Night owls have more fun, don't we? Free souls, not to be tamed, slipping through the shadows, beyond the daily grind. It is 4:30am and Alex is thinking this to himself whilst waiting for his 24 hour telephone banking service to wake up and answer the bloody phone.
Drunken fools dribbling down the line, wanting a loan so they could blow it on an all-night on-line poker tournament. Wasters, the dispossessed, stealing through the night, up to no good. It is twenty minutes later and Alex is still in a queue, his mood darkening.
The bank used to play classical music, which they interrupted every twenty seconds to tell you how much they valued their custom – not enough to pay anyone to help you, apparently. But lately they'd moved to pop music, middle of the road, happy stuff, presumably to lighten the mood.
“You've left me waiting too long/When you come back I'll be gone...”
Oh, now you're shitting me, Alex groans out loud. They are playing his song. Literally. He wrote it way back in 1983. Thirty years ago. It was a big hit, and so was he and his band, for their fifteen minutes anyway. Those times are long gone, but the hit remains. As does some of the money. He might even be able to access some of it, if someone would just answer the flipping phone.
“Hello, welcome to the Commercial Bank, Jessica speaking, may I take your account number?”
“Finally” says Alex, more to himself than her, but Jessica ignores him anyway. He gives his number, and his date of birth and the first line of his address.
“And your occupation?” asks Jessica.
“Musician” he replies.
“Cool. And how can I help you this evening, Mr Little?”
“I transferred a rather large sum of money from an investment account a couple of days ago and I was just checking it had cleared before I spend some of it.”
“OK, bear with me and let me see.” This feels like it could take a while. Alex settles back in his chair and looks out through the large picture windows of his first floor living room; looks out over the city. Bristol in all its glory greets him, edging towards the dawn.
“I'm sorry sir, I can't see anything on the account. Let me look in our subsidiary system to see if it's still pending. It'll take a while I'm afraid. Tell me, what music do you play?”
Oh God, thinks Alex. “Oh, you know, this and that. There's a car advert running at the moment, some DJ stuff, bits and bobs.” There's a silence and he finds himself filling it, a lifelong curse. “In fact my song was just playing on the loop when I was waiting in the phone queue.” He kicks himself. What did I say that for? Still needy after all these years? Jerk.
“Wow, what song?”
“Oh. 'Waiting Too Long'. It's very old.”
“Oh, god I love that.” Jessica actually sings the chorus. Until she runs out of words anyway, which is mercifully soon. “My mum loves it too. She loved you. What were you called, um, let me think, …......”
“Yes, that's right. God, she was such a fan. Ha, I can't wait to tell her. Hang on though, Alex? Who was called Alex in the band? Let's see, there was Noel West and Eddie Brean. Oh, and who could forget Lawrence Weston. I can't remember the rest. Certainly not an Alex though. That wouldn't make sense. No, definitely no Alex Little at all.” She is now suspicious.
“I was Eddie Brean. I mean I am Eddie Brean. I mean that was my stage name.”
“Really. Actually I always wondered about that. Those names, someone told me they were all based around Bristol weren't they? Puns. All except yours. So why Eddie Brean? I never got it.”
Alex was about to explain for the thousandth time, when Jessica put her telephone head back on.
“I'm sorry Eddie, I mean Alex, I mean Mr Little….sir, there's no money in your account or pending. In fact you're a few hundred overdrawn.“
“That's impossible. It's a major transfer. And I do mean major.”
“And where is the transfer from.”
“Clearway Holdings. Terence Maguire, maybe, but Clearway Holdings.”
“No, nothing, oh no hang on, I do have something from Clearway Holdings. Yesterday, a transfer in.”
“Yes, that's it. Thank God. You had me worried there for a minute.”
“Yes a transfer for £200 pounds. Is that it sir? Sir?...Sir?....Alex?...Eddie?”
Alex is sweating. A creeping fear has caught up with him. Something that has been lying dormant for years. A confirmation of a deep hunch he's always had but has studiously ignored. It's easy to fool the gullible. Easier still to grift the greedy. And he was the fool. And he'd been greedy. Curtains opened, mists lifted, metaphors crashed all around him. That £200 pounds was supposed to be two hundred thousand pounds. And was all he had.
And he had been had.