'Are you sure we haven't met before?'
I looked across the table at him. The train rumbled on, past fields of sheep and cattle and the odd ugly farm building. He was portly now, his goatee beard, slashed with white, failed to hide his double chin. His eyes were the same, though, insincere, too close together. I recalled his cruel, sneering mouth and his whining speech, accentuated with many 'ums' and 'ers.'
I said nothing.
'Only I thought maybe we...um...worked together once.'
We most certainly did not work together. If we had, I would have demanded a move to another office.
'Perhaps it was Sawley's?' he said, 'Twenty years or so ago?'
'You know, the engineering firm on the Romford road?'
I shook my head.
'Pity. I enjoyed working at Sawley's. Went bust, of course. Nothing...um...to do with me.' He laughed, that malicious tinny laugh that I'd found so irritating.
I looked out of the window as we halted at a station and wondered what Maureen was doing now. I hadn't seen her for, what, ten years, was it?'
I slipped into a reverie thinking about her and didn't hear what he said next. 'You're not Chisholm are you?'
'I wasn't listening. What did you say?'
'Martin Chisholm. We worked together at Proudfoot Engineering.'
'Never heard of him.'
'Only you look like him. Sandy hair, long nose, that type of thing.'
'I can assure you I'm not Chisholm.'
'You look awfully familiar,' he said.
'I use this train regularly, as I'm sure you do.'
'No, it's more than that,' he said. 'Let me introduce myself. That might ring a few...um...bells.' 'No need.'
'No need?' He seemed puzzled.
'No need. I know you.'
'I thought so. Remind me...where from?'
'You're the bastard who made off with my wife.'