Parts 1 to 3 can be found over the last three ways; today we conclude.
Roland did well not to throw a sickie. He maintained a small and dwindling hope that there’d be nothing waiting for him but even as he rolled No. 13’s bin to the curb, waiting for Percy and the cart to arrive he could see two hairy legs swinging arhythmically further up the road.
When he reached the thing, he could see it looked tired. ‘You okay?’
‘I’m getting some grief because of you.’
‘Yeah, seeing me and Ted and all. ‘I can’t be sure but it seems you’re the first man thing that’s seen us in living memory. You must have some sort of genetic defect that lets you see a wider spectrum of colours and movement than most of your compatriots. Like dogs can hear us and those bloody cats can see us. See?’
‘Alright, try this. What happens when you finish your shift?’
‘I go home.’
‘Before that. You’ll go for a pint with the crew, yes?’
‘How do you know?’
‘Oh, you really do know nothing, don’t you? We can read your last week’s memories. Every Wednesday and Monday you have a pint. Ok. Imagine telling the crew about me and Jelliancamaroonianticated.’
‘The pixie, but everyone calls him Ted. Go on, how are you going to explain it?’
The goblin was right. He couldn’t.
‘Silence is assent?’
‘Good. I’ve also a problem. My people, the fae generally, aren’t going to believe it. And only if you go around blabbing about it and getting an audience will they. I’d like to keep their cynicism at fever pitch. Which means you keeping schtum.’
Roland nodded, again. He collected the bins from no 33 and waited while they emptied. Just nodding seemed best. Maybe this nightmare will end.’
‘The question is what do you need to keep quiet?’
‘You’ll want something. Everyone wants something. I want your silence, so what about you?’
‘I…’ a quiet life, he thought. Maybe a time machine to take me back a week and for this never to have happened.
‘Can’t do a time machine. The genie is out of the bottle… and no, genie’s don’t exist either. What about a few charms?’
‘You know, things… actually, you don’t know, do you? Right, I think we’re onto something here. If I procure you a regular supply of charms, how about you promise to keep quiet?’
‘What sort of charms?’
‘Oh you know, nothing black. Personality modifiers, the odd appearance enhancer, confidence booster. You really have no idea, do you?’
Roland nodded, then shook his head.
‘Ok.’ From nowhere Roland could see, the goblin produced what looked like a small salt cellar. ‘Go and shake this on your colleague and tell him to do something outrageous.’
‘You’re sure there’s no hidden camera?’
‘Roland, we’re now officially a team. Look, I’ll do it.’ Without hesitating the goblin marched up to the cart. Percy lent on the open window whistling along to the radio. Apparently oblivious to the goblin’s presence Percy carried on his tuneless whistle while the goblin climbed up and shook the cellar at Percy. ‘Go and make love to that lamp post.’ The goblin pointed at the post next to which Roland stood.
Without stopping his whistling, Percy tugged open the door and climbed down. Causally, like it was the most natural thing, he walked up to the post, giving Roland a short nod, before gripping the post and grinding his groin against it. The goblin wandered back to Roland. ‘He’ll not stop until you tell him to. I’d not leave it too long or his Doris will wonder at the bruising. He will too, of course, but the bruises will be the least of his problems if Doris sees them.’
Roland’s mind was in turmoil. He watched Percy as he went hard, very hard at assaulting the lamp post. He didn’t seem inclined to stop. It really didn’t look like he was pretending.
‘Enough?’ The goblin didn’t sound like he cared either way,
‘What? Yes, please stop.’
The goblin shook the dust or whatever it was and Percy let go of the iron post, straightened his uniform and headed back to the cart. Roland watched him go. He definitely limped. He turned to the goblin. ‘Do you have a catalogue? So I can see what’s available?’
‘I can pretty much assure you, whatever you want, I can get you.’
Roland took a moment and nodded.
‘Good, I’ll see you when you decide on your first charm.’ He turned away.
‘But how will I contact you?’
The goblin waved over his shoulder. ‘I’ll know.’
The goblin watched the cart disappear round the corner. The pixie fluttered down from the treetop. ‘You could have warned me you were going to drag me down.’
‘Yeah sorry Ted. He wasn’t buying. You get the action?’
The pixie tapped his pocket. ‘In the can. Who’d you think will buy? Netflix or Prime?’
‘Oh we’ll put it out to best bids. He’ll be so embarrassed and his mate will give him so much grief over that grinding stunt, we’ll hear no more.’
‘Pretty cruel that.’
‘Yeah, I know. So, the missus has some magic mushrooms if you fancy brunch.’