„Do you have a minute, Firbank?’ he asked, closing the door before he had even
received a reply.
„Make it quick, Wilkins,’ Firbank replied, „I have to get through the rest of this pile
before I can go home.’
„More romance novels?’
„How did you guess?’ Firbank tossed the latest manuscript to one side and leaned
back in his hole-ridden leather chair. He beckoned Wilkins to take a seat before sharing
out the last of his cigarettes and ignoring the company’s policy on smoking indoors. „All
these writers seem to think love stories are the way forward but it’s been done so many
times that everyone is bored. Don’t get me wrong, love is an enduring institution but
these amateurs are not doing anything new with it. How much longer before we’re as
redundant as these novels?’
„I’m thinking more a well-earned retirement than redundancy,’ Wilkins said, a sly
grin bringing life to his face.
„Retirement?’ Firbank replied, as he finished the last of his cigarette. „We’re not due
to retire for another thirty years, Wilkins? What are you talking about?’
„Have a look at this.’ Wilkins released the large book from beneath his arm and
handed it to Firbank.
„What is this?’ Firbank asked, as he began flicking through the pages. Wilkins
smiled as he watched Firbank’s inquisitive eyes suddenly widen with wonder and
„Interesting reading, wouldn’t you say?’ Wilkins asked, popping a small sweet into
his mouth to stave off the suspicious scent of cigarette smoke.