Florian Rose enjoys jotting down poems and stories in his spare time. He is a keen reader, and enjoys days by the sea.
Eddie and the Squeak
The wind kept blowing. Getting worse, stronger. It wasn’t a threat to anyone, in a real sense. It wouldn’t lift a house over the fields, or bring heavy boughs crashing on pedestrians and cars. But to Eddie, sittting in the sitting room of his one bed flat, it was a torment. Not so much the wind itself, but the squeak that kept sounding, coming from exactly where, Eddie couldn’t determine.
The squeak had woke him. At first it had sounded like a drip – a nagging drip of water in a covered space – perhaps the toilet cistern – hollow and sharp. And it would stop for some seconds, and Eddie thought he was free of it, could go back to sleep, hide in dream and non-dream, until the afternoon.
So he was forced up, way too early, considering he’d gone to bed at gone four a.m. He’d checked the cistern, and all the taps. He looked at the extractor fans in bathroom in kitchen. Each time the squeak came, or plopping sound-cum-squeak – it came from wherever Eddie wasn’t. And so he’d walk from bedroom to bathroom, and from there to the living room which opened out onto the small kitchen. Always the squeak eluded him. Now it came like a tapping on a wooden block, which reminded him of some long ago music lesson at primary school. Not musical, and irritating beyond measure.
Eddie made a cup of tea and some cornflakes, into which he sliced a banana. He fired up the laptop and checked Facebook and Twitter. He checked his emails – which had the message “Nothing to see here” where emails should and could be. Nobody wrote, nobody called. He spoke this aloud in his version of a Jewish grandmother. He retweeted a few harmless tweets – symbolic paintings, and something about a twelfth century greyhound saint, which the inquisition had dug up and burnt, only for it to still be unofficially sancitfied by the good folk of the area – still worshipped as a holy being that could heal sick children – up until the 1930s, apparently. What had happened then? Perhaps it was time to bring back the greyhound saint. Fastest saint on four legs.
Eddie was expecting the TV licencing people to knock on his door any day. They’d been sending letters over the last few months, each more threatening than the last. The letters were addressed to the occupier. That’s what I am, thought Eddie – an occupier. No, not that, I am the occupier.
Thinking about the dog saint and the TV licencing eejits took Eddie’s mind away from thinking about the squeak. Then he realised he’d not thought about the squeak, and as soon as he did that a big gust of wind blew and the squeak squeaked again. It came back with renewed force – more percussive, nearer, and yet the source remained untrackable. On the outside of the building perhaps – would he need to climb out there, in this gale, risking life and limb?
Eddie already had had to rip the door off one of the gas meters below his window. The tenant whose gas meter it was couldn’t seem to shut it properly (even though she was a teacher, so the letting agent said), and the door would creak loudly and bang in the wind, just below Eddie’s window. He’d got up and shut it, with his little yellow plastic key, even in the dead of night, on several occasions. One day, he thought, I’ve had just about enough of this carry on, and he ripped the door off its hinges (easily), and lay it on the ground at a funny angle, making it look like the wind had done it. Nobody had seen him, at least he hoped nobody had. The meter was exposed now – the gubbins of the thing – to the elements. Eddie didn’t care. Serve them right, he thought. But he wasn’t sure whether he meant the neighbour or the gas company. He settled on both – serve them both right for upsetting his nerves even more than they already were.
The telephone rang. There were three seconds of dense silence, followed by a voice, which Eddie quickly realised was recorded. It was an oven cleaning company – offering a list of number options to press: to be sent some bumf in the post, to speak direct with an oven agent, to log in to your account with a job number, or to have your contact details removed, and thereby not receive any more calls.
‘Damn you, bitches,’ Eddie shouted into the phone, and slammed it down. He picked it up again straightaway, and the voice was still speaking, going through testimonials of happy customers who couldn’t believe how beautiful their ovens now looked. So clean you could eat off it. Or at least out of it. The voice was talking away – about payment plans and special prices for AGAs, and Eddie began to cry. He only realised it when the tear dripped onto the hand that held the handset.
‘Please, please, please stop ringing me, I beg of you,’ he said to the recorded voice – which had now got stuck, and was repeating the same line over and over: “We’d like nothing better than to make your hob sparkle. Good as new!” Eddie forced out a smile, as if he was forgiving their trespass, and quietly placed the phone back in its cradle.
The wind was howling now, like something that howls, like the wind howling. And getting worse, and threatening the actual bricks that held him trapped and vaguely safe. And the light was declining. Eddie sang a line from a song – “…as the light declines – I remember Dublin City…” never been to Dublin, he broke off. Never will now. Everything’s too far off, far off as innocence.
But since the call – the oven people – the squeak – he listened, stopping his breath. The squeak had gone. Perhaps the call did it. How else? Or his single tear. Yes. Must be that. The squeak had been the voice of a tear trapped in his skull. And now it had been freed. And spoke no more.
Eddie logged back in to Twitter, and began retweeting beautiful paintings that he barely glanced at.
© 2019 Florian Rose