Leo was definitely only working at SupaValu until he’d saved enough money to fund his gap year travels and then he was off. Definitely. He had plans, did Leo. Grandpa Edmond had explored swathes of the Amazon rainforest and brought home tribal remedies that the whole family used to ward off colds and stomach bugs. That explained Leo’s itchy feet. Then there was Grandad Eric, who had built up a small business from scratch, supplying half of the South Coast with seaside rock made in the Midlands. And that inspired him to become a businessman himself, post-wanderings of course.
And in the meantime, SupaValu pay was no worse than most other places and considerably better than many when you factored in working nightshifts as Leo often did. His travel fund was growing well and before too long he would allow himself to start looking at flights and hostels and places to visit across the world.
It turned out that Leo was pretty good at the work too. He wasn’t afraid to put in the hours, was happy to take advice from others and fitted in well with everyone. His supervisor Mal had mentioned a possible promotion and Leo was interested only as far as it meant his savings would amass that bit quicker. He even waited to be told he could go outside for his cigarette break when most of the others sneaked off whenever they thought they weren’t being watched.
Leo was asked to work a few extra hours after his nightshift on the day that Jon’s daughter was sick and he had to take her to A&E. Used to being able to light up at will once he’d done all night, he was craving a nicotine rush by the time Mal said he could go outside. Nodding his thanks, he rushed off outsider to the smoking shelter at the far side of the car park.
When he reached the shelter he could see several people already there, including Steven. Leo said there were very few people he hated and Steven was one of the very few. He was arrogant, loud, over-bearing and thought he was much more attractive than he really was. Worse, he was best mates with Leo’s horrendous cousin Jake, so he always behaved as if he was best mates with Leo too. The pair of them together spelled trouble and a bigger pair of losers would be hard to find.
Leo hoped he would be able to slide into the background and maybe Steven wouldn’t notice him, but he was already calling “Leo, over here” across the car park. Leo raised a hand in acknowledgement and headed towards him.
“Alright mate?” said Steven. “Haven’t seen you for a while. Where you been hiding too?”
“Mostly doing nights,” said Leo. “Racking up a bit extra for my trip.”
“Oh yeah, Jakey told me about that. Trying to be like that travelling granddad or something he said. It’ll take a while to save up with the wages they pay here, won’t it?” Steven laughed to himself like he’d said one of the funniest things in the world, ever.
“Yeah, true enough,” said Leo, trying to disengage from the conversation. “Hey, isn’t that Jake’s car? It’s driving like he does. That red one down there.”
As they looked in the direction Leo pointed, the red car drove straight at the back of a dark car pulling out of a space. “Oh, God. He’s hit that car.”
Steven threw his cigarette to the floor and ground it out with his foot. “Yeah, I’d say it is. He heard his missus has been carrying on with someone who works here, so he texted me and said to meet him and let him in the back way to go and look for the guy,” said Steven. “Come on, let’s go and see if he’s OK.”
“Sorry mate,” said Leo, “we’re short today with Jon’s girl in hospital. Mal told me to come right back. But text me if he’s not OK and I’ll see if I can get away.”
“OK bro, I’ll let you know. I better go and see if he’s still after looking for this guy too.” Steven left the shelter and made his way to the cars where Leo could already seen Jake was out of his car and surveying the damage. Then he walked back inside, just behind the guy in a blue hoodie who had been stood at the back of the smoking shelter.