‘Young Jimmy, how are you this fine evening?’
‘I’m just packing my case ready for Monday.’
‘You mean you’ve got that lovely young girl doing it for you!’
‘Yes,’ laughed Jimmy.
‘I’m sorry to bother you so late,’ said Henry. ‘I was wondering if you could pop into the shop.’
‘I’m a bit tight on time. I’m due to meet my mates in town at nine.’
‘Perhaps you could call in to see me on the way,’ suggested Henry.
Jimmy looked at his watch; it was just after eight. He could do it if he had a quick shower rather than his usual twenty minute routine and still make it to the pub for nine.
‘OK,’ said Jimmy, ‘I’ll see you at around half-eight.’
Jimmy put his phone back on the bedside table.
‘What did he want?’ asked Chloe.
Jimmy shrugged his shoulders. ‘He wants me to call into the shop – he didn’t say why.’
‘If I know Henry, he’ll want to give you something special to take to Art College. I wonder what it is …?’
Sadness tinged Jimmy’s upbeat mood as he walked down the Mews towards Henry’s shop. He remembered a Saturday morning four years previously when an anxious fourteen year old stood apprehensively looking at an old run down shop wondering what his mother had got him into. What he hadn’t realised at the time was that it was a life changing moment. He’d had four wonderful years working with Henry Crumble, and now it was coming to an end.
He opened the door and the brass bell above his head jingled his entrance. Henry appeared at the doorway to his workshop.
‘Young Jimmy, thank you for calling in at such short notice. Please, come into the workshop. I have a pot of Earl Grey brewing.’
‘It’s OK,’ said Jimmy. ‘I don’t really have the time.’
‘Nonsense,’ said Henry. ‘There’s always time for Earl Grey.’
Jimmy followed Henry into the workshop and was surprised to see a middle-aged man sitting behind the workbench. He was dressed in a casual open-necked white shirt and cream slacks. His white hair was cut short and a neatly trimmed white beard covered a chiselled face. He had a presence and an aura unlike anyone he had ever met before. Jimmy instinctively knew who he was.
The man stood up and held out his hand. ‘Jimmy First – we meet at long last.’
Jimmy took hold of his hand and shook it.
‘I am Auron. Please, don’t stand on ceremony, take a seat.’
Jimmy sat down at the bench as Henry placed a mug of Earl Grey in front of him. His old friend had surprised him once again. Why would Auron be sharing a mug of Earl Grey with Henry in his workshop? And why would Henry want Jimmy to join them?
Auron thoughtfully sipped his tea as Henry pulled up a chair and sat next to him. Jimmy watched in awe as the most powerful individual in the Universe sat in the midst of the chaos that was Henry Crumble’s workshop, drinking Earl Grey tea from a chipped mug. It doesn’t get any more surreal than this, he thought.
‘No doubt you’re wondering why after four Earth years have passed that I would suddenly turn up in Henry’s workshop to meet you?’
The thought had crossed my mind.