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The automated voice said, Thank you for calling Global Express. Please press any key to continue. Thank you. To check the status of a delivery, please press 1. To request a collection, press 2. If you are an account customer requesting a collection, press 3. If you are a new customer requesting a collection, press 4. For all other enquiries, press 5.

Abby pressed 4.

For deliveries within the UK, please press 1. For overseas deliveries, press 2.

She pressed 1.

There was a brief silence. She hated these automated systems. Then she heard a couple of clicks, followed by a young, male voice.

Global Express. Jonathan speaking. How can I help you?

Jonathan sounded like hed be better suited helping young men into trousers in a gents outfitters.

Hi, Jonathan, she said. I have a package I need delivered.

No problem at all. Would that be letter size? Parcel size? Larger than that?

An A4 envelope about an inch thick, she said.

No problem at all, Jonathan assured her. And where would that be going?

To an address just outside Brighton, she said.

No problem at all. And where would we be picking up from?

From Brighton, Abby said. Well, Kemp Town, actually.

No problem at all.

How soon can you collect? she asked.

In your area one moment we will collect between 4 and 7.

Not before?

No problem at all, but that would be an extra charge.

She thought quickly. If the weather remained like this it would be fairly dark by about 5 oclock. Would that be an advantage or a disadvantage?

Will you be sending a bike or a van? she asked.

For overnight it will be a van, Jonathan replied.

A revised plan was forming in her mind. Is it possible you could ask them not to come before 5.30?

Not to come before 5.30? Let me just check.

There were some moments of silence. She was trying hard to think this through. So many variables. Then there was a click and Jonathan was back with her.

No problem at all.

OCTOBER 2007 | Dead Man`s Footsteps | SEPTEMBER 2007