Mark was rummaging through the drawers tucked underneath his desk, old receipts several allen keys and a collection of dried out pens with company logos emblazoned on them sat on top of a pile of indistinguishable fragments of old food. Eventually he found what he was looking for, pulling from the back of the drawer two teabags joined together at a tearable seam. He separated the teabags and looked up at Brian who was grey in the face, his eyes sunken into his skull making them look darker than usual. His hair hadn’t been brushed in recent memory and was flicking out at the sides, his long fringe also curling upwards towards the ceiling.
“A nice cup of tea should help rejuvenate you some, I suspect. Then we can get to the nitty-gritty.” Mark said, a false smile stretching right across his face.
Brian grunted a little, lifting his head to acknowledge his friend before letting it sink back down into his chest.
Mark rolled his chair backwards and grabbed the kettle from the small table in the back corner of the room, giving it a little shake to check there was enough water in it before switching it on. A few cups were laying loose on the table and he dropped the teabags into two cups. He rolled himself back to his desk.
“Perhaps we could start on the nitty whilst the kettle boils, and discuss the gritty bit later, whilst we wait for it to cool?” Mark suggested, leaning his elbows into the desk and clasping his fingers together.
Brian looked up at his friend. As he opened his mouth Mark could see how dry his lips were, pale and cracked out the outside, a stark contrast to the deep red of his tongue and the inside of his lips.
“The police are looking for me, they think I’ve murdered a man I met on holiday.” His voice was getting louder and louder with each word, fighting with the noise of the boiling kettle. Mark raised his finger signalling for a moment to interject.
“One minute.” He shouted over the steaming and bubbling kettle.
They both paused and waited for the kettle to finish boiling. It rattled around on its stand, the lid flicked up and down on its hinge and steam wafted into the air, creating beads of condensation on the wooden panelling of the wall. Eventually the kettle clicked and Mark hopped to his feet, sloshing water into the cups and plopping two lumps of sugar from the sugar bowl into his cup.
“Sugar?” he asked Brian as he stirred his own teabag.
“No thank you.” Brian muttered as Mark dropped two lumps of sugar into his cup as well before giving it a good stir and splashing milk into both cups. He dropped the teabags into the waste paper bin and they toppled from the piles of rubbish straight to the floor. Mark placed the cups down on the desk and sat himself back down, crossing his leg over his knee, leaning right back in his chair and letting his fingertips touch one another in front of his face.
“So, a murder you say?” his eyebrow raising slightly.
“The police are outside my house right now. Or they were about an hour ago at least.”
“And how do you know that they suspect you of this murder?”
“Well. I was there at the time. I mean, not really, just more in spirit than anything I suppose.”
“Well, I dreamt it. And then I read the news at my desk the very next day and there he is, a man found on top of a Moroccan pyramid stark bollock naked except from that teacup balanced upside down on his youknowwhat.”
“Ah, I recall seeing that article yesterday, yes.”
Mark stood up and started to pace up and down behind his desk slowly, taking two steps, then pivoting after running out of space immediately. He wagged his index finger in front of his face.
“But how could they suspect you if you merely dreamt it?”
“Well, it’s really quite bizarre. But I don’t seem to be able to find my driving license.”
“Or my passport.”
“Or my tenancy agreement, any of my utility bills, or my letter confirming my subscription to Nuts Magazine.”
Mark stopped pacing and tilted his head.
“For the sports banter, you understand.”
Mark pursed his lips and gave an understanding and reassuring nod.
“Hold on a minute!” Mark exclaimed, his index finger now pointing right in the air, “I knew something was amiss.”
He rummaged through the paperwork on his desk and picked up The Times from the previous day, flicking through the pages quickly before slapping the paper down onto his desk, grabbing the magnifying glass and holding it between him and the newspaper, moving it closer to the paper, then further away, then closer again.
“Brian.” Mark said, slapping his finger down onto the image of a pyramid, “I think I can see your water bill.”