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assignments on his own. Dick was a shiftier character and kept his job because he had
good crack and when he chose to knuckle down he worked hard, hard enough to make
up for the moments when he slackened off. Unfortunately Dick and Greg had proven
completely incompatible and Dick had quickly been assigned to work with Grey instead.
“That depends. You‟ve worked with him for a good while now. Is he ready to fly solo?”
“Yeah,” Grey nodded without hesitation. The true answer was probably not but Grey
gave him the benefit of the doubt.
“How are your parents?”
“They‟re fine. They‟ve had a lot of time to get used to the idea. They know how much I
want this.”
“We all know that! End it quickly, will you? A couple more years like this and I‟ll be my
sole employee again.”
“With your contacts you‟re guaranteed to stay afloat.”
“Staying afloat doesn‟t cut it with the wife. She has expensive tastes. I need to thrive
again to satisfy her. Tip for the future, Jim. Get involved in an industry that can profiteer
from the war,” Bob said, his comments tongue in cheek. If the war really did ruin him it
would be a different matter but he knew he would weather the storm. Grey had found him
an ideal first boss – relaxed, unassuming, a good-natured sort who talked to him as an
“I was hoping to get back into this game.”
“Your job will be waiting for you, if you want it.”
“If it is, then great, but I know that things change. If you find you need to take on more
staff and when I come back you don‟t need anyone else I wouldn‟t want to take another
man‟s job from him.”
“If I do hire anyone else, which is unlikely at the moment, I‟ll let them know straight up
that they‟re only filling in.”
“Make your plans based on your business needs. I say I want to get back into
gardening, and I do because I love the work. The thing is though, I don‟t have any
concrete plans for what follows the war. I‟m so focused on this, that the future beyond
that ...who knows. Best take me out of the equation, Bob.”
Bob passed Grey his mug and sat down across from him and supped his drink. “The
furthest you‟ve travelled before this is Illinois, right?”
Grey grinned and said, “Yep. Chicago, and that felt a long way away. Just before I got
this job I thought about spending the waiting year travelling across the States.”
“That‟s something I‟ve wanted to do for the last 30 years but life‟s practicalities have
always gotten in the way. You can always do that when you come back.”
“That‟s why I don‟t want to make concrete plans. For the next x years plus six months
my life is structured for me so I have no decisions to worry about until after.”
“You‟re a bright lad. You might get a responsible position.”
Grey grimaced and said, “Having other men‟s lives under my command – that‟s not for
me. I know my limitations.” Killing was going to be hard enough and the prospect of
sending his own men into danger was an impossibility.
“You undersell yourself,” Bob said encouragingly.
“Privates are the backbone of the army,” Grey said, taking pride in what many might
consider the lowest rank, which was technically correct, but the role was still damned