Daily Archives: November 19, 2017

The Lift

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“Doors opening.”

The recorded voice rang out clearly.

“Doors opening.”

Benny upended the bottle. A few seconds passed before he felt a small drop of moisture land on his arid tongue. It wasn’t enough to moisten his cracking lips.

Just before close of business on Friday afternoon, Benny had been asked to take a fresh bottle to the dispenser in the management suite. Several members of staff were already putting on their coats to leave as he stepped into the lift, which rose smoothly to the top floor and stopped. He heard the automatic message:

“Doors opening.”

But the doors didn’t open.

He had sounded the alarm, banged on the metal walls, shouted until he was hoarse, but to no avail. He’d hoped to alert the weekend cleaners to his plight, but if they had turned up at all, he hadn’t heard them, and they hadn’t heard him.

He knew the length of his shoes, so he had calculated the length and  width of the square of floor.  He even knew the meterage from one corner to the opposite corner, but he didn’t know how long he had been trapped. His only timepiece was a phone which currently lay on top of a cardboard box in the ground-floor storeroom. It felt as if he’d been in that stuffy box for weeks, but that wasn’t possible.

“Doors opening.”

He willed the empty bottle to produce another drop, wishing that he had a knife to cut into the plastic, so he could open it up and lick the last of the moisture from the inside.

He sank to the floor, no longer particular about the stale waste from his body soaking into his trousers, despite the shame he would feel when his unsuspecting rescuers arrived for work on Monday morning.

“Doors opening.” The recording seemed to have developed a mocking tone.

A bluebottle crawled through the space under the lift door, took flight, and landed on Benny’s face as he slept. Another followed.

Throughout the offices and on the streets, greedy teeth ripped into the fetid flesh of shoppers, housewives and workers who lay where they had fallen, eight days ago.

With so much to feast on, it was unlikely that hunger would send the rats in search of Benny’s entrails.

©Jane Paterson Basil

Hogs’ Pudding and Breast of Spring Chicken

The past twenty-four hours have been busy and emotional. I don’t want to go into it, but it hasn’t all been bad. I spent half the evening crying, and the other half trying to figure out what to do about my neighbour who turned up in a state about some hogs’ pudding.

For the information of the uninitiated, hogs’ pudding is a nasty, anaemic looking, giant sausage which – for some unaccountable reason – is popular in this area.

This tale involves me, my daughter Laura, Dave (her fiance), a neighbour who we’ll call Bert, although he’s really called Harold – but that’s not true; it’s just a cunning double cover-up, to protect his identity.

Speaking of cover-ups, this morning, when Laura stepped out of her fiance’s brother’s shower, she had no idea that there was anybody other than her fiance in the flat. Had she been aware of the presence of Bert/Harold – who (in order to cause further confusion) I’ll call Gregory, she might have chosen to shower with her clothes on, so, no cover-up there…

Moving swiftly on to this evening; I was near the completion of some nifty and essential six-way texting with a smattering of phone calls, while trying to eat without dripping tears into a meal which had already gone cold, when someone knocked heavily on my door.

“Oh, deary me, who can that possibly be?” I asked myself – although it came out more as a muttered “Bloody hell, whoever you are, why don’t you just bugger off and leave me alone.”

Had I known the answer to my silent question, I might have been inclined to increase the volume of my under-the-breath mutter so that my visitor would hear me. I opened the door to discover my neighbour – the one I’ve decided to call Gregory, his face displaying an interesting combination of startled, terrified, distraught, apologetic and lustful expressions. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but at least he didn’t have the remains of his dinner on his face, as he usually does.

On second thoughts, perhaps the absence of bolognese sauce should have served as a warning – he’d taken particular pains to make himself respectable before coming to see me.

At this point, perhaps I should describe myself:

I have all my limbs, digits and and organs, both eyes, several teeth, hair on my head – and being only about 14lbs overweight, around here I’m considered to be slim almost to the point of anorexia. In addition, I look as if I was probably reasonably lacking in pig-ugliness about forty years ago.

Yes – at the tender age of 62, I am the babe of the over-the-hill stag’s brigade; a real catch, if it wasn’t for the proven fact that I can run faster than any of them. It’s becoming embarrassing, although I admit there are only four men in this block who are actively chasing me.

Gregory is one of them, but he pretends he just sees me as a friend. I had to invite him in, since he was peering round the door looking longingly at my sofa, all the while telling me that he was terribly sorry for bothering me and he didn’t want to cause any trouble, but he didn’t know what to think about Dave’s hogs’ pudding. Naturally, I thought that in addition to him seeing my daughter naked, he must have witnessed Dave in a state of undress, but he said that the hogs’ pudding was in his freezer, so after a moment’s concern for my future son-in-law’s well-being, I realised it wasn’t a euphemism after all.

While I made coffee, he continued to apologise for bothering me. Eventually he explained that Dave had given him money to buy some revolting piggy sausages, and he’d done so, but he hadn’t been able to find Dave and give him the offensive swill. He seemed terribly upset, so much so, that it took me a while to notice that the more he looked at my pullover, the more agitated he became.

I have two swellings which sort of stick out of my chest. It’s nothing to worry about – lots of women have them; they’re useful for small babies to chew on when they’re teething and it makes them forget their hunger, so you don’t have to give them steak and chips. I keep my bumpy things under my clothes, so he might not have been aware of them before. Having seen my daughter naked, I think he was curious to find out if I had similar things. I strongly suspect he’d have liked to investigate further, but was too polite to ask.

I wondered how I’d missed the atmospheric hint of testosterone, floating around the room like a concrete block wrapped around a stone.

His hogs’ pudding story was just a ruse to get into my flat. He could have quite easily rung Dave’s brother, since they’re close friends. They’re going out for lunch together tomorrow, so, come to that, the hogs discussion could have waited until tomorrow.

Even after I’d told him that I needed to go to the corner shop before it closed, I had trouble getting rid of him. He kept clutching my hand, telling me he loved me… “as a friend”, gazing at me, trying to hug me, putting his hand at the back of my waist, to illustrate how long Jane Ayre’s hair was.

By the time he left, his face was purple, his limp more accentuated.  He looked both physically uncomfortable and disappointed, whilst I felt mentally discomfited and disjointed.

Maybe I should go back to writing in the dark, so he won’t know I’m here.

©Jane Paterson Basil