All's well that ends well

Jill Worrall

It was a gloriously hot afternoon, one of those days that invites an after lunch swim.

That was the plan.

My new villa was chosen for days like this. Ranch-slider and front door open, slight breeze coming through and sun umbrella keeping the patio table cool. The garden trees dappled the lawn with shade and the tuis warbled from their branches. Bliss! Perhaps the move from my much-loved old rambling house with its sea-view and wrap around verandas was not such a bad idea. I still grieved for it a bit, but the combination of a stiffening back and a steep large section was not a good combination. I had decided I could fall, break a hip, or worse, drop dead and no one would find me for weeks thinking I had gone on another overseas jaunt without telling anyone.

I went to the bathroom, hauled on my togs and tried not to look in the mirror. Oh, I remember when this body looked so different. There was a day when a glance in the mirror made me feel good. Stones lighter, no sign of a bulge, no wrinkles anywhere, tanned and svelte. I checked on the tide. Full an hour ago. Actually, I thought, I didn't sleep too well last night and I am a bit weary. It's still really hot. I will just make myself a cuppa, have a bit of a lie-down and tackle the cross-word before I go to the beach. One of the virtues of living alone is that on hot days like this, you can walk around the house in just your togs and relax. I filled the kettle and after five minutes realised it had not boiled. No power!

I called over the fence to my neighbour. No response. She was probably having her Nana nap. I rang the office. No general power cut I was told. They would send the maintenance man. He was very busy, so they couldn't say when it would be. Oh well, time for the cross-word and a swim later. I must have dozed off and was woken by a loud banging on the door. I groggily stumbled to the door, which was open anyway, then remembered my state of undress. I grabbed the towel out of my swim bag and wrapped it around myself quickly. "Oh" said Jim, the maintenance man. "Really sorry to disturb you", averting his gaze. "Is this not a good time?" "I was going for a swim, but just waiting for you" I said. He went into the garage to the switch box. " Come and see this" he called. Still clutching the towel, I went in and he showed me that the middle orange switch had flicked itself up, probably because of overload and all I needed to do was push it down if it happened again. I explained there were no other appliances on, but thanked him and apologised for bringing him out for such a trivial matter.

I switched the kettle back on. It thankfully started to burble and back to the couch and the cross-word. Then all was silent. The power was off again. Off to the garage and sure enough, it was the dratted orange switch. Pushed it down and the kettle started off again. No sooner into the crossword again and off it went. Third time lucky I thought. Went through the process again only to have the same result. Rang the office again. They would send the maintenance man up again as soon as possible. Right, put a dress on immediately, seems like the swim is not going to happen.

Poor man. He pushed the switch down again, kettle bubbled. He smiled "There you are" he said "Right as rain". "Wait a minute" I said. Sure enough. Silence.

"Nothing for it" he said. " I'll have to call the outside electrician. He might not be able to come today of course" and off he went. If that is the case, I thought, " I will go for my swim. Back into the togs. Just leaving when the maintenance man called to say the electrician would be there in about an hour. No time for a swim, but after all this, perhaps a rest and a bit of crossword will fill in the time.

Then I heard it. A panting just outside my window. Heavy breathing. Realising my still state of undress, I rushed to the bedroom, threw the frock over the togs this time and went to investigate. There, under the silk tree in the shade lay two very large Rottweilers. One black, one brown, they had heavy chains around their necks. My lawn is not large. Probably the smallest in the village. A few good bounds and these creatures could be in my house. Then the worst happened. Possum the cat, who had been blissfully snoozing on the couch caught the scent. Dogs! She fluffed up, raced to the door and bravely decided it was her job to see these terrible intruders off. I screamed, she ran and they barked. My eighty-year old legs got energy they hadn't had for years. I manged to scoop her up, close the ranch slider and throw her in the bedroom, shutting the door.

In the meantime, the dogs, getting the scent of a cat, came rushing around the side of the house and in the open front door. I am a dog lover, but now realise that there are limitations to that affection. I stood in the hall petrified. These dogs looked brutish! They sniffed around the lounge - where is that cat? I crept into the kitchen and rang the office, "Jill here, again. Really sorry to bother you, again, but I have two very large Rotweillers in my lounge and they won't leave. Could you possibly send someone to help me evict them? As I speak they are settling down on the rug." There was quite a lengthy pause on the other end of the phone and I detected a sigh. I thought, they think I am an attention seeking old lady. This is my third call in half an hour. "We have never had a complaint of this kind before, but we will send someone".

The dogs then smelt the cat food on the floor in the kitchen. This is an open-plan villa. No doors to shut between me and the dogs. They brushed past me and the black one hoovered up the cat's food and the brown one drank the cat's water, sloshing it over the floor. Then like two guard dogs, reminiscent of the concrete lions some people set at their gates, they sat either side of the front door. I shooed - they gave me but a glance and settled down even further. At that Jim, the maintenance man made his third visit in half an hour. He had a colleague with him who, after sizing up the situation, decided to stay in the van. The dogs were still panting and now slobbering. Jim is a brave man. He called through the kitchen window "I think they are thirsty. Could you pass a bowl of water out this window"? He was right. They were thirsty. "We need to contain them" he said. "They are really softies. Can we entice them into the garage?" There were no juicy bones in my fridge but yes, the cat food. I threw a small handful out the door and then shaking the box called them into the garage, and threw another handful on the floor. They rushed past me and I shut them in. "Well", said Jim " I'll call the pound when I get back to the office." He later called to say the pound were busy and it could be an hour.

I need a cup of tea after all this, but hang on, there is no power. I was almost tempted by a gin, but too early in the day. I could hear the dogs banging about in the garage. What were they doing? Then they started whining and scratching at the door. This went on for about half an hour. Then at last a knock on the door. I opened it expecting it to be the pound man but no, it was the electrician. "My name is Jed. I believe you have a problem with your power supply". He said he needed to get to the switch box, and could I show him where it was. "Well, it is in the garage, but there are two Rottweilers in there and we can't let them out" I said. He looked amazed and said he didn't think we were allowed to keep large dogs in a retirement village. I explained the situation and he said "I'll come back later if you like". Well, I didn't like at all. By this time, it was late afternoon and I could see myself with no power for another day. He went out to his van and was just putting his tools in the back, when the pound van pulled up behind him. He could not escape.

The pound man, "Hi, I'm Syd. I believe you are having trouble with a couple of dogs." "Rottweilers actually. I have them shut in here" I said, pointing to the garage. He came into the kitchen an opened the garage door a chink. A strong smell of dog leaked out. "You are right" he said "They are big fellows. I need to get my heavy chain leads out of the van." He returned with a lady assistant. One held the door open just wide enough to grab one of the dogs and the other snapped it on this heavy chain lead. They shut the door and took dog number one to the van. They struggled to lift it into the cage in the back and I saw just how muscled these beasts were. The remaining dog, even more distressed at being left alone, barked and scratched at the door. The pounders returned and the process was repeated with dog number two. "I've scanned them and they have owners" the pound man shouted from the road. "They have come a bloody long way, these two, and this will cost the owners a bit. Didn't even know they were gone. We will be following this one up!".

Jed, the electrician, I'm sure was tempted to drive off once he could, but came back to finish the job. "Phew, stinks in here" he said as he went into the garage. There was a smell of dog pee. One had lifted its leg against my new car. He fiddled in the switch box. "Had anyone been here doing anything electrical?" he asked. Indeed, I had a water filter installed that morning. I thought filtered water would make my tea taste better. Jed dived under the sink. "The wires are crossed" he said. "Some people!." Well, the filter man was a plumber not an electrician, and it was a tricky job. Not much room under my sink. My kitchen is small and I had two men lying prone occupying most of the space in one day! He tested the switch in the garage, waited five minutes, and everything worked. "I'll send the bill" he said as he left.

I let the cat out of the bedroom, and sank onto the couch with a cup of tea. She curled up beside me. The water filter works, the power is on and the dogs have gone. I had more people in my house today than I would have in a month.

Wasn't that nice! I thought "all is well that ends well"!

Jill Worrall - Villa 153 Knightsbridge

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