Jonathan put the phone down. He went over the mini-bar but decided on nothing stronger than a soda. He'd need to have all his wits about him for the meeting with Janice. To be honest he'd not been surprised at the call from his sister, despite the fact they hadn't seen each other for nearly four months. He suspected she'd be helping organise this year's conference. Undoubtedly, his being asked to join the team of translators once again was her doing.

Jonathan's mind went back to last year's fiasco. The emergency meeting, his speaker's anger, the threats and finally Jonathan storming out of the meeting shouting: 'I'm never going to do this again...' at anyone who crossed his path.

So what had he accepted to go back? Was it the buzz he used to get out of attending these conferences? The chance of meeting new people, the exchanges with old acquaintances, the late evening dinner parties with the opportunities they sometimes put his way? Maybe, he did miss the life a little. Life in his little seaside town rarely afforded him such opportunites. He knew, he'd like being a part of all that again, yet he knew equally well, that it wasn't for the excitement he was going back. Neither, was it for the money. True, it would be a long time before his writing would enable him to earn as much in one week as he would be getting for the conference, and the money would be welcome. But it was more than that.

The true reason was something Janice had said. Janice's oratory powers had never equalled those of a Nelson Mandella or a Margaret Thatcher, yet she was sincere. One phrase stuck in his mind.

"Jonathan, I'm not asking you to do this for me. I want you to do it because I think you owe it to yourself."

She was right.  If he did have something to prove, then it was not to others but to himself. He would go to the conference and he would give of his best. He would climb back up and show himself that there was life after a knockout punch.

A second phone call came a few days later.

'Hello, am I speaking to Mr. Jonathan Rourke?'

'Yes, that's me.'

'Right, well I'm Martin Doubleday of the ANE European Archeological Foundation. You've been assigned to me as a translator for this year's ASP University Fellows conference. I was just wondering how much you know about the language of archeological digs?'

Jonathan froze. This was where it had all begun last year. They had assigned him to a theologian lecturing on the current status of the creation/evolution debate. He'd known nothing whatsoever about either topic; the result had been a disaster. The hesitancy in his voice was only too obvious.

'I'm afraid I don't know very much, Mr.Uhhh...'

'Doubleday, Martin Doubleday. Yes, I suspected as much. I'm afraid my speciality is not one people know much about. That's why I'd appreciate it if we could get together sometime before the conference. I've prepared a glossary of most of the major technical terms which will help you cope with the translation and we can go through the major points of my talk to make sure you understand everything. I want you to know, Mr. Rourke that you're just as important as I am at this conference. We'll be working together as partners and I want to give you every chance to do a good job.'

This time Jonathan did take that drink when he put the phone down. No, not to steady his nerves but to toast what he was sure would be the best partnership in the conference.


As always Paul you very neatly tie the beginning and the end together.

I was glad to see that Jonathon's sister was not the harridan that I had guessed she was going to be (thus the tossing up between the soda and the stiffer drink) ... as I thought originally that was the direction of the story.

You definitely present lots of intesting takes on the world in your short fiction and allow the reader to glimpse many different walks of life.

I'm not sure though that I either empathised greatly or celebrated with Jonathon. Not entirely sure why as you present him as an interesting character and willing to push his boundaries and rise from the ashes of his previous failures?

18 April 2009 at 10:04  

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