Water’s Not the Worst of It

Photo by Meg Barnett on Unsplash 

“Are you sure about this, Mr Easton?” Kane said, looking down the dark steps. “And he won’t listen to you?”

Mr Easton shook his head. “It’s not that he won’t listen to me, it’s just that he thinks I shouldn’t be doing what he called ‘mechanical operations’ as I am a ‘man of the cloth’. I don’t think that dying has helped him become a calmer person.”

“He wasn’t calm when he was alive.” Vic said. “He was a terror. You had to grow a thick skin around him.”

Kane looked at the old man hunched next to him. “And you knew him when you were an apprentice?”

“Yep, sixty years ago, give or take. He was a bugger then and he’s a bugger now and there’s no way I’d go down that hole.”

Kane looked down into the dark cellar. “How bad can it be?”

“If we don’t it fixed soon, there will be structural issues.” Mr Easton said.

Vic nodded. “He could hear the start of it, went down to find the leak and hit his head on the doorframe and died.”

“I think it is a classic case of a spirit unable to rest until something has been put right.” Mr Easton said.

“It would have been put right years ago if he’d let someone get to it.” Vic said. “But he would never trust another man’s work. He wasn’t that good himself, though.” A tea cup flew off the draining board and smashed into the wall next to Vic’s head. “He had rubbish aim as well.” Vic said. “And I’m waiting outside in the car.”

Kane took off shoes and socks, then picked up Vic’s heavy metal toolbox, handed Mr Easton the lamp, and made his way gingerly down the stairs.

The cellar was cramped, with paint flaking from the walls and water flowing over the stone floor. Mr Gomersal was sitting on one edge, a translucent half smoked cigarette stuck behind his ghostly ear. He looked over the tool kit.

“At least it isn’t all this new rubbish.” He said, looking at Mr Easton. “This the lad?”

“It is.” Mr Easton said, “No-one else will come down.”

“When I was a lad people took work where they could take it, and none of this complaining.” Mr Gomersal said. “Right, lad, you do as I say and we’ll be fine. I’ve worked out what the problem i. Now get a wrench, not that one you idiot, that one. That’s it, now pick it up, it won’t bite you.”

“Yessir.” Kane picked up the wrench and looked at the oozing pipe.

“Can you see where the bolt is? No, not that one, you idiot, the one behind it. Bring the light closer so you can see what’s in front of your face. Yes! Give the lad a cough drop, he’s found it!”

As Kane struggled with the rusted pipes, he decided that being ankle deep in cold, dirty water was not the worst part of it.

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