His head aches and his mouth is dry. It is some while since he has been even slightly hung-over and he doesn't like the feeling; it takes him so much longer to get over it these days. And that sense of dread that always accompanies a hangover is reinforced by the job ahead of him. Come on, he tells himself, as he starts the car, it's nothing much. You know where you're going and all you have to do is leave a message. As the engine warms up, he opens the window for some air; he looks again at the map and checks the satellite navigation system is working. A couple of deep breaths and he is ready.
Once he is on the open road, he begins to feel better. After all, it isn't much to do, carry out a favour, not when he remembers how good the Boss is to him, how much he owes him. He might well have ended up like so many of those he knew had, who were still in Finsbury Park living in the hostel, spending all their time and money in the pubs and bookies.
As he drives along the unfamiliar road, he thinks back to last night in the hotel bar. He had gone in planning to have his normal two pints and two whiskies, quiet happy to sit by himself as he nursed his drink, not looking for or expecting any company, or any conversation. To his surprise, a couple of men began to chat away to him, nice and casual like, nothing heavy. He told them he was up looking for some places to fish, that he and his mate from England were planning a few days next year during the English close season. It transpired that one of them, Bob, was a keen angler, he boasted a little about the huge perch he caught last month, and he gave him a list of good fishing around the lakes. It seemed only decent to have a few more drinks, to end up staggering off to bed around midnight, knowing he was drunk and that if he didn't get to bed he was going to fall asleep at the bar.
Apart from feeling his heart thump a little more than usual, that and a slight headache and a thirst which he quenches with regular swigs from the bottle of Ballygowan water on the seat beside him, he feels okay really, better that he has a right to and for that he is grateful.
You have to be there before ten thirty at the latest, better if you can arrive about fifteen minutes beforehand.
He didn't question the instructions. He never does with the Boss.
The satellite navigation system tells him to turn right at the next junction, to head down the B road for one mile. He is pleased to be near the house, pleased also that it is nearly five past ten, so his timing is spot on. The rain, which has been intermittent but heavy during his two hour-journey, comes down again in a fierce burst so that he needs the windscreen wipers on full tilt. He wants to have a pee, he is feeling hot and he is sweating. It is as if his earlier euphoria about the slightness of his hangover is coming back to kick him for his presumption. He is relieved to see the drive to the house, to pull in and stop the car and try to get his breath.