Heavy Handling

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

The havoc caused by strangers in others' lives.

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HEAVY HANDLING

The long road that led from the motorway to the coastal resort was lined by high-rise blocks of apartments. The front of the buildings had gardens full of palm trees, that curved upwards into the bright blue sky. On the reverse side, out of sight of any car drivers, all the buildings had Olympic swimming-pools, tennis and paddle courts, and small pools for children and those for whom swimming was not a priority in their lives. All of the buildings were for the elite who were able to afford them,, without wondering where the money to pay for the upkeep would come from. There were twenty floors in each building accommodating two apartments. The entrances to these temples dedicated to luxury and the laid-back, were watched over by uniformed  ex-guardians of law and order, all armed and ready to use their weapons if need be. 

On the morning in question the easy going atmosphere of peace and tranquillity was shattered by the strident sound of shattering glass on the pavement outside the building aptly called The High Waves. The building wasn’t an hotel, but just a block of apartments. The force that had directed the glass of a very large window pane onto the pavement and away from the gardens appeared unnatural. The body of a man also fell to the pavement with the window pane. The guard, Lewis, who was in charge of the overall management of the building, rushed out into the street and saw shattered glass everywhere, and a male body smothered in blood lying amongst the splinters of glass which had also embedded themselves in his body. Lewis raised his eyes upwards to find out where the man and the pane had come from, and saw the gaping window frame and the face of a woman looking downwards, who, when she observed that she had been seen, turned away.

Lewis rang the police and an ambulance. He touched nothing. The two groups arrived at more or less the same time. The first one to examine the broken body on the pavement, was the police doctor, who ascertained no foul play. A police detective and Lewis went inside the building and up to the apartment from where Lewis had seen the girl peering out of the window frame. Lily, the girl who worked in the apartment, said to the two men, “I told him not to be so heavy handed with the glass, and wait for help to arrive for him. He didn’t take any notice, and now, what a nice mess he’s made. Is he dead?”

“As dead as he’ll ever be. What was wrong with the window?”

“The owner wanted a window with a mirror effect on the exterior that didn’t let anyone see in.”

The detective and Lewis looked down on the street below them, “I hardly think anyone from below would be able to see into this apartment right up here,” the detective said.

“May I clean up the glass in the street? It isn’t a nice sight,” Lewis asked.

”Yes, of course you can,” the detective replied, “The owner must be a bit of a weirdo to change a window pane up here with only one man to do it. Who was cutting costs, I wonder. That girl, Lily, is a bit odd, too.”

Lewis shrugged his shoulders as if to say, Who knows, and who cares? A job’s a job.

 

Adah and her husband Jet, were always at odds because whatever he touched he broke with his heavy handedness. As a baby and a toddler he had thrown all his toys out of his pram, and when he was no longer small enough to need pushing, broke everything in sight. His mother put him into nursery school when he was two years old, in order to be able to go shopping without having to hear crashes from bottles he had thrown onto the floor in a supermarket. He mastered the art of unlocking the front door before he was three. He also broke the television and the DVD player. His parent’s house bore witness to what he was capable of breaking. When the last of the wedding presents of crockery had gone, his father went out and bought plastic camping cups and plates.

 

As time went by, Jet got a reputation with his peers. Some of them smiled at his heavy handling of fragile things. At one girl’s house he broke her mother’s sewing machine, reckoning he knew how to use it. He had, of course, never used one in his life, but instead, had seen his grandmother using hers. His father and mother kept everything that was of value locked up and out of his way, waiting for the day he would either leave home or get married. Anyone who knew him made sure that his offers to help went unheard. Another problem was that he was good-hearted and kind, even when confronted about some damage he had caused, he showed such remorse that it made it difficult to stay angry with him for long.

 

One day, when he was nearing thirty,, and his mother and father were despairing of him ever finding a woman, he met Adah. He had never mentioned he was going out with anyone, until he got home one evening after being with her, and announced to his parents that he was engaged to be married. They were so overjoyed they didn’t spare any expense on the event. Jet wasn’t allowed anywhere near the wedding cake, for fear he’d ruin it. As it was, Adah had to force him to cut it with her. It was then clearly visible to all those present that Adah was a nag. She spent the whole wedding reception time, telling him what to do and when to do it. His parents, who had never been able to conquer their own son, were totally amazed. Perhaps Adah would produce the miracle of Jet being less heavy handed.

 

Jet and Adah moved into The High Waves building when it was new, and the first thing Jet did was to put his fist through the wall when explaining something to Adah. She looked askance at her new husband, and then said, “I was under the impression when we purchased this apartment that it was made of the very best materials, and here you are with your fist stuck in the wall. They’ll be receiving a very strong letter of complaint from me. Don’t worry, Darling, it isn’t your fault, the wall has been made of cheap material.”

Jet had never mentioned to Adah anything about his innate heavy handedness, his parents had become amnesiacs when anything about Jet as a baby came up in a conversation. When Adah asked about their not having many photos of Jet as a small child, they maintained a united silence about their son having broken their one and only camera.

 

One day when alone in the apartment, Jet went into the bathroom for a shower. He saw that the shelf where all Adah’s things like her hair-dryer, electric rollers, were kept, was loose. He made an effort to repair it, but only made it worse. He then rang Lewis, who didn’t happen to be available, so he left it to inform Adah later that evening. Jet went off to meet up with some friends at a pub with a television switched on, showing a good football match. In the meantime, Adah arrived home, longing for a long hot bath. The bath was run and she gently slid down under the foamy water resting her head on a folded towel.

 

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The water began to cool, and Adah shampooed her hair, then she got up to get out, and took the hair-dryer and switched it on, but, at the same time the shelf broke, and she fell into the water with the hair-dryer in her hand, along with the rest of the other electrical goods. The dryer was, unfortunately, already switched on, and the resulting electric shock killed Adah.

 

Two hours later, Jet got home to find everything in disarray in the marital bedroom. He went into the bathroom, and saw Adah hanging out of the bath with her face all distorted. Her body had suffered so much when the dryer had hit the water. Jet rang the police and an ambulance. He then rang Lewis to tell him about the sad occurrence.

Jet went downstairs and waited for the police.

When the police had finished asking him the most obvious and pertinent questions, Jet asked, “How did it happen? She always said I was heavy handed, but what about her?”

One of the policemen said, “Your wife grabbed at the hairdryer, and it was already plugged in and then fell into the bath. The shelf was hanging on by a small screw.”

 

Later that day, Lewis and the police were chatting about the two accidents that had occurred at The High Waves. When asked about the window pane, Lewis responded, “The new window pane is fine, another company came and put the new one in, two days later. It took me and some professional cleaners more than two days to clear up the mess on the pavement.

“What happened to the body?” Lewis asked.

“There was a large insurance coverage for those who worked in the window company, so his widow and children should be fine. His funeral was held in the village where he was from.”

“Thank you, Officer,” Lewis said.

The two men watched, as Adah’s remains were carried out on a covered stretcher to an ambulance, to be transported to the mortuary in the large hospital along the coast away from the resort.

 

Months later after Adah’s demise, Jet and Lily’s boss, Cherry, went on a cruise to avoid unwanted gossip. They had been enjoying an on-going affair for some months before Adah had left this world. The ship was paradise and they enjoyed every moment, until Jet was invited up to see the captain on the bridge, who liked the passengers to get some idea of how the ship worked. Jet loved it up there, seeing the sea from above. He also loved trying his heavy hands on buttons and levers. It is not necessary to say, the ship lost its communicating radio and therefore, thanks to Jet, the cruise ship limped back to port. The captain and crew were totally ignorant of Jet’s heavy handedness. The cruise company had to compensate the passengers for the loss of their holidays. Jet and Cherry decided cruising wasn’t for them, and made plans for a different type of holiday instead.

 

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The summer had come and gone, and the wind that blew in from the sea was getting chillier by the day. The waves were crisper and stronger, but the tenants of The High Waves were still in residence. Leaves were falling from the trees, only the palms were still there with their hair-like leaves swaying in the breeze. There wasn’t much doing in the resort, and the gardens that surrounded the high-rise buildings were in the main unvisited. The water in the swimming-pool was still blue, but very few were brave enough to dive in and have a good hard exhilarating swim to the end of the pool. Those who still ventured forth from their apartments to do so, were men - the ladies didn’t fancy catching cold.

A notice was pinned up on a notice board in the entrance, announcing a skinny-dip in the sea, at dawn at the end of September. Jet said he fancied going, but Cherry said she had no such ideas in her head, and that if he wanted to do it, then it was all right by her. Jet put his name down on the entry form. Lewis said he’d go too. So now there were two names.

In a few days, more names were added to the list: Robin, Donald, Harry and four women, Irene, Janice, Anne, Dora. Others were added as time went by, until a healthy number was reached that could occupy every seat on a coach.

 

All those who had signed on, climbed aboard the coach on the appointed Saturday at the end of September. The sky was dark and unclear just before dawn, and at dead on four o’clock just as the sun was beginning its journey towards a new day, the coach load of skinny-dippers, shivering in the sea breeze, ran down into the water.  The majority screamed, “It’s freezing cold.” “This’ll be the death of me.” But their personal pride didn’t permit any of them to flunk it, and they swam around in the freezing sea, trying to keep as warm as they could.

After half an hour, when they were allowed out, there was a mad rush for towels, and another rush for the small hotel where they would find burning hot showers, and a large hot breakfast. They were all completely exhausted, and the organizers had planned a ride in the coach through the countryside, away from where they had bared their all for charity. The skinny-dippers with everything warm and dry, including bathing suits, towels, and themselves full of warm food, were once again back on the coach. It was cosy and comfortable inside, out of the cold wind and soon they were all deeply asleep.

The coach stopped outside The High Waves, and saw a police car parked outside the entrance. As the passengers alighted from the coach, the police were asking their names. Eventually they got to Donald. One of them approached him, “Excuse me, Sir, and is your wife Minnie Carter?”

Donald, who was still a little drowsy from his sleep on the coach, said, “Yes, she is. Why do you want to know?”

“Your wife’s been in a car accident. I’m afraid she’s had to be hospitalized.”

“Is she alive?”

“Yes, but her car is a write off. Only fit for the car cemetery, according to our man who looks into this kind of accident. The back wheels had been swapped over by some heavy handed individual. Did you fix the wheels on your wife’s car?”

“No, I didn’t, and I can’t imagine who did. So something or someone must have convinced her.”

Jet went over to Donald, and asked, “How’re you doing?”

Donald said, “My wife’s in hospital, due to some heavy handed individual who didn’t screw the back wheels of her car on properly. Now she’s laid up in hospital. I’m off to see her now. See you later.”

“I sincerely hope she’s not too bad.”

“See you tomorrow for the darts contest. OK?”

“Yes, sure.” and Jet went up to his apartment, where he found Cherry sitting on the sofa in her nightwear having a drink.

“How did the skinny-dipping go?” she asked.

“It was lovely, very bracing. What film shall we see tonight?”

“A romantic one, if that’s all right with you.”

Jet liked Cherry because she never probed. He didn’t really believe Minnie’s accident was his fault. Things happen, but he wasn’t the only heavy handed man in the building. It might just as well have been Donald himself, who had refitted the wheels badly. Jet sat down beside Cherry, and poured himself a drink. He kissed Cherry on the cheek in gratitude for being as nice as she was, as he sat down beside her. Jet and Cherry were soon involved with the film, and he put his heavy handedness out of his mind.

 

Meanwhile, Donald was in the hospital staring down at his wife, or what he could see of her. She was all covered up with bandages and had two black eyes.

“How are you?” Donald asked.

No answer came forth from the bandages.

The nurse who had accompanied him, said, “Your wife is suffering from shock. She’ll probably be feeling more cheerful tomorrow.”

Donald was at a loss as to what he should say, “Well, see you tomorrow, then. I’m glad you’re not dead. The skinny dipping was fantastic, and tomorrow night is the darts contest. Look after yourself.”

There was no sign from the bandages whether Minnie had heard him.

 

The High Waves was inhabited mostly by couples. Lewis looked after them like a mother hen with her chicks. When Minnie was restored to a reasonably healthy condition and returned home, she was too scared to drive, so Donald was housekeeper and chauffeur to her. Minnie had never mentioned about Jet’s having messed up with screwing on her back wheels. She felt she would have been laughed at, for letting the heavy handed man of the building do anything so complicated. She had no proof that he had done so, and anyway Cherry would have rushed to Jet’s defence.

 

Autumn was beginning to make its presence felt. The rain fell heavier and the breezes from the sea became strong winds. Those who worked away from home, disappeared in their nice big cars every morning, and only returned when the sky was quite dark. The women who went out to work and those who didn’t, usually met up in the beauty parlour. The beauty parlour was a hive of gossip. What Leopold, the owner of the establishment, didn’t know about his clients’ lives, wasn’t worth knowing. They all treated him as a confidant and a source of wisdom.

Maria worked there as a hairdresser, and also lived in one of the apartments in The High Waves. One evening, after a long hard day on her feet, she was relaxing on the marital bed, with her feet up on a pillow, and speaking to her husband George. “How are we going to celebrate autumn?”

“If you mean Hallowe’en, then forget it. I can’t abide plastic pumpkins and children wearing witch and wizard fancy-dress costumes, and then they go from house to house, begging for ‘trick or treat’, accompanied by their parents. I’m glad we are childless.”

“I wasn’t thinking about Hallowe’en, but more in line with Guy Fawkes.”

“Now you’re talking.”

George and Maria began asking around the apartments, if anyone was keen on celebrating Guy Fawkes. The answers were varied, and they both wrote down the different ideas that were suggested to them. When they approached Lewis, he was all for it, as it meant a fun evening at a miserable time of the year. Anyone who has ever celebrated or been to a Guy Fawkes evening, never forgets the smells of the bonfire, and the sausages and hamburgers being barbecued. Generally it is a memory that lasts in the minds of those who have experienced the festivities as children for a lifetime.

“The way I see it is, where are we going to build the bonfire?” Lewis declared.

“We need a large open space, so that all that attend can get food and drink without difficulty,” George said, already thinking hard enough for half a dozen people.

“We’ll also need to make enough money with the guy, to get the biggest and best bonfire in the resort area. We have to find a good fireworks manufacturer, who will sell us a nice big box, in order to make the other buildings jealous for not having thought of the idea,” Maria added.

“Well that’s settled. Tomorrow we’ll go and get the general level of interest in having a Guy Fawkes celebration.”

 

Maria went to work with one single idea in her head, and that was to inspire her boss, Leopold, and workers and clients, to get keen on a Guy Fawkes evening.

“Good morning, Boss. What d’you think of a Guy Fawkes celebration?” Maria asked Leopold.

Leopold looked up from where he was busy creating a work of art on an elderly woman’s head. “Sounds fine to me. Where is it going to be held?”

“Somewhere in the gardens or grounds of The High Winds. I’ll give out some brochures later. If anyone has ideas for the guy’s clothes, please let Lewis know. He’s in charge of the basic things. OK?”

For the rest of the day Maria got on everyone’s nerves with her pushing the Guy Fawkes do. Everyone was interested, and waited for the guy to appear and give him money. George found a fireworks manufacturer on the internet, and ordered the largest box made. The contents would have dazzled anyone’s eyes, because the box was for displaying at large venues in cities, and publicly owned parks, river banks, bridges and anywhere where there were huge numbers of people, and the fireworks set up high above the ground, so as to make the show visible for a very long way. Lewis and some of the ladies got together, and ordered enough sausages and hamburgers for an army. It had been agreed that the best place would be on the lawns down the side of the building, not too near the street or the swimming-pool. Cherry, Lily, and Donald’s wife Minnie, who was still recuperating from the car accident, used their husband’s old clothes for the guy.  His hair was a wig that was no longer in fashion, from Leopold’s.

 

On the big day, the guy was traipsed around the resort and all those interested were invited to donate some money. Quite a lot was collected, which more than paid for the fireworks, food, and drink.

The evening started off well. Everyone was eating the sausages, hamburgers, burning currants and brandy snaps, and getting drunk. Then the big moment came when the president of the neighbours association lit the bonfire, and they all danced around the bonfire and the guy.

Then there came a sound like a great puff of air, when some Roman candles began shooting out of the guy’s eyes, mouth, hands, and feet. The fireworks were quickly followed by a gigantic explosion of colour, as the bonfire itself burst into giant flames. The night air was no longer clear, but full of falling leaves, wigs, old furniture, anything in fact, that had made up the bonfire. The High Winds had more broken windows than whole ones. The swimming-pool also had its fair share of rubbish, ruining its normal pristine appearance. People were running around with no clear sense of direction. The sausages and hamburgers were burnt to a frazzle. Nobody, who was present, went home without showing signs of burns on their clothes.

The firemen arrived and made an already disgusting mess into an even worse one, with high powered hoses raining down on bonfire, guy, and everyone who had been suffering before, began suffering from the effect of the cold water spray.

 

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George and Maria went up to their apartment, that had some of its windows broken. They each had a shower, and ate a light snack, got into bed, and watched a musical.

 

The question everyone was asking for some time afterwards was, “Who on earth put fireworks inside the guy, and then inside the bonfire?

 

Both Lewis and Jet knew they were innocent, and slept easily - for once. 


Submitted: June 14, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Georgina V Solly. All rights reserved.

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