Moths

 *This short story is a work in progress, please feel free to tell me what you think of it. Thanks.*

The sold sign (subject to contract) in front of the “two bedroom terraced starter home with garage” was being taken down. The estate agent trundled the sign to his van and deposited it in the back. Walking back to the front of the house he smiled and reached into his pocket to withdraw a shiny set of keys.

Holding the keys out he said, “May I now officially present you with the keys to your new home.”

Frank and Liz Donovan both reached reflexively for the keys. They burst into pleased laughter and Liz reluctantly lowered her hand to allow Frank the privilege. As Frank’s hand grasped the keys, the estate agent smiled.

“Good luck in your new home sir.”

“Thanks.” Frank turned to Liz. “Honey, get Bethany will you?”

Bethany, their highly energetic 18 month old daughter, was inspecting something in the grass with impressive concentration. Looking up at Liz’s approach, Bethany stood up from her crouching inspection to point at the object of her intense scrutiny.

“Bug, Mummy, bug.”

“Yes dear,” Liz said. She held her hands out.

“Cuddle?”

Bethany’s attention diverted, she forgot the bug and ambled drunkenly over to Liz.

“Cuddoo? Cuddoo?”

Picking her baby up, Liz glanced uneasily at the spot where Bethany’s bug apparently resided.

Probably just a beetle, she thought.

She shivered slightly and decided not to tell Frank about it. He hated bugs even more than she did, to the point of phobia. Whereas she could at least force herself to kill them, Frank froze up completely when confronted with any multi-legged creature.

Frank

Frank stood looking proudly at their new home.  Well, not exactly new, Frank thought wryly, a little over three years old if you wanted to be truthful about it. But it was their “new” home at any rate.

At the wrong side of 35 and stuck in a promotional slump in his civilian job for the USAF, and living in a foreign country to boot; Frank had given up hope of ever owning his own home.

A letter from his best friend who retired back in the states a year ago had done little to assuage Frank’s feelings of frustration. The letter contained pages of information about his friend’s new house.  John called it his “Sticks and Bricks” retirement house. John had gotten a nice lump sum out of his retirement package and that had gone toward buying the house.

Frank had called John and they’d had a good laugh over the phrase “Sticks and Bricks.” After he’d finished his call, he made up a rhyme: “sticks and bricks and mortar and stone, I’ve got to find a home of my own.”

Liz said that it wasn’t funny. That is sounded forced and contrite. Frank thought she was right, so he didn’t repeat the rhyme again.

At least not out-loud, in his mind the rhyme had become some sort of nagging chant. It was caught in an endless loop that played non-stop until he thought he’d go crazy.

As he squeezed the house keys in his hand he thought, ‘Got it now Dad. I’ve got a house now. I’m not a loser anymore old man.’ With a lump threatening to form in his throat he turned to hurry Liz and Bethany along.

Liz

Liz felt as though someone had taken all her breath away. ‘Our first home,’ she thought, ‘maybe now it will all seem real.”  At twenty-five Liz still couldn’t believe that she was married to this strange, maddening American; even though it had been six years and one baby ago when they’d “tied the knot.”

They had met at the village pub. He was hard not to notice; back then he had looked sad, older and lonely. He would come in every night and drink on average forty gin and tonics while quietly chatting to the old men at the bar. He would then stand just before closing time and, apparently sober, wish everyone a good night.

He would walk out the door ramrod straight without a trace of stagger. Liz was fascinated by this dark-haired, hard-drinking, stranger and she decided to find out what made him seek refuge in a bottle.

After finally meeting, they started a short furious affair that culminated in marriage before he was posted to Holland. Maybe Holland was why none of this seemed real. They only spent three months as a couple before they’d left. Now they were facing her home country for the first as a family.

As Liz headed up the path to Frank and their new house she thought, ‘England. God it was good to be home.’

Happy families

She smiled as she joined Frank. ‘Home owners,’ she thought slipping her hand in his as they walked toward the door. Bethany pointed to the front of the house, “Owse? Owse?”

“Yes dear,” Frank said, “Our owse.”

Bethany had started this two-word repetition about a month ago. Frank found it hysterically funny along with her mispronunciation of bedroom (dreadboom) and scarecrow (carescrow). Winking at Bethany and Liz, he put the key in the door lock. Turning the key, he bowed his head. “Won’t you come in Madame and mademoiselle?”

Liz laughed as she swept through the door with Bethany in her arms. “Why thank you monsieur.” She went into the kitchen and stopped in front of the sink. She stood with Bethany and looked out the window. Frank stood behind her with his hands on her shoulders and they watched for the moving van to arrive.

The house seemed uncomfortably warm after the damp cold outside. The nighttime storage heating that they had so worried about seemed to be doing a fine job. As they looked out the window, a moth fluttered madly around the kitchen light bulb.

Bethany pointed to it and whispered, “Moff? Moff?” As if she knew neither Mummy nor Daddy would be pleased at its presence.

When the big van pulled up in front of the house, Bethany’s attention was drawn to the big men who came out of the van. They stood smoking and consulting their map as Frank jogged down to them and told them that they were at the right place.

Liz put the kettle on for a cup of tea for the men and Bethany watched the moth as it was joined by another one, fluttering and smacking the dead bulb.

The House

The house was a standard two bedroom “starter home.” So called because it was so small that only a couple starting out could live in it. Space was at a premium. Entering the front door you encountered a short hallway with the kitchen off to the left. Go forward two steps and you entered the living room/dining room. The left side of the room contained the stairway to the bedrooms and one bathroom. The ceiling at the top of the stairs had an attic entrance.

The garage was detached from the actual building and housed in a block with two others. Frank knew that this would soon be the overflow for the house and that it would be full of boxes that had place to go yet.

Both the house and the garage were encased in red brick with redwood stained trim. Everything about the house shouted new and it was in one of “the neighborhoods.” Almost exclusive, most certainly snobbish and very definitely “up-town.”

Over the next two weeks Frank and Liz unloaded boxes and chased after Bethany. By the end of the second week, Frank’s nerves were frazzled. Bethany had gotten into everything and Liz had kept the windows open the entire time, letting in every insect from the neighborhood.

Sipping on a beer, Frank observed for the tenth time that day that he was amazed that the English didn’t have window screens. “Look at all the things that come in. We might as well be living outside.” Liz looked up from her unpacking, “I know dear, I grew up here, remember?”

Frank set his beer down hard, foam running from the top of the can. “Is that a spider?” He pointed to a dark spot on the wall. Liz stood up quickly. “Where?”

Frank frozen in place, thrust his finger out, “over there, by the hall door.”

Liz leaned toward the dark spot, squinting. “No, it’s only a moth.” Moving closer she took a jiffy cloth from her back pocket. “Got you.” She smashed the cloth down hard on the moth.

“Creepy things,” she said. There was a small brown toxic looking smear on the wall where she’d killed the moth. “Just look at that,” she shuddered, “Disgusting things, aren’t they?”

The Cat

The cat arrived from the kennel where she’d been in solitary confinement, as Frank liked to put it. The poor thing had to stay in isolation for six months because of the draconian animal laws intended to keep rabies out of the country.

During the cats stay at the kennels, Clover (what a stupid name for a cat, Frank thought, but didn’t say) had gotten ridiculously attached to him. Liz refused to see Clover while she was in “nick” as Frank had taken to calling the poor animal’s enforced kennel time. So he’d had to visit the cat and bring treats and spend some time playing with it so, “She won’t forget us poor lamb.”

The end result was that Clover became Franks cat instead of Liz’s. He had taken to just calling her cat instead of Clover. His grandfather had called every dog or cat he’d ever owned just that, Dog or Cat. It made sense to Frank. In order to keep Liz from biting his head off, he changed the cat’s name to CC. It seemed to work fine as the animal pretty much answered to anything.

After the cat regally ignored everyone in the family, she went upstairs and sniffed each room and the carpet. She went into the bathroom and flopped in front of the small open window at the back of the room.

Frank, Liz and Bethany went out for some KFC at the new place that had just opened down the road. Leaving CC to her own devices. A gust of wind through the open window blew the bathroom door shut. The same gust then slammed the window shut.

The cat could care less. She laid her head down and flopped on her side and began to lackadaisically lick her stomach. A moth suddenly appeared and started bashing against the closed window.

CC immediately froze in mid-lick. She watched the moth and went back to licking and then she lay on her side again.

The cat couldn’t rest. She watched the fluttering moth with eyes so wide they threatened to swallow her face. Suddenly she leaped; paws clasping like little hands. She landed, twisted, and leapt up again.

The single moth she’d been chasing was joined by another as she leapt higher and tried to grab both these noisy fluttery things. The two moths became three; then they were joined by another and another.

The room was suddenly full of these maddening creatures. The moths bounced off the window, the walls, and the light bulb.

Tink, thwack, tink.

The noise increased with the mad fluttering of the tiny wings. It became deafening. The cat ran and jumped halfway up the wall swiping frantically at the insects. Faster and faster she ran and jumped until her sides heaved and her tongue lolled.

She tried to stop but she couldn’t. The moths continued to swirl and dive, now bashing into her face as well as her body. The moths focused their crazy fluttering attacks on the cat, driving her mad with the desire to catch these things.

Her jumps became shorter and she staggered when she landed and when she tried to run. Defeated she slumped to the ground too tired to even lick herself. The moths fluttered and jerked while she watched. Her sides pumped trying to draw more air into her exhausted and empty lungs. Gathering herself, she made one last launch into the air.

When she landed, she did not move again.

Copy-write Michael E Smith 14/03/2013

 

Second Chances

Unknown

Yes you read the title correctly, it says second chances – plural. I know that a lot of folks never get a second chance – singular. They go through their lives either successfully, poorly, middle-of-the-road-ly, or otherwise and they never get another snatch at the brass ring or another bite of the apple.

I seem to have spent my entire life getting these “back-hand” second chances.

I remember when I turned my back on acting the first time. My first wife did not like me being “in the business” and since I was very young and very much in love, I turned my back on my passion. Years passed, the bloom went off the rose of my first marriage and I got divorced.

I didn’t handle it well. Too young and too broken-up, thoughts of ending it all danced around the periphery of my mind. Not seriously though, thank who-ever: but I was pretty damn miserable for a long time. I moved to England, courtesy of Uncle Sam, and not long after arriving in the UK, I was drafted into an amateur theatre group.

I was back to acting again and I was loving it.

Then my job began to interfere and I had to turn my back on it again. Time moved on. I got married again and just before I got reassigned to The Netherlands (Holland) a mate of mine got me a job as an extra on an American TV movie, The Last Days of Patton. I worked for over 12 hours playing a WWII soldier who goes through a rifle drill with a whole platoon and we then got to meet General Patton (George C Scott).

The giant mansion behind "Patton" head is where we filmed.
The giant mansion behind “Patton’s” head is where we filmed.

It  was a memorable moment. Mr Scott was personable and approachable. He spent his time between takes talking to us Air Force guys who’d learned to do a rifle drill after a couple of hours of training by the film’s technical advisor. I remember thanking the “guy upstairs” for giving me this, a sort of taste of what I’d been missing.

Later when we’d settled in at our new Dutch home, I got to do some radio work and through the AFN guys, I got some film and TV work. Again getting a little taste of what I had turned my back on so many years ago. My daughter was born on the day that I had two auditions for a couple of American television commercials. I decided that my daughter’s entrance into this world was more important and called the casting folks up to express my apologies.

I got a few more little jobs here and there and met some interesting people and almost got a couple of great acting jobs. But fate had another idea and these close grabs at the brass ring, missed.

Later, when we moved back to the UK, I got out of the Air Force (I didn’t retire, I got out via the early out cut-back program) and did some more voice-over work. I even did some extra work. But reality kept creeping in and kicking me in the face. I kept trying to write the whole time I was being diverted from the acting side of my life. That activity was as doomed as the acting. Something always got in the way.

Lack of privacy; lack of ideas; lack of concentration; lack of confidence. All these things interfered with any sort of creative process and more. I finally decided to turn my back on any sort of creativity.

All thoughts of creating something either physically or mentally were killed off and buried.

The proud, the few, the under-appreciated...
The proud, the few, the under-appreciated…

Life went on, I found a good job that allowed me the time to enjoy my family and watch my daughter grow up. The job also came with a great retirement set up. It wasn’t the best job in the world and it was not anything that I’d have chosen for myself as the “last” job I’d ever do.

Then, injured at work and off for just under six months. Right after I start back to work, I have a heart attack. Two surgeries; one an emergency surgery that left me with pretty much permanent damage. The end result of this was my life was saved, barely, and I was ill-health retired from my job.

I won’t lie. I was a little depressed about losing this job that I’d done for just under ten years. I didn’t love it, but I like most of the people I worked with and I’d finally gotten top pay for my job. I felt like the character on films and TV that shrugs and says, “Eh, it’s a living.” But I was panic-stricken.

I had no idea what I was going to do.

I still don’t; but I’ve finally woken up to the fact that, for what ever reason, I’ve been given another second chance.  I’m not sure how many this is now, but it’s a lot. I don’t know if I’ll wind up doing anything creative or not. I do know that I’ll keep blogging, because it is a bit addictive now that I’ve started it, but I kind of feel like the sky’s the limit at the moment.

What is really evident to me is that of all the second chances I’ve been given, this one is perhaps the most important. All the previous ones were sort of career or personal goal oriented.

This one is a second chance at life.

I am going to try not to waste it.

Boldly going to where I've never gone before. Sorry Captain Kirk...
Boldly going to where I’ve never gone before. Sorry Captain Kirk…

Argo (2012): A Truth Stranger Than Fiction

Every once in awhile you hear about something that makes you breakout in gooseflesh at the audaciousness of the idea or story.

Argo is that gooseflesh inducing item in question. Directed by and starring Ben Affleck, the film is about a time period in the world that changed my path forever.

In November 1979 Iranians stormed the US Embassy in Tehran. A group of Embassy staff were taken hostage. The world, in particular the United States, was in an uproar. American people were outraged that someone would so blatantly ‘kick sand in America’s face’ and I was one of those people.

By March of the next year when the hostages were still being held, in a fit of patriotic fever, I joined the United States Air Force to add my name to the roll of folks who wanted to go over and kick some ass. I was in Basic Training at Lackland AFB in Texas when the overt rescue operation was attempted. That operation ended in death and defeat with the bodies of the rescuers being paraded down Iranian streets.

We had been called out of our regular training duties and told that the US had declared war on Iran and that we would be re-deployed to our new units. It was sad, shocking and not true. What that did, besides impress us that our job was war and to not forget it, was it impressed us with the consequences of any rescue operation overt or covert.

Argo is about the other rescue mounted to help Americans trapped in Iran. The covert one that was a joint Canadian and CIA operation.

I remember that six members of staff made it out of the Embassy. I also remember the same six folks disembarking from an aircraft while a television reporter told of their escape from the Embassy and how they hid in houses till they were rescued.

I also seem to remember that they were either touted a being Canadian or having Canadian passports. What I did not know was how they were rescued. Until now.

The film is about operation Canadian Caper and the mastermind behind it who also entered Tehran as a location scout for a film. Using this cover and providing the six captives with specially approved Canadian passports CIA Operative Tony Mendez personally got the hostages out.

Argo is the story about this little known rescue and all the people behind it and the people who were forced to hide until they were rescued.

Watching the trailer for this film got me so excited I had to see this film. Period. Imean, seriously? Truth is so much stranger than fiction. Who would believe the proposed plot for a proposed film that centred around a government secret agency who “make a movie” in a revolution torn country and rescue hostages? Really??

The cast list is impressive:

Argo is set to premier November this year and I can’t wait. It looks like Ben Affleck has found his niche as a quality director.

Have a look at this trailer and then tell me you can’t wait to see this film! I’ve tagged this upcoming film as a Blockbuster and I’ll be surprised if it’s not.

An Arkansas Razorback in Queen Elizabeth Country 5

Before I moved to the ‘haunted’ house and after I had just moved off the base, I had to hitch-hike to and from the base. Daily rides to work were easy. Most of the folks I worked with drove right past my flat on the way to work, it was an easy thing for them to pull over and pick me up.

Weekends and ‘off-duty hours’ were a different matter entirely.

The main reason I went to the base on weekends was to do laundry initially and later to work with an amateur dramatics society on the base. The theatrical attendance was also quite easy to do because lots of the society members again drove right past my flat, or I could catch them on the road by ‘thumbing it.’

I myself had stopped picking up hitchhikers years ago, while I was still married to my first wife. I’d had a rather alarming episode with a long-haired man and a knife that resulted in me pulling a pistol and throwing him out of my pick-up truck in the pouring rain. After that little heart-stopping event, I swore to never pick up a hitchhiker again.

But my whole first year in England, I did not own a car. I had to, like a male version of Blanche DuBois, rely on the kindness of strangers. This did not always work. I remember quite a few times where, laden with a mobility bag full of dirty clothes, I had to walk the five mile stretch in the pouring rain. I usually got lucky once I got to the Laundromat on base, I could just about always find a ride back.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t use the ‘local’ Laundromat in the village, it is because there wasn’t one.

But, I had enough kind people stop and give an airman a lift, especially easy if you were in uniform, that I wanted to return the kindness shown me by picking up folks who were having to ride their thumb.

I did eventually have to stop though. We were getting briefings about a group of young women who were ‘hitching’ and when they got picked up by a lone male, would accuse him of touching them up. We were warned that if we didn’t know the individual who had their thumb out, to pass them by.

I decided that if the hitcher was in uniform that I would take my chances. That decision led to two of the strangest car rides I’d had since being in the United Kingdom and my cessation of giving strangers a ride.

The first ‘girl’ I stopped for was in uniform. At first glance she looked like she was in the USAF green fatigues that most airmen wear daily. She was of medium height and had very tightly curled hair. She sort of looked like a grown-up Shirley Temple but with reddish brown hair.

It was pelting down rain that stung your skin when it hit and I felt bad about anyone having to endure that for the five mile walk from the base to the village.

When she got in, she extended a sopping wet hand and introduced herself. “I’m Julie,” she said, “Thanks for stopping.”

I said my name was Mike and that I was only going as far as the village. She stated that would be fine as she was trying to track down her fiancée who was supposed to be in one of the Pubs there. Then absolute silence for the remainder of the five miles.

I stopped by the first Pub that was in the village square and let her out, as she got out of the car she leaned back in and again thanked me for the ride. She paused for a moment and them asked, “Do you live in the village?”

I said, ” Yes, as a matter of fact I do. Why?”

She leaned into the car a bit further. “You don’t know Staff Sargent Thompson do you?” Her eyes had taken on a glittery look that made her look a bit mad.

“No-o-o-o. I don’t think I do.”

She reached into a pocket of her uniform that I realised belatedly was not a USAF fatigue uniform at all. It was Israeli. I found this out when she pulled a knife out of her pocket and sat back down in the car.

“Are you sure? I know how you Air Force bastards back each other up. Now think hard, Staff Sargent Thompson, he’s about your age with black hair, he just got back from Israel where he was on a ‘mini’ Kibbutz. We met there and he told me he was stationed here.” She paused for a moment. “He’s got a huge cock. He said his nickname was Horse.”

I sat stunned and just looked at her for a minute. I finally lied and said that I’d only just arrived in country and that she’d be better off checking with someone who had been here longer.

Running her finger along the knife’s blade, she looked intently at my face, apparently trying to decide if I was lying or not. After what seemed like an eternity, she nodded and started to again leave my car. As she went to close my passenger door, I stomped on the gas pedal and left rubber for at least six yards on the road.

When I got home I decided that I wouldn’t be going out that night in case I bumped into her in my local. I didn’t pick up another hitchhiker for ages after that.

Then on Independence day, I was driving past the market square when a young very pretty black girl flagged me down. I stopped when I saw she was in green fatigues and I saw she was an Airman First Class by the two stripes on the arms of her uniform shirt.

Airman first class insignia

She ran up to the drivers side and gave me a big smile. “Hey! You stationed at Mildenhall or Lakenheath?”

“Mildenhall.”

She pouted and asked, “You wouldn’t be going to the Fourth of July party at Lakenheath would you?” Realising that this gorgeous creature was asking in a very round about way if I’d give her a lift, I said yes.

“Great! Wait here for a minute, will you?”

Before I could answer she went sailing into a shop. In about a minute she came back out with a plastic bag. The girl was, if nothing else, prompt. She hopped into the passenger seat of my car and said, “I just had to buy a clean shirt. My uniform shirt is all sweaty, I had a late night last night. You know what I mean?”

Before I could say a word she’d whipped her uniform top off and revealed that she did’t wear a bra. She also had nothing to be embarrassed about in the breast department. She was easily a 36 C and very perky with it. She then sat there topless and proceeded to rummage through her bag.

I grabbed her discarded top and threw it at her. “Quick! Put that back on! You can’t get changed here!” My eyes were darting all around the immediate area looking for my girlfriend and the police.

Pouting again she put the uniform top back on and did up one button. “Well where can I change? I don’t want to go to the party smelling like this.”

Thinking quickly I said, “Look, my flat is right around the corner, I can wait while you get changed in the bathroom. I’ll even leave the flat door open so you won’t feel uncomfortable.”

This proved to be acceptable and we made our way to my flat. I didn’t have to bother about showing her where the bathroom was or leaving the door of the flat open. The second she went through my door, the uniform top was whipped off and she started rummaging through that bag again.

She had about five different blouses in the bag and she kept putting on one and looking in the tiny mirror over my bedroom sink.

She’d then whip that top off and try on another one. About halfway through, she stopped and turned to look at me. Her breasts were still very perky and I didn’t know what to do with my eyes.

“You aren’t in a hurry are you?” She asked.

My face flaming and blood rushing into places it had no place being, I answered with strangled no. Sweat was streaming down my overly hot face and I just knew that my girlfriend was going to walk in at any minute. When the girl came over to have me light her cigarette, I started believing that this was some kind of test.

I decided that my girlfriend had set me up to see how I’d react to this half naked vixen in front of me. After cupping my hands with hers while I lit her cigarette, she kept hold of my hands and dragging deep on the now lit smoke, she looked into my face. “Are you sure, you don’t have to be anyplace…special?”

My nerve broke then and I pulled my hands back and started for the door. “Damn! I just remembered I have to meet somebody at the party and I think I’m late. We’d better get going.”

I stood just outside the door and waited while she finally decided on what blouse she liked best. Practically pushing her to my car, I set the world record for the shortest drive possible to RAF Lakenheath. When I stopped the car at the area set aside for the Independence Day celebrations I said, “Go on and get out, I’ll just park the car and I’ll join you after.”

“Okay Honey.” She leaned over the gear shift and kissed me on the mouth. She tasted of cigarette smoke and bubble gum. She also smelt ever so faintly of marijuana. “I’ll see you in a little bit.”

I drove off and didn’t go back to the festivities.

Later that night my girlfriend came over and she never even asked me if I’d done anything special that day. I decided two things after that nerve wrecking experience with the topless tootsie.

I decided that my girlfriend had not been trying to ‘set me up’ and that it would be a cold day in hell before I ever picked up another hitchhiker.

An Arkansas Razorback in Queen Elizabeth Country 3

Flats for let.

My cold-water flat was getting claustrophobic. Despite having a huge window, the room was oddly airless. Smells seemed to ‘dig’ into the room, refusing to leave no matter how much you ‘aired’ it out.

The final straw came when a girlfriend, after a particularly amorous night, threw up a horrible mixture of Yukon Jack and cheese savouries on my duvet. This momentous event occurred while I was in my communal toilet and she struggled to reach the sink which was  an arm’s length away.

Our relationship sort of cooled after that night though the memory of it remained. I was reminded of it every time I entered the flat. Despite air fresheners and freezing the room out by leaving the window wide open in the winter, the smell lingered. Even the duvet’s chemical smell from the dry cleaners didn’t mask the rooms pong.

As I went to pay my monthly rent to the landlady, I noticed someone was moving from a huge ground floor flat. I inquired about it and Lady Luck was on my side. No one else had even looked at the flat yet, so I transferred my deposit from my tiny flat to the new huge one. I was able to move my things the same day.

The new flat was an old shop, I don’t remember what type of shop it had been, but, it still had the full window street footage in front. A giant floor length curtain covered the room sized window and it was separated from the rest of the flat by a ‘false’ wall.

My front door was a glass ‘French’ door. As you walked in the flat if you looked immediately to the right you could see another door that led into another flat. This door, though permanently locked, was very thin and let a lot of sound through. One night my ‘neighbour’ had two local ladies in for entertainment.

They were very vocal about their obvious enjoyment of my neighbour’s love-making techniques. When the noise began to mimic the ‘When Harry Met Sally‘ moment in the diner, I banged on the door.

“Hey!”, I said. “Either keep it down or invite me in!”

There was a startled silence followed by muffled whispering. I did not receive an invite, but they did lower the decibel levels of their appreciation. I took a couple of cold showers and was finally able to go sleep.

Back at the front door, if you looked to the left you had the sleeping area and a door leading to a short hallway. The hallway when entered from my end had a shower room to the right and a little further down from the shower room was the toilet.

The toilet was a small windowless room with a door that was hard to close. The door itself had ‘bolt’ lock on it. The ‘bolt’ lock was as hard to use, old and a bit rusty, you had to really shove the damn thing to lock the door.

At the other end of the hallway was the other flat that I shared the shower and toilet with. He was a nice enough chap who had a lot of fondness for drink. I can honestly say, I don’t ever remember seeing him sober.

He was a very amiable ‘drunk’ who liked to laugh and loved getting ‘massages’ from the local working girls which he paid for in steaks bought from the USAF commissary for a couple of dollars that would have cost a fortune if purchased down town.

One day I came home from work and really needed to use the toilet. Rushing in, I ran for the littlest room in the flat only to find it closed and locked. Peeved, I went back to my flat and waited for a minute or two.

Nature was dying to take it’s course and I soon rushed back to the toilet door. Trying the door again, I found it was still closed tight and locked. I tapped on the door.

Frank? Dude, I really need the toilet. Can you hurry up?”

Silence. I knocked louder.

Still nothing.

I was worried now. What if my drunken neighbour had passed out in there? What if he had died in there.

This time I kicked the door. Hard.

“Frank!”

Panicked now, I pushed myself back against the narrow hall’s outside wall and shoulder down slammed against the toilet door. I had to do this two or three times before the door smashed open.

The door rebounded off the inside wall and something tinkled on the floor.

The room was empty. There was no slumped body on the actual toilet or on the floor. The only thing in the toilet was the door frame bracket for the bolt lock. Looking at the inside of the door, I saw that the bolt lock tongue was protruding.

The door had been locked and the only way to lock it was from the inside. 

It was impossible to lock the door from the outside.

So who in the hell had locked it? Or more accurately, what had locked it.

After I was finally able to answer my ‘call of nature’ I got a screwdriver and re-attached the bolt lock’s end bracket to the frame. I went to the pub and promptly forgot all about it.

One week later, I came home from work and went through the little hall to use the toilet. The door was hanging forlornly off of one hinge. I drug the door closed and paid my compliments to Mother Nature. As I came out, Frank exited his room and faced me in the hallway.

“Hey Holmes (Frank called everybody Holmes) I got home today and I really needed to use the toilet. I come in here and the door’s closed and locked.” He pointed to the door. “I thought that you were in there and I left. You know? Then when things got a little more urgent, I decided to knock and ask you to hurry up. You know? But you didn’t answer Holmes, cause you weren’t in there. But I didn’t know that. I thought that you were like, passed out or had a heart attack or somethin’. So I kicked the friggin door open? And Holmes? There wasn’t any body in there!”

He looked at me, clearly puzzled. “Holmes? How did that damn door lock itself?”

Shaking my head, I recounted my bathroom adventures from the week before. We both decided that we’d better fix the door back on its hinges and not tell the landlady that we were trying to destroy her property.

The door went back on the hinges no problem, but the bolt lock bracket was a little worse off. It hung loosely on the door frame and the bolt that slid into it was very wobbly.

Exactly one week later, I returned home to find the door closed and ‘locked’ again with no one inside. This time, however, it was very easy to force the door open. I told the landlady about the ‘self locking’ door when I moved.

Everyone I told about the door said the same thing. “The place must be haunted.” My ‘new’ girlfriend, after looking at the door and the room, said the same. “There is no way ‘humanly’ possible to lock that door from the outside. It’s definitely a ghost or poltergeist or something.”

I never did find out what had locked that door, but I did move. I had a mate at work who had rented a huge house in the country and wanted someone to split the rent with him. He asked me if I was interested.

I said yes and then moved into a house that was more haunted than the flat I’d just moved from.