Gregg was sweating. His wallet was missing. He retraced his steps all the way from his house back to Sainsbury's. He approached the customer service desk, his heart filled with pessimism.
"Ah, I've been expecting you." said the bald German lady behind the counter.
She handed him his wallet, but he did not breathe a sigh of a relief. He frantically searched its contents. Cards, money, condoms, they were all there, but something was missing. The photograph of his ex-wife was gone.
Immediately he got out his phone and called his bank. "I lost my wallet!" he cried.
"Would you like us to cancel your cards?" the Scottish man in the call centre replied.
"No. I found the wallet. The cards are still in there, but the photo is missing. Someone has taken the photograph of my ex-wife!"
"I'm sorry, sir, but I'm not sure what you'd like me to do? Would you like me to check if the cards have been used recently?"
"No!" Gregg barked. "I want you to cancel the picture."
There was no script for the customer service operative to turn to. This was a matter far outside the boundaries of telephone banking.
"I'm afraid I can't do that, sir. Perhaps you'd be better off talking to the police." said the Scot.
Like an American TV character, Gregg ended the call without saying goodbye. He walked quickly out of the supermarket, bursting into a medium paced jog as he reached the automatic doors. Once out of the car park he launched himself into a full sprint. He was hysterical. He ran in zig zags, on and off the curb, sometimes jumping forward in huge leaps.
He arrived at the police station more sweat than man. "I want to report a crime!" he gasped, falling to his knees. The police officer behind the counter came to Gregg's aid.
"Are you hurt?"
"Only in here." Gregg coughed, pointing at his heart. "Someone has stolen the photograph of my ex-wife. It's all I had left."
Gregg went on to explain how he had lost his wallet, found it again with the money and cards still intact, but with the photograph missing.
"Sounds like you were lucky, but I'm afraid there's not a lot we can do about a missing photograph." the policeman informed him.
Gregg opened his mouth wide, like Al Pacino at the end of the Godfather III. The scream filled the police station, bouncing off the walls, striking fear into the hearts of the petty criminals being held in its cells. After what seemed like an hour, the cry of despair turned into the most broken of sobs. Unsure of what to do, the police officer threw a blanket over Gregg's quivering body and patted him on the head.
"There, there. It's going to be OK." he said.
"Do you have an ex-wife?" Gregg asked.
"No. I have a wife." the police officer replied.
Once again, Gregg opened his mouth wide. This time his scream was weaker, his vocal chords were battered, but there was more heartbreak than before. This terrified the criminals even more.
With no other options, the police officer reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet. He removed the picture of his wife and children standing at the gates of Disneyland. He tore the picture in half, erasing his children from the shot, and handed the glossy image of his wife to the wailing Gregg. The wailing stopped. Gregg looked curiously at the torn photograph of the unknown woman. After a minute or more had passed, Gregg gripped the photograph tightly to his chest, placed his thumb into his mouth, and drifted off into the deepest sleep.