"Would sirs like poppadoms and the pickles?"
I was startled. Taken aback. Somewhat surprised. I was sitting in our favourite booth at the Euthanasia Curry House. Roth was sitting opposite me. This in itself is not unusual, but I had no memory of having got there, or prior to that, making the original arrangements or even, somewhere in the middle, walking through the door. That is unusual.
Roth looked up. He was fiddling with something with copious quantities of red and black wires. It looked complicated and I assumed it was part of his atomic bomb dismantling refresher course. People in his line of work are tested on this sort of thing all the time. Failure, or drinking the wrong cocktail whilst defusing is viewed most seriously. Roth stopped periodically to sip a vesper.
My mind spun. The last thing I remembered for sure was laying in bed and turning my pillow over to the cold side and snuggling back into it. Was the Euthanasia Curry House on the cold side of my pillow? I understand it's possible to find strange things at the back of a wardrobe, but a curry house on the cold side of the pillow was exceptional. Could I get a pillow with a pizzeria on the cold side?
"I've taken off the black wire and it's not buzzing anymore," said Roth.
"Are you asking?" I asked.
"No, no, I'm fairly sure I'm right. Anyhow we'll find out in 30 seconds time. On the down side we won't get the poppadoms or pickles. On the up side nor will we get the bill."
"Do you know why I am dressed in my pyjamas?"
"I hadn't noticed, but that does seem to be the case. Have you spoken with your tailor?" he paused, "Anyway, I'd sort out what you're ordering - I've been here a while."
"Good point." I looked down at the menu and noticed that along with a vast array of starters and main courses there appeared some more atypical items.
The poppadoms and pickles arrived and within a couple of minutes and so did our regular waiter. "Would sirs like to order?"
"Oh yes please! Can I have a no. 15 sheek kebab, no. 24 keema nan, no. 32 lamb rogan and no. 40 mushroom rice? Oh, and no. 57 a black t-shirt that has seen better days, no. 60 a black leather coat with slight tear near the right sleeve, no. 75 a pair of black trousers with a hole in the left pocket and no. 80a some black underpants. Thank you."
"Certainly sir. An excellent choice," he turned slightly, "Mr Roth?"
Indigo ordered. The waiter disappeared briefly and apologetically. He came back with a second pad and a further supply of pencils. "Sir has made a good choice. Extensive. But good."
"Excuse me, how did I get here?" This little issue was beginning to bother me. The thought of a fantastic curry and the relief that more than 30 seconds had passed and I wasn't sailing past the pearly gates followed by a billowing mushroom cloud had done little to dampen my disquiet.
"We try to be there whenever our customers need us. I shall check. Sirs clothing order will be hanging over the heated towel rail in the men's rest room in just a few moments." He looked disapprovingly at the egg yolk stain decorating the front of my pyjama top.
I slipped away to the rest room to get changed. My clothes were hanging over the towel rail just as the waiter had described. When I returned there were two military types looming over the seated Roth. One was poking around in the complicating wiring. The other dipped his finger in Roth's drink and then licked it. The first one nodded his approval. The second spoke, "Not enough Kina Lillet in this Roth." He winced and coughed.
"That's the lime pickle, P", Roth remarked dryly. "Try this," he pushed the vesper forward. P downed the remainder of the glass in one grateful gulp. He too then nodded his approval. Both men seemed to melt into the general hubbub of the Euthanasia.
Roth turned his glass over in his hand, "He's drunk the bloody lot!"
Our orders arrived and the table was covered in things that steamed, bubbled, sizzled and gave up amazing aromas. We finished the lot. We both broke our personal bests, and some of the crockery.
When we had finished and silence had descended, the waiter came back and spoke to me. "You understand a little physics don't you?"
"Yes," I said, "A little."
"Do you understand the principle of The Right Moment?"
"Yes. There are things that must happen at certain points in the flow of time," I answered with more confidence than I felt about the subject.
"The Euthanasia is tethered close to the Right Moment for a Curry."
Roth, who had been quiet up until this point cut in, "Is that why it isn't on any maps?"
"Yes, quite. Although if you get the right sort of map..." his voice trailed off, as though he were about to impart some information we shouldn't be given.
I caught on. I suspect the fumes from Roth's late drink were slowing my mind. "So that explains why I am here, now?"
"No." said the Waiter.
"Oh. So why are you telling me this?"
"To be honest, I had nothing much to do between orders. I have a degree in temporal physics and feel the urge to show off occasionally."
"I hope your urge is satisfied," I lied, "I was laying in bed. I had just turned my pillow over to the cold side and suddenly I'm ordering a curry!"
"Did sir not enjoy his food?"
"No, it was very good indeed. Compliments to the chef. YOU'RE CHANGING THE SUBJECT!"
"OK. My best guess is you thought of this place and the principle of the Right Moment brought you here."
The Euthanasia swirled around me and vanished. I felt the cool of the duvet and sheets against my skin. Then I remembered, whilst I was turning the pillow over, I reached for my Ultra Heavy Duty Indigestion tablets. I would be surprised if the Euthanasia hadn't slipped into my mind at that point.