Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Destruction of Lasseter's Road - 3

When Franco Veletta hove to a stop at the top of Wills’s drive he at first thought that Wills wasn’t home, the house was completely dark and silent.
But then he saw the car parked in the driveway, and became a little confused.
Franco had not had much interaction with Wills, mainly the three or four times he had come to complain about the noise, so a dark silent house was a new one on him.
In his experience everyone within hearing distance of Wills’s house knew when he was home.
The house would be lit like it was guiding aircraft in to land, and the music would blare out like Guns’n’Roses were playing live.
So this silent mausoleum threw Franco for a moment.
When he had heard the popping of the gas earlier he had made up his mind to go and investigate, so he had grabbed his torch, walked down to the house and told Delia he was going up to see what was up, and hopefully, to find out what the smell was.
Delia had responded, “I hear, I hear, dinner is ready, be back soon.”
And Franco had clumped off up the road.
It was half a kilometre or so to Wills’s place and Franco had soon crested the rise upon which Wills’s driveway lay, and then had stood and stared.
The smell was indeed worse here, and so whatever was causing it was centred on Wills’s house, but then Veletta had expected that.
Anything less than pleasant for the other residents of Lasseter’s road usually emanated from Wills, and in the case of this smell, the word was exact.
But now all was dark.
Franco stood there irresolute.
He was a good neighbour and though he desperately wanted to find out what this smell was, and fix it as soon as, it seemed clear to him that for the first time ever Wills had decided to go to bed early, possibly exhausted from the excesses of the night before.
So he had just turned away to walk back home with a mental note to come back in the morning, when he heard, faintly through the stillness of the Lasseter’s Road night, a groan, then a pause, then a loud swearing.
He turned back, switched on his torch and then began approaching the house.

Wills had woken up for the second time that day, suffering from the after effects of an explosion.
It was pitch black inside his laundry and he at first wasn’t sure he had opened his eyes.
He tried to think frantically what had happened, but the best he could do was recall trying to have a shower, he followed the steps through the fragments of memory and finally came to the blue flash that had enveloped him.
One thing he did already know was that he was in even worse pain than when he had woken that morning.
Then, he only had a bad hangover, and a smell to match.
But now he was immediately conscious of a searing pain from the front of his face.
But if he thought things couldn’t get any worse this day, he was once again mistaken.
He put his hands down on the floor to sit up, and broken glass from the shattered bulb pierced his palms, and he gave a shriek and then began swearing loudly.
It was this volley of expletives that Franco had heard at the top of the drive.
Wills snatched his hands back from the floor and dragged himself worm-like backwards, then using the wall as a brace, clambered into a sitting position.
He was just wondering what to do next, when he heard a voice outside.
“Are you there, Mr Wills?,” said Franco from outside the laundry, waving his torch toward the wall of the house.
Wills grabbed the lifeline gratefully, “Yeah, I’m in here, can you see the door?”
Franco followed his torch beam around the corner of the car port and saw the door to Wills’s laundry.
He opened it and shone his torch inside.
The beam fell upon Wills and even Franco Veletta, who had seen a few sites in his time, struggled to bring to mind anything to compare with this.
Wills lay slumped against the wall, now hairless on the head, his lower half covered in…, well, Franco wasn’t sure, but he was certainly dirty, his head was a severe and angry red with burn blisters already surfacing, and from his hands blood dripped onto the floor.
Franco suddenly remembered where he seen this before, in church, in pictures of Jesus after his crucifixion, with blood dripping from the crown of thorns and his from his hands, where the stigmata bled.
But any resemblance to the son of god was physical only, mentally, Veletta would have struggled to name any other human on this planet who less reminded him of Jesus Christ.
He stared in surprise for a few moments, then said, “Are you all right?”
Wills struggled to utter, the short answer was that he had never felt less all right in his life, but it wasn’t time for that.
“I’ve cut myself, can you see what’s on the floor?”
Franco played his light on the concrete floor of the laundry and the sprinkled glass glinted in its passage.
“It’s broken glass.”
Wills saw the glass, and using the beam of Veletta’s light, struggled to his feet.
With Franco’s help he navigated around the glass, and together they walked across the deck area, and went inside.
Wills flicked a light switch, but no light appeared.
“Fuck”, said Wills, “is there a blackout?”, he asked Veletta.
“Not when I left, Delia was in the kitchen with the light on”, said Veletta.
“Shit”, swore Wills again.
So together, with Veletta leading the way with his torch, they went back outside and found the fuse box.
To Wills’s considerable relief the main fuse switch was in the ‘off’ position, they switched it on, and Wills saw the lights come on and heard the fridge begin humming.
They went to go back inside, but with the deck area now bathed in light, Franco got his first view of the contents of Wills’s septic tank, spread evenly around.
His first thought was to ask Wills what had happened, but even that crucial desire was overlaid by his concern for Wills now that he saw him whole.
“Mr Wills”, said Veletta, “you don’t look so good, maybe you should go down to the hospital.”
To say Wills didn’t look good was certainly accurate, wildly understated in fact, Franco struggled to think of anyone, or anything, that looked worse.
But already Wills had other motives in mind.
He had had the worst day a human could have, he was now in pain, and still stinking like a septic tank.
He still had no hot water, so still couldn’t even have a shower, but he wasn’t going to hospital, he was going to have a fucking drink, lots of fucking drinks, until the ravages of the day were washed away on a warm tide of alcohol-fuelled ambrosia.
So he replied, “Nah, I’m OK, I’ll go down in the morning and see them then, but now I just want to wash this off and then go to bed.”
Veletta’s eyes saucered in surprise, “Are you sure, you really look like you could do with some treatment.”
“No, I’ll be fine”, said Wills.
All he wanted now was Veletta out of the house so he could launch into a bottle of bourbon.
Veletta continued to eye him with concern, but realizing there was something in the set of Wills’s shoulders that screamed “fixture on the couch”, turned to go.
“OK”, said Veletta, “if you’re sure.”
Wills nodded and Veletta made to leave.
It was only when he was about to cross the threshold that he recalled the reason for his visit and turned back, “By the way, what is that smell?”
Wills jerked around in his seat and said the lines he was already becoming practised in, “I don’t really know, something happened to my septic tank, probably at the party.”
Veletta stared again.
Talk about the blinding obvious, he couldn’t think what else apart from a large septic tank, the town sewerage plant maybe, could make life so unbearable for kilometres around.
He waited for Wills to go on, but he had said his piece.
Veletta however wasn’t satisfied, “are you going to do something about it?”
Wills didn’t need this.
“Yeah, yeah, tomorrow I’m going to clean it all up.”
Veletta’s eyes narrowed, “Really, what are you going to do?”
Wills, realizing that Veletta wanted an answer, prevaricated hastily.
“Um, I’m getting some guys I work with to come out and we’re gonna shovel it into a truck to take away.”
Veletta nodded, “OK, well be sure you do, it’s making it hard to live, that smell.”
Wills nodded ingratiatingly, “Yeah, yeah, no problem, tomorrow, I’ll get onto it.”
Veletta nodded again, slowly, and with infinite menace, “OK, well, that would be great”, then added, “would you like me to come up and help?”
Wills screamed inside, he was having as much trouble dragging himself out of this conversation as he had trying to talk the coppers out of breath testing him.
“Er”, said Wills slowly, hastily coming up with an answer so that Veletta wouldn’t be up here supervising and making Wills actually do some work, “No, I’m not sure when they are gonna get here, so I’ll look after it.”
Veletta’s stare now began to resemble that of a cobra with a particularly tasty mouse in its sights.
“Well, I’m happy to help, why don’t you call me when they get here and I’ll come up.”
Wills leapt on this lifeline and said, “ah, sure, yeah, OK, yeah, that’ll be good, I’ll call up when they arrive and you can come up.”
Wills tried to turn away when Veletta went on, “do you have my number?”
Wills screamed inside again, “Um, I’m…, er, hang on.”
He got his phone out and punched the contacts menu, he observed the screen a moment, “Ah, no, I don’t seem to have it, what is it?”
Veletta gave him his number and Wills, while trying not to get any of the blood dripping from his hands on his already filthy phone punched the number in.
“OK”, he said, “all good, I’ll give you a call when they get here tomorrow and we’ll clean it all up.”
Veletta nodded for the final time, “OK, Mr Wills, I look forward to it.”
And so finally, and with internal rejoicing from Wills, Veletta left.
He listened to his footsteps clumping up the driveway and then dived into the fridge and poured himself a large glass of neat bourbon.
At last, nearly ten hours after he had hoped, he could finally have a drink, a lot of drinks.
But first things first, he thought to himself, he better deal with this glass in his hands, and the raging burning on his face.
He took his glass of bourbon and went to the bathroom cabinet.
He opened it and tried to find something to use.
He scrabbled among the various tubes but couldn’t find anything that said “Burn cream”.
The best was some suntan cream, so he got it out and smeared it across his head.
The pain diminished slightly and making a mental note to go to the chemist on the morrow to get something better.
He then began searching for some tweezers to deal with the glass, but like all single men who drink heavily, he never spent any money on anything much apart from immediate food requirements, television and more alcohol.
Eventually he returned to the living room with a pair of nail scissors, and using the ends of the blade, began the painstaking process of picking glass from his hands.
A process that was made harder to do well as the bourbon went down, but easier, as it made feeling for more glass less painful as the night went on.
Eventually he had dealt with the glass, more or less, and four hours later staggered fully drunk into his noisome bedroom and slept decidedly face up.
It is nearly impossible to believe a man who woke up Sunday covered in the blast contents of a septic tank, could feel worse when he woke up the next day, but Wills did.
He had drunk neat bourbon till nearly midnight.
Considering that he regularly drank from 11 in the morning till late in the evening, he had a lot of tolerance, but even so the rigours of the day had taken it out of him “short” four hour session was needed to get him to passing out stage on the Sunday night.
But now he was rediscovering the problem of burying your problems in a bottle, to wit: eventually you have wake up and deal with said problems, and with a raging hangover to boot.
His hands were still painful, though most of the glass was gone, his face and scalp were re-aflame with pain after the cream had worn off, he STILL hadn’t had a shower and the filth of the septic blast still clung to his clothing.
And now it was Monday, and apart from the issues at home, he would soon be taking calls from various clients and employees on the few jobs he was “supervising”.
The lure of the bourbon bottle was already there at 9am Monday and he was sorely tempted, but then with rage and frustration he remembered that he now had a drink driving charge to add to his woes, and couldn’t afford an eye-opener on this day when he sorely, sorely, needed one.
He made some coffee and tried to think.
However, it only took a sip of coffee to send him to the toilet, he went in and sat down.
Catharsis complete, he hit the flush button automatically, and heard nothing.
He looked down and there was no water in the toilet.
With the septic tank out of commission there would be no water in the line to the toilet.
He washed his hands, carefully, to not jag any remaining fragments of glass with the soap cake, and that reminded him he still hadn’t had a shower.
He then turned to the shower, turned it on, and remembered why he had been blown backwards in the laundry, no hot water.
He went down to the laundry and opened a window.
He took his lighter and played it at the mouth of the pilot light tube.
Nothing, he stopped clicking his lighter and listened.
Of course, the gas had been leaking from the cylinder since the septic blast Sunday morning, now it was 24 hours later and the cylinder was long since depleted.
With further tooth grinding he massaged his forehead and tried to think what to do.
In the end he went back upstairs and had a cold shower, which felt good on his head, but shivery everywhere else.
He scrubbed frantically as his hands allowed at the muck and got out as quickly as possible.
He returned to his kitchen and laid out his plans.
Being Wills, this meant seeing to his needs first, and so dealing with the smell definitely last.
He had to:
Replace the gas cylinder so he had hot water.
Clean the inside of the house.
Replace the septic tank so he could flush his toilets.
Call a lawyer about the drink driving charge.
Get a quote to panel beat his car: subsection, clean the filth off his car before he took it to the panel beaters.
He groaned at the work in store for his immediate future.
Well, first things first, hot water.
He was about to dial when the phone rang in his hand.
He saw from the screen it was a concreter who worked for him, he wanted to ignore it, but the ringing phone exerted its spell.
He punched answer and the concreter’s voice came through, “Hey WIllsy, I don’t like the look of the formwork for this slab.”
The concreter, Terry, was supervising the pour of a slab at a house in town Wills was the supervising builder on.
He groaned internally, Terry was probably right, Wills had planned to do it himself, but in the end had told one of his inexperienced labourers to do it, while he went home and started early on his drinking.
He could do without this at this hour of a Monday, but he brought his mind to bear as best as possible.
“Well, Josh told me it was fine when he left on Friday.”
Their was a hesitation at the other end, then Terry spoke, “Oh, Ok, well the truck’s on it’s way, do you want to come down and check it before he gets here to pour?”
No, Wills definitely didn’t want to do that.
“Nah, it’ll be right. Just tell the guy to pour it in, I’m sure Josh would have said if there was any problem.”
Actually, no.
No worker on Earth will tell the boss about a problem on Friday, that may lead to said worker having to work late on said Friday.
Josh, the labourer, had slapped the formwork down and then driven off to be in the pub by 4.30.
Terry then replied, “Ok, well if you’re sure, I’ll tell him to pour.”
“Yeah, thanks Terry” said Wills and disconnected.
He then turned his mind back to the more immediate shit, literally, he had to deal with at his place.
He called the gas company to learn that his account was already considerably overdrawn, and they would not deliver a new gas cylinder till the outstanding balance was paid.
So Wills got out his laptop and paid his bill.
The gas company then agreed to deliver, but he would have to wait till tomorrow.
He then called a company that installs septic tanks, that he had worked with on various builds, and asked them the price of a new one.
$5,000 was the coast of the tank, $2000 or thereabouts for installation.
“Shit”, said Wills internally, and rather accurately.
He tried wheedling the price down a bit, “Mates rates”, as he hoped to float with them, but the company was used to doing things with Wills and weren’t going to wait six months for payment, so they flatly refused to budge on price.
Wills agreed with bad grace, and made a date for them to come out and size up the job, which was next week at the earliest.
Then a call from a different build came through with another problem and Wills tried, but failed abysmally, to bring his mind to bear on it.
This time it was fencing contractor, he had followed the plans Wills had given him, drawn up by the landscape designer, but had discovered some pipes where he was supposed to put in a concrete footing for the fence.
What did Wills want him to do?
Wills failed abysmally to cope with thinking about the issue and told him he would call back.

He did have one good idea though, he called a cleaning company to come out and clean the house.
They agreed over the phone, and the supervisor said he’d come out and have a look, but that wouldn’t be till later in the week at the earliest.
Wills was just putting the phone down and trying to think when it rang in his hand.
He checked the screen and recognising the number as another work call, made the decision to ignore work for the rest of the day.
So the day proceeded with Wills ignoring work calls and watching his bank balance starting to drain out.
He didn’t even get to thinking about cleaning up the outside of the house where the septic tank debris still lay.
But then Veletta came up again on Monday night and asked why Wills hadn’t called him to clean up.
Wills lied that it hadn’t been necessary as the mess would be cleaned up when the new septic tank arrived.
Veletta had once again gone away with bad grace, but with the assurance that the new tank would be here this week (another lie) and the smell would be gone.
Wills had a lot of vain hopes that week, mostly that he would wake up and discover he had dreamt the lot, but his dwindling bank balance and the never changing smell kept it all too real.
He called his lawyer and told him about the DUI charge, and when he read the police document his lawyer gave it his opinion that $3,000 was the likely fine with a twelve month driving restriction, in which he had to be 0.000 at any given breath test.
Wills had lost it badly and then had yelled, “Fucken forget that, you’re supposed to get me off, not agree with the fucken cops.”
Wills’s lawyer had responded with the simple fact that he could only get him off if there were mitigating circumstances, “Was he driving someone to hospital, for instance?”
“No”, Wills had mumbled, and his lawyer had said, “Well then I’m afraid there’s very little I can do.”
So Wills had then rung off with bad grace.
The lawyer, stung by Wills’s rudeness had put down the phone and sent him a $330 bill for the phone call.
At night he got drunker than ever and by Thursday his trips to town were furtive in the extreme.
He didn’t want anyone from his various jobs seeing him, as they would want him to do something, or at least make a decision, and he just wasn’t up to it.
Also, he didn’t really want anyone seeing him visually, due to his now bald, burnt head.
He therefore only went to town to the bottle shop to keep his supplies of bourbon up and he ate mostly delivered pizza.
The empty bottles began piling up, in, and then just anywhere near, his recycling bin, at a fearful rate, slightly hidden from view by the pizza boxes, that he likewise threw in the general direction of the bins.
So the week passed and he flushed his toilet with a bucket of water, adding to the smell each day as the waster gurgled down the pipe to the septic tank area.
He ignored work calls, but knew that each call ignored meant that problems were growing in size out on the builds.
Friday came and Wills’s mind, believe or not, turned toward having a party, but the thought died as quickly as it was born.
He didn’t want to call any of the young labourers and get them to round up the young women he found so alluring, as they were all connected with various jobs he was meant to be supervising, and he still didn’t feel like dealing with any work issues, and anyway, no one in their right mind would want to party in that smell.
So instead he planned to drink all weekend on his own.
But on the Friday Veletta came back, and was unprepared to brook any further delay.
“Mr Wills”, said Veletta, “why have you not started cleaning up this mess?”
Wills, unable to come up with anything convincing, had shifted on both feet, and so Veletta had said, “OK, we start now, I get my sons to come out and we begin.”
So Wills had to spend Friday afternoon, and the first part of the weekend assisting Veletta and his sons raking up sewage debris and bits of concrete and depositing them in a skip that Veletta had ordered, but made clear that Wills was paying for.
Sunday at lunch time the skip was full and so Veletta relented and walked home to a Sunday lunch with his family.

So Wills hit the bottle Sunday at lunch and by Sunday night was sitting on his couch looking like a human representation of the painting, “The Scream”.
Monday came and the skip company took the skip full of stinking concrete to the local tip, and gave him a bill of $300 for the skip and $500 to dump the heavy load.
The outside area was cleaner, but the smell was still present.
At lunchtime the cleaning company supervisor came and inspected the house.
He asked “what happened here?” in an unknown echo of Sergeant O’Driscoll’s question on that fateful Sunday and Wills gave his now-practised answer, about his septic tank releasing it’s contents during the party.
The supervisor had looked with the usual saucer eyes, and then continued his inspection of the house.
Eventually he quoted Wills 30 hours at $200 an hour.
He really didn’t want this job.
Now it was Wills’s turn to look saucer-eyed.
“SIX GRAND?!”, he screamed.
The supervisor gave a laconic nod and said, “Yes, Looks like it.”
He went on, “Of course, if you want to get some other quotes…”, he trailed off.
Wills bit down on his tongue.
Every cleaning company that sized up this job would charge a lot.
The alternative was doing it himself, and he wasn’t, definitely wasn’t, doing it himself.
So he agreed to that as well, and the supervisor left with the promise that they would be here tomorrow.
Tuesday, the septic tank boss arrived and surveyed the scene.
Veletta and his family, with Wills as an unwilling accomplice, had removed most of the concrete lumps from the septic blast, but the sand bed where the tank had been was hardly in pristine condition.
So then the septic tank company said they would have to add another $2,000 to bring in a bobcat and re-lay the sandy bed to take a new tank.
Wills, screamed internally again, the quote was now up to $9,000.
For the briefest of moments Wills considered dropping the whole idea, but knew as a builder, used to dealing with council by-laws that he couldn’t eternally go on sending the flushes from his toilets down the pipes to the open air.
Even if the council didn’t know, his neighbours, Veletta for one, would be on to them quick-smart.
So he agreed to the price.
The septic supervisor then said, “can you pay the price of the tank now, please before we bring it out here?”
His tone made it clear that it wasn’t a request.
So Wills had taken him back inside and the supervisor had watched while Wills had paid $5,000 for the tank online.
Then with a “we’ll come out with the bobcat as soon as the money clears”.
He got in his car and drove away.
As he left the cleaners arrived, “MORE MONEY”, screamed Wills inside his head.
The cleaners, obviously warned by the supervisor what to expect, were dressed in top-to-toe biohazard suits.
Although Wills was glad to have them start, he now had to vacate to the deck outside while they worked their various machines.
He wanted to use the time recreating his life, drinking on the deck while others did some work, so he started checking in with his various jobs.
He called the concreter Terry and asked about the formwork-concrete pour, then strongly wished he hadn’t.
Terry answered it on the first ring and launched in, “Where the fuck you been WIllsy? The formwork collapsed and there’s set concrete all over the fucken place. You better get down there and have a look”, Terry said with some vehemence.
“Shit”, said Wills, “Is it bad?”
“Oh, yeah”, said Terry, with, to Wills’s ears, undisguised relish, the whole things’ fucked. If you’d answered the phone on the day, you might have been able to do something, but it’s set now. The owner’s not gonna be happy.”
Wills tried to think, “Can you sort it out? Do something to get it back?”
”Nah, sorry mate, I’m already on another job, tried to call ya, but now it’s up to you.”
“Shit, Ok, thanks anyway,” said Wills and put the phone down.
He massaged his head.
This was a major fucking disaster.
A truckload of set concrete spilled everywhere.
He tried to call Josh, the labourer who had done the shoddy formwork, to at least have someone to yell at, but not surprisingly, he didn’t answer.
He clicked disconnect again and once more the phone rang in his hand.
It was a tiler.
“Hey Willsy,” said the tiler, “did you put that fence in up on Saddler’s?”
This was Saddler’s parade, the job where the fencing contractor had called from earlier in the week.
“Yeah”, replied Wills with infinite caution, “well I got Chipwell to do it, why?”
“'cos there’s no water in the house, I tried to make up a mix and got nothin’ from the tap, and the backyard is spongy as hell, I’d say they broke a pipe when they were doin’ the fence.”
“Fuck”, said Wills.
Another disaster.
He grappled again with hungover mind with a real time problem.
“Can you switch the water off? I’ll get down there as soon as I can.”
The tiler replied, “yeah, I can do that, you call me when the water’s back on? Then I’ll come back and do the tiles.”
“Yeah, yeah”, said Wills, and rang off.
He called a plumber and told him what had happened, and got him to go round to the house and find the broken pipe, or just to find out what had happened.
The plumber agreed to do it, but would have to charge an emergency call out fee.
Wills tore his free hand over his still tender scalp and once more screamed, ‘MORE MONEY’ in his head.
Wills desperately wanted to switch off his phone, but now he had to wait for the plumber to call back.
Some hours later the plumber called with the bad news.
“Yeah, looks like when the put in the fence footing they didn’t cushion the pipe with sand, so the concrete set hard on top of it and then cracked the pipe.”
“Oh, jesus”, said Wills, “can you fix it?”
“Well, I can” he said, “but I can’t do it till next week, and I’ll have to dig up the footing and remove part of the fence to get at the pipes. You want me to go ahead?”
Wills sighed internally, “Yeah, I guess so, but can you do it any earlier?”
“Not really”, said the plumber, “got jobs booked up the ying-yang, could do it now, but have to charge extra.”
“No”, said Wills, “Just have to put the guys who need water on hold.”
They made a plan for the pipe fix and Wills put down the phone.
As long as the water was off at the house, things weren’t critical, just that the job would now be delayed as the tiler, and any other tradie who wanted to use water in their work wouldn’t be able to get things done till the plumber had fixed the pipes.
Wills then got in his car and drove around to inspect the concrete disaster.
And it was, the corner of the formwork had given way and the wet cement had cascaded across the lawn.
Not only was the lawn damaged, but the entire slab, sloping neatly down to the corner that had given way, would now have to be dug up and re-laid.
The owner would, to put it mildly, not be happy.
He drove home via the bottle shop and drank heavily as usual.
The cleaners worked through Wednesday, while Wills tried to get hold of someone to jackhammer up the concrete.
Eventually he found a friend of an acquaintance of a friend who worked demolition.
He agreed to the job, but told Wills he couldn’t do it till the Saturday, as he had his work to do through the week.
Wills agreed again, and feeling he had “accomplished” something, waited till the cleaners left, then drank heavily.
Thursday the cleaners arrived in tandem with the bobcat driver.
They jockeyed for position in the driveway, to get all their vehicles in, and then the ‘cat driver rolled his machine down and began the smoothing process of the sand base for the new septic.
That done in an efficient couple of hours, he drove away, calling his boss as he did so to say they could bring in the tank.
The truck with the tank came on Friday and it backed down the drive and then the complex process of laying the tank began.
Wills watched, while the cleaners worked inside and by Friday evening he was in the somewhat relaxed position of having a new septic tank, all connected, and a relatively clean house.
So his drinking on the Friday night had a joyful component to it for the first time since his septic tank had blown.
Additionally, it was now two weeks since that fateful Sunday morning, and the weather had been dry, so the remaining septic dank waste that had been scattered around his garden and across the lawn, had dried out and the smell was finally diminishing.
So one would have thought that Saturday was day of optimism for Wills, but he should have known.
At six am the phone rang, he answered it without thinking from the mists of sleep, and heard the voice of the owner of the property where the disastrous concrete spill had occurred.
If Wills was half asleep when he answered the phone, he was firing on all cylinders within a few milliseconds as the owner screamed down the phone.
Starting with describing the scene that met his eyes when he had gone round to inspect the renovations, he then touched on Wills not telling him about it, included his displeasure at seeing no one at work there fixing it, and ended up by sacking Wills and indicating in the strongest of terms that his solicitor would be in touch to find out how Wills would be paying for the fix up.
He then added some expletive laden comments about Wills’s mode of life in which the words ‘drunk’, ‘arsehole’ and ‘bastard’ featured prominently, and then fired him and rang off before Wills had uttered a word.
Wills, ashen and shaken, knew he wouldn’t get back to sleep, so went down to his living room for an emergency bourbon.
He drank it down with shaking hand then had another.
Having started this Saturday as he had so many others, though a damn site earlier than usual, he continued with the medicinal process.
As the bourbon went down he began to calm down a bit and say internally, “That’s not so bad, didn’t want that fucking job anyway.”
Which was true enough, really Wills didn’t want any job, but it was his money source.
With all he had to pay, combined with what had already gone out of his bank account, he needed to get back to work and get some dollars rolling in.
And now with the house clean and the septic tank installed he had a bit of clear air to sort his other jobs out and start to get back on track.
At lunchtime he had enough bourbon on board to brave looking at his bank account, and it wasn’t pretty.
The skip, and the dumping fee, the cleaners, the new septic tank, the DUI fine, the lawyers bill, the upcoming legal wrangle over the concrete spill, the were all factored by Wills.
Though low in money he would be all right though, provided he kept things moving this week.
“I’ll drink to that”, he said to himself and had just poured a new glass to celebrate when the phone rang and he got fired once more.
This time it was the owner of the property with the cracked piped under the fence.
The call actually started out not too badly.
“Hey Willsy, Anthony here, I just wanted to check with you, I thought the tiling was going to be done at my place this week?”
Wills’s drunken mind lurched into approximate gear, “Uh, yeah, we had a little problem, the fencer cracked some pipes up the yard, so there was no water, so he couldn’t do it.”
“Oh”, said Anthony, “have you fixed the pipes?”
“Uh, no”, said Wills, “um, I called the plumber, but he can’t do it till next week.”
Anthony replied, “couldn’t you fix it?”
Wills replied, “well yeah, but I’ve been busy.”
“I see”, he paused for a moment, “so what exactly am I paying you for?” said Anthony.
Now it was Wills’s turn to hesitate, “um…,” he trailed off.
It was a good question now that he came to think about it.
He sought for an answer frantically, “well, I’m supervising the tradies who are doing the jobs needed.”
“Oh”, said Anthony, “these cracked pipes seem like something pretty urgent. Couldn’t you ‘supervise’ them to get on with it quicker.”
Wills replied, “well I did try to get him to do it last week, but he was already booked up, he said he would have to charge extra to do it then.”
Anthony went on remorselessly, “So what you’re basically telling me is that I’m paying you to supervise people to do jobs, and then they don’t do them and you do nothing and still charge me? Am I reading that right?”
Wills could feel this situation sliding, he battled for control of both his drunken mind and the conversation, “Oh, no, um, I have good relationship with the various workers, they would only work for me really.”
“I see”, said Anthony, “though in this case it seems that they aren’t, or not when we need the job done.”
“Well, there’s no need to panic, he said he would do it this week, I’m sure it will be done on time.”
“But you see Willsy, I would consider cracked pipes and no water stopping everyone else on the job doing their work, tantamount to, if not an actual emergency, and therefore would consider that not only should the plumber have done the job last week, but whoever cracked the pipes, should be paying for it. Would you agree with that?”
Wills, tried to prevaricate, “Well Chipwell’s did it, so they’re certainly responsible for the damage.”
“Oh good”, said Anthony, “so they’ve agreed to pay for it then?”
Wills once more felt madness rushing in at him from all sides.
“Ah, well, er, not as such, they, well, I haven’t spoken with them yet.”
Anthony continued his demolition, “You’re not suggesting ‘I’ am going to be paying for it are you?”
“No, no, definitely not, I’ll speak with them on Monday about it.”
“I see”, said Anthony, “I would have thought you would have spoken with them first, before you called the plumber. Then I would have thought you would have called me and told me about the delay to my build.”
Wills pictured Anthony in his mind, when they had been introduced by a former client of Wills, his first impression was that he was a soft touch and he would be able to get away with murder.
He, Anthony, did something in a glass tower in the nearest capital, PR, or was it MR, something like that, either way, he didn’t expect him to be as hard as this.
But he was being led down a maze of logic that couldn’t, as far as Wills could see, end well.
Anthony went on, “What’s more, now that I think about it, why aren’t you out there now? The weather’s fine you could fix it yourself, and earn some of the money I’m paying you.”
Wills mentally leapt on this ‘lifeline’, then said, “Um, sure, I’ll get right on it, I’ll do it now, things have cleared a bit for me now.”
“OK”, said Anthony, “I’m pleased to hear it. Call me when it’s done, won’t you?”
“Sure” said Wills, then rang off.
Fuck, what could he do now?
Oh, well, he couldn’t drive anywhere now due to the already heroic portions of alcohol he had on board, and so he made a mental note to do it tomorrow, then opened another bottle of bourbon.
He thought he had ‘dealt’ with the situation and could again be said to be getting things back on track but come five o’clock Saturday afternoon the phone rang again.
With a terrified lurch he saw it was Anthony again, he made a quick decision not to answer and then sat on the couch waiting till the ringing had stopped.
Some minutes later the phone beeped and he saw that he had a voicemail, he knew he should ignore it, but then some demon prodded him to get it over with.
He punched it up and put the phone to his ear, Anthony’s voice came through loud and clear, “Hey Willsy, I went out to my place this afternoon (Wills swore to himself), and you weren’t there, nor was there any sign of you being there. So I’ll save you the trouble of ever going there again, consider yourself fired, I’m getting another builder in to take over, and you’ll be hearing from my solicitor about fees you have incurred.”
Wills put the phone down stunned.
Sacked twice in one day.
He was now broker than he could remember, and with little or no work to get him through.
Though a man who had made an art form out of self-deception, he knew better than anyone that in the small world of Litmus Bay, once the word got out that he had been fired from the supervising builder role on two jobs, his chances of getting any future work were zero.
He poured himself a fresh glass and tried frantically to think.

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