by Bobby Morris
Evil Mr Wessel
was standing by the window in the front room of
his shabby house in north Leicester, England. He
was peeping out through the moth-eaten curtains,
which he was holding carefully in his long grimy
fingers. He could see his own and his next-door
neighbours' gardens, the street, and several
houses on the other side of the street. He hated
A woman came
into view. She seemed to be in a hurry.
you drop dead," muttered Wessel. He
sniggered at that.
In the minute
after she disappeared from view, nothing happened,
but then a small boy turned up. He went down Mr
Wessel's neighbour's garden path, and spent a
minute with the neighbour on his doorstep. After
that, he returned to the street, and then had the
audacity to come down Mr Wessel's path and ring
sake!" said Wessel. He'd closed the curtains
a few seconds earlier so the boy wouldn't see him,
and he'd hoped he would put something through the
letterbox rather than ring the bell. He didn't
want to have to speak with this urchin.
He opened the
door. "What do you want?"
doing a sponsored bike ride for charity. Would
you like to sponsor me, mister?"
contorted. "You're asking me for money?"
But for charity, not for me."
think of a suitable way to say no, so he humoured
the boy. "Do you want it per mile or in a
you don't know?"
all been per-mile so far, but I can make
suddenly occurred to Mr Wessel. "I'll give
you a lump sum. Here, gimme that clipboard. I'll
write it in myself." He snatched the boy's
clipboard off him.
Wessel made to
write something, but didn't. "I'm in a
generous mood, boy. Shall I square the amount I
was just about to write?"
YOU want it? Don't worry, my boy, it wasn't a
laughed shallowly. "Yeah, okay. Square it
in the new figure. After he'd done so, he tipped
his head to one side and adopted a condescending
tone. "Oh, that's interesting."
amount I originally chose was 10i pence. Do you
know what i means? It's the square root of -1. So
when you made me square my amount, it became -100
The boy looked
sad and confused. "What does that mean?"
you owe me one pound." He handed him back
the clipboard. "But don't worry, you don't
have to pay me now - you can pay me after you've
finished your stupid little ride."
The boy burst
into tears and ran away.