The bus turns left off Langworthy Road and onto the approach to the A6. Just before it goes under the overpass, past the old Jewish cemetery at the top of Brindleheath Road and on past Pendleton Church, it stops and Dermot gets on.
He gets a few funny looks, does Dermot, as he climbs aboard, but then he always does. It’s hard for people to put their fingers on it. Maybe it’s the way his bald head looks a bit too big. Or the fishy largeness of his eyes behind the jar-thick spectacles. The nervous quiver of his pale lips, perhaps.
Or perhaps it’s just how pale he is. How smooth. His skin- his face, his hands- are baby-smooth and baby-soft. Like they’ve never known work, and hardly ever known light.
All that and he’s in a suit, too. Quite an old suit, and it’s not a perfect fit- maybe a size too large- but it’s neat and clean and well-maintained. Pressed. Smooth.
And of course, there’s the briefcase.
It’s old-fashioned, like something out of the ‘seventies, made out of plain brown leather. He doesn’t carry it by the handle. He hugs it close against his chest. Like a child.