'Blue and Grey' by Danny Beusch

Their suits, in cobalt blue and ice grey, are tailored and sharp. Their stubble is exact. Their hair is styled just so. They radiate youth; I am exposed by its unforgiving glare.

Earlier this morning, my fifteen year-old son gave the following advice: your handshake must be firm and confident; you must maintain eye contact; you must give real-life examples; you must ask questions at the end, even if you already know the answers. I intently studied my coffee, falling deeper into its abyss.

Grey informs me that they’re not searching for the finished article but for someone with potential. ‘We will commence by assessing your problem-solving skills,’ he says.

Blue nods. ‘How would you go about estimating the number of newspapers sold in the UK every day?’

My brain darts back to this morning’s train and the crumpled newspaper I picked up from the aisle. I turned straight to the cryptic crossword, a welcome distraction from my churning stomach and the stench of the nearby toilet. It took twenty three minutes to complete – Leamington Spa to Birmingham International – with a tiny bit of help from the lady next to me. I can hear my son: ‘logical thinking, and effective teamwork to boot’.

‘Good luck,’ said the lady as I got off at my station. But then came the torrential rain, and my sodden shoes, and my mascara tears.

I write down Blue’s question. My son said that this gives a good impression. Thorough. Dependable.

‘Well,’ I stutter.

*

Blue doodles. It’s been a long day. He can’t believe that there are still five more to see after this one.

*

Grey stares. He’s always been attracted to older women. He crosses his legs to draw attention away from the stirring in his crotch.

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