Squeaky’s squeaking was beginning to get on my nerves and the grinding and spitting noises coming from the wife were beginning to make me feel most uncomfortable.
Earlier, I’d endured an extended session at the pub, which meant I’d received an extended bollocking on my return, and I was trying to listen to the radio. They were discussing the amount that professional footballers get paid. Virtually every other word was being ‘bleeped over. Even without Squeaky’s and the wife’s distractions, it was difficult to follow the debate,
I tried to ignore the squeaking from outside.
I stared at the wife.
“What are you looking at?” she asked, then spat and continued to make grinding noises.
“Well, I was wondering if it’s ‘ee’ or ‘ea’ in Reaper?”
“What are you going on about?” she asked.
“Don’t worry”, I replied, “just carry on sharpening your axe.”
I tried to listen to the radio.
The missus started to snort, sniff and cough and then gobbed a mass of nasal and pulmonary matter onto her whetstone.
“For God’s sake, woman. Do you have to do that?”
“They reckon it makes the blade even sharper. Every millimetre of penetration counts. Don’t you want me to win?”
The Women’s Annual Axe Throwing Competition was taking place on Friday.
The menfolk of the town dread it and most stay behind closed doors.
For days before, the thud of metal striking wood can be heard throughout the area and the hospital is put on high alert as ambulance after ambulance bring cleaved men to have flesh wounds attended to.
I turned the radio up.
The grinding and squeaking got louder.
I went outside and shouted, ”Squeaky, how much longer are you going to be with that bloody squeegee?”
“Not much longer, eez. I should be done in another hour or two.”
I went back inside and sat down as Squeaky continued to squeak his way round the house.
Without looking at the wife, I asked, “how long has he been here?”
“Only about three hours.”
“How much does he charge?”
“He charges seventy pounds, but I normally give him eighty.”
“Yes. Bless him, he’s here a long time.”
“Of course he’s here a long time!“ I hollered. “The guy’s a bloody dwarf. He’s only three and a half feet tall, for God’s sake! He’s the only sodding window cleaner in the country that uses a ladder for the ground floor windows. He spends more time going up and down ladders than he does cleaning!”
“He always does a thorough job,” she offered.
There was a knock at the door. I opened it. There was nobody there.
“eez,” said Squeaky, “can you give me a hand, mate? The long ladder’s a bit heavy for me.”
I looked down. “Piss off,” I said, and closed the door.
“You horrible, horrible beast! Go and help the poor man!”
“Poor man? Poor?” I cried looking at her. “He gets paid eighty pounds for cleaning seven fucking windows! How can he be poor?”
The wife kicked me out and I went to help Squeaky with his ladder. The light was starting to fade.
I took one end of the ladder and Squeaky took the other.
“Lift your end up a bit Squeaky…oh, sorry. Just keep your arms above your head.”
Squeaky walked into a flowerbed, “Watch where you’re going. The missus will kill me.”
“Sorry, eez. Can’t really see where I’m going.”
It wasn’t that dark, yet.
“I suffer from night blindness.”
“Night blindness? Why don’t you do this during the bloody day, then?” I enquired.
“Can’t. I’m allergic to sunlight,” he answered, before stumbling and putting his end of the ladder through the wife’s greenhouse.
Two hours later, I went back indoors, drenched in soapy water and sporting a large bruise on the side of my head where Squeaky had dropped the bucket on me.
I poured myself a large brandy.
Squeaky walked in. “Are you going to pay me now? Or do you want to pay next week?”
I looked at him, “next week?”
“I come every week. I don’t mind you owing for a week if you’re a bit hard up.”
I couldn’t think of anything to say and gave him eighty pounds.
The wife coughed. I looked at her. She kept raising her eyebrows and tilting her head to one side.
Surely, I thought, she was joking. I looked at her again. She wasn’t joking.
“Squeaky, “ I said, “why don’t you have a drink? In fact, take the bottle home with you. And when you’re here again next week, I’ll make sure my daughter is also here. You can take her to the bedroom while I clean the windows. How does that sound, mate?”
“I don’t know, eez,” he answered, looking at my missus, “who does the daughter get her looks from?”
I took the bottle of brandy off him, opened the door for the wife and thought how I'd spend next week's eighty quid.
Well done, Squeaky, I thought, as he sailed through the air.