Harry Pot Washer

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium
A short story inspired by the prompt 'karma'

Submitted: March 25, 2019

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Submitted: March 25, 2019

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Harry dragged a comb through his overgrown, greasy hair, tying it back with a rubber band before splashing his face with cold water. He glared at his reflection in the mirror over the line of wash basins, his ravaged face barely recognisable. He sighed as he heaved his rucksack over his shoulder, then exited the public convenience to walk the short distance to the trendy Canalside Bistro where, for the past six weeks, he had found work as a temporary pot washer. To say he hated it was a huge under-statement... he absolutely loathed it, but it was a case of any work was better than no work and, he had to admit, it gave him a sense of purpose and a structure to his otherwise pointless existence.

 

Harry's life had gone into free-fall after Sarah had walked out on him. The shock, which had hit him like a sledge hammer, had left him dazed and desolate. She had adamantly denied the involvement of another man, declaring that her feelings for him had changed, that the spark had fizzled out.

 

Harry had searched his mind for clues to her sudden change of heart. Like the flick of a light bulb, he recalled the flattering new hairstyle, the weight loss, the make-up so carefully applied before leaving for work. Nausea had risen in his throat at the recollection of her recent excuses in bed... pressure of work, tiredness, migraines. How could he have been so stupid, so imperceptible. The classic signs had been there, he just had not read or interpreted them. He had loved her and foolishly trusted her and, despite her repeated denials, he strongly suspected she had left him for someone else.

 

Without Sarah in his life, he had quickly spiralled into into an all consuming black depression, seeking solace in the anaethestising effect of alcohol. In the space of eight short months, he had completely changed, had lost his identity, his zest for life, his job, self worth, personal pride and above all, the woman he had loved. To add insult to injury, because of mounting rent arrears, he ultimately found himself homeless and sleeping rough.

 

Ah, Harry pot-washer, am I glad to see you,” Abi teased, tucking an errant dark curl behind an ear. “It's bad timing, but the dish-washer's broke and Rana's phoned in sick, so you're going to have to pull out all the stops during the lunch time rush. I know I can rely on you, Harry. I gave you a chance and I'm so glad that I did.”

 

Her confidence in him, even though it was only for washing dishes, momentarily lifted his fragile ego... gave him a warm glow. “Trust me to forget my magic wand when I need it.

 

He noticed how her dark eyes shone with mischief and her smile lit up her face. “Now where did I leave my broomstick? Come on Harry, magic or not, we've got miracles to perform.”

 

At three thirty, after carefully stacking the mountain of washed crockery, Harry wiped the sweat from his face with his apron. He sighed with dismay when Abi bustled into the steamy kitchen, carrying another armful of dirty plates. “I take it someone checked out the fuse on the plug to the dish-washer?”

 

Actually, no, I called the insurance,” she replied.

 

Where are the spare fuses kept.”

 

The draw,” she said, pointing an index finger.

 

Harry delved inside the indicated draw filled to capacity with small maintenance gadgets, until he finally retrieved a pack of fuses lurking under a box of 'Cooks' matches. “Its always worth checking out the easiest option first,” he said, removing the plug from the socket under the counter.

 

Eureka,” he declared, pointing to the red light.

 

Abi's face creased into a wide smile of relief. “Harry pot-washer, you are a wizard.”

 

All of a sudden, the job he loathed didn't seem so bad after all, and for the first time in a long time, an involuntary grin spread across his features.

 

You look like a different person when you smile. Look Harry, I can see beyond your scruffy exterior... there is a decent man inside who must have fell on hard times. You have qualities I like and I believe you have potential. I have plans for this place, and I would like like to think you could be part of them.”

 

His blue eyes widened. “Really! Are you serious?”

 

Never more so, but you need to smarten yourself up, get your life back on track. Look, there's an empty bedsit upstairs which I could let you have at a reasonable rent, but only if you can assure me you won't let me down, because if you do, make no mistake about it, you'll be out on your ear again.”

 

He swallowed the lump in his throat, fought back the tears glistening in his eyes. “Abi, I can't thank you enough for believing in me, I won't let you down, I give you my promise.”

 

Okay, when we've finished clearing away from lunch, I'll show you the bedsit.” She paused... “Please don't take this the wrong way, but feel free to use the shower. I thought it must have been the goulash, but my nose is telling me its you.”

 

Will do,” he replied with a salute.

 

After loading the dish-washer, Harry washed the pots and pans in the sink, then wiped down the surfaces until they shone, ready to start again when the evening diners began to arrive. There was a lightness in his step, a renewed purpose to his life... Abi believed in him, was prepared to give him a chance and he would not let her down.

 

That night, as he settled into the small room, he realised his fortunes had changed. Compared to the cold doorway in which he had slept, the bedsit was warm and cosy. He stretched out on the bed with the back of his head resting in his entwined palms and smiled with satisfaction.

 

He reached over for the newspaper left on one of the tables, and began to leaf through it. With disbelief he saw a photograph of Sarah under the headline... Woman conned out of her lottery winnings by unscrupulous lover is left penniless...

 

Yes,” he said, punching the air.


© Copyright 2019 Sue Harris. All rights reserved.

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