far from upright, but more of a forty-two degree angle. The pipe then dangled from his taught lips making him resemble, in profile, a lizard. His attempt to allow a daydream to waft through his consciousness was rudely interrupted by his office companion, Alastair Evans - the yin to his yang.
‘Must you?’ Evans pleaded, through his thick beard.
Fforbes let only his eyes look to the side, thereby making one half of Evans’ face fall beyond the remit of his glasses and distort in a most intriguing manner. ‘Mr Evans,’ he said. ‘You know I detest two-word sentences almost as much as the cretins who utter them, but, pray, what have I done to disturb your sunny disposition?’
There was a small knock on the door, which, obviously, they both ignored.
To Evans, Fforbes, in his green tartan jacket and black trousers, resembled The Flying Scotsman in repose, puffing quietly in a siding. ‘The preposterous soundtrack from your rear quarters, Mr Fforbes,’ he spluttered, spittle freeing itself from his misshapen yellow teeth only to become entrapped in the hairy net beyond.
Fforbes puffed a little stronger on his pipe, thinking. ‘Mr. Evans, I can assure you that the accusation of flatulence which you hurl in my direction like an ill-planned bouncer down a scuffed wicket on a showery day will be summarily hit beyond the boundary, sir. I merely shuffled upon this faux-leather chair, thus emitting the said noise. I was not surprised by the sound as it is a common occurrence when relaxing thus.’ He allowed his eyes to return to the stain above him, its shape now resembling Antarctica, even though it had looked like Malta with Gozo when it debuted. Maybe the time would soon come when the stain’s very existence should be reported to the correct authorities.
The small knock, persistent yet polite, occurred once more and again was ignored.
‘You sure?’ Evans was apparently not convinced.
Fforbes removed the pipe from his lips and, concentrating on the South Pole, said, ‘Mr Evans. I have three statements on the matter for you to cogitate upon when you return to your laughably lax lessons within which, I am informed, not one single pupil ever listens. One, I emit very few farts. Whether they be picaroons or loblollies, I always, sometimes with pride, accept responsibility for them, so whether it’s a piffle or a rousing rendition of the national anthem, you need have no ignorance as to the source. Two, when such emissions occur, they will never be odorous. After many years of dietary restraint I have perfect control over these matters. And three, why, oh, why, did you tell your untutored urchins that you believe me to be - and let me get this right, never wanting to misquote - ‘a cock-breathed brother of the gusset’? It doesn’t even make sense!’
The knocking on the door seemed a little more urgent this time.
Evans was unsure how to answer. He mumbled something along the lines of ‘I have absolutely no idea. I wasn’t listening, either.’ To answer the door appeared a fair escape from this verbal onslaught. In a single stride he was beside it. He twisted the handle and yanked it open. ‘What now?’
There was a child staring up at him, pale and frightened.
‘Hitchens - well?’ Before the child could speak, Evans growled. ‘Is that your own blood on your shirt?’
‘It’s still dripping, I see. Don’t let any fall onto the tessellations, or you’ll have the caretaker to answer to. These tiles don’t clean themselves, you know. Well don’t just stand there! Go to the nurse. I’ll inform Mr Fforbes you will be ten minutes late for your next lesson. Go away now and remove your arterial haemorrhaging from my sight.’ He closed the door on the weeping child and turned back to his nemesis. ‘Now then. Where were we?’