The man was big – really big! He stood close to seven feet tall, his chest and shoulders as broad and wide as a mountain range. A huge belly protruded from his donkey jacket and drooped over his beltline like a sack of baby elephants. And as he walked, his arms and legs swung with the same powerful motion of swinging trees. He was a giant!
Jarvis stepped from the shadowy doorway, and onto the lamp lit pavement. He pulled his coat tighter around him, and shivered under the rain falling from the night sky. With a deep breath he stood in the giant's path and braced himself.
“Good, agent,” whispered the supervisor's voice. “This one seems a perfect choice.”
Jarvis didn't reply and swallowed hard. The giant was almost upon him, and he had a clearer view now. Not one hair or whisker grew on the man's head and face. His smooth scalp was pitted with craters, like meteor strikes on the moon. His left eye was unnaturally smaller than the right, and set far too low in his face, almost in his cheek. And his chin was so square, it looked like the horizon with a miniature arse stuck in the middle.
“If I don't return from this,” Jarvis pulsed to control, “tell my family I love them.”
Jarvis cleared his throat. “Hey turd-boy!” He shouted aloud. “Who beat you with the ugly stick?”
The giant stopped and cocked his head to one side, making his left eye seem even more off kilter. He studied Jarvis with a vague expression of confusion, and blinked twice, heavily, as though he could crack walnuts between his eyelids. “Time?” he said thickly, and then, to Jarvis' incredibility, rolled up his jacket sleeve to peer closely at a watch that wasn't there. “I dunno,” he said, pointing at his vacant wrist.
It took Jarvis a moment to respond. “What?”
“I ain't got a watch,” the giant explained.
Jarvis frowned. “I didn't ask you the time. I just insulted you.”
After several more walnut-crushing blinks, the giant smiled and exposed a mouthful of teeth like ancient, crooked tombstones. “My mistake,” he said, and moved on.
“What? No! Wait!” Jarvis moved in front of him again, and pointed a finger in his face. “You stink of manure, and you drink your own wee.”
“I will,” said the giant. “Fank you.” And on he moved once again.
“Agent?” said the supervisor, “What's going on? Why isn't he reacting to your insults?”
“I haven't got a clue, sir.”
“Then try again, quickly, before he gets away.”
“Oi!” Jarvis shouted at the giant, “I haven't finished with you yet!”
Again, Jarvis ran into the giant's path. He thrust out his hand and pushed hard against his chest.
As Jarvis fell flat on his back, the rain falling on his face, the wet pavement soaking his clothes, he made a mental note to act with less spontaneity in future. The sheer size of this dim-witted man hardly made him a likely candidate for stopping on a penny.
The giant, for his part, looked around confused, and rubbed his chest. Finally noticing Jarvis on the floor, he bent down and gripped him by the face with a massive hand. In one powerful motion, Jarvis was back on his feet.
“Did you say sumfink?” the giant asked.
Jarvis felt close to tears. “What?”
“I fought you said sumfink.”
“I . . . I did.”
“Oh, dat's alright den. I fought I was 'earing fings.”
“Not now, sir! I need to concentrate.” Jarvis shook the rainwater from his hands and wiped his face. “No, you're not hearing things,” he said to the giant. “But I need you to pay attention and listen to me, okay?”
The giant furrowed his log-thick brow. “Right,” he said.
“I'm going to insult you,” Jarvis explained, “and I want you to be offended.”
“I need you to get so mad that you want to hit me, okay? Now, are you ready?”
“Right.” Certain now that he had the giant's full attention, Jarvis took a deep breath. “You're too stupid to read or write. You're face is so ugly you can't get a girl interested even if you paid her to, but you're so dumb you can't figure out how to masturbate, either. You stink like . . . I don't know, something really stinky, and all your meals come from bins. You . . . You can't count to ten, and . . . and . . . You're not listening to me, are you?”
“Then what did I just say?”
The giant scratched his cratered head. “Dunno.”
“Please, sir, not now!” Jarvis rubbed his temples. “Look,” he told the giant. “I'm trying to insult you . . . I'm offering you out?” The giant was nodding simple-mindedly. “I want a fight, you bloody cave-troll!”
The giant shrugged and gave another cemetery-like grin. “People call me Bin,” he said.
Jarvis actually felt his body deflate. “What?”
“After me mum left, I 'ad an accident.” He tapped the side of his head, at least Jarvis supposed he meant to tap his head, but the giant missed and bashed himself on the nose. “I ain't got much memory now.”
“Oh dear God,” Jarvis whispered. “What are you talking about?”
“I fink I scare people.” The giant prodded himself in the face. “Cos I look like dis. I don't 'ave any mates.” His breath suddenly caught, and a fearful expression came to his face. “What's your name?” he asked suspiciously.
“What's my name got to do with anything?”
“If you don't 'ave a name, dat means you work for Mr Grimpy, and I'll 'ave to run away.”
“Suggestions?” Jarvis asked control. “Seriously, this moron is giving me a migraine.”
“Keep steady, agent. You've been trained to cope with the unexpected. He seems frightened, so reassure him, state your name. I want to see where this leads.”
“Yes sir.” Deep down Jarvis wanted to argue. This was futile. The experiment wasn't going to plan, and a new subject had to be found. But the supervisor had given an order, and he would have Jarvis see it through no matter what. “Well, I don't know any Mr Grimpy,” he said aloud, “but you can call me Mr Jarvis. You're name is . . . Bin , did you say?”
“Dat's right, Larry,” the giant said. “And my name's Bin, by da way.”
Jarvis clenched his fists. “I know that,” he sobbed. “And who the hell is Larry?”
“Just keep him talking, agent. Stay calm.”
But Bin, the giant, wasn't listening anyway. He crushed one of Jarvis' hands in his over-sized palms and shook it brutally. “I'm very pleased to meet you, Larry. I'm Bin.”
“O-Okay. P-Please s-stop sh-shaking m-my h-hand n-now.”
In his head, Jarvis could hear the supervisor hurriedly whispering with those in the control room, cooking up some fiendish plan or another. “Quickly,” he mentally hissed. “Urgent assistance required ! I need an escape plan before this idiot shakes me apart.”
“Easy, agent, the experiment has been compromised, but not all is lost. We're switching tack, and you're objective is longer to initiate the old Earth ritual of fisticuffs. We now want you to make friends with the subject.”
“You must take him to your dwellings for further study.”
“A joke, sir?”
“Not at all, agent. Now get to it.”
Jarvis could imagine the supervisor's smug, supercilious face, and he truly wanted to reach inside his head and squeeze the life from the bastard's miserable neck.
“Fine,” he mentally growled, and finally managed to free his hand from the giant's grip. “Bin, you fantastically massive retard, I'd like to offer you a cup of tea and a chat - back at my place. What do you say?”
Bin stood silent for a moment, the rain pattering on his huge, hairless head. “Can we be mates?” he said, his voice tinged with pathetic hope.
“Sure,” Jarvis chirped, “Why not?”
“Mr Grimpy won't be dere, will he?”
Jarvis forced a smile, and held a finger to his lips. “I won't mention him if you don't.”
“Oh, Larry, dat's great!”
Just about ready now to slice his own throat, Jarvis grimaced as Bin slung his arm around his body and crushed him in a bear hug. “Oh, you're really teeny,” Bin chuckled. “I know - I'll carry ya.”
“No, no,” replied Jarvis, his voice muffled against Bin's massive chest, “Really, I can walk . . . I'm quite capable . . . Bin . . . I . . . oh for fuck's sake . . .”
“I like wearing slippers,” Bin said, as he hoisted Jarvis onto his back. “I'll tell ya about it on da way home.”
* * *
As they plodded inexorably down the street, Jarvis was mildly aware of Bin regaling stories of his favourite pair of slippers. His head banged against the giant's broad shoulders with every step, and Jarvis wondered what any passers-by would think if they witnessed a grown man being carried on the back of an ogre.
With a sigh, he stared up at the dark sky and dearly wished the clouds would part, and show the stars glimmering above. He dearly wanted to see the distant twinkle of his home planet . . . and then spit at it!
“You must feel lucky to have us around, agent,” the supervisor suddenly said, and sounded very pleased indeed. “Adaptability and speed of thought are vital ingredients to our success, and none think quicker than us, wouldn't you say?”
“We certainly saved your skin this time, and all of us here expect to be on that Christmas card list your last report mentioned.”
Jarvis gave up all hope as he heard the chortles of those in the control room. “Absolutely,” he said. “You know, sir, in a situation like this, it's hard to find the right words. Though there is an Earth saying that I don't believe you're familiar with, and it sums up the extent of my gratitude quite nicely, I feel.”
“Yes, sir: ‘eat shit and die', sir.”
“Well . . . thank you, agent.”
“You are most welcome.”