Shame. David cleared his throat. The shopkeeper slowly folded the newspaper and stood up. He was tall and heavy, like Ian, with rolls of fat on his neck.
"Excuse me," David said. "I was wondering if you could help me. I need to buy some battery acid. I have to top up my car battery, I have trouble starting my car in the mornings. Do you have any in stock?"
"Battery acid, eh? Yeah, I think I got some in stock. Not in the front, though. Too dangerous, some little kiddie might pull it down onto itself and then where would I be, eh? Up shit creek without the proverbial, that's where. Tell you what though, you wait here and I'll get a bottle from the store room. Won't be a tick, mate."
The shopkeeper turned and disappeared through a door behind the counter. After a few minutes he emerged, holding a bottle. "There you go, mate," he said, placing the bottle on the counter with a sold thump. "That'll be six quid. No, I'm feeling generous today, call it a fiver." He took the money and placed it in the till. "You need a bag for that?" he asked.
The shopkeeper picked up a crumpled plastic Tesco bag from a pile behind him and placed the bottle into it. "Mind how you go with that," he said as he handed it to David. "You could do yourself a mischief if you trip up with this in your hand."
"I'll be careful," David said as he took the bag. "Cheers."
He had driven back to the office and was about to park when he remembered. He glanced at his watch and turned the car back towards the centre of town. He was going to be a few minutes late. It couldn't be helped.
At the supermarket he bought:
half a cucumber
a bottle of washing-up liquid
and he added a Twix to the basket while he was waiting in the checkout queue.
Then he went back to the office. He was twelve minutes late.
"I'm glad you're back," said Yvonne, "John Gilbert phoned again a few minutes ago. Did you get the stuff?"
"You know, the stuff you went out to get, the groceries."
"Oh. Oh yes, I got the groceries. The queue at the checkout was a nightmare. Then they had a problem