JUNK and Other Short Stories
addressed to him went into his briefcase, to be read on the train, and the rest went into
the bucket. The only exception was the occasional begging letter from a charity,
which included a ball pen. He kept the pens. He sometimes felt a bit - well,
awkward, - but took the view that if they could afford to send him a pen, then they
could afford for him to keep it. So that’s what he did. The rest was thrown away,
Except that this morning, for some reason, he found himself on the train
actually reading a letter that was obviously junk mail. It was from a firm called
FreeRanger Travel, which he’d never heard of, and which addressed him as, ‘Dear Sir
or Madam’. He hadn’t been called ‘Sir’ for a long time. He looked again at the
envelope. It was certainly his address, and he was certainly ‘The Occupier’. He
read on, to discover that it was a competition for a five-day holiday in Hong Kong,
staying on a privately owned luxury junk in the harbour, and travelling by scheduled
airline. Sounded good – he wouldn’t mind a few days in the Far East. He’d never
been, and could do with a break. In fact, he’d never been anywhere much. He read
on, completed the competition, and posted his entry in the reply-paid envelope on his
way to the office from Bank station.
That was that. He thought no more of it.
No more, that is, until he had a phone call at home a couple of months later
from FreeRanger Travel.
“Good news,” said the voice. “You’ve won one of our free holidays.”
“Really?” asked Gavin. He only vaguely remembered the competition, to be
“I just need to ask you a few questions, to confirm your identity, and then I
can send you details,” said the voice.
He answered the questions, most of which confirmed information he had put
on the competition entry form – name, age, address - that sort of thing.
“What have I won, then?” Gavin asked the voice.
“Five days in Hong Kong, staying on an exclusive privately owned junk
moored in the harbour. The prize includes scheduled flights, private room with en
suite facilities and breakfast. There is a choice of dates to select from when you get
our letter, and the holiday includes free transfers from your home to the airport, and
from the airport in Hong Kong to the junk. All you have to pay for is insurance, local
taxes, your main meals, and any tours and excursions you want. We’ll send you a
This all sounded too good to be true. His mother had always said that
anything that seemed too good to be true probably was, but he couldn’t, off hand, see
anything much wrong with this.
He didn’t have to wait long for the letter confirming the details. This time,
the envelope was addressed to him by name, but still said ‘Dear Sir’ inside. He was
impressed. There was a leaflet, with details about the junk. Distinctly Chinese
looking it was, too, from the outside, but the inside looked very smart. There was a
map of Hong Kong, another leaflet about tours, and one from someone wanting to sell
him holiday insurance, which he already had anyway, through his bank.