Tired, hot, cross… another night of broken sleep followed by male voices out the back first thing, right by our bedroom window, so I shot outside, shoeless and dishevelled, demanding to know what the hell they thought they were doing.
“This is private property!” I shrieked. “Can I help you?!”
Understandably, both men jumped and then cowered.
“Sorry, sorry,” muttered the small Italian, hands up, palms out.
“We’ve got a busted sewerage main,” explained the other. “I can show it to you if you like? It’s in the truck. And the pipe comes straight under your property.”
“Oh,” I said, trying to straighten my shirt. “Sorry about that. I thought you were builders from this new block out the back; they’ve taken a lot of liberties with our property and I’m sick to death of it. So, um, what are you doing?”
“Man hole’s backed up with sewerage,” said the big one, shaking his head regretfully. “Can’t get in there. Think we’re gonna hafta come in through here.” He gestured at the paving and then, worryingly, in the direction of the communal laundry.
“And who’s paying for that?” I asked.
“Oh, Sydney Water,” he said. “They’ll put it back the way it was after everything’s fixed, but in the meantime we might have to go in via that shed. It’s right underneath there.”
“That sounds like a rather big job.”
He shrugged happily.
“I’m Graham,” he said. “And this is Elio.”
We shook hands and then they left to get more equipment. A short time later Graham knocked on the door. His little gizmo indicated X marks the spot directly beneath our washing machine in the laundry. I apologised again for snapping like a scorpion and explained I hadn’t slept.
“Me neither,” Graham beamed. “Went to AC/DC last night.”
“Oh,” I nodded. “I have friends going to that tonight or tomorrow night. How was it?”
“Faaarkin awesome,” he enthused.
What can you say to that but, “Great, that’s great, I’ll be sure to let them know”…?
“Tell ‘em they’re in for a top night.”
“I’ll do that. Now what’s happening with the poo pipes?”
Mercifully, Graham and Elio are seeking a second opinion. Engineers will be coming – sometime soon, we don’t know when – and I’m hoping they’ll decide they should suck up the shit out of the manhole behind the restaurants instead of drilling into our laundry and destroying our backyard. Fingers crossed.
So that was my morning. Can you imagine my mood? Now I’m just fatigued and could use a sleep if I were someone who could do that in the middle of the afternoon. The planning proceeds; I’m liking it. I’ve also thought of another short story idea. Oh, and the inaugural winner of the CAL Scribe prize was announced last night at Melbourne’s new Wheeler Centre: Maris Morton, who has two short stories available online that you can read here. The prize is for an unpublished MS by an author over 35 years of age, and they were swamped with entries, the field eventually topping out at over 500 writers. It remains disappointing not to have cracked the long list, but I suppose there’s always next year. Meanwhile, all good luck and congratulations to Ms. Morton, who’s making her debut as a novelist at the age of 70 – you’d have to think she’d be pretty damn happy with that!