Drutherstone knocked four times with one knuckle.
“Fuck off!” came an expressive voice through the door.
“It’s only me, Drutherstone, your patient employer and signer of paychecks.” A shuffled murmuring was detectable on the other side of the portal. The door swung open.
A menagerie of women in various states of undress were covering up. Mingey stuck her face out directly into Drutherstone’s nose.
“What is it, Lindsey?” she sing songed.
“Do you work here?” he rhetoricized.
“What is the name of your place of employment?”
Mingey sneered, embarrassed. “Drutherstone’s Circus” she said at last.
“Thank you. Now I want to talk to Violet.”
“Violet!” Mingey screeched, closing the door on Drutherstone. He checked his timepiece.
Violet, the girl with cigarette-stained fingers who enjoyed combing her hair, was robed in grey silk. She joined Drutherstone in the hallway. “Yes?”
“I have a task for you.”
“I want you to take responsibility for the elephants.”
Violet laughed in his face. “I don’t know the first thing about elephants.”
“I know,” said Drutherstone, “but we’re short of hands. Many hands. I don’t know where all the hands keep getting to, frankly. You always seem to know what’s going on at least. Ungulen keeps them and feeds them. I want you to do the fun bit. Train them up for an interesting act for next month.”
Violet was caught in a state of objection. There were so many ways to say “no” she couldn’t connect with just one.
“No,” she said at last.
“They’re already trained. Ungulen can show you their calls and responses. They’re very docile. Well, except for the mad one. You don’t have to train him. He’s technically dead anyway.”
“Why?” Violet asked.
“I told you. We’re short of staff. Just come up with some little routine. You’re one of the dancers, yes?”
“Are you one of the best ones?”
“I think so.”
“Good. And now you are a choreographer.”
“Of elephants! Now isn’t that exciting?”
Violet thought it over. She laughed again but this time with ideas in her head.
“Alright, the elephants.”
“Thank you,” said Drutherstone and he checked his timepiece once more. Doffing his miserable top hat, he left for another appointment.