Friday Flash Fiction – The Find

Even before I opened my cupboard I unlocked the fire escape door; fresh air is vital in my job. Today the cupboard was tidy, as always after Val’s shift. A reassuring smell of bleach meant she had left the mop to soak. By the mirror was a vase of fresh flowers from her garden. I would do the same for her; the others didn’t bother but we knew our patrons appreciated it. I felt ready to start my day. All was quiet, no coach parties yet.

I went both sides and did the refills, checked everything was working then went over to have a quiet coffee with Dave at Costa before he opened. He was moaning, someone hadn’t cleaned the coffee machine last night. I walked over to Chris at Smiths to get my newspaper. She was in a good mood; the weather forecast was promising and it was the start of the school holidays, a busy day lay ahead. Judging by the cars outside I must have had some visitors already, time to get back to work.

I checked all the notices were in place.

A male attendant operates in these conveniences.

That was me; not a man, not even a person, better than being called a bog cleaner though. It was a busy day, dashing back and forth between the Ladies and Gents.


When asked, I am diplomatic, both as messy as each other, you wouldn’t believe the things some people do, hence the plethora of notices. But most people respect the facilities, even if they don’t respect us.

Don’t notice us would be more accurate. In too much of a hurry on the way in and thinking of other things on the way out; what to eat or which junction to exit, that’s life at Grimley Park Happy Break.

I’ve worked for lots of companies, but I’ve always been here doing the same job; only the name of my employers changes. At the moment it is ‘SpeedClean’, not an accurate description of most of their staff, but I take a pride in my job, at least I’ve always earned my living. Not on disability allowance.


Now days at school, a kid like me would have his own lap top and personal teaching assistant. I didn’t get assessed; they didn’t notice one problem, let alone two. They figured out the hearing eventually, but dyslexia wasn’t bandied about like it is these days; it was easier to suggest I was thick.

Modern technology, no one would notice I’m hard of hearing and since I went on that adult education course I can read and I’m on the internet all the time; just needed a bigger screen and the right colour cellophane over it.

I wouldn’t grumble, we’ve had a good life; Nicky isn’t one of those women always wanting things. She works hard at Sainsburys; she knows what we earn and what we can afford. We’re Housing Association, not Council; with the ground floor flat we get the garden. I love gardening and the other residents admire my plot. Of course if we’d been council they would have moved us to a three bedroom, once David and Becky got to a certain age. Luckily the living room’s big enough for our double bed and the kids are glad to have their own bedroom each.


My busy day never let up, so I didn’t know how long the bag had been hanging on the back of the cubicle door. For the first time that day the Ladies was empty, at least if it was a bomb there was no danger to the public. I didn’t need security to tell me the bag was safe; a quick glance inside the plastic carrier bag revealed wads of money and nothing else. I needed to act quickly before anyone saw me.


The kids were still out when I got home.

“You won’t believe what happened today,” I said to Nicky “this could change our lives.”

I started to tell her the story.

“Did you tell your manager?” she asked.

“No way, he’d probably have kept it for himself, but I was worried I’d be caught with it on me. So I called Joe from security.”

“You handed it over to him?”

“No, I used my brains, he was my escort.”

“You shared it out between you?” she asked, aghast.

“No, we took it straight to the Happy Break manager; I insisted he counted it out in front of us, write me a receipt. Joe signed as witness.”

Nicky was looking very nervous now. “What have you got involved in?”

“Then he called the police” I reassured her. “What else could he do with me and Joe standing there?”

“So who’s got the money?” she asked puzzled.

“The police of course.”

She sighed with relief. “For a moment I hope… thought you had been tempted.”

“Of course not; honesty and responsibility go with my job.”

“But I don’t see how this will change our lives.”

“Recognition, respect, that’s the most important thing. If they identify the owner perhaps there might be a little reward. It will be hard to identify her with just a carrier bag, have to wait till she comes forward.”

“If no one claims it, I think you are entitled to it, you could enjoy it with a clear conscience” she said wistfully.


I didn’t hear any more, didn’t really expect to, well not for a while if it was unclaimed. A few weeks later Val said our SpeedClean manager was going to be on the local news, some award or other. Nicky and I watched the news that evening and sure enough, there he was, smiling. SpeedClean at Grimley Park had won Motorway Services Loo of the Year Award for an excellent standard of cleanliness, patron service and impeccable honesty.


For more short stories of people and places dip into  one of my collections.





A visication is when you go to visit friends or relations and have a free holiday, often somewhere you have not visited before and perhaps with unique accommodation. They might be showing you around with wining and dining, or you may be baby, dog and house sitting. It is always interesting if they have just moved home; a new location for writing ideas.

Team AK are living at a house on an organic farm. The cottage came with sitting tenants when the family bought the farm in the 1940s and apparently didn’t leave ( die?) until the end of the century; by which time there was still no gas, electricity or running water. Perhaps life with their wood stove and well water suited them. In 2000 the house was renovated and modernised, but still has loads of charm and real wooden doors. You can walk round the house; literally round and round. Every time we went through a door we were not sure which room we would find ourselves in. The stairs were shallow, deep and steep, luckily with banisters either side.

They don’t have to go far to post a letter as there is a royal mail letter box built into the wall of the house. A few yards from their front door is a farm shop like no other perhaps. No humans, just a coin operated organic whole milk dispensing machine and a help yourself cabinet with butter and free range eggs.


There are quaint traditions associated with Visications. We are always invited on a bank holiday weekend and always get stuck in traffic. I pass the time by putting pictures of the scenery on Instagram and updating those at our destination with pictures of Eddie Stobart lorries or slow moving farm tractors.     I always forget something; this time my prescription sun glasses on the brightest sunniest August bank holiday weekend ever.


Our first morning was enlivened when, after several months of waiting, the landlord sent the chap to replace the back door before any of us were up. Half of us stayed at home in limbo thinking he would be finished at any moment and we could go out, he wasn’t, but at least we had a secure door ready for…

Sunday’s departure of Team AK to go camping in Wales, leaving the house and all the equipment to do with their business in our safe hands? They weren’t going glamping, but they did have a blow up tent and a cool box… and a fridge…


We enjoyed two outings to the nearby River Severn.  On Sunday afternoon we went to Bridgnorth with the aim of finding the Severn Valley Steam Railway. As we found ourselves in the lower town we crossed the bridge over the river and had a ride in the country’s steepest cliff lift. We discovered a lovely church on the hill designed by Thomas Telford. Another unexpected ‘attraction’ was the music festival; several locations, all playing what appeared to be the same music VERY LOUDLY. Pity the poor people who lived nearby. Looking it up on line it seems we missed the poetry and arts, perhaps they were on Wed-Friday and Monday.


Bank Holiday Monday found us visiting Ironbridge two years after our last visit; since then the bridge has had a major rescue and restoration and is now painted in the original red brown. If you get the chance this is a great place to visit, you can walk along the river and visit all sorts of industrial museums. The river banks crowded with trees are a far cry from the fiery furnaces of the industrial revolution.


Talking to a photographer we discovered we had missed the coracle racing. Having a cup of tea at the Youth Hostel by the Coalbrook China museum we chatted to a New Zealand chap hostelling round Europe and visiting his son in Denmark for the son’s fiftieth birthday. You’re never too old to do youth hostelling. We talked to the lady booking people in, hostels provide all sorts of different accommodation and the supper club sounded fun, everyone sits down together at 7pm so you have company. Maybe we’ll try that when the relatives are tired of us visiting them.



What are your favourite visications?