Bill Wild is acting a little odd today. The lashing sleet rattles his hi-vis jacket but utterly fails to wipe the smug grin from his face.
With the ease of many years’ experience he winches the generator from the glistening road and secures it on the back of his lorry.
A passing car slows and a window slides down. The driver shouts to Bill, ‘Thank the bloody gods. How long have these roadworks been here?’
Bill, given more to economical truth than downright lies, shrugs and says, ‘It’s been a while, hasn’t it?’
The driver goes on, ‘But what did you actually do? I didn’t see anybody working all these months.’
Bill shrugs again. ‘Dunno. I’m just the bloke that puts up the traffic lights and sets the cones out.’
The driver, under pressure from traffic behind, moves off into a flurry of wet snow, tyres hissing and squelching in slush.
Bill collects the last of the cones, stashes them lovingly, even patting them and muttering his thanks and climbs into the cab.
He shrugs off his jacket and takes a moment to enjoy the way the warning lights on his lorry sweep swathes of yellow light, gilding the dripping trees and banks of bracken.
He’s looking forward to the headline news tomorrow. All it needs is one anonymous call and some photos plastered over the internet.
As Bill revs the motor the lorry trembles and shakes like a wet dog.
A woman half-hidden behind the wind-whipped foliage at the side of the road, takes photos; a mute witness of Bill’s triumph.
He says to his phone, ‘Call the headquarters of “For No Good Reason”.’
As he pulls away for the last time a woman’s voice comes through the speakers. ‘Mr Wild, we are honoured to receive you into the ranks of the elite. A year and a day. Well, well, who’d have thought no one would question why roadworks sat there so long without anyone actually working? You are our first official Year And A Day member.’
Bill replies, ‘Thank you, Mary. But there’s more to this day for me than my becoming an elite. No way will Mac be able to top this. It’s a double victory for me. We had a bet on.’
‘You had a bet with Mac? That’s courageous.’
‘The loser gives all his traffic equipment to the winner. He can’t afford new stuff. He’s a goner.’ He smirks, cuts the connection and turns the radio on.
After the booms of Big Ben come the headlines.
‘The Queen’s Flight, carrying members of the Royal Family on their way to Balmoral, has been forced to divert to the only other open airport in the British Isles, Dublin. Prestwick Airport has been closed due to the inexplicable overnight appearance of roadworks on the main runway.’
©Gary Bonn 2014