The Large Triangular Stamp

Ambition destroys

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1. The Large Triangular Stamp

 

 

 

Nothing stood out about Giles Biggs, nothing at all; his shoes had laces and his shirts had long sleeves, he was dull.

 That day, however, he made his way with some difficulty into a shoe shop. He went to the shelf which displayed brown shoes, yes, brown. Giles wouldn’t have contemplated such a purchase a few months before but he had to make sure.

 The development which led to that progressive moment began as he had walked to school, as usual, on the left side of the road.This enabled him to walk past the philatelist’s shop where he always paused for three minutes to look, and wonder, at large triangular stamps from far off Pacific islands.

 That day he put his nose particularly close to the window, moving his sight from one stamp to another and wondering what it was like to live in such colourful and exotic places. The philatelist had peered through the glass and beckoned him into the shop.

 A small brass bell rang with a shrill tone as the door opened.

“Come in son ... you’re interested in stamps aren’t you?” asked the proprietor.

“Oh yes, especially the big ones from abroad,” replied Giles.

“Then we’ll have a closer look at those. Do you have much time?” enquired the man.

“I’ve got ten minutes, school’s at quarter to nine,” answered Giles, who was now very excited.

 Giles was led through a dark hall before they entered a large room where the man catalogued and priced his stamps. The man reached across his desk to a shelf which held several albums of a rich maroon colour; he placed an album onto the desk.

“These are from some of the most exotic places on Earth. Islands which, even now, are only visited once a month by steamer. The postal service is their lifeline to the rest of the world.”

 “And what’s this?” asked Giles, pointing to one of the large triangular stamps. “It has a stamp shop like yours as a picture and there’s a boy looking through the window...that’s funny.”

 “Where, what’s that?” almost shouted the man in an urgent and rising voice.

“That one,” replied Giles, his finger shaking slightly as he held it close to the offending stamp.

 The man peered closer until his nose was only inches from the album.

“It’s me looking through your window. I’m the boy ... see ... and that’s your shop. What am I doing on a stamp.”

The old man picked up the album and frowned.

“So it’s true then, I did wonder and now I know,” he said.

“What?” asked Giles.

“You’re to be the most celebrated philatelist in the world; a man whose knowledge will be sought by collectors everywhere, and they issued a stamp to commemorate where it all started.” He took out his magnifying glass.

 Giles took the album from him and saw that the boy in the picture was wearing brown shoes. He smiled, looked at his watch, said goodbye to the man, and walked on to school.

 The picture on the stamp was taken at an oblique angle and Giles hadn’t noticed the silver line to the boy’s right, the reflection of a steel crutch in the shop window.

 He hurried now, almost late for school, and didn’t see the lights change to red as he approached the junction.


 He could see faces circling around him as he lay at the side of the road. Someone had put a blanket over him and another was caressing his brow and telling him that all would be well. Amongst the throng he could make out the face of the philatelist as it peered down at him. In the old man’s hand was a set of ignition keys.


 The philatelist pushed forward and whispered, “I had to make sure.”

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