Home Improvement

Hmmm.  Don’t know if I like this, but it’s probably worth posting anyway.


‘It’s not supposed to rain indoors you know.’

That was her incredibly helpful input. Zelda, Paul’s wife, made a habit of saying the most unhelpful things at any given moment. She was like a veteran torturer, using her words to slowly slice into his psyche and drive him to distraction.

Today, Paul was working on converting the attic into a bedroom. A minor malfunction with a nail gun had blasted a hole the size of a football goal into the roof, providing a perfect conduit for the rain to filter through. Within ten minutes of this, the attic had flooded and water was leaking through the ceiling and dripping into Zelda’s morning cup of tea.

Paul took a deep breath. ‘Technically, my sweet, the part of the house covered in water is no longer “indoors”.’

Zelda didn’t say a word, she merely grumbled loudly and sipped her tea. That Paul could hear her at all was a minor miracle of sorts, her being in the kitchen and him being in what was left of the attic, but Paul tried not to think about it. He’d heard stories of married couples becoming so attached to each other that little mental versions started forming in their minds, filling in when their spouse wasn’t around. Marriage Madness. Paul had a hard enough time dealing with the flesh and blood version of Zelda, let alone one living in his head.

The nail gun was winking at him, figuratively of course. The odd ray of sun was sneaking in through the hole in the roof, glancing off the polished metal of the nail gun and bouncing straight into his eyes. Quite how the nail gun demolished his roof he wasn’t certain, but he was certain that it had been the nail gun and nothing he had done. If it was his fault there would be no insurance; plenty if it had been the nail gun. Possibly even compensation.

Given time, fixing the roof would be simple. He already had the parts, the tools, the expertise, but time was at a premium. The estate agents were coming today to value their house. In the modern market you only got one shot at valuation, too many houses trying to sell too quickly. The value you got from your one viewing was more or less binding, it would be a long time before you could get it looked at again.

Until about an hour ago, Paul’s house was on track to getting a rather tasty valuation, before the unexpected extra ventilation. They were going to get out-valued by a garden shed if he didn’t get this sorted quickly, especially if they talked to the neighbours, as he had heard was the new practise.

Paul and Zelda got on well with their neighbours, but that was largely because they knew how to handle them. Respect and politeness were key if you didn’t want to find a dog’s head in with your morning newspaper.

But Paul liked it here anyway, and wouldn’t actually be too sad if he couldn’t afford to move. Maybe just Zelda could move, and leave him with the new skylight, the fundamentally broken nail gun, and the psychotic neighbours. Fat chance.

The sound of the doorbell was barely audible through the insulation but Paul just caught it. He heard Zelda grumble once again and make her way to the door. Time was running out, he’d need to at least make a start on repairing the hole, tidy it up a little. He couldn’t go downstairs and collect the necessary woods, however, because he’d bump into the estate agents. He would have to search the attic.

In the far corner, behind a selection of old packing crates, he found a pile of dead squirrels. The things had been slowly eating their way through the insulation, practically performing taxidermy upon themselves in the process. Every summer another ten or twenty would be found, rigid, among the insulation. An argument with the bin men meant that Paul couldn’t just throw them out any more, so he had kept them until he could figure out how to get rid of them.

He wondered how well they would hold a nail.


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