Bills can sneak up on you, as Ollie finds out to his cost

Perhaps it was a figment of his imagination. Ollie couldn’t be sure. But when he looked up again from the papers he was referring to during a particularly difficult negotiation, he felt certain Bill’s face had been looking at him through the window.

Yes, there is was again; a fleeting glimpse, seen from the corner of his eye, never quite resolving itself into his friend Bill, but Bill’s face nonetheless.

These glimpses had happened at other times during the morning. Bill’s had been a face in the crowd at the bus stop, in the coffee shop, then again at the station, and in the client’s foyer. But Bill was back at the office, so why was Ollie’s imagination playing cruel tricks on him. Was he under too much stress?

Negotiation over and the problem resolved, Ollie felt more relaxed stepping out onto the pavement, and decided to treat himself to another coffee, and perhaps a biscuit or two to go with it. Having reached the front of the counter and given his order to the barista, he was startled to hear a voice say: “Make that two.”

He spun round. No-one there. He spun the other way. And there was Bill, his inane grin showing how much he was enjoying what he’d just done to Ollie. “And make sure you photograph the receipt for your expenses claim,” he added.

“I shan’t be claiming for your coffee; there’s no need for you to be here,” he told his friend.

Bill stopped grinning, which in itself made Ollie grin. It was a little victory. “Anyway,” he demanded, “What are you doing here?”

“Me? Oh, I’m everywhere. Nowadays I can be just about anywhere. It’s the power of the internet. So long as there’s a WiFi signal, I’m there. Perhaps not in the depths of the Amazon rain-forest, or at the top of Mount Everest,” he mused.

“If I were in the depths of the Amazon rain-forest, or at the top of Mount Everest, I think bills would be the least of my worries,” said Ollie.

“But you’re not likely to be going to either of those places any time soon. And that means that instead of wasting time talking to me you can use Solo Expenses to claim for this morning’s trip. You could do that waiting for your coffee to cool why I eat some of these biscuits.”

Ollie looked up and raised an eyebrow, pointing at Bill with his phone. “And that, my biscuit-snaffling friend, is the trouble with bills. Always eating into your resources whilst you’re trying to get on with life.”

“That’s the way it is with bills,” said Bill. “Can’t you get those shortbread ones next time. Much nicer,,,”