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Friday, 22 January 2016

What’s That No.6 Up To Now?


   Number 6 finally arrives back in London, and makes his way across the city to his home, No.1 Buckingham Place. He walks slowly up the street, looks at the door of his house, possibly wondering how he’s going to get in. He looks behind him, at the Ford Zodiac as it drives passed. He walks to the end of the street to the ‘T’ junction, and glances up and down the street before casually turning back down Buckingham Place. He mounts the steps of the house and knocks on the front door. Who does he think will be there to answer the door?
    There is someone there, a housemaid who announces that her mistress is not at home. She looks down her nose at the raggedy man stood on the door step, what’s more she is appalled by the effrontery of this raggedy man who asks who owns the house. And shuts the door in the man’s face when he asks if she minds if he waits.
    Eventually the mistress of the house does turn up, a one Mrs Butterworth, a widow, what’s more she’s driving his car! Again on the doorstep the raggedy man confronts the mistress of the house. He’s desperate to prove himself, and asks her the number of the car?. She looks the raggedy man up and down. He tells her KAR 120C. He tells her the number of the engine, 461034TZ, more than that, he knows every nut, bolt and cog, seeing as he built the car with his own hands, which means he bought the car from Lotus in kit form. And as it happens he’s just the man Mrs Butterworth wants to see, seeing as she’s been having a good deal of overheating in traffic. Perhaps he would care to advise her, and invites her into the house. Well I could advise her to remove the number plate from the front grill, as its restricting the air flow to cool the engine. She can buy some of those self-adhesive letters and numbers and stick the car’s number on the nose of the car, Simples.
   It must seem strange for Number 6 to be back in his old house once again. Perhaps he finds it a little unnerving, quite not being able to believe in his surroundings. After all he’s been fooled before. Mrs. Butterworth leaves her visitor to amuse himself in the study for a few moments. On first glance the room is just the same as it was when he was abducted from it, except there are a few subtle changes. The wedding photograph on the bureau, the photograph of Arthur on the mantelpiece. The military photograph of men on parade, by the telephone, along with changed pictures and paintings on the walls. Even the glass carboy has been replaced by a small white posy vase. However once the door to the study closes, Number 6 could be back in The Village. In fact he looks for reassurances, the writing bureau, out through the window he sees the view outside, it’s not that of The Village, but of a skyscraper. He picks up the receiver of the telephone and listens to the dialling tone.
   Mrs. Butterworth returns. He asks her the date, March the eighteenth. He tells her that the house used to be his, in better days, before he went away. She thinks he must miss it. Apparently the lease still had six months to run, but it’s been renewed, Mrs. Butterworth now has it for ten years fully furnished. After afternoon tea, Number 6 looks for further reassurances, not to prove anything to Mrs. Butterworth, but to himself. Behind the writing bureau there was an area of dry rot which was made good about twelve months ago. The bathroom door is sliding, it opens to the left. The sink is on the right as you go in, the hot and cold taps on the shower were put on the wrong way round. He also asks to see the lease of the house and the logbook of the car. The car’s logbook is a new one, hers is the first name on it, there’s no indication of the previous owner. But in this case the logbook is simply a deception! And the estate agents were Stumbell and Croydon, who were not the ones he had leased the house from. So with two forms of doubt to try and combat those in his favour. Perhaps because of these two mysteries they were enough to make Number 6 go one step further. Because much to Mrs. Butterworth’s apparent annoyance, he takes measurements of the rooms dimensions!
    “Are you going to be much longer?”
    “I’m just making sure.”
    “If I knew it was going to be like this, I’d never have let you in!”


Be seeing you

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