I arrived at the cafe at just after four thirty that afternoon and looked for Philip. He was sitting at his regular table in the far corner.
‘How are things?’
He looked up; ‘Ah James, hello. How are you?’
‘Very well thank you, and the work?’
‘Oh you know, rattling along’. He closed his book and shuffled a bunch of loose sheets of paper together into his notebook. He called for another coffee and then turned to me, ‘James, you’re a publisher, a man interested in stories, let me tell you something fascinating’.
I sat at the table next to him. It was my pleasure to sit in the cafe every once in a while, usually after a day spent proofing manuscripts, and over the summer we had moved from strangers frequenting the same cafe to casual acquaintances. His work as a writer and mine at Hackforth-Newman Publishers meant that our worlds intersected somewhat, though we did not publish any of his work.
‘There is a con, a very simple con’, he began, ‘Where a man at a station approaches a waiting traveler with a story that he has lost his credit cards, his wallet, his identification cards, and all he needs is ninety Euros to get home.