This episode of Short-Term Lets was written by Chevanne Scordinsky, a writer and healthcare leader who explores genres from horror to romance to the surreal. She is the author of The FLARE, a collection of deeply personal and passionate work which launched in July 2021. You can read more of Chevanne’s fiction on Medium.
‘Tom, thanks for meeting me.’ Mary came up the stairs with a wide smile.
‘The weather’s been wicked these past few days. Couldn’t let you arrive looking like a sopping sponge.’
‘Oh, he’s with that new client I told you about. There’s loose ends to tie up with the latest deal. Very delicate negotiation.’
‘So we’ll head to a nearby cafe and get you a cup of tea.’
‘I’d like that, thanks.’
Tom made sure to keep a step ahead of Mary, both to keep an eye out but also to hide his clenched jaw. Raymond was always the better actor. They rounded the corner and headed toward a spot called Siegler’s where he was almost sure no one knew Raymond.
‘This is cosy.’
‘Yup. We come often enough but don’t stay long. Lots to do!’ Tom smiled mechanically.
Tom agreed to play tour guide while Raymond stayed out of sight long enough for Mary to lose interest in finding him. He’d show her around town to the nicest spots before politely ushering her back to the bus station. A best friend’s job was strenuous business.
They were making idle conversation about the weather and cellular carrier conspiracies when Tom’s own mobile phone buzzed loudly as a text came through.
The boss wants to meet at Siegler’s! Is there no other town in this forsaken country?!?
Tell him you hate it. Rats in the men’s room.
Tom was definitely the better liar.
Raymond and Tom worked at a management company aiding businesses with services from accounting to public relations. Tanner Development Ltd. had recently opened a small Edinburgh office, the perfect cover for weekend getaways to Bruntsfield. Most of their clients, however, still came from contracts much farther south. Raymond would agree to mind the office some weekends where he spent his days folding paper planes and planning his rise to stardom.
‘We should get going. I want to show you this very cool local museum. Raymond will be along for dinner and probably be grumpy. Get a pastry to go. He’ll love it.’
Mary beamed and scurried to the counter for an almond croissant.
While Tom waited outside, Raymond came trudging down the street.
‘Ridiculous! Now he wants to go to a place down the road and the only way is past you!’ Raymond was beginning to question his elaborate deception.
‘Raymond, she’s coming. Get behind the hedge.’
Raymond artfully tumbled behind the bushes, his bag striking him on the head.
‘Lean closer. I don’t have enough coverage,’ he whispered loudly.
‘You’re fine! Crouch down, you big baby.’
‘You’re supposed to be hiding me!’
‘No one can hide those broad shoulders!’
Just then, Mary emerged from the cafe and tousled her waves to one side. She approached Tom and took his arm. ‘Now, where is that museum?’
‘It’s lovely. Old looms and sewing machines from a shirt factory that was closed in 1936…’
The pair disappeared out of sight as Raymond gathered himself just in time for his boss to accompany him for a meeting with a potential client. He was actually going to work that weekend after all.
What is Short-Term Lets?
Short-Term Lets is a spinoff from The Links, with episodes written by guest writers. The setting is Alistair Sinclair’s flat, which is let on a short-term basis. In each episode, new characters come to stay, each with their own reasons for being there and their own stories to tell.
These episodes stand separately from the main The Links stories (although familiar characters may appear) and anything might happen. You don’t need to read The Links to follow these episodes, but if you’re not reading The Links, you should be!
Catch up with The Links and the rest of the episodes in the Short-Term Lets series:
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