I hear her say, “Where are all the teaspoons?”
I ignore her.
I’ve got a massive hangover and I’m suffering from The Fear. I’m sat at my desk tapping the keyboard with shaky, clammy fingers… grinding my teeth… watching the clock… counting off the seconds, minutes, hours.
She says, “I swear there were more teaspoons yesterday but where are they now?”
I mutter, “Fuck your fucking teaspoons.”
A fat face appears from the kitchenette. It’s Dimples. She looks mildly quizzical, like someone has enquired about the weather and not instructed her to fuck cutlery.
“Hmm?” she asks.
“Nothing,” I reply.
“I was just saying,” she says, “I was just saying that all but two of the teaspoons seem to have gone walkies. There should be plenty of teaspoons. We have got teaspoons, but there’s only two teaspoons left! Fancy that!”
Dimples waddles towards me. She is in her fifties. Her immense, sagging breasts rest heavily upon her even more immense, sagging belly. She has prominent front teeth and large glasses. She has dyed her sensible haircut a horrible purple colour in the hope that it might ‘jazz her up a bit’.
She looks like a menopausal beaver.
If she suddenly turned up at work dragging a flat, leathery tail covered in HRT patches whilst chewing a juicy length of birch wood I wouldn’t bat an eyelid.
Dimples is wafting a damp tea towel about. She is wearing pink rubber gloves. She’s been doing a spot of washing up, it’s something she does quite often. She cleans the sink on a regular basis with cleaning products that she brings in from home.
She routinely rearranges the fridge contents into a more pleasing configuration.
She gets right on my tits.
She spends more time fucking about in the kitchenette than she spends doing the job she’s paid to do, not that anyone really knows what that’s supposed to be. I’ve asked her boss what Dimples does, but her boss usually just shrugs and smiles apologetically.
You see, Dimples is a Bun Whisperer.
At any time of day you can see her approaching staff members in a conspiratorial manner, glancing around to check that she is unobserved, before whispering to them, “There’s some buns in the kitchenette.”
She chooses her allies carefully. There’s a lot of greedy-nosed cunts in our office, the type of people who can eat two kilos of industrial grade packed lunch with a gallon of Roller Cola and be wheezing dangerously, blood pressure soaring, but still somehow manage to squeeze themselves into the kitchenette with Dimples and cram a dozen French Fancies into their slavvering pie holes.
That’s one thing I’ve learned in this factory – gluttony loves company. You might be dangerously obese, but if you SHARE your vice, well, that makes it all right, doesn’t it?
Of course it fucking doesn’t.
If I brought forty tins of Special Brew in and started handing them out in the kitchenette then I’d probably find myself supping the last of the tins on my way to the job centre before the morning was through. And If one of those scabby looking animals in the mail room brought crack pipes in for everyone, would people suddenly see them as a generous team-building funster?
No. They wouldn’t.
So why does crap like buns and cakes get such an easy fucking ride? It’s beyond me.
I have very little respect for people with a weakness for buns.
It’s like being an alky who only drinks egg nog, a junkie who’s hooked on Night Nurse.
It lacks moral character.
It lacks dedication.
I carry on working.
Dimples looms over me.
She smells like jam doughnuts. Sugar clings to her downy moustache. She sees me spot the sugar and a quick, thick tongue whips out and slobbers round her mouth.
“Elevenses,” she giggles.
“Diabetes,” I mutter back at her.
“Hmm?” She says.
“Nothing,” I say.
She leans closer. “I think someone is stealing teaspoons,” she whispers. Her mouth is puckered disapprovingly. It looks like a cat’s anus.
“Dimples,” I sigh, “if someone is so desperate for a teaspoon, let them have one. I mean, does it matter? But let’s be honest – who would really want a teaspoon from this shit hole?”
She looks around, eyes narrowed. She leans closer. I lean back. “Phil, that’s who.”
I say, “Phil? If you were worried about somebody drinking the Windolene or necking the hand sterilizing gel then I’d agree with you, but spoons? I grant you, he might be cooking up with them, but I somehow doubt the sad fucker is your spoon thief.”
Dimples looks shocked. “You think he’s stealing spoons to… cook with? Why doesn’t he take the knives and forks as well then?”
I shake my head. “Not that kind of… Never mind. All I’ll say is this,” I pick up a bent, battered spoon from my own chipped mug. “It’s not me. I’ve got my own spoon. OK?”
I carry on working.
Dimples wanders away, muttering.
She approaches Batley. Batley is a big lass who is on a diet in the hope that her third batch of scandalously expensive IVF treatment might work. I see Batley shake her head, smile weakly. I see Dimples lean closer, whispering fervently.
It takes a while, but I see Batley crack.
Together they waddle over to the kitchenette and start in on the Mr Kipling’s.
Around sugary mouthfuls I hear Dimples whispering, “Somebody’s been stealing teaspoons, you know. Now, I don’t like to spread gossip – you know me – but if you ask me who I think it was…”
Is that really all she has to worry about? I’ve got shit going on at home, shit going on at work, any number of money worries.
But all this ridiculous woman can think about is teaspoons.
Eventually Batley and Dimples finish the buns. Dimples ambles back to her desk looking pleased with herself.
Batley plods slowly back to her desk looking ashamed and depressed.
I see another member of staff, Modelworker, stepping smartly across the office, china mug and herbal tea in hand.
He goes into the kitchenette, boils the kettle.
A moment later his head appears around the door.
With a bright, confused smile he says, “There doesn’t seem to be any teaspoons!”
I say, “Why the fuck are you asking me about teaspoons?”
He blinks, his smile weakening. “I… I don’t know. It’s just… you are nearest the kitchen, and…”
I say, “I couldn’t give a fuck about your fucking teaspoons.”
He stops smiling. He looks hurt. He disappears into the kitchenette.
Then I realise I’m not being very helpful.
I think, perhaps if I got more involved with the office community I might feel less angry towards them.
So I go onto the internet. Click onto ebay.
And search for bulk orders of teaspoons.
A few days later I hear Dimples say, “Where have these teaspoons come from??”
She sounds amazed, like water had just turned into wine, right there in the kitchenette.
I say nothing, continue working.
Her fat face appears around the door frame.
She has chocolate around her mouth.
She says, “There’s some new teaspoons! Do you know anything about these teaspoons?”
I say, “You’ve got shit around your mouth.”
She looks shocked, then her fat tongue darts out. She grins. “It’s only chocolate.”
“Bloody good job it’s only chocolate,” I reply.
She says, “There’s new teaspoons! Half a dozen of them!”
I say, “I don’t care. I’ve got my own spoon.”
She waddles down the office, spreading the good news about the spoons.
I go into the kitchenette and boil the kettle.
While it boils, I take another half dozen teaspoons from my pocket and dump them in the drawer. It feels quite satisfying.
As the day goes on the miracle of the teaspoons is the sole topic of conversation. Dimples tempts people into her bun-filled lair and shows them the teaspoon bonanza.
“There were two teaspoons yesterday,” she whispers around a mouthful of flapjack, “and I counted eight this morning. Now there’s fourteen! Fourteen teaspoons!”
Trevor Dullard from IT shakes his head and swallows some Millionaire’s Shortbread. “Who’d have thought it,” he rumbles in his deep, drab monotone. “More teaspoons than we’ve had in the last twenty years.”
The cutlery related banter goes on and on. I keep working.
The next morning I’m in the office first.
I put a dozen new teaspoons into the drawer.
I make a brew, sit down, start working.
Some time later, Trevor Dullard ambles in, puts his packed lunch in the fridge.
“Morning,” he says.
“Morning,” I say.
I look at the monitor.
I hear Trevor Dullard clattering around in the kitchenette.
I hear him open a drawer.
I hear a slight intake of breath.
Trevor Dullard says, “Fuck me.”
He walks slowly backwards out of the kitchenette. He has taken his glasses off and is carefully polishing them with his handkerchief.
He puts them back on, looks again, then whispers, “Spoons.”
Dimples walks through the door.
She is carrying a number of large Tupperware containers that appear to contain bright treats within. She squirrels them away in the fridge in a secretive manner, closes the fridge door and says, “Morning!”
Trevor Dullard, looks at her, then looks back at the drawer. She gives him a quizzical frown. She shuffles past him, looks into the drawer.
I hear a slight intake of breath.
Dimples says, “Fuck me.”
She walks slowly backwards out of the kitchenette.
She turns to Trevor Dullard and whispers, “Spoons.”
I pretend to ignore all this.
Dimples turns to me and says, “Spoons!”
I sigh. “I know, I know. Someone is stealing teaspoons. It isn’t me. I’ve got my own teaspoon. Look.” I wave my old teaspoon in the air.
“No!” cries Dimples. “Someone WAS stealing teaspoons but now there’s LOTS of teaspoons! TOO MANY teaspoons!” Her voice drops to her usual whisper. “Where are the teaspoons coming from?”
I make a show of rolling my eyes. “You’re never bloody happy, are you? First there’s no spoons, now there’s spoons. Stop moaning!”
Trevor Dullard and Dimples look nonplussed. I return to my work.
They leave, whispering fearfully together.
I feel pleased. I now realise that I’ve taken part in group activities, contributed something to the office community.
I want to give more.
So when no-one is looking I put another dozen teaspoons into the drawer.
The day passes as normal, as long as your day normally involves dozens of spoons miraculously appearing in the communal cutlery drawer with no-one knowing where the fuck they are coming from.
Throughout the day, small groups regularly congregate in the kitchenette to peer down in wonder at the miracle teaspoons, like pilgrims at Lourdes.
The Miracle of the Teaspoons has given these lost people some faith, a belief that the Lord WILL provide… teaspoons, in their lunch hour of need.
I feel like I have found my vocation.
For the first time in my life I experience serenity.
The next morning I approach the cutlery drawer with a sense of great excitement.
I have twenty fresh, unused spoons in my pocket.
I keep them tied with an elastic band to stop them rattling in my pocket and betraying me as the true culprit behind the Miracle of the Spoons. Imagine the disappointment of the faithful if they were to discover that the spoons were not the work of The Maker, but were in fact the meddlings of Satan?
I must be cautious.
Souls are at stake.
I furtively glance around, but I am alone.
I open the drawer, fumbling in my pocket for the twenty fresh spoons…
But then freeze.
I stare for a long time, my mouth dry.
There are only a dozen teaspoons on the drawer.
I am bewildered.
I do the maths.
There should be… thirty eight teaspoons in the drawer but there are only twelve.
I think about the conundrum, my mind working feverishly, then I come to a conclusion.
I whisper, “Some fucker is stealing teaspoons.”
I think about who it might be, then my eyes narrow.
“I bet it’s that shifty fucker Phil.”
I find myself enraged, wanting to destroy the kettle, the microwave, the dinky little jars of tea and coffee and sugar. I am consumed my teaspoon rage.
Bur then I calm myself.
I realise there is a solution to this problem.
I act quickly.
Dimples is in work early today.
She looks tired, like she hasn’t had a very good night’s sleep.
I look again and I see she has a slightly haunted look about her, a hunted look, even.
She fusses around the fridge for a bit, shifting other people’s yoghurts and sniffing other people’s milk, indulging herself with a spot of comfort tidying.
Then she opens the cutlery drawer.
There is silence for a while.
I tap my keyboard, keep my head down, take a gulp of tepid tea.
Dimples backs out of the kitchenette.
Her face is ashen.
She says, “Where have all the teaspoons gone??”
I say, “Hmm?”
She says, “The tea…teaspoons. They’ve gone! All of them!”
I say, “Well, that proves you’re right, doesn’t it? There’s a nasty little teaspoon thief in our midst.”
Her baggy eyes narrow to slits. “I bet it’s that horrible bastard Phil. I’ve never liked him. He looks a bit foreign to me. And he drinks. Did you know he drinks? Well, he does. You can smell it on him.”
I don’t look up from my work. I say, “Yes, I reckon it might be Phil. I’d say you’d best be finding out who’s been at the teaspoons, Dimples. Flush ‘em out. It starts with teaspoons, you know. But teaspoons aren’t enough. It’ll be your handbag next.”
Dimples is silent. I risk at glance at her. She is filled with a stupid, animal cunning.
I see her waddle around the empty room, furtively opening people’s drawers, looking for signs of pilfered silverware.
I know she won’t find anything.
I’ve already checked, and I’ve also gathered any misplaced teaspoons that might have been carelessly left in a coffee cup the afternoon before.
The room is a teaspoon free zone.
Now, it would have been a simple matter to have planted spoons in Phil’s desk, but I have no evidence whatsoever that Phil is the spoon thief. Also, planting evidence is a shitty thing to do, a grimy little crime.
No, I have all the spoons tucked away safely.
The day passes in pandemonium.
People are making hot beverages with the use of pudding spoons, the end of a knife, or by simply pouring coffee from the jar, resulting in staggering caffeine highs and jittery, weepy rages. Senior managers are summoned and are presented with evidence of office thievery, but when it transpires that the teaspoons are not company property, that the teaspoons were not provided from company funds, it is concluded that the teaspoons had genuinely appeared of their own accord and were therefore quite free to disappear in an equally mysterious fashion.
Nothing could be done.
This continues for a day or two.
A new spoon or two appears in the cutlery drawer, begrudgingly brought in by staff members from their own cutlery drawers at home. These bent and tarnished specimens don’t cut the mustard with the office community though, and they are used with a bitter sneer, beverages brewed whilst talking sadly together in low voices, remembering the halcyon days of teaspoon plenty.
I bide my time.
Watch the office staff.
Check the cutlery drawer.
Listen to the banter and bickering.
It is Thursday.
I am on a late start today and as I enter the office there is a carnival atmosphere.
People mill around the kitchenette area, openly eating pastries and buns, flaunting mugs of hot tea and coffee.
I drop my bag by my desk and fire up my computer with an air of utter indifference, although my heart is racing.
Has it happened?
Has my plan worked?
She’s obviously on her third or forth coffee of the day and is off her face on numerous slabs of Rocky Road.
She leans close. She smells like Willy Wonka’s laundry basket, all E numbers and sweat. She has a wild look in her eye.
“THE TEASPOONS ARE BACK!!!” she hisses jubilantly.
“Hmm?” I say.
She leans closer. “The teaspoons! The missing teaspoons! They’re back! Whoever stole them must have got cold feet! Twelve shiny teaspoons, back in the drawer! Oh, everyone is so happy, Luci! Do you fancy a coffee? How about a bit of cake?”
I shrug coolly. “Nah, I’m good Dimples. I’ll just have a glass of water in a bit. You enjoy yourself.”
Dimples rejoins the party. I watch them, cavorting like fools, drinking their hot drinks and stirring them with shiny spoons, my shiny spoons, spoons stolen from me and now returned, a thief amongst them, a spoon thief, a thief who lost his bottle.
I tap gently on the keyboard, do my work quietly, bide my time, ready to strike.
The office empties, empties, and is finally empty.
The cleaner comes, empties the bins, leaves.
The office could not be emptier.
Except for me.
I am on the late shift, the graveyard shift.
I work on for an hour, two hours.
Then I stop.
It is time.
I go to the kitchenette.
I open the cutlery drawer.
I look down on the twelve, shiny teaspoons.
I say, “Hello my pretties.”
I decide they look lonely in there.
Twelve is a healthy amount of teaspoons for any office, but this isn’t just any office.
No, an office such as this one, an office that fetishizes the humble teaspoon, well, it deserves more teaspoons, doesn’t it?
Many more teaspoons.
I go back to my workstation.
Open a drawer.
Reach underneath to the heavy package firmly Selotaped to beneath.
I go back to the kitchenette and open the drawer.
I release the remaining eighty eight teaspoons in my teaspoon army into the cutlery drawer.
I slam the door shut with great satisfaction.
It is by far the best eighteen pounds ninety nine I have ever spent on ebay. It was worth every penny.
I pack up my things.
I turn off my monitor.
I turn off the lights.
I go home.
I wait for Friday.