Dinosaurs at Midnight By D.I. Jolly
As was often the case with excellent coffee, it was over too quickly; and even more unfortunately for Lloyd Birch, he wasn’t the kind of man who would ask a client for a second cup. Besides, he had a job to do and he planned to do it.
Then he would make the walk back down the hill, further ensuring the death of his shoes, back to his small hotel room, or for what passed as a hotel room in that part of the country.
He would then take a shower, get a good night’s sleep and, in the morning, drive back to his home, his wife, and the still to be constructed cot. Again, Lloyd looked around the room and wondered how long it would take Mr Ambrose to assemble something as seemingly simple as a baby’s cot.
Before deciding that lawyer was the correct path for him, he had spent an afternoon researching other equally lucrative careers, and had spent all of 2 minutes on the idea of being an engineer, then dropped the idea completely and moved on. It wasn’t that it wasn’t an interesting topic, it was simply that Lloyd Birch was useless with his hands. He had the handwriting of a doctor, and the hand-eye coordination of a particularly slow sloth. Which was also why he was hoping that he’d have a daughter and not a son. Not that his daughter couldn’t be sporty, but because it was less embarrassing for him. He knew that if he did have a son, he’d feel socially obligated to at least attempt to get him into sports. Even though he was well aware that anyone with his genes would probably be just as bad at catching as he was. But still, it sat in a folder in the back of his mind and sometimes caused him a slight chill of anxiety whenever it surfaced.
All of these thoughts seemed to occur at the same time as Lloyd tried to take the final sip of his coffee, only to realise the mug was empty and the best part of his day so far, had ended.
He then looked again at Mr. Sparkles and then to Mr. Ambrose.
“I’m not sure I fully understand.”
Mr. Ambrose smiled a grandfatherly smile in reply and then said.
“I’m not sure that’s really a problem.”
They then stared at each other for a moment before Mr. Ambrose gestured with his own mug and said:
“Would you like some more coffee?”
Lloyd felt his muscles tense to prevent him from expressing his excitement outwardly and said plainly:
“Oh, yes please, that’s very kind of you.”
Walter Ambrose reached out and took the mug then walked back to the kitchen. Lloyd in turn took one last look at Mr. Sparkles who continued to be thoroughly unmoved by his presents, and then he too went to the kitchen.
“Mr Ambrose, the process is fairly simple. In fact, all I need from you is a few signatures, which will give my company the legal rights to represent you in this matter. We’ll then make sure that all land surveyors are either impartial or accompanied by legal representatives on your behalf. It will also mean that we can act as a barrier between any oil companies and you, so that you personally won’t be hassled or harassed by anyone…”
Walter Ambrose did not turn around, and his voice did not change, but he did cut into the conversation to say.
“You mean, harassed by anyone else?”
The comment took Lloyd a bit by surprise and in his head, he heard himself say. “Objection.” But he managed to keep it in his head.
He then waited a few seconds until Mr. Ambrose put a fresh cup of coffee down on the kitchen table, and gestured for him to continue.
“Basically sir, you get to rest assured that you will get the best deal possible, while also having to put in the least effort.”
Lloyd reached into his bag and pulled out a thin folder with a few documents inside, and placed them on the table. Only then did he pick up the coffee and take the sip. He’d been waiting until he finished his speech before reaching for the cup. The coffee, for its part, continued to be excellent.
Walter Ambrose reached across the table and pulled the folder towards himself, but didn’t open it, then he gestured at the room around them.
“Do I strike you as a man who shies away from effort, Mr Birch?”
“No Mr Ambrose, you strike me as a man who is retired.”
“Well, that’s the truth.”
Walter then opened the folder and ran his eyes over the first page.
Lloyd smiled and reached into his pocket for his pen. But stopped when Walter Ambrose continued to talk.
“Okay, well I’m going to need some time to read over these and possibly make some amendments. Should be good to go by tomorrow. I haven’t practised law in a few years but some things never leave you.”
“I… I beg your pardon?”
Walter Ambrose smiled his rapidly becoming familiar smile and said:
“Oh, you didn’t think you were the only person to ever study law, did you?”
“No, of course not.”
“And you don’t expect me to sign these documents without reading them, do you?”
Lloyd Birch felt the image of the rest of his day begin to slip away as he said:
“Good, you can stay here over night. There are few guest houses in the back, you can take the first one on the left. There isn’t hot water per se, but the bathtubs are made of iron, and I’ve connected little gas burners so you can fill it up, light the fire, and get it to the right temperature. Just don’t leave the gas on when you get in, I don’t want to deal with lawyer stew.”
Walter Ambrose then turned his attention back to the documents in front of him while Lloyd Birch continued to stare, almost completely forgetting the coffee. He very nearly jumped when Walter Ambrose looked back up at him and said more cheerfully:
“Hey, have you ever seen turkeys sleeping?”
“Did you know they can fly, and often sleep in trees? It’s the funniest thing. You go take a bath and get yourself cleaned up, I’ll come by later with your dinner, and some better clothes and shoes for you. After that we can take a walk through the farm. I tell you, it’s an interesting place in the middle of the night.”
Lloyd Birch continued to stare for a moment longer, then found himself again, took a deep breath, a large sip of coffee, and accepted his fate.
“Sounds lovely, where can I find the keys to the guest house?”
“This is a farm in the middle of nowhere Mr Birch. The doors aren’t locked.”
“Of course they’re not.”
“But do remember to keep them closed. Unless you want to share with the raccoons.”
“I thought the raccoons took over the barn, from Mr Sparkles?”
“Yes, but the guest houses are warmer, especially when someone is in there. Besides, better safe than sorry.”
Lloyd nodded thoughtfully, then made his way out towards the guest house, being sure to collect his shoes on the way, and deciding that he would, in fact, have a bath.