I’m going to apologise for the swearing now.
It’s Tuesday morning and I’m fixing a writing bureau for an old couple, let’s call them Liz and Phil. The problem is, I can’t work out their relationship. They act like brother and sister but there is only one bedroom.
I find out the truth after ‘overhearing’ two phone calls.
Liz is on the phone to the alarm company:
“It keeps buzzing,” she says. “Sorry, no I don’t know the alarm model number. My husband used to deal with all this, but he’s just…passed on.”
OK, hubby is dead, so who is this other joker?
At this point, a boiler repair man enters the house. He tells me that his name is, ‘Farouk’.
Liz and Phil go out, leaving me alone with Farouk. The phone rings. Eventually the answer machine kicks in. A woman leaves the following message: “I heard you two were both ‘there’ today. I think I might just…pop in.” The last line sounds sinister. It’s a threatening ‘pop in’.
Farouk looks at me and wobbles his eyebrows.
One hour later, Liz and Phil return with shopping bags.
“You’ve got a phone message,” I say. Liz and Phil look at each other. Farouk and I look at each other. He wobbles his eyebrows again. Liz presses play.
They both listen intently, and then Liz says to Phil, “Oh my God. It’s your wife!”
I glance over to Farouk who looks like he is about to explode. The eyebrows are getting a thorough workout.
They both retreat into the bedroom. Phil emerges after half an hour, puts on a flat cap and goes out.
Liz stays in the room alone. The room is silent.
I walk over to Farouk. “She’s in there all alone,” I say. “Don’t you think that you should just…pop in? See if she’s OK.”
“Fuck that. No fucking way. I’m not going in there with old fucking lady. Fuck that shit. Fuck right off.”
“You’re giving me mixed signals, Farouk. Is that a yes or a no?” I ask.
“No fucking chance. You fucking go in. I’m fucking staying here. Fuck that!”
Ten minutes later…
Liz appears, walks to the kitchen and starts making minestrone soup. She asks if we ‘want some’. I assume she is referring to the soup. We decline.
Two hours later, there is a knock at the door.
Liz remains seated. Cautiously, I open the door. It’s Phil. He apologises and says he couldn’t get in because he’s ‘forgotten’ his keys.
I finish up and ask to be paid. Phil rummages around in his pockets, looking confused. He searches through some boxes. Eventually he says he’s ‘forgotten’ where his cheque book is. I am being employed by him, to fix his writing bureau. He starts cozying up to Liz. Liz smiles back at him adoringly, gets out her cheque book and pays me out of her savings.
I initially posted this as a live thread on facebook. It managed to get one comment:
‘My boiler’s on the blink. Any chance you can give me Farouk’s number because I need someone to come round and swear at it’.