Day 1 - Fate has something to say

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 Morning, Charlotte

"John better be homesick, or I swear to God, Paul, he can kiss his job goodbye." Sam barked as he keyed the lock.

The Mountain King charter bus business had run successfully for the past five years and Sam was not about to risk any loss over an irresponsible driver.

"What's he done this time?" Paul asked, sipping his cappuccino.

"I'll tell you what he hasn't done". Sam turned around briskly. "That drunkard hasn't brought back a whole, damn bus of mine. How the hell am I supposed to organize passenger pick up at the tarmac for that mountain camping trip? You know I don't like refunding money, Paul!"

"My bus is free, Sam, I could refuel again and pitch in for now" Paul offered hastily. He knew that if Sam had to refund any money, he would not only pay cut on John's wages but those of all the drivers who worked for him.

"You think you're up for it?" Sam asked. "You can concentrate for a few more hours. Not going to fall asleep behind the wheel or anything?"

"I'll be all right. Nothing an hour or so at home won't fix."

Sam reached inside his pocket and took out a ten dollar note, "Take this, eat something, I need you ready by eleven thirty," he said, scratching his grey head. "They arrive at one and you need to get to the airfield before then."

Sam was middle-aged with a short fuse and a protruding belly which had, since his fortieth birthday, rounded out into the solid barrel-shaped overhang so common in those with an over-enthusiastic love of beer. He owned a bus business in the sleepy town of Charlotte, supplying buses and drivers to the towns nearby as well. However, it was during winter, when Christmas drew near and the exclusive mountain camping trips were offered, that the charter business usually boomed.

"Ok, I'll do it, but don't expect me back soon, all right? I'm going to take a break up there," Paul said, gulping down the last of his drink.

"Fine, but if you see that drunk-ass, tell him I want my bus back. If I get my hands on him..."

"John could be on his way as we speak", Paul said feebly, "maybe he got bogged down at the top with that hell of snowfall last night". He rubbed his hands together, looking up at the sky and then at the empty snow-covered streets. "I heard they sent snow ploughs up the mountain early this morning". He put his hands back in his pockets. "Winter's come early this year, and worse. Do you think it's safe for them trips to be operating?".

"I don't care as long as they bring in money," Sam said, pushing the door open and running inside to turn off the alarm.

Once Paul saw Sam moving towards Reception, he entered. "So how many trips have you got booked this year?"

Sam looked up, "Only one this time. Oh, but don't you worry. I'll find some work for you. You're the only man I can trust, Paul, and I know you got a wife and kids...but John, he's won't be getting a damn thing anymore."

"Well, it's Christmas you know, lots of spending," Paul said with a worried look.

"You do this trip for me, and I'll double your Christmas bonus, scout's honor," Sam looked up from his desk and stuck his hand up in a salute gesture.

"You do this trip for me, and I'll double your Christmas bonus, scout's honor," Sam looked up from his desk and stuck his hand up in a salute gesture

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