Well, I exaggerate of course. The kitchen tap was dripping and couldn’t be fixed (one of those ceramic disc things) so I had to have new taps. I spent much of the morning wondering what the plumber would be like and made sure I looked my best, just in case! Ah, well. At least the tap is fixed (I did get a glimpse of his builder’s bum). Nothing like my book, Fixed, of which there is an appropriate excerpt below.
At just before ten o’clock Mike unlocked the front door and stepped back into the house. He stopped and sniffed the air. He’d forgotten all about the musty smell but now it hit him again. After inserting the newly charged key in the electric meter he went straight to the kitchen and set about changing plugs. The place probably hadn’t been heated properly for years. No wonder it was damp. He looked at the boiler and sneered.
The boiler man arrived at eleven. He seemed somehow familiar to Mike, a face he was sure he’d seen before but couldn’t imagine where. His name was Pete, and Mike assumed they were both about the same age, but Pete was shorter and fitter than Mike. He also had a full head of chestnut hair with no gray. Maybe he had no worries.
Mike left Pete to work his magic on the boiler while he set about cleaning and unpacking. At least he had electricity, and with any luck, tonight the place would be more like…be more comfortable. He might even get up to the pub, which he now knew was called The Plough, and have his first British pint in years.
The thought of beer dried Mike’s tongue and he went to make some tea. Pete was bent over with his head deep in the boiler. His firm ass stuck out into the kitchen and Mike scooted around it, sneaking a look out of the corner of his eye.
“Will you have a cuppa?” asked Mike, switching on the kettle.
“Thanks, I’d be glad of one.” Pete withdrew his head from the boiler and stood up. His expression foretold bad news.
“You need a new pump. I can fix most things, but this is well and truly done for.”
“So, how long will it be? I have no hot water, you see. There’s no back-up immersion heater.”
Pete shook his head and looked at the nameplate on the top of the boiler. “I carry parts for most models in the van, but this is old.”
Mike threw his hands in the air. “Don’t tell me it’s obsolete.”
“Oh no, not at all. But it might take a couple of days to get my hands on parts for it.”
Mike felt like he’d fallen through the floor. “A couple of days? Aw, shit. What am I supposed to do?”
“Hey, I’m sorry and all that, but it’s not my fault, you know.”
Mike sighed and raised a palm. “I know. I’m sorry. I’m just pissed off with that agency. They should have had this checked before I got here.” He passed a mug of tea to Pete.
“You’re a gentleman.” Pete slurped at the tea and stared at Mike. His brown hair fell forwards to cover his forehead.
“I’m sorry, do you need sugar?”
“It’s fine, thanks. Couldn’t be better. I gave up sugar in tea years ago.” Pete slurped again without taking his eyes off Mike. “It’s just that I have this idea I know you from somewhere.”
“Really? I can’t imagine where. I’ve been abroad for years.” Mike shifted from one foot to the other.
Pete’s eyes widened. “Mason. Mr. Mason the agency said.”
Mike nodded. “And?”
“That’s it!” Pete’s face broke into a wide smile. “Michael Mason. It is, isn’t it? Michael Mason.”
Mike almost spilled his tea, but now as he looked more closely at Pete he began to understand that earlier glimmer of recognition. The blue eyes were the same. And if the hair were longer… “Peter Bickerdyke? Peter?”