Chapter 6 of The Terraced House Diaries (Curmudgeon Avenue book one)

Chapter 6: What the Elephant Truck Driver Did Next.

 

One day during June in Radcliffe, an electric storage heater replacement salesman was being followed by a Border Terrier. Snapping at his heels. Eventually Harold gave in and pulled out his lunch from his rucksack. He broke his sausage roll in half and fed it to the dog. Harold’s next potential customer was Mrs Lomax. The dog seemed to know the address and got excited when Harold rang the doorbell…

‘Ahhh you must belong to Maggie Lomax, little terror stealing my sausage roll!’

Margaret Lomax answered the door. She was not really in the mood for Harold, always making himself comfortable in her pristine front room. So she planned to talk to him in the hallway, and get rid quickly. Margaret tried to stop him, but Harold brushed past her in the hall.

‘Hellooooo  Margaret’ The dog followed Harold into Margaret’s front room. Margaret rolled her eyes to the ceiling. ‘Come in Harold .What are you selling this time?’ she said ‘and why the bloody hell are you bringing that dog around with you!’ she thought; because Margaret would never say a swear word out loud.

Harold was making himself at home on Margaret’s front room settee. The dog was also making itself at home, curled up on the Persian rug. Margaret was very house proud. Her front room was her pride and joy.

‘Wait until you see the special offer I’ve got for you’ he said, with wobbly head ‘Special electric storage heaters’

‘What!?’ Margaret gasped.

‘Yes, I’m selling these in this area only, especially for you’

‘Especially for me?’

‘Yes, special, special offer’

‘Harold’ Margaret pointed out of her Radcliffe window ‘It’s June!’

‘I know!’

‘It’s the hottest June on record’

‘I know!’ Harold really was a smug git.

‘The flags are cracking out there!’

‘I know!’ Harold was at risk of being beaten up in Radcliffe by Margaret Lomax, retired widow.

‘Well if you know Harold then what the bloody hell (she whispered those two words) do you think I want to buy an electric storage heater for?’

‘Ahh, that’s why they are on special offer because no one will want to buy them in the summer!’

‘You think?’

There was not a lot he could do with that, except continue the hard sell.

‘Yes, it will work out cheaper for you in the long run, see I’m also selling solar panels. For your roof. So, (he sniffed) by the time you need to use the heaters, the cost of running them will be free.’ Harold was continuing, and Margaret was fuming ‘Here, let me show you’ Harold was about to open his brief case and show Margaret a convoluted break down of facts and figures, but then the lid was firmly snapped shut on his slippery fingers. This was Margaret’s doing, and she did not look happy.

‘Harold. What makes you think I want to buy something now that I don’t need, so that I can buy something else that will expunge the cost of my original purchase?’ Margaret, who never swears out loud had an excellent vocabulary for a widow from Radcliffe. Harold was flummoxed, this had given her the upper hand and there was no way that Harold was going to style his way out of it, but being Harold, he would not give up ‘I just thought you might want to save a bit of money in the winter months, I know how cold it gets in Radcliffe’

‘I might not make it to winter, Harold! Your mother didn’t, God rest her soul’ Margaret crossed herself, although she was not even Catholic and had not seen the inside of a church for quite some time, nevertheless, Margaret, like most of her counterparts at MECCA Bingo on Bolton Road feared the onset of winter, even in June. ‘Yes, I forget how close you were to my mother’ Harold lied, and slightly pushed his bottom lip out. Truth be told, he was trying to stretch out the conversation, but Margaret was not for offering him a cuppa and a Kit Kat like she usually did. Harold looked around Margaret’s house. The Persian rug, the Toby jugs lined up on the shelf. Everything was perfect, apart from the scruffy little Border Terrier that was lying on his back, looking rather out of place grinning at both humans.

‘So, when did you get this puppy then, Margaret?’

Margaret’s eyes widened ‘That’s not my dog!’ Margaret was edging further away, alarmed ‘I thought you had started bringing your dog round with you, I didn’t really want to invite it in, but it followed you!’

Harold’s mouth was wide open. No words were coming out…

Harold thought the dog belonged to Margaret, and Margaret thought the dog belonged to Harold.

Then it happened.

In slow motion…  The dog stood up and stretched its front paws out. It shook out its fur. It looked at Harold and Margaret with that look that dogs do, as if it was falling in love with them…

Then it squatted down and two curly brown ones popped out from under its tail. They landed neatly on Margaret Lomax’s Persian rug.

‘Noooooooo, no,no. Nooooooooooo! Get out! Get out!… Ahhhhhhhhh’ Margaret screamed.

She started hitting Harold with a cushion that she whipped off the settee. Harold did try to explain, and offered to clean up. It was too late for that. Margaret was threatening to phone 999. The dog ran out of the front door, never to be seen again. Harold also felt like running, but Margaret was busy slamming the door in his face. Margaret decided against calling the emergency services. She felt silly phoning with a dog poop emergency. After the mess had been neatly scooped up and thrown into next door’s back yard, she calmly phoned the storage heater company to put in an official complaint about Harold.

The story went down in history in the office.

Harold was called in for a severe telling off. He had to pay for Margaret’s rug to be cleaned. Harold had the cheek to try and argue that the incident was partly Margaret’s fault. All this modern business of self-employment and zero hour contracts, Harold’s door-to-door salesman days were numbered.

Copyright Samantha Henthorn 2018.

Taken from The Terraced House Diaries (Curmudgeon Avenue Book One) by Samantha Henthorn. Available to download here (UK) or here (US) Happy reading, Samantha xx

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