In the other room Giant was sitting on a high chair behind a small desk. He was writing something on a yellow pad and pretended he didn't hear me coughing, so I coughed again. Giant didn't look up, folded the paper and put it in an envelope. He handed me the letter without looking at me.
“Take a message to Mary,” he said.
I took the envelope and looked at it. “There's no address on it,” I said.
“Of course not! It's a code, you fool,” the tiny man roared.
“I see...,” I said doubtfully.
Giant rearranged the pens and papers on his desk. He still hadn't looked at me.
“Can I ask you a question?” I asked.
“You just did, but go ahead.”
“Why do you think Mr Schulz chose me for this job?”
It was then that Giant lifted up his head and looked me in the face.
“It must be your strong and handsome features, I am sure.” He stood up, straightened his shoulders and put his fingertips on the desk. Apart from the sparkling Egyptian ring on one of his fingers, I noticed a rather large button in the right hand corner of the desktop. He narrowed his eyes into slits that would make any snake proud.
“You are also known from time to time to open up a book of poems. You are well read, it is well known.” The tiny man removed a dot of saliva from the corner of his mouth, while the fingers of his other hand moved a bit closer to that mysterious button on his desk.
“So, tell me,” he continued, “how do we pronounce your first name... Joost as in boost or goose or what?”
“No, no, no” I cried, “it's pronounced as in ghost and the J is pronounced as a y, as in yeast or yacht, not as jazz or John.”
'I'll make a note of that,” said the tiny man and picked up a pen.
“By the way, what is your name?,” I queried. I had noticed the tiny man had a strange foreign accent, Hungarian I suspected. “Where are you from? If you don't mind me asking.”
“My name is John Smith, obviously, and I am from Albania.”
I didn't believe a word he said, but he continued matter-of-factly: “My family has been in this business for generations. We operate all over Europe and in view of the Brexit we dispatched my sister to England, where she is already known and feared as gun-slinging Mavis the Serb.”
“Your sister is a Serb and you are Albanian? How can that be?”
“Our mother worked under cover as a traveling salesperson. She could give birth anywhere.”
“Thank you for being so frank and open-hearted.” I paused and looked at the letter in my hand. “Now, what about this? How I am supposed to deliver a message to Mary when I do not know where she lives?”
“Mary, she's my friend,” said Giant in a singsong voice, looking at the ceiling and at the same time moving his finger to the edge of the button. “I believe I'll go see her again.”
Then in a flash he pushed the button and the world went black before my eyes.