I work with numbers. That’s what I do. Some people count them, some juggle them, others crunch them or study them; I make them. The finest numbers money can buy. You know that really nice house at the end of the street, with just the right amount of renovation and perfect modern lines? You know how it’s got that fantastic number on the front gate? I made that. Brass or silver or gold or whatever you want, I’ll make it for you. People often ask, Isn’t that a bit specialised? or, Yeah, but what else do you do? These people haven’t seen the numbers I make. There’s a certain feeling that comes with shaping metal with your hands. Hard to describe.
A car pulls up outside my shop. A Mercedes. Tinted windows, chrome everything, and a body so black that when light sees it coming, it looks the other way. I am well on my way to wishing the owner a life of bird shit and dwindling brake fluid when you step out of the driver’s side. Well, you hobble out, supported by two walking canes. To the boot, where you pull out a fold-up wheelchair. You wheel your way towards me.
I’m a heartless bastard, I think. I’m a heartless, cynical, awful bastard. I open the door for you.
You say something like, Thank you.
And I probably reply, It’s no problem.
You ask about the number 34, and its possible combination with others. I begin to like you more and more as the seconds go by.
These numbers are lovely, you say.
That’s what people usually say, I answer.
What do you call this one?
I thought I’d seen it somewhere before.
It’s on the Library, in town, between the two and the six.
I never knew this shop was here before.
It sneaks up on you, doesn’t it?