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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

The Guarantee

Albert Watkins spooned another mouthful of CornOBix from his breakfast bowl. He thoughtfully chewed the cereal as he read again the guarantee on the box. ‘If not delighted with this product,’ it said, ‘your money will be refunded.’

Perhaps it was the cold, dark, damp and overcast winter morning. Perhaps it was the fact that the dog had been sick on the carpet overnight. Nevertheless, his CornOBix were not engendering delight. They were palatable, digestible, even moderately pleasant - but delightful? Delight was what he had experienced when Daphne had accepted his proposal of marriage, or the light-hearted sense of fun which had welled-up inside him when had bought his first motor car. This was not what he felt this morning.

After breakfast, he put on his coat, collected the box of CornOBix and walked the half-mile to his local supermarket. He spoke to the girl on the Information Desk. ‘I would like a refund please,’ he said, placing the box on the counter. ‘I was not delighted by this product.’

The assistant gave him a surprised and slightly anxious glance. She raised her microphone. ‘Code six six six, Information Desk please.’

Two stocky men appeared, smartly dressed in dark suits. The assistant looked at them with faint apprehension and then cast her eyes towards Albert as if to say, ‘That’s him.’

One spoke. ‘You’re not delighted by this product, sir?’

‘No,’ responded Albert.

‘Please come with us, sir.’

Albert followed the men to the rear of the store, through a door marked ‘No Entry’ and down a long, dark staircase into a basement corridor.

‘Into this room please, sir.’

Albert glanced through the open, steel door into a windowless, brick cell, barely three metres square. A hard shove to his back catapulted him against the far wall. He turned, confused and shaken. ‘What’s this about?’

‘We get a lot of people expecting a refund. They say they’re not delighted with a product.’ He gave an ironic laugh. ‘We think they’re just trying to get free food.’

‘No, no,’ stammered Albert, ‘I really wasn’t delighted by CornOBix.’

The first punch winded him. The second sent him crashing to the concrete floor.

‘We know you were delighted with CornOBix. Stan and I often have multiple orgasms at breakfast. Why not you?’

‘I wasn’t delighted,’ choked Albert as the boot struck him in the stomach. He glanced upwards to see Stan leave the cell and return with a black box that was dangling wires.

The customer relations manager standing in the basement corridor saw the steel, soundproofed door slam and noted the periodic dimming of the lights. Finally the door opened and Stan emerged. ‘We fink e’s tellin’ the troof, boss. He weren’t delighted wiv CornOBix.’

Albert staggered from the back entrance of the store clutching his one pound and twenty-seven pence refund. He was just grateful to be alive, and thankful that he had kept to himself that recently purchased sausages had not given him one hundred percent satisfaction.