Jeff emptied the contents of his right trouser pocket onto the cheap, faux-pine, laminate and chipboard, coffee table. Spread out before him were a battered imitation-leather wallet, one he’d had since his late teens, and a handful of coins. There was a barely discernible logo on the front of the wallet, representing a brand that had been very much a-la-mode at the time of purchase, but one that was no longer particularly in vogue. The wallet, he knew, contained a debit card for an overdrawn bank account, a credit card that was alarmingly close to the overly-generous limit his bank had permitted and several supermarket loyalty cards, which demonstrated that Jeff was not, in fact, especially ‘loyal’ to any one particular provider when it came to grocery shopping.
What the wallet did not contain, sadly, was any actual money.
And money was what Jeff badly needed at this moment. His attention turned to the coins alongside the wallet. Mostly copper, a few silver, but certainly no hint of gold. He guessed that there might be enough for a pint of milk, but that was probably optimistic.
Jeff checked his left pocket in despair. He already knew there would be nothing. Jeff kept his money in his right pocket and his keys and phone in his left. He was a creature of habit in this regard.
His inspection confirmed the presence of these items and a depleted packet of tissues, the need of which could be explained by his allergies, which had been particularly, and unseasonably, acute for the last week or so.
Jeff examined his pay-as-you-go mobile phone, hoping for a miracle. What he saw were several missed calls.
Calls he had deliberately ignored.
All from the same number.
Jeff needed to find a solution, and quickly.
He checked the time and reasoned that he probably had an hour. Maybe ninety minutes if he was lucky.
He did a mental audit of his possessions. His car, unfashionable and unreliable, was nonetheless the only thing of value that he really owned. He obviously couldn’t sell that in the time available, and if he was honest, even in such desperate moments, selling his car would be irresponsible.
Another solution was required.
The it hit him.
There was the ring. Sally’s grandmother’s wedding ring. If he pawned that he could surely generate enough.
And Sally never really looked at it. She probably wouldn’t even notice it was gone. Not for ages. He’d probably have it back before she even realised.
Jeff’s feelings of guilt were palpable as marched up to the bedroom and opened the drawer of Sally’s bedside table.
He held tiny gold ring in his hands. The value was sentimental more that monetary but Jeff was sure it would be enough to meet his immediate needs. Uneasy though this made him, he knew that there was no other way.
He pocketed the golden hoop.
The sound of a nineties pop classic indicated that his phone was ringing. Content that he had found an acceptable solution to his cash-flow problems, he finally felt able to accept the call.
“Ok, I ‘ll meet you in the Fox and Hounds in an hour” he answered, “And happy birthday, mate – the first round is on me.”