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This is a work of fiction, any resemblance to persons living, dead or otherwise is purely coincidental. The ideas and thoughts that follow are pure fantasies. In real life, at the very least they would be unpleasant and probably illegal. Fantasies are like that; daydreams where we can contemplate and imagine the sensations without suffering or inflicting the pain, despair or humiliation.
© obohobo 2012
CRASH! There followed a series of smaller bangs and then a female, "Help!" and shortly a further plea, "Help please!"
"A good start to my stay at this lodging house," I thought as I left my room and started down the stairs towards the sound. All the reps had returned to their homes for the weekend leaving me as the only guest for that night, and the only male in the building, as far as I could tell.
When I'd descended to the first landing, I heard the irate tones of the landlady admonishing the girl for her clumsiness and stupidity. I hadn't liked the bossy woman when she showed me to my room and reiterated several times, all the regulations concerning its use, but I'm prejudiced against bossy women after the troubles I've been through with my ex-wife and my now, ex-boss. Continuing downstairs at a slower rate while the landlady continued to berate the girl for her incompetence, I hesitated at the doorway to the lounge.
"I told you it needed..." the girl started.
"Yes, you wanted me to spend more money and just threw the books on the shelves until it became top heavy and collapsed. You did that deliberately to prove me wrong."
"Please, just help me. I can't hold it up much longer."
The sight that greeted me as I entered the room would have been comical had not the girl been in pain and having difficulty in preventing the bookcase falling on top of her. Quickly I took some of the weight and we were able to get it back against the wall and on the remains of its flimsy supports. "I'll hold it here if you can move some of the fallen books out of the way so we can get it back on the floor. You'll need better support brackets before you put it up again," I commented.
"What do you know about it?" the older woman snapped.
"It's my job. I'm a cabinet maker and shop fitter."
"I told her the old radio shelf supports weren't strong enough..."
"Stop whining Karen. You only had to be more careful and they'd be perfectly alright."
"In my professional opinion, the supports wouldn't support the bookcase for long without any books. To try and do so could have injured Karen more than she is at the moment, or it may have been a customer and then a law suit." I used my most authoritative voice but that only resulted in a loud "Humph!" before she turned and left the room with an order to Karen to get the mess cleared up. I noticed a trickle of blood running down Karen's cheek and I guessed she'd have various bruises before long where the books had struck, yet her mother wasn't bothered over her daughter's injuries. "They're not in a loving family relationship," I thought but kept quiet.
"Thanks. Can you hold it for a bit longer, Mr ... er... ?"
"Kevin. Yes, no problem." I watched as she moved the books into piles against the side wall. "You will need wooden brackets top and bottom to hold this safely."
"I wanted to buy metal ones but mother said she wouldn't pay for them and they'd look ugly. I knew that but I didn't have any decent wood and to buy it would have cost more. I shouldn't have listened to her. The bookcase was thrown in a skip and I shortened it by an inch to fit the alcove." She sounded proud of her achievement.
By then we had the bookcase safely on the floor and I could relax a little. She thanked me profusely but warned me to beware of her mother's revenge. I shrugged as I only planned to stay for two weeks at the most, just long enough to get my own place habitable. "You'd better get yourself cleaned up and then if you like, you can come to my workshop in the morning and see what wood is there. There's sure to be some offcuts that are suitable."
Returning to my room and continuing to unpack, I thought about the girl and her overbearing mother and the situation that brought me to the fairly remote, small town of Flintsby.
I'd known for a long while before we agreed to end our four years of marriage, that Claire and her manager were having an affair and did what I could to secrete money away in an offshore account so I had a little money in hand should things become desperate. With the recession, the sale of the house hardly covered the remainder of the mortgage so neither of us made anything from that and most of the other things were split between us but, like always in our partnership, she got the best of the deals. I cannot say she dominated me in the way Karen's mother did, but she manipulated me with various guiles and veiled threats until she obtained what she wanted.
My boss, Stephanie Brooks, another manipulative bitch, forced me to take the more difficult jobs and those with the shortest timescale for completion but, fortunately as it turned out, she didn't know that through several of these jobs I built up a reputation for high-class workmanship and reliability with a number of influential clients. Stephanie certainly took Claire's side during the divorce and made it difficult for me to take time off to see my lawyer and for the court appearance. I stayed with her firm for four months afterwards until I worked on a big refurbishing job in a stately home in Peacehaven, a small village three miles from Flintsby.
I'd done part of the work when Stephanie sent me off to another place, much to the annoyance of Major James Cauldwell-Briggs. "Why don't you set up on your own, Kevin? Be your own boss?" the major asked when I returned. I quoted various reasons, the main ones being able to afford premises and the necessary woodworking equipment and finding enough work to keep going and make it profitable.
"I heard of you through word-of-mouth and I specified that you were the one to do the work here and I refused to accept any one else from your firm except when they worked as your labourer. I suspect you have a list of similar clients that if they were informed that you are now working on your own, would come to you direct. That leaves only the premises and equipment as the main obstacles. I wouldn't have suggested this if I hadn't heard of Bespoke Joinery closing down. As you found out when you sold your house, this recession has knocked property prices for six so I've put in a tentative bid with the receivers for the place. It's only a small unit in the centre of the village but if the deal goes through, I can lease it to you and between us I'm sure we can make it profitable."
It took many more hours of discussion and negotiation before I finally became my own boss. The unit, originally a small supermarket until Tesco's built a superstore in Flintsby and enticed the local customers away, lay idle for several months until a joinery firm took it over. However, they failed to compete with cheap imports from the Far East and went bankrupt. The receivers found a buyer for the completed stock, mainly school desks, but everything else remained as the workers left it when they switched off the power on the last day.
My thoughts switched to Karen. A stocky but not unattractive young woman with dark curly hair aged, at a guess, about twenty-five, a few years younger than me but two things puzzled me; why she allowed her mother to dominate her, and why was she doing the installation of the bookcase?
I didn't see her again until she served my breakfast. "You been fighting again?" I grinned when I saw the bruises and small cut on her face.
"Someone threw the book at me," she laughed.
"Would you still like to come and make new brackets so you don't have them in your face again? If you make them today, you can have the bookcase in place before the other guests return." and when she nodded I added, "About twenty minutes."
Her mother complained bitterly at having to do the dishes and warned Karen that she'd have to do extra chores later and lectured me about our behaviour as though we were young teenagers. She almost stopped her daughter going when I retorted, "We are both well over the age of consent and can do as we please but rest assured that we will do nothing improper, as you phrased it, at least for the time being."
Karen showed her feisty side by declaring, 'I intend to go whether you like it or not mother." I began to wonder if she was as subservient as her apparent submission earlier suggested.
As I expected, there were plenty of offcuts and to test Karen's ability, I showed her how to cut out one bracket on the bandsaw and finish the shaped edges with a spokeshave and left her to do the other three while I cleared a nearby workbench ready for my use. For the time being I left most of my tools and personal belongings in the van and only brought in stuff necessary for the morning's work. An hour later Karen finished the brackets to an acceptable standard and asked if she could do anything to help. I took her upstairs. "Come into my bedroom," I quipped.
"Oh, I'll tell Mummy on you!" She laughed too because I'd already given her a tour of the place and knew the state of the 'bedroom'.
.... There is more of this story ...