An Honorable Discharge

The red phone rang from across the room and Tony Kingsman hurried to answer it. Every call was treated with the same urgency here, where the yellowed paint hung in feathers from the ceiling. This was the squad room for the Bomb Disposal Unit. Every person here had to ensure that London aged as gracefully as possible. As slowly as possible. In the English fashion. Michael Blatchford looked up from his desk as Tony brushed aside a heap of uncompleted forms to snatch the receiver. The month had been quiet, and slack periods weren’t appreciated when they lasted too long. Tensions rose with the expectation, and tempers could tighten like a fist.

In a small office to the side, Douglas Anglesey sat unmoved, his feet high on a stack of photocopied reports. He flipped another page of the Daily Telegraph with purposeful intent. He had three weeks left to retirement. Three weeks, and these calls meant little to him anymore. His function was now strictly advisory, a point he’d made clear throughout the department.

“Yes, sir,” Tony was saying. “In Montague Road, Tottenham, just by Antill. Right. Call for more men, sergeant, and evacuate the area. I want a police cordon set up immediately. Keep well back, yourself. You can’t tell with those things, just because they’re old.”

Douglas Anglesey lowered his hands and listened over the newspaper with sudden interest. Montague Road and Antill. His family lived just around the corner. Could it be?