‘At last! So the Agency’s found somebody after all – useless lot that they are! I have never seen such a lot of useless …’
‘Well, we haven't actually been sent…’
‘Useless, I tell you! You hear me? Useless! I mean even now – I tell them: send me a stylist, and they send me two. I don't need two! I told them…’
Lennie thought on his feet. ‘That's all right, madam,’ he broke in, ‘my friend can be my assistant; he can sweep the floor and take care of the place – for free.
‘What!’ cried Creamy aghast. ‘For free!’
‘For free?’ cried the woman. Her long list of complaints against the Agency forgotten, she beamed and gushed: ‘Now that's what I call service. Always said they were first class people, the Agency. They know what I like.’
‘But, madam,’ tried Lennie, ‘I think …’
‘Don't think! Waste of time all that thinking. Just get on with the job. You know what to do. Goodness me! I'm already late. Must dash.’ And with that she was gone.
Creamy and Lennie stood staring at each other as the door slammed shut behind her. Creamy shrugged his shoulders, sat down in a chair in front of a large mirror, picked up a brush and began to work on his hair.
‘I suppose that was the shop owner,’ said Lennie. ‘Ah, well, let's get ready. Best if you hold the fort here – you know, in case somebody pops in – and I'll see what I can find in the back room for us to wear. We must look the part.’
‘Right,’ said Creamy, smiling at his reflection in the mirror. He had managed to brush the hair on top of his head straight up and was leaning back in the chair, admiring his new hairstyle.
‘Hello! So sorry I'm late!’ came a cry from the door.
Creamy almost dropped his brush, as he swung his chair round quickly. He stared at the man struggling through the door, pulling a large suitcase on wheels behind him.
‘I'm from the Agency. I'm the stylist you had asked for.’
‘I didn't, said Creamy, quite truthfully, but the man didn't listen. Breathlessly, he went on:
‘I've been delayed, as I had to pack my suitcase, you see. I'm off to see my aunt, who had invited me to spend the weekend, and since I knew there would be little time to catch the train, I ….’
Creamy raised his paw. ‘Please don't tell me your life story – not interested.’
‘Well, that's fine. As I said, I'm sorry to be late.’
Creamy, too, could think on his feet now and then. And this was the time he did. He rose to his feet and looked at the man sternly. ‘I don't care why you're late, my man. The job's gone because you're late. We don't need a stylist who is late; or for that matter, any other stylist either.’
‘Do you mean to say you don't need a stylist at all?’
‘That's right. We're fully staffed.’
‘Well, that's odd,’ said the man looking round. ‘I can't see anyone else.’
‘We are fully staffed,’ repeated Creamy coldly. ‘Please feel free to go to your aunt straightaway. Good afternoon to you, sir.’
Much to Creamy's surprise, the man smiled suddenly. ‘Er … I wonder. Could I ask you a favour before I go?’
‘Ask away,’ said Creamy, feeling magnanimous now that the man was going.
‘If you could refrain from mentioning to the Agency that I was late, I would be most grateful. You see…’
‘Say no more! My lips are sealed.’
‘That's very kind of you,’ said the man and left.
Creamy sighed with relief, as he sat back in the chair. For once, I saved our job and helped make money for us! If only Lennie knew! he thought, a smile of satisfaction playing about his lips.