This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
“Come on Janus,” his father yelled at him in Polish. It was seven thirty in the morning. “It’s time to get up and get going.”
Janus and his father were due to quote on another plumbing job; Ditton Court Road this time, in Westcliff, in one hour.
Janus got out of bed and made his way to the shower. He’d stayed at his father’s house overnight due to the length of time he’d worked the previous day. Normally he would have gone home but this time around he’d been too shattered to do anything but crash out.
Another day and more money, he thought to himself. Plumbing! Fantastic! Sometime soon I’ll be out of this and doing my own thing — sometime soon, he consoled himself.
After breakfast Janus and his father jumped into the company van and made their way to their first appointment of the day.
When they got to the road and eventually found a free space to park they pulled up. Leaving the van, the tanned, older, white haired man and his son made their way up the slightly inclined, tree-lined hill towards the Maitland house. The house was set back from the road on a sharp bend and almost obscured by a tall and uncared for hedge that separated the plot from the rest of the road. Pushing open a stiff wooden gate Janus and his father made their way up the short path through an equally unkempt garden and rang the bell.
Andrzej Malik had not met his client yet, he’d only talked with Mrs Maitland over the phone, and all he knew was that the woman required her bathroom to be finished.
Receiving no instant response Andrzej knocked on the front door this time, a bit harder than was really required.
Eventually a pale woman, somewhere in her mid-thirties, with shoulder length jet black hair answered the door.
After their introductions Jacqueline Maitland, opened the door further and let the father and son team in.
“Show me where the work you need done is please,” Janus’s father said in his not so perfect English.
“It’s up here, Mr Malik,” Jacqueline Maitland responded in a flat and dull tone. She seemed unhappy.
Jacqueline Maitland led Janus and his father through a short, dark brown and beige tiled hallway to the stairs and up to the bathroom.
The house was dingy, the decor being a mixture of racing green panels below a dado rail and the skirting boards, banisters and balustrade a deep and rich, heavily waxed brown oak. The walled side of the staircase was of oak panelling.
With appropriate lighting the internal decor could look astounding but the way it was now lent itself to a general sense of gloom that seemed to permeate every part of the house.
Jacqueline Maitland pushed the door to the small bathroom and it swung open revealing the job Janus and his father would have to take on if they were awarded the business.
The bathroom looked as if someone had started a refit but had given up half way through.
Janus’s father walked in to assess the job they’d be quoting on. Jacqueline Maitland left them to it, making her way back downstairs.
“This looks like it’s been left a very long time Janus. Just look at the rot,” Andrzej said to his son returning to his native tongue after their prospective client had left.
Andrzej Malik did try to stick to using English, he was a British citizen now, but whenever there were any complex ideas or observations to get across to his son or just something that needed to be said quickly, it was much easier for him to use his first language. He pointed to the rotten floorboards around the bath and toilet. Janus nodded at his father’s assessment.
They made their way back downstairs and entered the living room, where Jacqueline Maitland was finishing off a crossword. She looked up; misery could be seen in her eyes.
“How much then, Mr Malik?” she asked.
“Mrs Maitland,” Andrzej started in his Polish lilt, “it seem that the bathroom is been waiting for a long time to be fixed. I think, to fix, it will not be cheap.”
“I know,” she said, sighing, “Can you do it?”
“Mrs Maitland, I assure you this is not better than my skills to do, I also have a very good son to help me,” Andrzej continued in his pidgin English.
“When can you start?” Mrs Maitland asked.
“I look at my calendar now,” Andrzej Malik said. Janus knew that this was one of the usual ploys his father used to secure a contract, and he knew what was coming next. Andrzej turned to Janus, “Are your days free soon son?” his dad asked.
“If I remember correctly I’ll definitely be finished on my current job the day after tomorrow,” Janus replied.
“Son, it is obvious that Mrs Maitland is been with this bathroom for a long time. Can you not change your work?”
Janus got out a small notebook to peruse his fictitious job schedule and glanced at it.
“Dad,” Janus started, “I think I can change things so I can start tomorrow, if that’s alright with Mrs Maitland.” Janus wasn’t happy about fictionalising other work, but his father insisted upon it as it was only a way to secure a job; something he’d been told many times.
“Mrs Maitland,” Janus’s father addressed their potential customer, “do you think tomorrow will be possible for us to start?”
There was a slight glimmer of hope in their customer’s demeanour. “That would be very good,” she said.
“Okay. Tomorrow,” Janus’s dad agreed. “Son, your times, rearrange them please.”
“Okay, Dad. I’m sure the Smiths won’t mind this slight change in the schedule at all.”
With the act played out Andrzej and Janus left the Maitland house.
Deleted User: (A review in progress). I like this. It's sparse, gritty and atmospheric - reminiscent of the classic Golden Age of American detective fiction of the Thirties. I've only read the beginning, but I'll definitely be back. This writer knows their stuff and has done their homework on detective work. T...
M.L. Bull: Hello, Aalia!Your story compelled the emotional pain and struggle of a teenage girl very well.. The imagery was also convincing and well-written, showing the different personalities of your characters and their actions. However, I do think that many of your sentences are too lengthy and could use...
M. Drewery: I did think I would be reading just another Atlantis archaeological adventure story when I came across this book. However I think it's fresh and very different to other approaches to the same historical mystery. The first chapter drew me in brilliantly. I'm not great at spotting technical writing...
Darren Powell: Very nice read. Lots of surprising treats from: Schrodinger’s cat and dervish dance forms; to sensei masters and brownian motion. I wasn't expecting this, so it was a pleasant discovery.Also liked the 'cross-over' events connecting one character's/or group's journey to another. I like how that wa...
JanThompson: This book gives a beautiful description of a country which one rarely gets to see. The contrast between rich and poor is very evident too.The storyline actually sheds a compelling light on why women in certain countries sell themselves just to help their families or even to survive themselves. I ...
gunter1987: I just want to say here that this is my first review, but I really wanted to review this story. I apologize if I don't write English to well, I am French.Reading through the many science fiction stories posted here and other places in the world, I started to see a few linking themes: heavy-hande...
Ben Gauger: Kudos go to Karissa, author of Elements Of Engagement, an otherwise dark and twisted tale of love and workplace intrigue, very 'Fifty Shades of Grey' to be sure, her writing style being very graphic ad otherwise sexually-charged, hence the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' reference, and as for her use of g...
Jordan Young: *ALERT FOR POSSIBLE SPOILERS* Where to start? I don't know how to sum up this review, this story was absolutely sensational. Brilliant. Flawless. I loved every single bit of this story, it is truly amazing. I read this story in fifteen hours, it is magnificent. I loved everything about it, the p...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."