Here’s a fairly pointless anecdote I call Mad Wednesday, which started on Monday, April 3.

Woke up that Monday morning and checked my Amazon account. Two books had sold, one of them was Presumed Dead (a month before short listed for the Australian Shadows Award … advertizing pays, it seems!) and the other was the collection set in the same universe, Thirty Minutes for New Hell. Nice! It looks like the week is off to a grand start. A couple of hours later with my first jobs jangling onto the PDA I head off … and find the bike’s right hand indicators aren’t working. On top of this the oil light comes on showing I’m probably five minutes from seizing the engine. Guess that’ll teach me to have success at Amazon. Anyway, I call base and tell them I’m going to the auto electricians and will be off for an hour or so. Go home and glug some oil into the bike from two almost empty bottles. Leave the bike at the elecs and walk home. I’m expecting the job will be a fairly straightforward thing that won’t take too long and cost maybe 50 or 100. Elec rings several hours later at 3.30. Job involved major rewiring. Cost: $340. Gulp.

The one bright spot in all this is that while digging about in the wiring the elec found a pair of keys that had gone missing from a security cable two or three years before. What they were doing amid the bike’s wiring and how they got there is a mystery.

And so we advance two days to Mad Wednesday. Chris, an ex courier who used to work with me years ago at Wiz Couriers, now a reformed character and roofing contractor, knocks on the door just after 8 am. Within a few minutes he’s up on the roof looking for leaks that have been bothering me in recent months. Meanwhile I head over to the electricians to pay off the remaining bill. Come back a little after 9 to find the gardeners have arrived. The front lawn is getting very scruffy and there’s an overgrown bush and a mass of creepers that’s getting out of control. They set to, removing the bush and mowing the lawn. The creepers will have to await another day as the unexpected electrician’s bill has put a huge hole in the finances. I ask them to take a look at the backyard which is beginning to resemble a standing set on a Tarzan movie. When he sees it the gardener goes a little wobbly at the knees, either from thinking of the work involved or the money he’ll make. Nevertheless he gives a reasonable quote and I mentally pencil him in for a revisit in a fortnight or so.

Now the guy from Telsta arrives. I’ve had trouble with the landline for some days, so why not have the telephone repairman turn up on the same day as everyone else. Chris and I first notice him as he walks up and down the street, checking underground connections beneath their concrete coverings. A few days before – just a day or two before my phone troubles started – I’d spilt oil on one of these covers and I had the horrible suspicion it had seeped down and damaged the wiring. But all seems OK there so the Telstra fellow comes in and checks my phone. Definitely and decidedly dead. Will have to check the wall socket, he says.

I go white. The wall socket?!?! NO! NO! NO! The wall socket is behind a heavy sideboard, and shifting it will involve strains and multiple hernias. “Maybe it’s the phone itself,” I suggest desperately, trying to postpone the heavy lifting. Telstra fellow does a magic trick and produces a brand new handset. Plugs it in. Phone works. Strains and hernias avoided.

Meanwhile up on the roof a few cracked tiles are sealed and a few more creepy creepers removed. Now for a bit of plumbing.

The shower taps have been leaking badly for far too long, making it necessary for me to keep the water turned off at the mains, turning it on only when needed. Chris attacks the taps with a pipe wrench and spanners while I provide illumination with a torch – the lighting in the bathroom is not the best. Two worn washers are removed. New washers are fitted. I have running water again. Hazzah!

During these operations I start boiling pasta for lunch. My specialty: Spicy Spam Spaghetti.

“Sorry,” says Chris. “I’m a vegetarian.”

“You like maybe the cheese sandwich?” I ask dangerously. Chris says yes, and bloodshed is avoided.

Later, over toasted cheese sandwiches, we talk of the old days at Wiz Couriers and how they were the best.

So ended Mad Wednesday.

My fave cyber cafe has closed. Was there one Thursday night in March only to find it shut with a note on the door written in almost impenetrable legalese. Roughly translated it said, “As you’ve not paid the rent I’m locking you out. If the rent is not paid by Saturday I’m taking the contents of this shop.” Heavy!

As I was reeling away from this evil note a man at an outside table at the pizza parlour next door said …

But wait. Let’s backtrack another month. I was at Savers, a large secondhand clothes store, and bought two pairs of jeans. This, BTW, is the place that has one rack of shoes for men while the racks for shoes for women stretches back into infinity. Anyway, both pairs of jeans were marked size 36. I tried one on and it was fine. Bought both. Didn’t try the other pair on till days after and found they were a size too small. Curse. What to do? Take them back to Savers? Put them in a charity bin?

There’s a homeless guy I pass nearly every day and I always try to give him something. So how about a pair of jeans? The Fates decreed otherwise. Earlier on that Thursday, while doing my first delivery of the day, I parked by a homeless guy who looked even more forlorn than the one I had intended to donate the jeans too, so I gave him the jeans instead. Now we fast forward to later that same day with me reeling away from the cyber cafe door with its demanding note for rent not paid. A guy at an outside table at the pizza parlour next along says, “Excuse me, would you like my pizza? I can’t finish it and it’ll only be thrown away.” “Thank you very much,” I say, and gratefully carry off his unfinished half of a large pizza. Which only goes to show that there is a god. Help a homeless guy in the morning, get free pizza in the evening. The one drawback was that it had anchovies and I hates anchovies. Far too salty.

Now this neatly segues to a story I think of as “Rick Kennett: Standover Man.” A couple of months before it closed I was at the above mentioned cyber cafe merrily downloading podcasts. A group of teenage girls came trooping out of the back of the shop and I was dimly aware they were having an in-depth discussion with the woman at the counter. Then they left. A few seconds later the counter lady came around and stood beside me as I sat at the computer. She didn’t say anything but just stood there and I had the impression she was going to tell me the shop was closing, though it was only 4.30 and they didn’t close till 7.30. I looked up but she was peering down towards the back of the shop in an uncertain sort of way. Then she said, “Those girls said there’s a man down there masturbating.” I gave her a “Do wot?” look, but she was still peering towards the back of the shop. It occurred to me then that she needed to confront this fellow but didn’t want to go down there by herself, so I said, “Do you want me to come with you?”

So off we traipse down through the shop, pass a guy working on a computer by the sliding door leading into the back premises where there are more computers as well as washing and drying machines – the cafe doubles as a laundrette. Here we find a guy at a computer huddled under an umbrella. “Aha!” thinks I. “All the better to hide your nefarious activities, eh?” So while I stand to one side looking menacing and intimidating, the woman stoops down and whispers into the fellow’s ear. I imagine she was saying, “I know what you’re doing so do your zip up or this burly gentleman here will rearrange your face.” Meanwhile I’m trying to look like I’m thinking, “And I will too … twitch twitch.” To my surprise the fellow just nods and says, “I’ll keep an eye on him.” Then the woman heads back toward the front of the shop … and it occurs to me then that he wasn’t the culprit but rather someone she knew who she was asking to keep an eye on the real guilty party … the guy at the computer by the sliding door. All the time I’d been monstering the wrong man. *Blush.* Guess I’ll never get a job with the Mafia.

So why the umbrella? The back of the shop was where its original backyard had been. It was now roofed over with plastic sheeting. It was a rainy day and the plastic was leaking. Never mind virus protection, umbrellas are what you need to keep your computers safe.

 

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