Retirement

William Jones sat at his desk, fingering the well-worn wallet of business cards for the last time.

‘I won’t need those anymore’, he thought.

He leaned forward across the desk in an attempt to throw the wallet into the waste bin on the other side of the room, but his considerable paunch stuck painfully into the edge of the desk disturbing his aim.  The wallet flopped off the grey wall next to the bin and onto the carpet, to join the cardboard and wrapping paper from the brand new but completely unwanted laptop the company had given him as a leaving present.

He ignored the mess on the floor and opened the single drawer of his desk.  Inside there were three bottles.  He had bought the first, an expensive auburn hair dye, several years ago.  It had stemmed the advancing grey for a while, but as his hair thinned and receded, he resorted with increasing desperation, but decreasing success, to the second bottle – a preparation labelled ‘Harry’s Hirsute Hair Restorer’.  Realising eventually that was not going to work, he had turned to the third bottle – indeed, one of many third bottles, mostly of cheap whiskey, but sometimes of vodka or even brandy when he could afford them.  He lifted the third bottle up to the light, but it was empty.  This disappointment was sufficiently deep to stir him into action and he rose and walked to the filing cabinet.  Breathing hard, he bent over and rummaged in the bottom drawer, finally locating a new and unopened bottle of spirits with a grunt of satisfaction.  As he straightened up, his eye caught the withered poinsettia on the top of the cabinet and he was struck by how desperately they both needed a drink.