Part Two

My story. Charles Tranter, please,
To Personnel. I went,
And there was Spence, the old man, looking
Mightily content.

Ah Tranter, come in, yes, not easy
What with the move and that,
But about time that I thought we had, well, our
Usual little chat.

Ah, the new appointments, I said as
The eyes shifted and looked tired:
You can rest assured, sir that my salary. . .
Tranter, you are fired.

Well, just like that, I said, and thanks,
Now turning at the door.
Tranter, there have been complaints: expenses,
Harassment and more.

So, the kipper-suited sixties
Miserable old sod,
Had done his sweet F. A. to warn me off
And dropped me on the nod.

40. That evening, with the car in service,
I waited for the bus -
Which would just happen with a bloody strike
On, with Accounts and us.

And then, and then, I always chat
Up threepences on legs,
Not so you'd think that this Miss 'Aren't I Gorgeous?'
Needed much pretext.

An eyebrow lifted for the answer,
And body pressing there:
Yes, she was a tease but beautiful, moving
Like smoke upon the air.

Better, of course, I know that,
To have pleaded my excuse.
Better to have seen Miss Sophie Shields as
A tabby on the loose.

But there you are. Afterwards
I did try the squaw.
Overnighting at some colleague's place: there
Was nothing, a faint roar.

And also in the morning, or meant to,
As soon as I got in,
But I was just a bit uneasy now
How quite to begin.

And so perhaps I wasn't quite thinking
What the tannoy meant
Charles Tranter immediately to Personnel.
All right, hang on, I went.

And in the lift up I was supposing
Old Spence had changed his mind -
Found he couldn't do without me, some
Contract we had signed.

So in I go whistling, smiling:
Right, morning, everyone!
All brewster dandy, but I overdid
The bantering, the fun.

A long, long silence followed.
Now Tranter please sit down.
And even then I was laughing and chattering, Oh,
You great big lumbering clown!

50.Tranter shut up, listen, would you,
Nothing getting through,
A hard force pressing me and the tears spurting and
My hands trembling too.

Afterwards, and almost tender:
Now, Tranter, you stay put.
Yes, of course you'll keep the job, of course,
It's only as we should.

Perhaps he had to: the TV carried
The 'Strike's Worst Casualty.'
The one hour traffic jam; the house, a photo of
A one time Babs and me.

And then there came the interviews with
Some puppet, hardly me.
No, no I didn't. Was out on business, just
This morning, actually.

Worse than that was afterwards
Going round the place
Where everywhere the sudden fire
Had left its blackened trace.

Here was Jason's broken cot
And Babs' big teddy bear,
And the shoes, the clothes, and oddly, Daddy's
Untouched rocking chair.

Well done, well done, my Charlie boy,
Off on the usual thing.
Of all the days you might have chosen, why
This for final fling?

How much they loved it: soon enough
Came the centre-spread.
'Hubbie cheating as his house burns down:
Wife and toddler dead.'

True professionals. But Spence
Sent the severance on.
I phoned, continually, office, home:
Sophie also gone.

To be expected: our Charlie was
Properly in the poo.
And even the chattering Tranters didn't quite
Know what to say or do.

60. But Charlie? Charlie carried on
Smiling, a little shamed:
But chasing a new job in the old, old ways:
More careful, never tamed.

But the whole inside was trembling
With voices and was weird.
Sometimes so close as to be whispering, then
The whole thing disappeared.

But most of all in the evening:
With Charlie tucked in bed,
Pushing his hand out through the laundered sheets
To hotel care instead.

And nothing of Jason either in
The park or kiddies pen.
However much in walking up and down I saw
Him toddling up again.

No Jason to take the swing with me
Or ride the water chute,
No Jason to toss and catch, his hair fluffed up,
A bulky parachute.

Worst of all came the funeral,
With every Tranter there
And Uncle Tom shambling up on prompting
To say a short prayer.

And that's the straw that did for me,
I couldn't see for tears,
A blur, as were the hymns, and the long walk round
To the lined-up beers.

It was a month before the work came back,
A rep's job at best.
Who cares? I was busy, earning, pleased to be
Back to the usual quest.


part one     part two    part three    part four