Sunday, 21 December 2008

TROUBLE BREWING (A short story) Part 4 (Conclusion)

After the mistaken caller had been redirected and I’d made Liz a fresh cup of tea the window cleaner arrived. He asked Liz for a bucket of hot water.
‘Well, all right…’ She said taking his bucket. ‘Only don’t blame me if it goes cold on you.’
‘Er-no, no I, won’t,’ the window cleaner looked baffled. I offered him a cup of tea before he got started.
‘Ooh, well I dunno if I should, naah,’ he said.
I was baffled and asked, ‘Why ever not?’
‘Well if I drink the tea the ’ot water in me bucket might go cold.’ He pointed at the bucket Liz had filled from the kettle and the hot tap.
‘Yes,’ Liz spoke. ‘And you can’t blame me because it won’t be my fault!’
‘That’s true,’ nodded the window cleaner.
An idea occurred to me so, inspired, I said, ‘Hey—why don’t you clean the windows first and then drink your tea?’
‘Naah,’ he shook his head. ‘Then the tea will go cold before I get a chance to drink it.’
‘No, wait a minute,’ Liz, looking smug, said. ‘I’ve got the perfect solution…’
In the short pause that followed the window cleaner and I exchanged baffled looks as Liz’s smugness exuded from her like an aura.
‘Well what is it?’ We eventually asked.
‘I’ll make you a cup of tea AFTER you’ve cleaned the windows!’ It was obvious of course.
‘Excellent,’ the window cleaner chirped grinning. ‘An’ I’ll drink it straight away.’
‘Mmm, could I have a cup too, please, Liz?’ I was rude enough to ask.

When the window cleaner had finished cleaning the windows, he joined us for a cup of tea, which stayed hot all the way to the bottom of his cup.
‘Mmm, that was a lovely cup of tea, thank you, missus,’ thanked the window cleaner, his mouth parted in a fixed grin as he clutched his bucket and made for the door.
‘You’re most welcome,’ Liz beamed then closed the door before looking at me.
‘What is it, Liz?’ I asked wondering why she was looking at me that way.
‘Oh I was just thinking that that was the most successful round of tea I’ve had in ages.’
‘Yeah, you’re right,’ I agreed. ‘Me too, I reckon.’ I reckoned returning her look.
‘There’s just one thing though…’
‘Doesn’t it make you want to go to the loo?’
‘Why, yes!’ I exclaimed as an abrupt awareness of the litres of tea I’d consumed centred on my bladder.
‘Me first,’ Liz cried and hurried off up the stairs to the toilet. At least it had been repaired now I mused to the sight of her retreating legs. After she’d been I hastened to relieve myself, enjoying a long steaming pee and it occurred to me that had I waited longer my pee would have got cold. Not that it seemed to matter now as I rejoined Liz downstairs.
‘Fancy a cup of tea?’ She asked.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

TROUBLE BREWING (A short story) Part 3

After the TV repairman had left, we received a visit from a plumber. He’d been expected and, unlike the TV repairman, was on time. He came to flush the lavatory as part of a local council survey and changed a tap washer while he was at it. He only charged £250 an hour and told Liz her case was unusually complicated and unexpectedly problematic. For her own safety, Liz was asked to remain out of the bathroom for the next three and a half hours while he worked in complete silence. We assumed he was concentrating very hard during this time after which he appeared from Liz’s bathroom and smilingly reassured her that everything was as good as new.
‘As a matter of fact,’ Liz told him with a cup of tea in her hand. ‘I only recently had the bathroom suite fitted.’
‘Mmm,’ rejoined the plumber. ‘I thought it looked new. ’Ow old is it then? I mean the bog—toilet an’ basin an’ that?’
‘I bought them not six weeks ago.’
‘I thought so. In fact I knew it. Anyway, all clear—Hur-hur an’ I oughta be goin’. ’Ere ’ave this an’ ta, luv. Cheers!’ With that, the plumber handed her his unfinished tea.
‘You haven’t finished your tea,’ exclaimed Liz.
‘Naah, well it went cold, didn’t it?’
‘Huh, that’s what happened to me!’ I said but he was already out the door and in his car turning the engine on. Liz shut the door and looked guiltily at the returned cup. I put my arm around her shoulder consolingly as her chest suddenly heaved in convulsive sobbing as her tea temperature remorse tore at her heart inflicting savage grief and pain.
‘Ssh, there, there now, Liz,’ I soothed. ‘Don’t cry; let me put the kettle on.’ I said magnanimously and promptly made us both a cup of steaming hot tea.

After the plumber had left, we drank the hot tea and I took the trouble to reassure Liz of her total innocence with regards to the plumber’s tea going cold.
‘It really wasn’t your fault,’ I told her.
‘Well,’ sobbed Liz. ‘I suppose the tea was hot when I gave it to him.’
‘Exactly!’ I placated gently. It was as she said and equally I didn’t hold her at all responsible for my tea getting cold earlier and with me, it had happened twice! ‘It’s like my tea went cold earlier as well, Liz—twice! I don’t blame you because I know it really wasn’t your fault.’
‘So I’m not to blame?’
‘No, absolutely not.’
‘Then it can’t be my fault!’
‘No, Liz, it isn’t.’
Just then, the doorbell rang, but it was a mistake—somebody had come to the wrong house. Liz closed the door after pointing to number 35, opposite, which is where the mistaken caller really wanted to visit.
‘Ooh, thanks a lot,’ said the grateful mistake maker before setting off on his way.
‘Don’t mention it,’ cried Liz, grateful for the opportunity to help someone. ‘I’m just glad of the opportunity to help someone.’ I could tell by her tone she had cheered up considerably but one look at her troubled face seemed to show me a different story.
‘What’s the matter, Liz?’ I refrained from adding ‘now’.
Her face had assumed a perplexed expression as she peered at the unfinished drink in the cup still in her hand.
‘My tea’s gone cold!’ I couldn’t help laughing when she replied. ‘Any chance of another cup?’ She was rude enough to ask.

Friday, 12 December 2008

TROUBLE BREWING (A short story) Part 2

After Bill had left, the TV repairman turned up. It was about time too.
‘Huh, it’s about time you turned up!’ Liz snapped at the man. Mumbling some vague apologies, he then asked to see the TV so Liz showed him into the lounge. He turned on the set and pulled his bag of tools towards him as the picture fuzzily emerged on the screen. Liz made the man some tea as he fiddled and prodded the set with screwdrivers and long-nosed pliers. He flicked through the channels whistling and slurped his tea noisily. It took him about half an hour to repair the set and he left grinning, assuring Liz an invoice for his services would be in the post.
‘Well you can bleeding well wait as long for your money as I’ve had to wait for you to turn up,’ said Liz closing the door behind him.
‘Yeah,’ I agreed. ‘It was a bit of a cheek!’
‘Four bloody weeks I had to wait,’ Liz bleated. ‘I rang him up nine times!’
‘God, really?’ I said although I definitely believed her and had witnessed her making several of the nine calls she’d claimed to have made. It did seem a bit much. ‘It does seem a bit much,’ I added.
‘A bit much!’ Liz protested. ‘Four weeks—that’s a MONTH!’
‘Mmm,’ I considered. ‘It’s not as if it were only a few days or a week, a fortnight even.’
‘No, it was a whole month!’
‘Still, at least it wasn’t as long as three months,’ I injected cheerily hoping Liz would lighten up. ‘Mmm,’ I said then. My tea was cold again.
‘Fancy a cup of tea, Liz?’ I was polite enough to offer.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

TROUBLE BREWING (A short story) Part 1

‘Did you know that nearly fifty per cent of the population of Hastings is on some form of benefit?’ Asked the man sat across from me at the table in Brighton.
‘No, really?’ I replied although I obviously believed him.
‘Good God!’ Liz exclaimed behind me as the man sagely nodded. In the silence that followed, I gleaned strange satisfaction from the statistic—nearly fifty per cent of the population was approximately half—I was far from alone. However, I was quite far from Hastings.
‘It’s quite a long way to Hastings, isn’t it?’ I asked to break the silence.
‘Ooh, it’s not that far,’ the man, called Bill, said.
‘It’s about eighty miles along the coast.’ Liz chimed.
‘Well that’s what I mean,’ I said. ‘Eighty miles is a long way from here.’
‘I don’t know,’ Bill shook his head. ‘It’s less than a hundred miles.’
Baffled, I said, ‘It’s still more than fifty!’
‘Mmm or thirty,’ offered Liz. This baffled Bill, who ignored us both and, with a shrug, picked up the paper, ‘The Granite Observer’. Its headline read ‘SHIP SINKS AT SEA: MUCH DEATH BY DROWNING!’ It was quite an obvious tabloid really, noted for its stylistic simplicity.
‘Oh, yes, please…’ I was grateful when Liz offered a cup of tea, Assam, a minute later. The day had dragged until Bill had arrived; then it had stood still. An agony of boredom seized my heart at the table right then as Bill read the paper. I could just see his eyebrows above the sheet. They formed a comic quizzical expression as the eyes below inevitably travelled from left to right so the brain behind could receive the printed messages.
‘Good read, Bill?’ I forced myself to say, my legs becoming concrete.
‘Mmm.’ Was the irritated response from studious Bill, behind the paper. You prick, I thought, resenting his hidden face and fantasised about setting fire to his damn paper screen. My tea was cold!
‘Any chance of another cup, please Liz?’ I was rude enough to ask.