Elements of Mischief
The sound of shattering glass echoed through the huge, empty kitchen as my wine slipped from my fingers and I choked over what I'd just heard. Clutching my phone to my ear, I took a breath before responding.
“It's going to cost me how much?” I needed to clarify because surely I'd just heard him wrong.
"Seventeen thousand, ma'am. And to be honest, that's a stretch. If we ran into any more unexpected problems along the way, that price would go up.” The man on the other end was so matter-of-fact about it. So uncaring that he was delivering such gut-wrenching news to me. “Look, I'm not going to fuck around on this. It's a seriously old house, and no one has touched that plumbing practically since the day it was installed. I just don't think I have the manpower to spare on a job like this right now.”
“But what am I supposed to do?” I hated the fact that my voice had just come out in a whimpering squeak, like a pathetic little girl. I was a tough bitch normally, but not having a toilet in the house was rough. For the last few days, I'd been walking three blocks to an antique store just to pee. “I can't live here without any plumbing, and I already gave up my apartment …”
Of course this guy didn't care about my problems. He didn't care that my grandmother had just died and left me her crumbling Victorian mansion, or that I had just spent nearly every cent to my name on her funeral. Truth was, I would have had to give up my apartment regardless, because I no longer had any way to pay my rent since I was fired from my job at the local coffee shop. They simply hadn't understood why I needed so much time off to care for my grandmother in her final weeks. It was kind of lucky, in that case, that Gram had left me this house or I really would have been out on the street.
“I'd usually tell you to sell it, but no one will buy it without working plumbing so you don't really have a choice here, ma'am.” The man was still speaking, oblivious to my descent into desperation, and I sucked in a shaking breath, swiping the dampness off my cheeks with the back of my hand.
“Can you recommend anyone else?” I asked politely, but my voice shook like a leaf in a blizzard. There wasn't anything quite so stressful as having toilets that didn't flush. “I'm not from around here so I don't know where else to find good plumbers.”
A long sigh came down the phone.
“Yeah, look, I'll put in a good word for you with my son and his friends. They're just starting out with their own business, so they've probably got the time free to take on a job like this. He might cut you a deal or a payment plan or something, but no guarantees. At least you'll know he learned from the best.”
“Oh, god that would be … fucking incredible!” Relief flooded over me. This plumbing needed fixing, but I was flat broke. The next door neighbor's tree roots had messed up all of the plumbing in Gram's mansion, meaning none of the taps, toilets or anything was working. It had been years since Gram had done any maintenance whatsoever, so who knew how bad the damage was?
“Don't thank me yet,” the man grunted, “these boys are known around these parts for having a bit of a wild streak. Personally, I wouldn't hire them—even with my son involved—but you're not exactly in a position to be picky so …”
“Uh, right.” Asshole, no need to rub it in. “So do you have a contact number for them?”
“No need. I'll let them know about the job and they can get in touch with you.” He sounded a bit reluctant, like he was already regretting his suggestion. Hopefully not because of how big this job was? Or maybe he was worried about those famed wild streaks?
But please. Plumbers? How crazy could they be? I imagined them all in their late forties with big bellies and butt cracks covered in wiry hair. No, thank you. How much action could they really be getting?
“Thank you so much, sir. I really appreciate it,” I gushed politely. Never hurt to have manners. More flies with honey and all that … Or wait, flies were actually more attracted to shit, huh? Which is what I was going to be ankle-deep in if I didn't get this plumbing fixed.
"Don't thank me yet,” he muttered, then disconnected our call.
Strange man. Fuck I need more wine.
I eyed the mess of glass and liquid on the tiled floor, then shrugged to myself and grabbed the bottle. No one else was here to judge me. Swigging straight from the bottle, I headed back into the living room to watch Pretty Little Liars, my guilty obsession.
Hey, it was better than the Maury Show, right?
But only by a little.