Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Man Next Door. Chapter 22.


Alpha: Last night I heard the voice of a woman, who was talking in her sleep, and laughing.

Daughter: Who do you think it was ....Mum or me?

Alpha: It sounded like your mother.

Mother: Maybe you're just saying that.

Daughter: There was another thing that happened last night.

Did you hear all the banging going on in Pierre's room?

Mother: Yes. When I was in the kitchen I could hear quite a racket above me, with Pierre's loud footsteps, and non stop banging and creaking as he seemed to be frantically moving furniture and other things around.

Daughter: He was at it again after midnight, for what seemed like ages.

Mother: Pierre told me this morning what he was up to.

He said that there had been a large cockroach in his room, and he couldn't get to sleep until he found and killed it.

He was afraid that it would walk on him as he slept.


Mother: I heard hunting noises in your room last night.

Pierre:Yes, I saw a very big cockroach climbing up the wall above the head of my bed, and I was afraid it might fall on my face in the night.

I searched for it, but I didn't find it.

Those cockroaches aren't afraid of humans.

One evening, as I sat at my desk, one began to climb up my leg, it's sharp claws sticking into my skin.

Mother: I don't mind those big cockroaches. There's only the occasional one around, and then only one at a time.

And the best thing about them is that they seem to keep away the horrible little German cockroaches that can quickly breed up and overwhelm a house or flat.

Pierre: Aren't you being racist, calling the little cockroaches German.

Mother: No, that's their name.

Pierre: There are no cockroaches in Germany!


Three things happened at once in the kitchen.

At the same moment Mother coughed, the microwave pinged and Daughter's knife slipped across the board on which she was cutting up fruit.

Mother: Have you noticed the smell in the kitchen?

Daughter: Yes. I wonder what it is. I can't find where it's coming from.

Mother: I've been checking things too, thinking that some food may have fallen or been carried somewhere, and gone off.

The smell doesn't come from behind or beside the fridge, or from one of the food cupboards.

It's a vague, wafting, elusive smell, but the one place where it seems strongest is on the outside of the freezer section of the fridge.

I wonder if it comes from inside the fridge, but I can't smell it when I open the doors.


Pierre, (as he holds the plastic package he just got from the fridge): How long do you cook octopus for?

Mother and Daughter both think ...."So that's where the smell comes from."

Pierre: The octopus was on special at the supermarket.

Mother: It has a strong smell. Are you sure it's still OK.

Pierre: It should be.

Mother: I don't know how long you should cook it for. (She had an idea that octopus shouldn't be cooked for long, or it would get tough. Yet, at the same time, she thought it would be safer to cook it well.)

Pierre cooked, and ate the octopus, and survived.


Mother: It's strange, but the bad smell is still in the kitchen.

(Later, Mother carefully cleaned the outside of the fridge, and the rubber seals, and then the smell was gone.)


Daughter: Something has been taking little bites out of my pears! You can see little tooth marks.

Pierre: I've been wondering what took bites out of the apple on my shelf.

Daughter: Maybe there's a mouse in the kitchen.

(That evening Alpha set the mouse traps that Mother had bought.)

The traps remained set for weeks, but no mice were caught, and no more fruit was nibbled.


Early this morning I woke to see two little faces at my window. I had left one section open, because it was a warm night, and next moment the two little Ringtail Possums entered.

I got out of bed, and at least one possum scuttled back out through the window.

The other possum was lying low in the corner, until I closed the window.

Then it jumped up and I felt its little furry body brush past me, on it's way to jump into my bed.

Daughter: Oh! How nice!

Mother: Yes, they're sweet, gentle little things.

When I reopened the window, the possum jumped up, and scrambled out.

Then I remembered why I usually keep my window closed. The possums had visited me over six months ago, and one night I had woken to hear slurping as one daintily ate some of a nectarine.

When I sat up in bed they retreated through the window.

If they were to come inside regularly they could become dependant, or come to grief somehow.

Alpha: Maybe it was a Ringtail Possum that took bites out of the fruit in the kitchen.

Mother: Maybe it came in through the kitchen window.

Daughter: I normally shut the kitchen window at night.


Mother: Before I reached home yesterday evening, when I was still across the road, I could hear the man next door, hard at work, banging away under his roof, and later I could hear a lot of hammering through my wall.

Daughter: Yes, he did a hard day's work on his house both yesterday and today, hammering, drilling, sanding or planing, sawing, banging, and breaking off pieces of wood which he dropped outside from the upstairs window.

He created a lot of dust, which annoyed me, as it billowed out from his upstairs window, and in through my window.

Mother: He was still working at 9pm tonight, carrying wood upstairs.

I wonder if he found time to go to the pub?

Daughter: I saw him going there yesterday afternoon, then he was soon back at work.

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