The two men stand on the pavement looking down at the grate. Neither speaks. In the road, the traffic crawls. Rush hour. None of the drivers give them a glance even though they are only feet away; too busy watching the clock, listening to travel news, chewing on a bacon roll.
“Need to close this off,” ventures one of the men.
The other grunts. “Maybe soon. Let some traffic clear. It’s not going away.” He looks up at the early morning sky.
The other man follows his gaze. “At least it won’t rain.”
They both look down again.
The second man rubs first the toe of his right shoe on his trousers and then his left. It doesn’t make much difference. The shoes are about eight years old. Scuffed. Into their fifth soles. But comfortable, faithful. His trousers shiny. He knows he should get himself a new outfit, but can’t be bothered. He has other priorities.
The first man watches him out of the corner of his eye. “You’re thinking of going shopping?”
Another grunt. “Wouldn’t know where to start.”
Grunt. “Yeah! Hasn’t helped you. That green suit.”
“Yeah, willow green. Forgot.”
“Need to get a uniform watching this until we can tape off the area.”
“Reckon it’s in there?”
“Probably not. But need to check.”
“Or she tossed it into the river.”
“An open mind.”
“The papers will love that!”
“Or probably ‘he’.”
“Here comes Mr Plod.”
They exchange nods with the uniformed constable, point at the grate, and weave their way through the traffic to the other side of the road, and into a café.
“Full English twice and two cuppas,” says the first man.
The second man takes two newspapers off the rack. Collects knives and forks and paper napkins, finds a table.
They sit and read, waiting for their breakfast.