THE FIRM: Chapter 4 - A Non-Accidental Meeting

AT THE OFFICES of Messrs. Venal & Grabbit, Solicitors, it is midnight, but a light still burns in Mike McCheap's room.

True to his word, McCheap has been working all hours God (i.e. Edgar Venal) sends.

He glances up at the clock on his wall and realises that he hasn't eaten anything for seventeen hours. He looks in his drawer, only to find that the sandwiches he bought on the way in to work this morning have curled up at the edges and are now quite inedible.

Reluctantly, he decides to leave his desk and go to the local all-night McGreasyburger restaurant (slogan: "I'm assimilating it!"™) to get something to eat. He will, of course, take a file with him.

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McCheap is just tucking in to his Big Greasy burger when a man in a raincoat sits down at the table next to him. McCheap thinks this a little odd, as all the other tables in the restaurant are empty, but continues eating his burger, whilst reading his file.

He is just picking a piece of gristle out from his teeth when the man in the next table stands up, walks across the aisle and sits opposite him.

"Can I help you?" Asks McCheap, in a condescending voice.

"Mike McCheap?" Asks the man.

McCheap is surprised that the man knows who he is. However, he quickly gathers his wits and smoothly asks the man who he might be.

"Inspector Gormless, CID." Replies the man.

Now McCheap gives the man his full attention. "CID? What do you want with me?" He asks, struggling to recall the last time he used coke.

"It's not what I want with you." Replies Gormless. "It's what I can do for you. Specifically, a warning."

"A warning? About what?" Asks McCheap.

"Let's just put it this way," says Gormless, "Hugo Belligerent's death may not have been an accident."

McCheap looks aghast. "What, you mean he could have been pushed?" He asks.

"We can't prove anything." Says Gormless. "But if he was then you could be in danger, too. Just watch your step."

With that, Gormless gets up and leaves the restaurant.

McCheap is dazed. He looks at the remains of the burger, still in his hand. A globule of fat drips on to his tray.

He realises that he has just lost his appetite.