The thirty-eighth short story in the Evolved Energy Series.
Around a circular wooden table, the three men hunched together in deep discussion. Steam engulfed them as it rose from mugs of tea and coffee while a plate of biscuits lay untouched. They were an odd collection of folk: a man who could have easily passed for a bear; a tall, lean man with hair as black as the night outside; and a tired, bored looking man who didn’t seem very special at all.
“Tell us then, Hiccup,” The tired man drawled. “How did the public meeting go?”
The raven-haired man glared. “It’s Henry, and you’d know if you bothered to show up, Saul.”
“Ah but that’s why we send you,” Saul smirked. “You’re like the rapporteur of the group.”
“I’m surprised you know such a big word-”
“Hiccup!” The bear warned with a frown.
Hiccup sighed. “It was more boring than normal.”
“Exactly my point. That’s why you go and not me.” Saul laughed as he reclined into his wooden chair.
Hiccup ran a hand through his hair before picking at the biscuit plate. “You could have gone to the meeting, Saul, it’s not as though you ever do any work.”
“I open the bar at eventide, Henry.”
Hiccup snorted. “And miss the entire lunchtime trade in the process.”
“I don’t want those people,” Saul laughed darkly. “I want the people that come out at night.”
“I’d want the money, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand how your mind works.”
“Good,” Saul smirked. “If you could work that out I’d probably be as boring as you are.”
“Saul, that’s enough.” The largest man growled.
“Ease up, Eacal, you wouldn’t have any fun if the two of us started being nice to each other.”
Eacal shrugged. “I just want to know how the meeting went and then you can do what you like to each other.”
“That’s the most disturbing thing you’ve ever said,” Hiccup sneered in disgust. “And since when have you cared this much about these meetings?”
“Since they started talking about tax increases and-”
“And he needs a divorce.” Saul interjected.
Hiccup blinked at the two threads of conversation. “Are you struggling to pay tax, Eacal?”
“No,” Eacal’s brow furrowed. “It’s not that. I just think it’s gone up a lot in the last few years. Felicity gets the reduced rate but I’m still paying top bracket. The money we save in the heating bills isn’t as much as we shell out.”
“And if you divorce her you would lose her discount…” Saul considered, mostly to himself.
Eacal sighed. “I am not divorcing my wife.”
“How would it work if she died?” Saul looked pointedly towards Hiccup.
Eacal was affronted. “Saul!”
“I mean if it was a terrible accident-”
“That she wouldn’t recover from and could be fatal-”
“You can’t say these things!”
“Then you’d be a widow.”
Hiccup nodded his agreement. “He’s right, Eacal, widows get tax discount.”
“We are not discussing this.” Eacal stared from one set of innocent eyes to the other.
Hiccup chewed thoughtfully on a piece of shortbread. “It was only hypothetical.”
“Exactly and she could end up fatally injured in a tragic accident.” Saul chewed on his lip.
“You’re bad people.” Eacal shook his head.
“We know.” Saul smiled as Hiccup nodded in complete agreement.
(All characters, setting, plot etc. belongs to me – Erin Robinson)