The Sunday Serial: Episode 3 – Disappointment

In which Archie and Tom engage in more alcoholic antics and Simon is let down by The Tab…

CUSU Garden Party gowns lizards master second year shiraz squirrels

Simon spent the next hour eagerly waiting for a response from his editor.

He spent the next 12 hours frustratedly cursing his editor for not checking his emails.

He spent the next two days repeatedly sending follow-up emails, and the next few following up the follow ups.

And yet his editor didn’t answer.

It was heading on for a week since Simon had uncovered the story – the finest journalistic scoop of his life – and the Tab’s editor didn’t seem remotely interested. Come on, the Master of Rons College was sleeping with one of his students. That was a big deal. The Master of Rons College sleeping with the President of CUSU is an even bigger one! And the Master of Rons College only getting it up when he thinks he’s shagging a squirrel is, well, just weird. But not a word in response, and the story certainly hadn’t been published.

Simon lived in one of the newer buildings in college, constructed by an architect who was seemingly inspired by the shattered hopes and dreams of the students living within. Each thick, greyed window was like a tear, grasping the light of possibility and refracting it into a thousand specks of missed opportunity. The cream walls were drably coloured, not to match the cream of human kindness, but to match the cream formed round the top of an off bottle of milk. And yet, in a streak of savagely ill-placed humanity, the architect had decided to build a spacious common room into the block. It was next-door to this that Simon lived. And now, having refreshed his email enough over the course of the day to make him feel that he should probably leave his room, he slipped outside and came face to face with a Lizard carrying a large crate of wine. The common room was full of them – both Lizards and crates.

Archie and Tom were by the window, sampling one of the bottles.

“I’m getting ochre, and honey, and…grapes”said Archie, swirling the elixir round his tongue.

“I’m just getting pissed”answered Tom, downing his.

“What’s going on here?”asked Simon, picking up a bottle and reading the label.

“Swap”answered Tom bluntly, refilling his glass.

“We’re leaving all this here to entertain us when we get back,”filled in Archie, downing the remainder of his.

“We need something for the Medwards girls to get their lips round back at Rons”noted another Lizard, dumping his crate and then striding from the room.

“Something like that”, conceded Archie. “Are you going to be in your room all night?”

“Yep,”said Simon, replacing the bottle. “I’m working on a story for the Tab.”

“Ah, good. Any chance you could come in here, keeping an eye on this stuff?”

“Sure.”

“It’s quite expensive,”added Tom, “and we don’t want any of the fresher pricks nicking it.”

“Sure.”

“By all means have a bottle or two while we’re gone. We will.”

“Ah, cheers.”

“That’s alright. Thanks a lot.”

“Yeah, cheers mate.”Tom threw the empty bottle into the corner. “Look, we should be off.”

“True. Right, see you later Simon. Thanks a lot.”

“Bye – have a good time.”

“Will do. See ya.”

Tom and Archie left the room. And Simon, relishing the memory of not being told to piss off, sat on a sofa and closed his eyes. 30 minutes passed, and approximately 180 children around the world died of hunger. Rather than doing anything about this, Simon dozed. And, when he awoke, rose and reinspected the wine.

It looked like very expensive wine. And there were near to 50 bottles of it. He selected one at random and searched for a corkscrew. There must be one here – Archie and Tom had been drinking when he came in. They’d been standing here…ah, there it was. On top of another crate. On top a piece of paper…hm, thought Simon. The invoice for the wine.

“Well,”thought Simon aloud, “screw me with a limoncello.”

‘Expensive’didn’t really cover it. Lizards’functions were far more costly than anyone had realised. Could Archie’s funds really foot this kind of bill? It was, to invoices, what a cello is to ukeleles, what the moon is to pebbles and what the Fassdong is to celebrity penises. And it was signed, not by Archie, but by Sarah. Which was weird.

She couldn’t have funded it from her private account – surely no one at Rons has that much cash hanging around – and why would she? Lizards events have nothing to do with her. But what college or uni accounts does Sarah have access to? Other than CUSU…

And, having photographed the invoice and left everything exactly as he found it, Simon shot back to his room, grabbed his laptop and started to write up the second story of CUSU corruption that he had stumbled upon that week: CUSU buys the wine for the Rons college drinking societies.

Draft written, he fired the email to his editor and leant back, happy with his work. And the sun finally dropped, shooting one last dying ray through Simon’s window and across to the chair in which he lay, drinking the bottle of wine he’d remembered to acquire from the common room.

****

The same sunbeam tore in through Archie’s window, illuminating Archie and Tom, who were sitting alone, suited and booted, with Archie’s laptop. Hermes was open, and they were signed in as ‘jkw24’- Jeremy, the Tab editor’s, email account.

Bing! Simon’s email popped up. They read the subject line: “Another Shocking Story For You”. One click and it was consigned to Trash. Archie shut the laptop and looked at Tom.

“Shall we?”

“Let’s.”

 And they left for their swap.