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The Inklings: Chapter 10

John met his father at the pizza place in the morning. John had hoped that his father would quickly show him where things were and leave, so he could call D’arby to come and help, but strangely John’s father seemed to want to give John as much help as he could and by the time John could call D’arby to tell him that the coast was clear, John’s father had already explained everything. There were good systems in place for ordering ingredients, preparing food, cleaning, staffing and even washing the table cloths. John didn’t think there was much for him to do after all. He could hardly believe that things were going so well. The only problem he could see was that the turnover was already so high. John didn’t see how the restaurant had capacity to make and sell any more pizzas.

That night, while John and D’arby watched over the restaurant, John asked D’arby “How are we going to make more money than the restaurant already does?”

D’arby laughed. “Did your Dad say it had to be a statistically significant increase in profits? Did he say that profits had to increase above the average monthly profit, last month’s profit, or the profit for the same month last year? Did he say the profit had to increase through increased sales? As long as we make five cents more than whatever he was expecting then you can say you have met the challenge” answered D’arby. “If we don’t sell more pizza, we can just decrease your salary.”

“Fair enough” said John, while thinking that he’d better ask D’arby to write down what he had just said.

The next day as John walked to the pizza place, something strange happened to him, something that would make him high all night.

When he got back to D’arby’s flat after work John knew that D’arby would be asleep but he didn’t care. He had to tell D’arby what had happened to him that day, so he shook D’arby until he woke up.

“What is it?” said D’arby. He thought that something terrible must have happened. “Have the police come to get you? Did you burn the restaurant down?”

“Ha ha. No! Something WONDERFUL happened. I have to tell you about it” said John and he started to dance around the room with his arms floating up and down.

“What have you taken? Are you drunk?” asked D’arby. He was really disappointed.

“No! I just saw something wonderful on the way to work”

“What?” asked D’arby, although he still didn’t believe that John was sober.

“A beautiful woman” said John

“Haven’t you ever seen one before?” asked D’arby. He was really annoyed, but still not sure what was going on.

“Not like this…but that’s not the important part” said John

“What is the important part then?” asked D’arby, and he sighed.

“She looked at me. She looked at me like I was a normal person, and she smiled!” said John

“Great!” said D’arby sarcastically. “Good for you. Now go to sleep. I’m tired” and he turned off the light.

The next morning John still hadn’t calmed down. When D’arby got up he found that John had cleaned the kitchen and was ironing clothes on the carpet.

“Why are you doing that?” asked D’arby. D’arby had a thing against ironing and he hadn’t even known that there was an iron in the flat.

“You don’t have an ironing board, so I have to use the carpet” said John, but when he saw D’arby’s expression he realized he’d given the wrong answer and quickly added “I’m trying to fill in time until the medical centre opens”

“Why are you going there?” asked D’arby

“I want to check that I haven’t got any STDs before I bump into that woman again” said John. Although John tried to sound casual as he said this, he was very worried. The thought of a relationship with someone had made him consider what he’d been up to while he was an addict.

D’arby knew that this was a very serious topic, but he couldn’t help laughing.

“What?” asked John

“Have you talked to her yet?” asked D’arby

“Not yet” said John, “But I might today if I see her on the way to work again”

“Good luck then, with her and at the medical centre” said D’arby and he left for uni, rolling his eyes.

 


The Inklings: Chapter 8

As much as D’arby respected maths, he had to admit that sometimes one plus one did not equal two. He and John were one example.

D’arby always had ideas, but rarely bothered to do much with them. John was always wanting to do something but never knowing what to do. John was amazed with the things D’arby said. D’arby was amazed with the things John did. The things D’arby said triggered John to act and the things that John did made D’arby think and say more. They were like a runaway reaction.

John insisted that now that D’arby had developed his special pills and done some testing (on him and John) it was time for him to use them for something good. D’arby had been thinking of finding a job where he could continue this research. He hoped to start real trials and eventually (maybe in 15 years) his new cure for addiction would be manufactured legally by some big drug company and sold in chemists. However, this plan was full of obstacles. First D’arby would have to finish his PhD and then the examiners would have to pass him. Then he would have to find a suitable research position, then he’d have to find funding for his project and only then would the real work start! And what if after all that the pills didn’t really work or made people sick? Why was it that such a huge discovery could make D’arby’s life so much harder?

John laughed at D’arby’s idea for the pills and came up with a much simpler plan, a plan that would get results faster, but was probably not a good idea in the long term. John’s father owned a pizza restaurant, and John had recently been walking past it in the hope of bumping into his Dad. While doing this he had noticed that there was an ad in the window for a manager. John hoped that now he wasn’t using drugs anymore his father might be convinced to let him run the pizza restaurant. Then John would just add the pills to the pizza dough (they were fizzy so they might help make the dough rise). Then anyone who bought pizza would have all their addictions cured. John and D’arby could watch what happened and wouldn’t have to tell anyone anything. They could also make their living this way, as long as the pizza was nice enough for people to want to buy it. John reckoned that the hardest part of his plan would be convincing his father to let him have the restaurant. Then the second hardest part would be running the restaurant. Making the special ingredient would be easy because D’arby knew how. D’arby could have a special lab at the back of the restaurant. The pills were mostly made of really common things and needed only a couple of chemicals that you couldn’t easily buy. D’arby had already mentioned that he had enough of the hard-to-get chemicals left over from his legitimate experiments to make millions of the pills. John didn’t think it would be too hard for D’arby to sneak these chemicals home – they’d probably only be thrown out after D’arby left uni anyway.

At first, D’arby was horrified by John’s idea. It was a week since they’d first met. John was still off the drugs and not even tempted to go back. D’arby expected that John wouldn’t need a second dose. The pills were meant to work on the brain in a permanent way and D’arby couldn’t see how the change could be reversed, but he wanted to wait and see a bit longer until he was completely satisfied of that. D’arby wished he’d known John better before he’d taken the pills so he could see if there had been any other changes. He was particularly interested to know if John would have made such ridiculous suggestions before, because D’arby was worried that since he had also taken the pills he might also start thinking that it was a good idea to lace pizza with the special ingredient. D’arby worried about this because, despite his initial horror, after considering John’s plan for a couple of hours, D’arby had begun to find certain aspects of the plan appealing. Managing a restaurant would solve their money problems. John had moved in with D’arby but the rent would soon be due and D’arby didn’t have any money left. The other thing that appealed to D’arby was being able to set up his own lab. It was hard to make his pills at uni. People were so nosy. He had to be very careful not to leave anything lying around that might lead the other people working in the lab to ask questions about what he was doing. It was getting particularly difficult now that his official experiments were finished. D’arby was supposed to be spending all his time working at his computer now, not down in the lab.

So, D’arby ended up agreeing with John that they should at least try to get John’s father to let them run the pizza restaurant. Then when they had some money they could decide what to do next. Putting his special pills in the pizzas was still horrific to D’arby. That was a very unethical thing to do and not very scientific either. How would they even know if anyone was cured? They wouldn’t be able to give the customers questionnaires to fill out before and after.

So John called his father, but not before he got his sister Emily to mention to his parents that John wasn’t a drug addict anymore. Perhaps it would have been better if Emily had really believed this first. She had only seen John once since he’d taken the special pills, and although John did seem different, it was not enough to convince Emily. She was worried that John was just playing a trick on her and her parents in order to get some money out of them, although she couldn’t really see how running a pizza restaurant would get John money in a way that was quick enough to satisfy a drug craving.

“Hello Dad!” said John

“What do you want?” asked his father.

“I want to be the manager of your pizza place” said John

“No way!” said John’s father

“But I need a job!” whined John. “Nobody else will give me one and I need something to do all day, otherwise I’ll end up in trouble again.”

“That’s your problem!” said John’s father. “Don’t try to make me feel guilty. I’ve tried to help you many times and each time you just used me. I’ve given up trying to help you now.”

John knew his father hadn’t given up yet though, because his father would have hung up by now if it was true.

“Just give me one month! Let me show you? Please?” said John.

There was a long pause. Just when John was starting to think his father had walked away from the phone he said “Ok then. One month. If profits are up after a month you can stay.”

“Woo hoo!” said John after he hung up the phone. Then he did a victory lap of the flat and wondered whether D’arby would mind that they started work tomorrow. It was meant to be John’s job, but he needed D’arby’s help to get him organized. Once they had established a routine, John would do all the work (apart from making the pills) and D’arby could go back to uni. John had already been experimenting with his special pizza dough. Even with the fizz of the pills, it still needed yeast to rise, but John thought the pills made the dough taste a bit better, or at least they didn’t make the dough taste funny.

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