The bee is as good as dead.
The odder you, the stranger you fall. That's what young Granite Bee was thinking. Private jokes for belly laughs and keep the outside world at a unique distance. There would always be another corner to turn, another bizarre revelation leading only to the new Lost. One more surprise summit, one more unknown quantity, one more question, the infinite penultimate.
Granite was not sure exactly where his life was taking him, but that day, his mission was to hop to The Wellgate Benefits Office to participate in his Career Development Interview. Being unemployed, he considered the interview title both generous and optimistic.
It was 11am and two post-pubescent boys were smoking hashish in the stairwell to the building. Granite could smell it before he could see them, allowing him a moment to wind his wing-muscles up and prepare mentally for any unexpected aggression or abuse. The boys ignored him as he rounded the corner and began the arduous task of the stairs. Too much violence around here, he thought, no need for it.
On the first floor there was a more subtle blend of odours; rolling tobacco, clothes left wet in the washing machine for a few days, cheap aftershave and the same smell his friend's Scaletrix set used to give off after an hour.
He buzzed to the reception desk in the open-plan office and the bitter-looking bag of bones intently staring at the VDU in front of her.
"Hello, I have an appointment here at 11..." and before he could squeeze out his name or any other information, was abrubtly asked if he was in the correct building, as they had moved surnames starting with the last thirteen letters of the alphabet down to Riverside.
Granite considered whether he should treat this as a game or a battle.
"I'm here to see Janice McGurk, my name's Granite Bee."
"Take a seat, she'll be with you in a minute."
As Granite alighted safely down on to the seat, he imagined Boney would go home after an African Safari having seen nothing but an unexplained scratch on her dashboard.
He turned his head slightly and gave a gracefully slow nod to the weather-worn primate next to him. There was a stained, three-quarter-length beige raincoat with large buttons, Rupert Bear trousers and boots made from old tractor tyres. The face with bulbous purple nose and huge, veiny ears effortlessly ignored its surroundings, making no movement to betray a nervous awareness of the bee next to him, Granite turned away from the man just as the sun shone in the window behind him, lighting up his ears a translucent pink and turning his thin head into a grotesquely deformed butterfly.
The bee scanned the room and saw Moe the stooge. A second sweep identified more than one Curly.
Moe was trying to pan off a fax machine on one of the less world-weary inmates while many of his spawn crashed around his legs like miniature planets never quite breaking free of their Guiding Light's gravity.
Phoney Moe dripped seaside arcade bling and donned labels of quality clothing firms.
Here is our Arthur Daly, thought Granite, our Del-boy. Superlagersupping kids. Glue and gas for roullette after the Merrydown Rodders, none of the fancy stuff, our complexions must explain. Good honest wife-beating and a passion for attacking the helpless with a pack of like-lobotomised hooligans, that was Moe and everyone knew it.
The bee had no more interest in the monkeys than they had in him.
A few feet away, a short, dark woman bounced through a door at the back of the office and called Granite’s name out as a question. He took a deep breath and rubbed his back legs together before exhaling and gently buzzing forward to introduce himself formally.
She was attractive in a dark Italian Scottish way, but had doubled the weight of her head by applying too much make-up and was in danger of being blown away if a sudden gust of wind caught her many decorative scarves simultaneously...
NB - Be prepared, he's going to die. That big truck is going to splat him on the windscreen, or perhaps the boys in the stairwell will turn nasty - he's going to get it, either way, we just haven't got round to it yet. The bee is as good as dead and the graffitti on his tombstone reads "Die in PIGWORLD insect scum".