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Seline was stirring her tea, they had gone back a few years so she could smoke. ‘Can you see my holder for this, its black and round, i can’t see it anywhere?’
Mano Dano looked up. ‘Its on the end of your cigarette, can you blow that stuff away from me please?’
Seline blew a ring. ‘Tobacco fascist.’
‘You’re most probably destroying the ozone layer somewhere, can I have a drag?’
‘Thats not my smoking, that’s my farts.’ She stubbed her cigarette out in an uneaten egg. ‘I love doing that, its my contribution to instalation art.’ She scooped up some pie. ‘Anyway I had better let you know about the good side.’
Mano Dano turned back from eyeing the deserts. ‘There’s a good side, I thought we just went about doing bad for bad?’
‘That’s the easy part, luckily its what we do most cos the good side is a bit of a mind fuck.’
‘Hang on, I’m just going to get some of that strawberry stuff.’
‘I didn’t see that, where is it?’
Mano Dano inwardly sighed, Selina’s eye’s were much bigger than her stomach. ‘Stand up and look to the left.’
‘I missed that, it looks good can you get me some, please?’
Mano Dano moved off, Seline used the time to polish her sword.
Mano Dano brought a tray and served the strawberry gateu.’
‘Your’s looks bigger than mine,’ complained Seline.
Mano Dano took a breath started to switch the plates.’
‘No don’t, I was only joking, I know I can be a pig but I’m not a hog.’ She took a spoonful. ‘This is good. Anyway as I was saying with the bad side you do the business and thats it. You don’t worry about the consequences. But the good side is different. Do you know that story, I thought it was Chinese, but some people say that its not, doesn’t matter where it came from. Anyway there’s this farmer and his son breaks his leg, and all the villagers are saying what bad luck. But the farmer says, ‘Could be bad luck, could be good luck, nobody knows.’ Then the next day the army arrives and they conscript every able bodied young man. And all the villagers say wasn’t it lucky your son broke his leg. ‘Who can say,’ says the farmer. Then part of the farmer’s house falls down. What bad luck says everyone - but then when rebuilding the house they find a chest of buried treasure. And it goes on like that.’ Selene looked over Mano Dano’s shoulder. ‘You see that man over there?’
‘Seline there are a lot of men, which one?’
‘The one with the red tartan scarf. Well he’s on our list today, dived in a freezing river and saved a young boy. See we think retribution is just giving bad for bad stuff done, but originally it could mean recompense. So we are here to reward his good act.’
‘How do we do that?’ asked Mano.
‘With difficulty. You would think we could let him find some money but that’s not always a good idea. Take you, if you did some good and I gave you some money it might be a bad thing to do.’
‘I’ve just done some good, I paid for your cake. So why would giving me money be a bad idea.’
Seline was fiddling with a toothpick. ‘Well I know you like a drink or two, so giving you money could turn you into an alcoholic.’
‘Seline I’m not having that, I only ever have a couple of drinks at night.’
‘Yes but that’s because you can’t afford it, with a lot more money you could be tempted to drain the bottle.’
Mano Dano jumped up. ‘Seline you are full of shit, you don’t know anything about me.’
‘Mano sit down, I’m sorry and you’re wrong I do know all about you, I’ve read your file. And if I didn’t think you were the right man for the job you would not be here. Don’t get sulky, its the same for me, give me a lot of money and I would gamble it all away.’
Mano hovered not quite appeased.
‘Stay, go, whatever.’
‘They say you’re the best.’
Seline smiled. ‘Do they? Well they’re absolutely right, I am magnificent, and humble of course. So Mister Dano, can we get on?’
Mano sat.
‘Soon you will be doing my job, so what recompense would you provide for the man who dived in the river?’
‘Given what we have just been through I can’t tell you. I don’t know enough about him.’
Selene passed over a file. ‘Its all in there.’
‘Forty three, divorced, two kids, works in design, plays golf, has girlfriend, goes to the gym, swims twice a week, crashed car three times, smokes cannabis, claustrophobic, regularly sky dives, likes to tie his girlfriend up, is secretly poisoning the cat next door, took a refugee in for a month, dreams of his partner at work dying, has a tumour he does not know about ...’
‘So what should his recompense be?’
‘He’s no saint.’
‘Never are, rough with the smooth.’
Mano thought. ‘Okay I think a fourth car crash, leading to a hospital, where they find his tumour and cut it out.’
‘No money?’
‘No the cat gets the money.’