Heads Will Roll


“Stephens,” said Mr. Wentworth. “When you’ve finished your lunch I need to see you in my office.”

Stephens took his time, made his thermos of tea last the full half hour. Screwing the top back on, he placed the container into his messenger bag and brought it with him. He knew what was coming.

The office was in the Tower proper, atop a dark spiral staircase set with iron-bound cells every dozen feet or so. As always, he admired the  stonework, the steps worn to smooth concavity by fifteen hundred years of foot traffic. The heavy wooden door at the top was ajar. Stephens wondered if prisoners taken up for execution had a similar icy feeling in their gut.

Mr. Wentworth sat behind his work table, his expression neutral. He pointed to a chair. Stephens sat.

“We have had reports on your conduct,” he began, tapping a folder in front of him. “Several of our visitors have remarked on things you told them during the tours.”

Stephens said nothing.

“For example,” said Mr Wentworth as he took up the folder and opened it, “a Mrs. Mulwrath from Surrey writes that you described  the Duke of Sussex’s head bouncing down the stairs like a football. She said you laughed as you told her. Laughed maniacally, in her exact words. Her daughter was quite upset.”

He peered at Stephens over his glasses. Stephens seemed to be looking at the stone wall behind him. “You are aware that, as a docent, you have a responsibility to historical accuracy? Have you an explanation for this?”

Stephens swallowed. “It’s just that the actual history is so bloody dull.


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