Billy Again (the Second of the Billy Stories)
The phone rang. I could see from the screen that it was Billy. Probably he wanted money. It was sure that he wanted something.
I opened the phone.
"Billy," I said, "what do you want?" It was necessary to sound harsh when answering the phone to Billy because it was sure he wanted something. Usually I felt guilty about that right afterwards. It was like shouting at a dog that has been sick on your carpet.
"I'm stuck", said Billy.
"Stuck where?" I asked.
"In a shed", he replied.
Back then, I worked for myself in a room near the harbour on the 6th floor of an old warehouse a street back from the dock. From the window, across some corrogated concrete roofs you could just about see the cranes unloading giant containers which then were shunted into warehouse, but today it was quiet and there was no movement in the cranes I could see.
Anyway, I would go to this room which had a phone and a desk and an old computer and I 'phoned people and then wrote bits and pieces analysing marketing strategies.
Secretly I was happy about Billy's interruptions, however. No-one was returning my calls, and the article I was writing had an aimlessness to it that I didn't know how to overcome. But there was another reason for being harsh to Billy which was that he never felt the least shame for bothering you. Maybe he detected that I secretly liked being distracted as I could then blame him for my low productivity. More likely he didn't give a damn.
The shed was in a field. "You can't miss it," Billy hd told me- which always means the contrary in my experience. The shed was in a field on the north approach road. I knew that quite well, but there was a turn off at a farm, said Billy which because a minor road. My old Rover chunted along happily and sure enough there was the turn off, and belong it a copse, then some uneven fields, cattle grazed in one, in another some crows pecked, a doleful sight. It looked as if it might rain.
Then said Billy there were some giant hay barns, painted dark pink, and the shed was in an adjacent field.
I stopped the car by the wooden gate. There was no one in sight. There was the shed, a wooden thing, the size the size of a car garage. What on earth was Billy doing there? I started across the field which was muddy with the hoofprints of cattle. The mud stuck and my feet got wet through my city shoes and I started to dislike Billy. He hadn't mentioned the mud.
I reached the shed and shouted, "Billy, I'm here."
"I'm stuck" replied Billy, "open the fucking door".
There was the door, a gardeners and heavy wooden door.The door had a a metal loop attached and the door frame had one too, so it could be locked with a padlock. There wasn't a padlock there, but someone had inserted a screwdriver in it. Billy had pushed against the door, but hadn't managed even to bend the screwdriver.
"There's a screwdriver stuck in the padlock", I said.
"Fuck," said Billy.
"How long have you been in here, Billy?"
"Open the fucking door"
"Come on Billy, you've got to be polite if you want favours?"
"Two hours" said the voice quietly.
Billy didn't say anything as we drove back. It started to drizzle and Billy sulked as we made our way back to the city. He wouldn't tell me why he was in the shed- probably he was looking for something to steal. He asked to be dropped at the bus station.
I pulled into the concourse.
"Can you lend me ten quid?" asked Billy.