Reflections of a Plumber
by Simon Evans
Knock Knock Knock
The huge black door swings open revealing a hunchback.
‘Yes?’ says the hunchback. Well actually it was more like ‘Yeeeees?’ as he drawled out the word.
‘Hello mate I’m Nathan from SDO Plumbing about your boiler?’ says Nathan Thomas from SDO Plumbing (Lincoln) Ltd.
‘Boiler?’ replies the hunchback. The hunchback is called Igor. He is from Bulgaria and always wears a dusty black cloak over a threadbare black suit underneath which is a frilly white shirt. The outfit is completed with yellow underpants and brown socks and dusty black boots of unknown origin.
‘Yes mate. I’m here to service your boiler? You’ve rung the office about a boiler?’ Nathan Thomas wears a blue polo shirt with the SDO Plumbing (Lincoln) Ltd logo emblazoned on it. This logo is the letters ‘SDO’ on an arrow, wrapped around a planet. He also wears jeans, sports socks and tight boxer shorts and white pumps (Sports Direct £29.99). He carries a toolbox and has a clipboard under his arm.
‘Yes mate. Boiler’.
‘You mean burpy box?’
‘Burpy hot water box?’
‘Your boiler mate. I’m here about your boiler’.
‘No hot water. Burpy hot water box is sad. Please come in and help us’.
Igor opens the creaking black huge front door slightly wider and Nathan squeezes in.
‘Do you know where your boiler is mate? These big old houses are a bit of a nightmare with plumbing’.
‘Burpy hot water box is in the cupboard in the room of nine hundred and ninety nine mirrors’.
‘Right, where’s that mate? They’re usually in the kitchen on the ground floor’.
‘We have no kitchen. The room of nine hundred and ninety nine mirrors can be found up the winding, creaking staircase’.
‘Right OK mate. Top of the stairs you say?’
‘Not quite. You must pass through the room of the crying children first’.
‘OK mate, where’s that?’
‘It’s at the top of the winding, creaking staircase. Then simply follow the line of blood. Then you shall have found the room of the crying children’.
‘The line of blood you say’.
‘Yes sir, the blood line’.
‘Right…this your place is it mate?’
‘My place is here, serving Lord and Lady Hathercroft’.
‘Right. Yeah, Hathercroft. I’ll have to get Mr Hathercroft to sign to say the work’s been done’.
‘Lord Hathercroft will not be writing his name for you today sir. He is away’.
‘I need a signature though mate, for the girls in the office. Otherwise they can’t close the work ticket so it stays as an open job on the system’.
‘Lord Hathercroft is away on business sir. He is visiting a merchant in Constantinople, hoping to procure the thousandth mirror’.
‘Sorry mate but if I can’t supply a signed docket I don’t get paid. What about Mrs…er Lady Hathercroft’.
‘Lady Hathercroft is currently on the ceiling in the forehead of the house, attending to her bats’.
‘I’m sorry mate. I can’t look at your boiler then. You’ll have to call the girls in the office and arrange another visit’.
‘My orders are very explicit sir. If you do not make the burpy hot water box happy again I am to squeeze you tightly until the breath leaves your mouth. The crying children will then feast on your eyes’.
‘Right I’m going to call the office and sort this out’.
‘Your talky box will not operate within these walls sir. The ghosts won’t let words in or out. They are such jealous, tragic souls’.
‘Right. If we keep this going I’m going to get a ticket. Let’s just get this done. Can you sign the work sheet?’
‘I do have certain administrative responsibilities within the house which were passed on to me by my father. I am also willing to write my name for you. However I am unable to do so.’
‘Time is slipping from us like a mischievous virgin sir. I suggest you ascend the stairs and carry out your duty’.
‘I don’t mean to be pushy mate but no signature, no job’.
‘No job, no eyes’.
‘No eyes, no hot water’.
‘It is you who are in hot water sir. It is you who have been provided to us to make the hot water happen again. You shall do your duty sir. We need you. We need hot water. How else will we cleanse the boys?’
‘Just take me to the boiler mate. We’re going round in bleeding circles here. Me head’s spinning’.
Igor ascends the winding staircase following his own crooked, pointing finger. The stairs creak but not when stepped on. At the top of the staircase a congealed trail of blood ends in a small door. A stooping Nathan follows Igor through the tiny door into a cavernous room. It is a room lined by children who all face the wall. The sound of their whimpering fills the air and bounces back in terrifying echoes. Igor clambers through a horizontal doorway built half way up one of the walls and beckons for Nathan to follow.
‘Here I must stop. I cannot enter the room of nine hundred and ninety nine mirrors. You, however, must enter and find the cupboard that houses burpy box’.
In an instant Igor scampers away back into the room of crying children.
Nathan turns to face the room of nine hundred and ninety nine mirrors.
He screams silently.