The Boss eyes Stone carefully, narrows his piercing eyes and cocks his head to one side. He can almost hear the cogs grinding. What will it be? A death sentence? Life imprisonment? They say the local jail is rife with rats and cockroaches and sadistic thugs. Stone’s a gentle guy really, lives in his head. He’d never survive the dank, crawling, filthy reality of a life behind bars. Gruesome images flash before his eyes. His mind reels and he almost asks to sit down for a moment. The Boss stares on. Eventually he speaks. His voice is gruff, unrelenting.
‘They’re all talking about me you know,’ the Boss says, ‘around the town. My name’s on everyone’s lips. They won’t shut up about me.’
Stone nods, looks down at his shoes. They’re worn out really, and tramping around all day yesterday and halfway through the night hasn’t helped. He may have stepped in something regrettable in the dark.
‘I know what you did. I’m not stupid you know,’ says the Boss. ‘First you go squandering my funds and pilfering from me… now this. You know what they are saying?’
Stone thinks. Shakes his head. He really has no idea, but he isn’t in a hurry to find out.
The Boss, frowns, chews his lip… then smiles. Smiles? Yes he’s smiling.
‘They say I’m the best guy round here. A generous man. That I’m full of mercy, slashing all their bills in half, letting them off the hook in a tough financial climate. They say I should get a medal. Some even propose a statue. What do you think?’
Stone’s mind is spinning, right now he’s finding it very hard to think anything. Could it be true? Has his plan actually worked?
‘I see what you did,’ said the Boss, ‘you blessed a whole load of people didn’t you? And in the process they’re blessing me. With you in the middle of it all. Both sides winners. That was smart. You took my money and made a difference. Subverted it. I guess you won’t be out of a job now when I quietly let you go. I mean I won’t be banging you up in the local jail now will I?’
As Stone slips out of the Boss’s office he can’t help but let a smile sneak across his lips. Money. That age-old conundrum. The thing that fuels so much injustice and cruelty. He took it and flipped it right over, used it for good. Made a whole lot of people feel better about life. He shakes his head. A risk, but it worked. He could have tried to pilfer a whole load more of his master’s stash for himself, but he didn’t. And now here he is walking free. With half the town grinning and nodding at him as he wanders down the high street.