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Fast Fiction: Nigel

Was Mr Levin any wiser after meeting young Nigel?

Richard Mallinson tells a tale of unresolved suspicion.

'Why've you brought me here?' old Ben Levin asked.

'To meet somebody,' I said, knocking.

'Wot'd'you want?' a woman asked.

'We've come to see Nigel.'

'Wot for?'

'Who's that?' said a voice. A young man came forward.

'They sez they want to -' the woman said.

'Yes?' the young man said. 'I'm Nigel.'

'We'd like a word with you,' I said. 'May we come in?'

We went in.

'No, it wasn't me,' Nigel said before old Ben or I spoke. 'I didn't throw rubbish on Mr Levin's doorstep. Nor did I shout insults at Mrs Levin. I'm not that kind of person . . . I'll be going up to Cambridge in October, to study physics.'

'The university!' exclaimed old Ben. 'My word, you've done well, young man. Not many people from the East End get to Cambridge, do they?'

'No, they jolly well don't,' said Nigel, proudly. 'Now, if there's nothing else, I'd like to get on with a spot of studying.'

'But you've already been accepted, haven't you?' I said.

'Yes, but they've given me a reading list for the first term ... Anyway, I hope you'll find whoever it was who threw the rubbish and insulted Mrs Levin. I really don't know how people can be so mindless.'

'Oh,' said old Ben, 'there are plenty of mindless people - of all races, classes and creeds . .. Now, goodbye and good luck at Cambridge.'

'Well,' said the woman, showing us out, 'I ope you're bloomin satisfied.'

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