“It’s a Pixie in a box”, he heard the man say as he washed his hands. He looked up quickly. To one side, there were two men drying their hands, side by side. One was tall and very bald. The other much shorter wearing a baseball cap with a football club logo on it. He listened hard.
“It may be that, but..” the tall one said. “I think it’s overpriced.”
“Don’t think so,” said the shorter one. “It’s pure gold. They always are.”
“Who’se interested in a Pixie?” the tall one insisted.
“That’s the movie industry for you,” said the shorter one knowingly.
“What is the movie?”
“Hush hush. It’s at the concept stage,” the short one seemed to know everything
“Time for a coffee?”
The two men had dried the hands by now. He had been queuing behind them his hands dripping, but he decided to follow them. He rubbed his hands on his trousers and followed them out of the gents and followed them to the food area. He queued behind them.
“It’s a cartoon then?” asked the tall one who did not seem to be in the know.
“I think so,” said the short one.
“What actor would want to be dressed up as a Pixie?”
“Depends on the money. You’d make a good Pixie,” said the short one.
“No, I’d be too tall!” the tall one protested.
“But that would be the joke, don’t you see.”
“What no one expects a tall Pixie?” the tall one pressed.
“No, you’re right,” said the short one. “And we would need a bigger box.”
“Why am I in the box?” asked the tall one.
“Who knows. Mystery of movie making,” said the short one, “But would you be happy to play the Pixie then?”
“As you say, depends on the money,” said the tall one.
By now the two had their coffees and moved away to a table. He asked for a coffee, the quickest one they could make. The girl at the bar said they had to make the coffee in a particular way.
“Can you make it quick?” he suggested.
“No, we have brand values. Every coffee has to made in the same way. Quality control, you see. We are not allowed to cut corners. More than my job’s worth.”
He stood there looking at the two men. They had carried on their conversation. He wished he could lip read. A moment later, he had his coffee and managed to sit next to them. He had a newspaper with him and began reading it to give the impression he was not overhearing their conversation.
“I’m not sure what the Chinese factory will make of it,” said the tall one. “If they know what they are making, we find their quality goes up.”
“How do we motivate them?”
“They are knowledgeable about films,” said the tall one. “I mean the major studios are very happy with them making the licensed goods. They’ve done all the major tie in products. Star Wars. Now there are some strange looking characters in that.”
“So, a pixie in a box would be a piece of cake?” said the short one.
“Don’t doubt it.”
“Do you think the Pixie speaks in the film?” asked the small one
“I would think so.”
“Would the voice be a famous star?” asked the small one.
“Bound to be, but is the Pixie male or female? We only have a model of the Pixie. No clothes, no indication of sex.”
“Does it matter?” the small one looked at his coffee. “Mind you, the model is really good. These digital printers are really amazing.”
“I hope it’s female. Girls are more likely to want to have a Pixie.”
“He may be a macho hero Pixie.” The small one said knowingly.
“Why have we got only one Pixie? I mean there’s usually a number of characters.”
“Perhaps the script hasn’t been finalised,” said the short one. He’d been here, before.
“Subject to rewrites, you think?” the tall suggested.
“Should we be running with this yet?” the small one was also a stickler for detail.
“We are just asking for a costing,” the tall one said.
“Max says we should wait,” said the small one. “We haven’t signed the contract yet.”
“Okay,” the tall one said. “Let’s enjoy the coffee and then drive back to the office.”
There was a pause. The small one looked at a donut he had bought and bit into it. His mobile phone rang. He answered it and listened, interjecting with a ‘yea’ at intervals. When the call ended, he looked up at his colleagues.
“There’s been a rewrite,” he said.
“And?” the tall one asked.
“It’s not a Pixie anymore?”
“What is it now?” the tall one asked.
“Chinese will be happy with that then.”
“There’ll be another re-write! Lots of them! There always are. Dragons are so passé!” said the small one
“Max says we should do nothing in case the next rewrite turns him back into a Pixie or worse.”
“What’s worse?” the small one asked
“Could be human!”
“They are never human,” the small one said knowingly. “Are you done? Shall we go?”
He watched them get up and go. He finished his coffee and then made a call. “Is the boss and the professor free?” he asked. There was a pause. “I know how to do it now.”
This was the only clue the police had. They had bugged the phone, but they had not heard the overheard conversation. The lead detective looked at the transcript. “We know now he had a coffee and said that? What was in the coffee, for Christ sake!” he looked at his team. “What do we know about what he did in that motorway service station?”
A young woman detective looked at her notes. “He stopped, had a comfort break, then a coffee and went back to his car. No record of him meeting anyone,” she said.
“So, what gave him the idea?” the detective mused. “Did he see something?”
“That’s all the information we have, chief,” she said.
“Where did he go then?”
“He met two of the gang.”
“How are they bringing the stuff into the country now?” the chief asked and looked at his team.
“Mules?” suggested one.
“No,” said another. “We know how they do that and so do they. They will need a new way of bringing the stuff in.”
“Well, we have to crack this one,” said the Chief. “Do we have someone on the inside still?”
“Interpol aren’t saying.”
“Well, we need to stay sharp!”
The police were surprised that the gang seemed to have gone on a sabbatical. They checked for mules and yachts coming in from across the ocean but there were no signs of activity and yet, the stuff came in and was there in plain sight on the streets. There was no sign of any supply disruptions. All the police surveillance yielded nothing. The gang was working hard and making money, and the police could not stop the supply. One day, the team got a call from Heathrow from their colleagues in Customs. The chief and the woman policeman followed it up. They drove to the airport and went to the Customs area. There was a sweet old lady held there.
“There’s your courier,” said the Customs man.
“Really?’ said the Chief. “How?”
“Look in the box!” the Customs officer said pointing to a box on the desk nearby.
The two of them opened the box.
“It’s a Pixie in a box,” said the chief. “Some licensed character from a film?”
“That’s what I thought so I asked her what film the character came from?” said the Customs officer.
“And?” said the chief detective
“Well, there’s no Pixie in the film,” the Customs officer explained. “I’d seen the film the day before. Half term treat for my daughter.”
“Where’s the stuff?”
“False bottom to the box. Lift up the Pixie!”
They two police picked up the multi-coloured Pixie and saw the goods below. The Chief shook his head. “A Pixie in a box!” he exclaimed.
“It would have made a better film if it had been the Pixie!” said the Customs officer.