General Fiction posted December 17, 2019

This work has reached the exceptional level
Anne does something accidently

Water Chapter 12; Ben

by Mabaker

Whilst I was fussing over the plants and the lamp, Raymond and Mrs.Backer disappeared again. Tapping my foot I found it hard to contain myself, what was taking so long. A few minutes later they came back carrying Polystyrene boxes and under the elderly lady's tutelage, everything was packed so nothing would break.

Once on the road the cab was filled with 'Sorry' and 'You were saying?' Finally, I gave up and listened to Raymond rave about the appliance he called a 'jenny.'
'Anne, do you realise what I bought for a song?'
'As long as you didn't take advantage of her, I don't mind what a bargain it was.'
Noticing the lip beginning to droop, I claim my version of the fifth amendment, sleep deprivation, as my excuse for my next outburst.

'Oh, stop acting hard done by Raymond 'We both did very well with bargains, leave it at that, or I'll slap you.'
I must have said the right thing because the remainder of the journey was, not sullen silent, but peaceful Sunday driving.

Arriving home I helped take my plants and groceries in first, then I laid some paper in the stove I heaped kindling wood and pieces of dead tree and lit the stove. Filling the kettle I pulled it into the centre.
Sorting the boxes of groceries, I began stacking the food cupboard while Mitten walked through the packets and boxes, his acute feline sense of smell telling him all he needed to know . Then he fought a heroic battle with an imaginary foe in a grocery bag.

Suddenly I could hear my name called. I hurried outside to see him dancing in the yard. He pointed upwards, and I looked to where his hand was and saw a light bulb shining. Yea! electricity. I ran over and hugged him, whispered 'Clever you.'
His grin was stretched about a yard across his face.

I stood in front of the machine. ' Thought generators were noisy? I said puzzled, this one is making no sound.'
'Apparently, her husband bought this brand for that very reason. Raymond replied, "it will run on a tank of petrol for seven hours. Of course, it depends on how many appliances you have running. Make your choice which rooms you want to light. There are six globes.
I will admit to a touch of nostalgia at dinnertime, as we ate our meal by 60 watt light, instead of candle power.

Each morning we applied the concealer which worked fine. It proved itself a champion for on the fourth day, Cliff drove up unannounced. Dogs bodies draped all overt he tray. Stepping out his eyes raked every surface,

'Howdy, folks. How are things. Anything new happened.'
Raymond told him all the gossip and our trip to Bundy and showed him the jenny. The older man was impressed.
'That was one good investment.'
Arriving at my copper and troughs he remarked he would help build a shed for them, no use paying good money for items and allowing the weather to ruin it.

I voiced an invitation to coffee, and we all trooped in to the kitchen. Cliff took note of every new item. Hearing him suck in air as he ogled my lamp.
'Oh, Anne how lovely, I haven't seen one as pretty as that, where did you get it.'

What made me lie I don't know, but I said, "Oh from a garage sale, its a copy, from China sadly, but I agree, it is cute.'
'Are you sure that is a replica? I'd be inclined to believe it to be genuine.'

I brushed him off by jabbering nonsense as I prepared coffee. Walking over to the stove he again praised Raymond for such a clever idea. And they reckon women stick together.

Mitten wandered out and Cliff eyed him off in utter disbelief.
'God what in heavens name girl are you feeding him.'
I tried a coy smile and murmured about,' special food from the Vet. ' I feel that was the end for Cliff, for a short while later he bade us farewell and left.

Looking at the sky I remarked, 'Will you dig some soil for me? I have seeds of silverbeet and tomatoes I would like to plant them before it rains which will do wonders.'
As is his habit, Raymond found his spade and dug where I indicated. Mitten and I went out and planted the seeds.

As if I had flipped a switch, around three, the rain started and continued all night. It was as we lay in bed listening to the gentle pounding, I remembered the young mum with the toddler, I told him what had occurred.
'Did you say anything to upset her?'
'I spoke no more than ten words all up. No, I got the impression she doesn't like company.'

We woke to a damp drizzly morning, that deteriorated into a soaking day with a noisy thunderstorm. An hour before lunch, it began raining in earnest and before teatime and nearly dark, I looked and the copper was full of rainwater.

Ten days later to my surprise I met the mother and toddler and again the scene replayed exactly. Again, I gave the boy a drink. Surprisingly he did very well. Once his mouth was around the top he took big swallows without misshape.
Also his mum didn't seem quite as frayed around the edges and gave a tentative smile. However, on the third trip, I got the first real surprise.

Both of us were working in the yard and saw a vehicle slowed at our gate, and a letter pushed into the mailbox. Upon retrieval, it was an invitation from the McGibbon bros. It appeared they had some items we could be interested in.

At ten in the morning, we drove into town and straight to their shop, which was closed.
We strolled to the back and found them both men in the shed. Mal fixing an electrical item, his brother reading the racing page of the local paper. The scene was the same as last time, multiple handshaking and loud booming voices.

Until Mal stepped towards Raymond,
'Look, Raymond picked 'em up at a sale Tuesday. Course they aint new, but ...'
In front of Raymond were two items. One a stove and the other a refrigerator.
'Ok folks, what is the verdict, any good for you? And as they are old, with the fridge being kero, do the lot fer, oh, what fifty dollars fer the pair.'

'Yeah, they'd both be great but can I still buy power kero for the fridge. Plus, the wick, how much is in there.'
'Already checked all them worries out, Raymond. This here box 'o stuff came with 'em. Enough wick to last a lifetime, same with kero and glass.'

And, that's how come we owned a refrigerator and a proper cooker. It would still require wood to operate anything but this one had a bonus, it had an oven. While the men were talking I told Raymond I'd get a few items at the supermarket.,

To my surprise, the woman and the little boy were already there. It was in the fruit and vegetable aisle and this time there was no mistake she wished to talk.
'You don't live in town, do you? Oops. Sorry, my name is Pat and this is Ben.'
'Hi, Pat, and no we are a few miles out on a property. I'm Anne and my better half is Raymond. You live in town?'
'Yes, we rent a house a couple of streets up. Though it is convenient it also poses a problem getting the lad ready, each time. I would rather put him to bed and have a snooze myself. But...'

I didn't ask her anything but fished out the small bottle of water for the little boy to drink. I was surprised to find he drained the bottle, with no drips.
'I smiled at him saying 'Clever boy Ben.' And without a word of a lie, I reckon a gurgle come up from somewhere.

'Anne, what is your favourite thing? I read when I can get a free moment. What's your farm like, do you have animals, any horses?'

The girl was almost raving, one thought racing after the one in front. I tried to keep up, but it was tough going. At that point she slowed right down, a small smile, one soft 'Goodbye' and pushing the stroller with a bit more intent away she went. I called 'Bye' to her retreating back as I watched her leave, however, I don't think she was listening.

A small blat of the horn brought me back to reality. Raymond hopped out of the truck and began loading my bags,
'Ready?' He looked at me until I nodded and slid into the passenger seat.
'Okay, what's up. Is it the stove?'
'Stove, what stove. What ...Oh, that. no... no its nothing to do with that, its ...' I never finished the thought. I pulled myself together; 'Raymond, good Lord, I've made a total mess of everything ...'
I turned to face him whispering, 'Upon my soul, how much have I bungled.'

My face must have shown my dismay. Raymond pulled over to the edge and switched the motor off. 'Okay, what has you in a knot?'
'I've let the little boy drink the water.'
'You mean the damaged child? What, whoa, you mean from the well?'
I nodded, whispering, 'Each day I've met the lass and her toddler I've given him a drink from the bottle. Oh, my Aunt Nelly, the worst scenario is yet to come. Raymond, I'm afraid he beginning to function. I heard a sound today when he drank the water. I could say it was just bodily noises, But I'm not convinced.'
'Anne, if as you suspect the water is correcting the little boy's disability, would that be a problem?'
'Not so much a problem, but what's it going to do to her. Her child, damaged since birth, suddenly he what? Talks, understand when he is spoken to, just the usual for a toddler his age?'

'Righto here's another out; go to her house take a plant or better yet a piece of your crochet as a gift and see if there are any changes. That way you will see them as soon as she does, how's that.'

He paused slapping a palm to his forehead, "Forgot, the lads will bring the stove and fridge out in the morning.'

Though the weather remained free of rain a nasty wind blew continuing into the next day. The truck arrived, and three hours of adjustment later the two wood burners were finally relocated.
A slab was fitted for the larger one in the kitchen. While the smaller had a slab but required a hole to be cut in the ceiling for its flue.

The icebox though old was clean and once it was filled with kero and the wick trimmed it did what was expected of it.

A few days after the rain I hurried to Raymond all excited, 'The plants are coming up.'
And so they were. Little pieces of green started sprouting where I planted them and knowing what the result would be if they had well water, I would balance it out with two drinks of rainwater to one from the well. And they thrived.

The interior of the house was almost complete. Apart from the broken windows, and they were on order. All in all, it had shaped up well. Being all Silky Oak timber Raymond had managed a fantastic job on the repairs to each room. Though, me, I seemed forever sweeping dust out of rooms.

One morning as I stood with my broom I complained to Raymond, 'Where does all this dirt come from? I'm sure I have swept this room before.'
Taking a look at the heap, he said, 'Have you seen a manhole'? Walking through the rooms we had no success. The bathroom revealed a rather puny little manhole. This prompted him to fetch a ladder and the torch and push the hatch up with a bang.
'No wonder you keep sweeping up sand, there would be twenty years of the stuff up here. Wait a second I'm coming down,'
Once on firm flooring he announced, 'We've a job ahead of us to clean all that out. Left it will continue to seep down. What have you that we can use to bag it? Old plastic grocery things bin liners'?'
I wandered out to the caravan. I thought I'd seen a roll of bin-liners, and sure enough, I found them under the sink. The roll had become somewhat unravelled and I wasted five minutes trying to roll them back together.
I picked up the bannister brush and pan, lugging it all back, to where Raymond stood on the ladder.
'This opening is no good as neither of us is small enough to wriggle in. I'll need the small saw. I will make a mess but I'll fix it after we clear out the dirt.'
True to his word he made a mess but when he finished the hole was adequate and I followed him upward lugging the rolled plastic bin-liners. Stopping after three rungs I handed them to him while I continued up and through the hole.

Never having been in a roof cavity before, I stood looking around curiously. Until his voice startled me saying, 'Unless you wish to be up here indefinitely, lets get this mess out.'

His idea was fine but we soon found out it wasn't going to be easy. In fact impossible. After filling ten bags with dust and two dead mice, to our annoyance they wouldn't fit through the hole. If we were overly rough the plastic would split.

Four failed attempts later Raymond made a decision and disappeared back down the ladder.
The next moment he stepped onto the roof and I could see the outline of some light, and working quietly he removed the sheets of iron to create a space to work in.

'Anne you'd best come up here as it's going to be messy, and you'll begin to sneeze.'
Once I was out of the way Raymond began shovelling the sandy stuff out and throwing it over the side. As it was an large house, it took ages to clear the complete ceiling area.
As he worked Raymond continually moved the ladder, removed and replaced the sheets of roofing iron. Some had additional holes which made him tut in annoyance. I was sent down to collect his tool bag, which contained amongst other things a tube of adhesive.

I received the dubious promotion to 'hole filler' which after an hour almost wrecked my knees, but the roof was clear of dust and water-proofed.
To Be Continued

Raymond starts to remodel the rooms and they have an adventure in the dusty ceiling. They keep applying the concealer, The McGibbon bros find a real wood stove and a kero fridge.
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