Chemical Secret

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    1 A new start
    'Mr Duncan?Come in please.Mr Wilson will see you now.'
    'Thank you.'John Duncan stood up and walked nervously towards the door.He was a tall,thin man,about forty-five years old,in an old grey suit.It was his best suit,but it was ten years old now.He had grey hair and glasses.His face looked sad and tired.
    Inside the room,a man stood up to welcome him.Mr Duncan?Pleased to meet you.My name's David Wilson.This is one of our chemists,Mary Carter.'
    John Duncan shook hands with both of them,and sat down.It was a big office,with a thick carpet on the floor and beautiful pictures on the walls.David Wilson was a young man,in an expensive black suit.He had a big gold ring on one finger.He smiled at John.
    'I asked Miss Carter to come because she's one of our best Chemists.She discovered our wonderful new paint,in fact.When…I mean,if you come to work here, you will work with her.'
    'Oh,I see.'John looked at Mary.She was older than Wil-son—about thirty-five,perhaps—with short brown hair,and a pretty,friendly face.She was wearing a white coat with a lot of pens in the top pocket.She smiled at him kindly, but John felt miserable.
    I'll never get this job,he thought.I'm too old!Employers want younger people these days.
    David Wilson was looking at some papers.'Now,Mr Dun-can,'he said,'I see that you are a very good biologist.You worked at a university…and then for two very famous com-panies.But…you stopped working as a biologist nine years ago.Why was that?'
    'I've always had two interests in my life,'John said,'biol-ogy and boats.My wife was a famous sailor…Rachel Hors-ley…Perhaps you remember her.She sailed around the world alone in a small boat.'
    'Yes,'said David Wilson,'I remember her.'
    'So we started a business,'said John.'We made small boats together,and sold them.'
    'And did the business go well?'asked Wilson.
    'Very well at first.Then we wanted to build bigger,better boats.We borrowed too much money.And then my wife…'John stopped speaking.
    'Yes,the Sevens Race.I remember now,'said David Wil-son.
    Both men were silent for a moment.Wilson remembered the newspaper reports of the storm and the lives lost at sea.He looked at the man who sat sadly in front of him.
    'So,after my wife died,'continued John,' I closed the business.That was five years ago.'
    'I see,'said David Wilson.'It's a hard world,the world of business.'He looked at John's old grey suit.'So now you want a job as a biologist.Well,this is a chemical company,Mr Duncan.We make paint.But we need a biologist to make sure that everything in this factory is safe.We want someone to tell the government that it's safe to work here,and that it's safe to have a paint factory near the town.That's impor-tant to us.'
    'And if something's not safe,then of course we'll change it,'mary Carter said.David Wilson looked at her,but he didn't say anything.
    'Yes,I see,'John began nervously.'Well,I think I could do that.I mean,when I worked for Harper Chemicals in Lon-don I…'He talked for two or three minutes about his work.David Wilson listened,but he didn't say anything.Ihen he smiled.It was a cold,hard smile,and it made John feel un-comfortable.He remembered his old suit and grey hair,and he wished he hadn't come.
    'You really need this job,don't you,Mr Duncan?'david Wilson said.'You need it a lot.'
    'Yes,I do,'he said quietly.But he thought:I hate you,Wilson.You're enjoying this.You like making people feel small.I hate people like you.
    Wilson's smile grew bigger.He stood up, and held out his hand.'OK,'he said.'When can you start?'
    'What?'John was very surprised.'What did you say?'
    'I said,“When can you start?”,Mr Duncan.We need you in our factory as soon as possible.Will Monday be OK?'
    'You mean I've got the job?'
    'Of course.Congratulations!'Wilson shook John's hand.'My secretary will tell you about your pay.You'll have your own office,and a company car,of course.I'd like you to start work with Mary on Monday.Is that OK?'
    'I…Yes,yes,of course.That's fine.Thank you,thank you very much.'

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