Thumbnail of Part 1: I had myself an appointment with a friend one Sunday morning and called to confirm our meeting time. When the appointment time was delayed, I decided to wash our clothes (to surprise my wife who was visiting friends) and relax on the balcony. On hearing a noise from the kitchen I opened the cupboard door to be surprised by a gushing stream of water which started to fill up the kitchen floor. I blocked off the water with a bedcover and tried to find the shut-off tap in the servant’s room that runs off the small back balcony and in so doing I hear the balcony door shut behind me – with disaster still in full swing in the kitchen.. now read on….
Ok., no water mains shut-off tap here either. Turns around. Extends hand onto the outside kitchen door knob,…and touches a confused and out-of-breath white dove with a olive branch in its beak, trying to balance on it. Paunchy whoosh-whooshes the dove energetically away with a vigorous wave of arms, nervously looking if there are any other strays about, such as maybe a lonely vulture that might have drifted in on the back of the dove. Paunchy the Hopeful grabs the door knob with renewed fervour. And turns it. No left-right motion. And turns it. Still no turning motion. Shit. Translate that into SHIT!! Re-translate that into SHIIIIT!!!. The door is on auto-lock from the inside. (This is where the reader is kindly reminded to recall the earlier reference to the fireman’s axe).
Paunchy the Severely Concerned is now a Permanent Resident in the Land of Disbelief.
Let us take stock for the reader’s sake: A drum-roll of gushing water. Rising Tide on both sides of the door. Mobile phone on dining room table. Paunchy out on tiny 9th floor balcony with door locked from inside. Four locks and thief-proof latches on the apartment’s front door. Sunday lunchtime.. A bewildered dove. The possibility of a circling vulture… No Axe.
Paunchy the Disbeliever (reminding himself to go to church tonight, if not earlier, given certain conditions are met) scrambles around in the servant’s quarters and finds a few plastic cups, a plastic bucket, a small plastic chair, and yes of course a mattress. But sleeping is very low on the Totem Pole of Desired Solutions. Even Maslow and Freud would have a problem trying to place the comfort of a lonely Sunday afternoon nap into the right context here. Bucket, Cups, Chair, Bucket, Cups, Chair. Plastic. Panic.
“Help! Help!!” Listen..
„H E L P !! “ More listening..
“AITCH EEE ELL PEE !!!” More INTENSE listening..
Not a beep. Not a bat of even a mosquito wing. It might as well have been the Sahara. 500 miles from the nearest well. On a moonlit night. In the 12th century.
Hey what have we here now? Aha a one meter length piece of wood, forgotten by some careless workman. EUREKA! Thank you dear God for careless workmen! They should all be given gold-rimmed Certificates of Carelessness. And large bonuses.
Paunchy the Jailbird, trying to stay above the Rising Tide from under the kitchen door – balances himself like a drunken two-legged circus elephant on the small wobbling plastic chair. Aims. Wobbles. Hits. Wobbles. Connects with a Bang! Bang!! It does not even take the paint off the door. But it puts some splinters in Paunchy the Carpenter’s hands and fingers. Minor concern.
Maslow was right. Safety is higher than Comfort on the Hierarchy of Living Needs, and Fear is a Powerful Motivator. Fear Factor. Has anyone ever heard of a program called “Comfort Factor”? or “Safety Factor”?)
(Unbeknownst to Paunchy the Batsman, the Emergency Services have arrived outside the front door but is being denied access to the apartment, as well-documented above). Aims for the door knob. Bang. Bang! Bang!! 50 Bangs! Paunchy the Banger drips from a mixture of water, sweat and deep concern. Has the dike held? Is the water Niagara-falling over the outside balcony? Are We Adrift? What if there is an earthquake NOW!
Who said THAT?
Liver is now competing with Heart to be the first to jump from Paunchy the Panter’s mouth. Rest awhile. This is important. We have to pace ourselves here. Panic leads to stupidity. hmm now there is a thought to savour. Don’t get into heart-attack territory by over-banging the door knob, which is by now giving way as slowly as an un-cooperative traffic cop on a lazy Sunday afternoon.. Shit what about the 3 pm meeting? What time is it?
Bang! Splinter. Puff. Drip Bang!! Puff-puff. Drip-drip. Bang!!!. Splinter. Wiggle. Knob and lock is now as bent as a New York City Cop, but still as un-cooperative as a 300 pound folded-arms “Momma’s Big Worry”-tattooed bouncer at a rock concert. With dark glasses on. That is the bouncer, not the concert.
100 Bangs!!! More splinters. Puff-puffs. Drip-drip. Bang! Splinters. Puff. Drip. Rest. Bang. Puff. Drip. Wiggle….
The lock yields with the grace and speed of the Tumbling Walls of Jericho! The door swings open … to a tsunami.. and the sweet smell of a flooded kitchen.. FREEDOM!
Paunchy The Freedom Fighter skims the surface like a jet-skier, over the still-holding bedcover-dike, skids around the dining room table to unlatch, un-lock, un-emergency-proof the by now almost bulging bang-assaulted front door…(nice to know someone else was also banging away on a door).
On the dining room table the mobile phone is ringing its little battery flat. The clock on the wall says 12:20…
Further inspection showed that the washing machine was an innocent bystander. The Prime Offender was the kitchen wash-up sink feeder-pipe that broke off flush against the wall.
PS: The white dove and olive twig were just added for dramatic effect. The vulture was for real (he..he.. gotcha).