Tell Me Your Secrets

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He had something I wanted — no, scratch that, he had something I needed — desperately.

He’s a bit-part player in a much larger story, but he’s getting in my way.

The slow passage of time is a luxury I can ill-afford.

I’ve tried being patient, I’ve tried being obtuse, I’ve tried everything I can think of, and if I had more time, it would be easy, but there’s that word ‘time’ again. To be accurate, I resent spending time on this obstructionist person.

It’s true that he is under no obligation to give me the name, so technically he isn’t annoying, but my patience is spent. I’m stuck until he tells me her name.

I’m not big enough to beat it out of him, and besides, that’s not my style.

Usually, I let my mark relax and sooner or later the truth falls out of them. It’s quite magical at times. I have a theory that everyone wants to give up their secrets — a kind of confession if you will. Those Catholics know their stuff — get it all off your chest, and all will be forgiven.

It’s God that does the forgiving, not me. Me, I listen, and what I hear I pass on and money comes flowing my way.

I’ve always been a good listener. Even when I was a child people told me things.

I remember my mother telling me that she no longer loved my father and that she was going to live with Eric. I was nine. Who tells a nine-year-old such things?

I remember my father telling me that his heart was broken and that I was going to live with my aunt Sally. Who tells a nine-year-old such things?

My aunt Sally was lovely, but I kept waiting for my mum to come and get me. I remember Aunt Sally telling me that she was having sex with the bloke who lives next door.

“Won’t Uncle Bill mind you having sex with the bloke next door?” (I think his name was Eddie, but it could have been Cyril).

“No, he won’t know and what you don’t know can’t hurt you,” said my Aunt Sally adjusting her left breast which seemed to have a life of its own.

“Why are you telling me this Aunt Sally. I’m only eleven after all?”

“I’m not sure. I guess it’s because you seem like someone who one can tell things to.”

I wanted to ask if she expected me to keep her secret, but that didn’t come into it — it was the telling that was the point. She, like everyone else, needs to tell someone. People cannot carry the weight on their own — ‘here, take my pain, help me carry it.’

Who tells things like that to an eleven-year-old girl?

This bloke will tell me the woman’s name eventually. He won’t be able to hold out indefinitely. They always tell me in the end, only this time I have the feeling that it will be too late.

I’m still going to get paid, even if it is too late. There was nothing in my brief about ‘getting the name before the shit hits the fan’, but I was aware of the urgency.

If it goes badly, I take my money and shake it off. The outcome is none of my concern. My job is to get people to tell me things they won’t tell other people, and I do my job very well indeed.

I try not to think about what people do with the information I gather — I’m not sure I want to know.

I have a sense that the woman’s name is on a piece of paper stuffed into the lining of his hat. All I have to do is get him to put the hat down and distract him long enough to have a look, but I would much rather he told me her name. I have my pride and my reputation to think of.

People tell me things, things they don’t want to say.

It’s a skill, a talent and sometimes a curse, but it’s what I do, it’s what makes me unique.

I’m not sure what I’d do if people stopped telling me things — I’m not good for anything else.

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