Mr Arm, stood behind the worn out oak counter, looking through the previous days receipts. Monday had been busy, as usual, and still some weekly accounts had not been settled. no need to panic, Rothchilds always paid its bill.
Arm closed the receipt book, and began dusting the counter in readiness for opening time. Eight o'clock, sharp. In the forty years, they had been in the city, the shop had never opened late, despite Mr Inchcocks slow Half Hunter.
From below, there came a sound, that to the ordinary ear, would have struck terror, fear, and panic.
"Piiiffffeeeedd, Aaaaarrrggghhh, Fatang! Yeeeeesssss! Plop!"
"I see your still constipated then Mr Inchcock" Said Arm.
There was a loud popping noise, followed by a rasping sound.
"May Allah be praised!" Came the reply, from the w.c. in the basement.
"Your not wiping your behind on the till roll again are you?" Enquired Mr Arm.
"Nope, I'm using my imagination, I've got the cat in with me, keep still you little bugger!" Shouted Mr Inchcock.
Arm went to the front door, slide back the polished brass bolt, lifted the blackout screen, turned the key in the lock, and put the sign up, saying; "Open for business".
As Arm returned to the counter, Inchcocks head emerged from the basement trap door.
"Oh my god" Said Arm, "You look like Dracula emerging from the tomb, please dont let the customers see you in that hole, we will be run out of the village"
Inchcocks shoulders shuddered with silent laughter, as he made his way out of the basement, and into the shop proper.
"I think we should get an electric chair for the basement," said an out of breath Mr Inchcock.
"You wont need the All bran or the laxatives mate" Replied Mr Arm, as he poured the first of many cups of tea.
Mr Inchcock put on his brown coverall coat, and took up his position behind the cash register. This had been his domain for thirty five years, since greeting thier very first customer.
"Good morning Lady Porter, how may you help me please?"
Mr Arm, and Mr Inchcock agreed. From that day hence, Arm would deal with the customers, Inchcock would look after the money and the stock. Inch could smell the cash laden pocket of a customer, before they had entered the shop.
As a punter entered, Mr Inchcock would whisper to Mr Arm,
"Two shillings". And that was what they would spend.
At one time, Mr Arm thought Mr Inchcock was paying people to pay the amount he had stipulated.
Mr Arm went to Owen & Owen in Mansion House, gave the errand boy five shillings, and told him to come into the shop, and order a tin of boot polish. The very next day, the errand boy arrived at the shop, Inchcock leaned over and whispered; "Two bob" Arm had the polish on the counter, took the two bob, and never questioned Mr Inchcock again. Three shillings to prove his best mate was a genius. Silly sod.
Mr Arm took up his position behind the counter, Mr Inchcock sat on his chair behind the till. They took a sip from their tea mugs, and waited for their first customer.
"Ding" A tall cadaverous man entered the shop.
"Good Morning Sir" Greeted Mr Arm.
"One pound fifty and a pain in the arse" Whispered Inchcock.
"What can we do for you?" Enquired Arm.
"Are yes" Started the man, "I have a loose panel in my chambers at Lincoln's Inn, do you sell panel pins?"
"Yes Sir, we have brass, steel, galvanised, and copper, what sort of wood panel do you have?" Enquired Arm.
"Arrgh, now then" said the man, "I think it might be oak"
"In that case sir, I recommend the brass pin sir" Advised Mr Arm. "No staining the wood".
"Or is it Ash? It might even be Elm, give me one of each, just in case I am wrong" Replied the man.
Arm nodded to Inchcock, who nodded back. Mr Inchcock swung round in his custom made, anti haemorrhoid chair, and opened the draw before him. Inchcock placed the pins in the brown paper bag, and handed it to Arm.
"There you are Sir, that will be eighty pence please" Said Arm, as he threw a look of triumph at Inchcock.
"Thank you" Said the man, paid his money, and left the shop.
"You got it wrong!" Shouted Mr Arm. "After thirty odd years, you have finally got it wrong, he spent eighty pence! Hahahaha! what do you say now Inchy me old mate?" Cheered Mr Arm, as he danced a fandango behind the counter.
Mr Inchcock placed the money in the till. Did his eye drops, checked the pill box, applied cream to his hand and put the kettle on the to boil.
Mr Arm wiped the counter, and waited for his tea.
"Ding" A tall cadavarous man entered the shop.
"Oh, hello sir" Said Mr Arm. "Did you forget your pins?"
"No" Answered the man. "I would like one of those pen holders please, ideal for the court room you know"
"One of these sir" Asked Arm, as he reached into the box, and placed the holder on the counter
"The very same" Replied the man.
Mr Arm threw Mr Inchcock a glance, Inchcock lowered his Pince Nez and scanned the price list before him.
"Is that the silver metal pen holder with elasticated band"
Quizzed Mr Inchcock.
"Yes" Replied Mr Arm through gritted false teeth.
"Yes, mmmmmmm....let me see.....Oh..Of course...that is priced at.....oh...here we are...Seventy pence. Said Mr Inchcock, with a smile one reserves for a generous auntie.
"Thank you, Mr Inchcock" Sneered Mr Arm.
"Seventy pence please sir" Arm advised the customer.
"Value for money, saw your colleague had one, and thought, what a splended bit of kit" Replied the man.
The customer exited the shop, Mr Arm sat on his stool facing his friend.
"How the hell do you do it?" Arm Asked.
"Well, first of all I boil the kettle, then put the tea in the tea pot, when the kettle is boiled...........
Despite his many ailments, Mr Inchcock managed to avoid the one pint metal paint kettle as it hurtled toward him.