A POUND IN THE POCKET
By Raine Carosin
Mrs Benjamin had always kept a close watch on her finances since she discovered that her Grandmother had been so, so right about "A pound in the pocket is a girl's best friend".
Many a time had come when Mrs Benjamin had had to go into her secret cache and bail herself out of some costly occurrence. This was one of those times and Mrs Benjamin sent her heartfelt thanks to those words of wisdom and their Founders.
The day had started abruptly, with the neighbour telling her the plumber was waiting to be let in. Mrs Benjamin's first thought was that of her husband. Had he called a plumber and forgotten to tell her? She went to the front door after hurriedly throwing on some day clothes and found the neighbour and the so called plumber. She had seen his van out in the street before and had even spoken to him at one time about her geyser.
Having just woken up after only three hours of sleep, Mrs Benjamin was a bit fuzzy in the brain and thought that she would call her husband to confirm the plumber's visit, but only after a cup of coffee! It was coffee she needed now, not a plumber, she thought and, thanking the neighbour for alerting her, she let the plumber in.
The plumber and his assistant had told her they were here about the geyser, so she had shown them into the kitchen where the huge cylinder hung steadfastly against the wall. She had often wondered if she would be found one day crushed by it… It made her smile to picture only her arms, in mock welcome, visible to the horrified onlookers…
The plumber was erecting his ladder in the kitchen when Mrs Benjamin thankfully took her steaming cup of java to the lounge. Perched on the couch, she lit her first cigarette of the day.
I must 'phone my husband, she thought to herself. What possessed him to forget to tell me, if indeed he did call the plumber…
Her mobile rang again and she rushed to where she'd left it at the front door. It was the "music lady". Mrs Benjamin, now passing her middle age, had decided to take up music lessons and had ordered two sheets of music - Moonlight Sonata, Beethoven and Memories, Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was two of her favourite pieces and she desperately wanted to play it on the old piano she had inherited from her Mother.
The music lady was satisfied that Mrs Benjamin would deposit the money into the bank account and would send a facsimile to confirm that they could post the sheets of music to her.
The plumber was standing in the lounge doorway looking apologetic for his intrusion into Mrs Benjamin's home. Mrs Benjamin looked startled.
"We've put in a new valve for you," said the plumber.
At first Mrs Benjamin didn't know what to say. The geyser had been leaking through the overflow for almost two years now, so it was a relief to hear it had been fixed, but she hadn't yet confirmed with her husband that he had indeed called for a plumber in the first place. It was a problem that she would face later, she decided. Right now, all she had to do was to pay the plumber for his services and the first of her problems would disappear.
Once the door was closed and Mrs Benjamin could take a breath, she called her husband. She had great respect for him and just enough fear to know that, if her husband hadn't called the plumber, she might be in trouble! Her husband had stressed that under no circumstances was she to let any one in without his consent. She decided not to tell him that the plumber had done the job she had been waiting so long for and hung up the 'phone carefully.
It was as she had feared. She called her husband after she had let the plumber and his assistant out the front door.
"Honey," she said over the 'phone: "there's a plumber at our door..."
"Don't under any circumstances let him in!" boomed her spouses voice over the line. "I didn't call any one to do anything at the house! You know how these people can be. They go to the wrong house, or they go looking for mischief!"
Meekly, Mrs Benjamin told her husband that she would send him away, knowing full well that all the implications would become all too clear in the not too distant future and the plumber and his assistant had already become as distant as that future.
She had spent R350 of her secret cache; the geyser was fixed, or so she hoped!; her husband was totally unaware of all this; and Mrs Benjamin thought that another cup of coffee would do her just fine!
The whole day lurked ahead like a dark tunnel and she would need all her faculties to get to the other side!
She hated to lie to her husband. She would tell herself that these were just little white lies and that she would be forgiven. The whole episode had taken her so by surprise! She hadn't expected the plumber to do anything, let alone go ahead without any one's permission. My, my, she hadn't even had her first cup of coffee yet... Besides, the neighbour was aware that there was a stranger in her house, and the van must've been seen by others…
Her thoughts raced back and forth over the same ground. Then, after a while, she had a strategy. As she was about to go over to the neighbour, there was a knock on the door. Looking through the keyhole, Mrs Benjamin was amazed to see the plumber - again! Thankful that there was a security gate between them, Mrs Benjamin enquired as to the nature of his call.
"Sorry to trouble you," said the plumber, "but I've brought your money back. You see, it was my mistake. I was supposed to go to Surrey Road!" He smiled sheepishly and pushed the money through the gate.
Mrs Benjamin was so taken by surprise, she tottered a little on her feet. Resolved to right all the wrongs she had been accusing herself of for the last few minutes, she thanked the plumber with a broad smile. And - No, he had said, he didn't want to take out the new part he'd fitted. He would just leave everything as it was and wouldn't bother her anymore.
"Well, the geyser's fixed and Hubby doesn't even have to know," she said aloud to herself as she settled down to another cup of coffee and a cigarette after seeing the plumber out the gate. The Universe has certainly seen to the geyser overflow… she thought to herself, feeling pleased to have been part of such a unique plan.
The dark tunnel suddenly ended and Mrs Benjamin vowed not to let any stranger into their home again, no matter how tired she was. A pound in the pocket was definitely a girl's best friend!
Once the bath was run for Mr Benjamin, Mrs Benjamin, who had put on some eighties music in the lounge, was standing in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil, when she suddenly became aware that the sound of the geyser was different… Immensely different… and the long, dark tunnel appeared before her…
A POUND IN THE POCKET