Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Staff (01/31/13)
TITLE: Rodd and Staff
By Fiona Stevenson
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The Chaplain’s roar echoed through the building, lifting heads and tweaking consciences. Short and kilted, Staff Miles hurried in response.
“Get that new recruit out of my hair! Give him something to do – send him somewhere – preferably somewhere I can’t see him or hear him. And do it now, Staff, not tomorrow.”
“Sir!” Staff Miles turned to leave.
Staff Miles turned back. “Sir?”
“Uniform, Staff. I can’t bear the sight of your knobbly knees in that skirt!”
Offended, Staff Miles left the room with a swing of his kilt. The Chaplain subsided into his chair, elbows on the desk, throbbing head held between the palms of his hands.
Staff Miles strode through the general office to a lad sitting sorting a batch of papers into numerical sequence for filing. He slapped his hand down on the desk sending several papers to the floor.
“You, you snivelling bag of bones, find a mop and sluice the toilets. Now!”
The snivelling bag of bones stooped to pick up the fallen papers, protesting “But Sir, I’ve already done that twice today.”
“Well, do it again. Cleanliness is next to Godliness! When you’ve finished I’ll have the paperwork ready to go to Company A. You can take that across to them.”
“Sir.” Bones shuffled his filing together, dropping it into the desk drawer before heading for the toilets and his mop and bucket. His mind replayed his morning’s activities, wondering which had occasioned his current disfavour. The toilets were spotless. The kitchen, likewise. He had polished the Chaplain’s office until it shone. No one had complained about the coffees he had made. What could he have done wrong?
Pedalling across town to deliver the paperwork to Company A he was still wondering. At least he couldn’t do anything else wrong today: by the time he had been to Company A and returned the bicycle to the Chaplains offices it would be past time to go off-duty. Perhaps the morrow would be a better day.
Meanwhile Lieutenant Colonel Adams upended his waste basket onto his desk, smoothing the crumpled papers he had discarded. Perhaps it was there, accidentally tossed aside. His temples pulsated and his stomach rose in rebellion with the pain. The Notification was not among the papers retrieved from the basket. He picked them up and returned them with the basket to the floor under his desk. He made another futile search through the files on his desk.
Leaning on the office doorpost he called again for Staff Miles, closing the door behind him before returning to his chair, waving Miles to the chair at the front of the desk.
“Miles,” the Chaplain’s voice was low-toned, almost apologetic. “Yesterday a Notification came through from H.Q. I had it on my desk, in the right-hand corner, with a paperweight on it. Today, since that idiot boy cleaned my office, I cannot find it. I have looked everywhere I can think of but I cannot find it. I need it today. Mrs. Rodd says she hasn’t seen it. She took the filing from the out tray and she is sure it wasn’t among those papers. There is a debriefing tonight and I must have that paper!”
His voice rose with his agitation. Staff Miles, seeing the tension and the whiteness of the Lieutenant Colonel’s face, realised that there was more amiss than just a misplaced paper. A quiet reply was needed.
“I’ll see what I can do, Sir.”
His first call was to Mrs. Rodd.
“Roddie, did you file the Boss’s paperwork yourself?”
“No, Staff, I gave it to the new recruit. He was looking for something to do, and he looked as though he’d had enough of cleaning jobs. Why?”
“Chappie’s missing a Notification. I wonder if the boy has filed anything yet.”
“I don’t think so – he really didn’t have time before you sent him off to Company A. I think he was still sorting them – let’s have a look at his desk.”
“Of course, he put them in the desk drawer. I’ll take a look, Roddie. You take the Chaplain a cup of tea and two aspirin – he needs them.”
The Notification was found. The paperweight had been moved before Bones entered the room, the breeze from the opening door blowing the paper to the floor. He had retrieved it, returning it to the closest file tray.
The Chaplain smiled his relief, his tension eased.
“Truly Mrs. Rodd and my Staff are a comfort to me!”
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