Hey!! What's the story?
“You don’t want to go in there, mate.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“She’s a monster.”
The postman carried a parcel that needed signing for. He walked quickly up the garden path, dropped the package and returned to my side.
“You didn’t knock,” I said.
“’Course I didn’t, d’you think I’m daft?”
He inspected the tools in the back of my van, picked up a wrench, tested its weight.
“That should do it,” he said. “Make sure you keep it handy.”
“If you’re that worried about me,” I laughed. “You can always come in and hold my hand.”
“Nah, mate,” he said nervously. “Got my rounds to finish."
“But what about the parcel?” I called as he walked away.
“Don’t worry. No chance of anyone pinching that.”
With a sigh I returned to my task, gathering the tools I would need for the job. My customer was a priority call, an elderly lady, living on her own. I glanced at the call-out records, there had been quite a few of them, the names of the plumbers who had responded all different.
I locked my van and walked up to the house, ID at the ready. The door opened a fraction.
“Plumber, madam,” I said holding up my card.
The chain slid back. I picked up her parcel.
“Oh, thank you, young man,” she said, allowing me to enter. “I’ve been expecting that.”
My eyes quickly adjusted to the dark and gloomy interior. Dust and cobwebs everywhere, neglect was rife.
The woman shuffled alongside me, frail and silver-haired, clothes shabby and ill-fitting. Like the house she had let herself go.
“What seems to be the problem, madam?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s the pipes again. They bang constantly, day and night, day and night.”
“The basement?” I queried.
“Yes, yes,” she replied, adopting a pathetic tone I knew was fake. “Tell me, do I know you?”
“Perhaps,” I said. “I’ve answered hundreds of emergencies in my time.”
She nodded. “This way.”
I checked the reassuring weight of the wrench that hung from my tool belt and followed her down into the darkness.
The lack of light did not surprise me, neither did the smell.
“I’m afraid I’ve let things go a bit,” she said apologetically. “My diet’s been a bit deficient, my eyes aren’t what they used to be.”
I noted they now glowed red. I responded likewise.
“Oh dear,” she said. “I thought I recognised you.”
“It’s been a long time, mother,” I said. “Must be oh, three, four, hundred years?”
“Something like that,” she agreed.
“Looks like I’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do,” I said surveying the scene, surveying her. “Isn’t it time you retired?”
The following day I met the postman again.
“You survived then, mate,” he said.
“Yeah, she won’t be causing you any more grief,” I said. “Gone into care. I’ll be around a while though, quite a bit of work to do here still.”
“Safe to knock then?” he laughed.
“Perfectly,” I grinned.
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