Flower Walk – Chatting in the Park

Commander Conway relaxed against the park bench on Flower Walk and lowered his eyes to study the shoes and trouser legs as they passed. There were more flats than heels on the women and the male black oxfords and ox blood brogues had, for the most part, been replaced by loafers and thick-soled sneakers. The pigeons looked the same, as did the sparrows and starlings and there were more pram wheels and the like. He decided the British must be breeding again.

He didn’t look up when Nigel arrived but waited while he stared down a while, then sat beside him. “Here we are then,“ John said. “Come full circle ‘ave we?”

“Nice to meet again John. Not sure if we are full circle. You did call me.” Sir Nigel Harper wore charcoal slacks and a blue blazer sporting the huge Marylebone Cricket Club badge over the left breast pocket. His feet were tightly laced in black oxfords. “Could it be that I can be of service to you?”

Their relationship had always been one of client and service provider but the Commander terminated it when Sir Nigel’s attempted to impose his own agenda on his business. “It could be,” the commander continued. “I’m thinkin’ of a water research project. A new service that makes water flow wherever the customer wants it.”

“Promising concept. You provide the service and I provide the clients?”

“It might work better if you form the company, run it your own way, pull in your own experts and clients. I’ll see to governments and security.”

“You don’t have water experts?”

“I have NASA.”

“Satellite images and such?”

John nodded – his gaze still lowered.

“Might be very useful as I have Exxon Mobile now.”

“You got ‘em all then. All the fossil fuel empires under your great big umbrella.”

“I think you knew that.”

John looked up, smiled for the first time. “Wouldn’t be here else.”

“I do believe you are softening in your old age John. Never seen you smile without a gin in hand. Is there something I should know? A woman perhaps?”

“Business is all, Sir Nigel. This is big and I’m wealthy enough to spread the benefits.”

“Maybe you are old, and tired.”

“Old I am. That’s sure. Tired, maybe, but not of work. I feed on work.”

They sat quietly for a few moments – John with his shoes and trouser bottoms; Nigel with his mind whirling with visions of controlling Middle Eastern water supplies. When he could sit no longer he stood, looked down at the Commander, and said, “You will be hearing from me.”

John looked up. “Soon.”

“Yes. Very soon.”

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