Handyman Wanted Part 2

Continuing the story from last Sunday. I had a vague idea where it was going but now it seems to have taken on a life of its own. What do you think it will turn out to be – a ghost story? romance? murder? I’ll let you know next week when the characters have told me how it finishes.

Wanted – Handyman.

Handyman wanted to carry out various repairs and renovations in remote country property.

Young single man preferred with option to live-in until project has been completed.

Must be experienced in all aspects of plumbing, electrical and carpentry.

Excellent rates of pay plus possibility of generous bonus if work is satisfactory.

Apply in the first instance with full contact and current employment details, recent photograph and availability to
P.O.Box 666. Alderslay

After the altercation with Arnold, the son of the man who had been my friend, boss, and father-figure I was left without a job, premises or income so replying to the strange advertisement seemed the only option. Another worry was the lease of my flat had only a few weeks left, and my landlord had already found a new tenant for when I moved out.

Business had been doing so well Bill had encouraged me to find somewhere nicer to live, and had hinted about helping me out with a deposit if it proved necessary. Although the small legacy he had left me in his Will would be useful, I needed to stretch it out to cover essentials until I could get some regular work and set up my own business.

I sent off my application, crossed my fingers and hoped for a response before I had to change my address and have nowhere to receive mail. Arnold had seen to it that I couldn’t even use the old business premises for contact. Whoever had placed the advert had given no email address or mobile number so their P.O. Box was all I had. A week later, a letter arrived and although it was still rather peculiar, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Dear Frank,

We have pleasure in confirming your application for a handyman has been accepted on a trial basis for initially 3 months. This is on the understanding you will maintain complete secrecy as to your whereabouts during this time, and have no contact with friends or relatives. If you agree to these conditions, please sign and return the enclosed contract when further instructions will be issued.

Yours sincerely

Alderslay

What was I letting myself in for? I had no regular girlfriend, no close family and having neglected most of my old drinking buddies while I was concentrating on my career, I doubted I would be missed so had nothing to lose. Taking a deep breath, I signed and returned the contract to the P.O. Box. A week later I received another letter informing me of the date and time I would be collected, suggesting I ensured I had everything necessary for a 3-month stay, and reminding me of the secrecy clause. I packed up my life in two suitcases, said goodbye to my landlord as I paid the final rent and summoned by the beep from the taxi, set off for I knew not where.

The driver seemed friendly enough at first, but when I started asking questions about our destination or how long it would take to get there he clammed up. It was close to eleven at night by the time he pulled up to the security entrance of what looked to be some sort of mansion house. He spoke briefly into the intercom, the gates swung open, and he drove about 100 yards before parking outside a massive oak door. After offloading my luggage, he wished me good luck, returned along the driveway, and I was left alone. In the distance I saw the gates close behind him.

To one side of the entrance foyer was a modern bell push, but I couldn’t resist lifting the heavy brass wolf head to knock on the door. There was a brief flash of a camera light, then the door opened silently to reveal a dimly lit foyer although no one was in sight. As I manoeuvred my suitcases into the hall, I did wonder what I would do if the door closed with all my worldly goods inside, leaving me stuck outside. It was an eerie thought, but I assumed I was being watched on a security camera. Sure enough, once I had piled everything up, the door closed behind me and a disembodied voice rang out in the entrance hall.

‘Welcome, Frank. Sorry about all the cloak and dagger stuff, but it is important. For now you’re probably tired and in need of some refreshment. Leave your bags there and I’ll have them brought up to you. You can take either the lift or the stairs off to the right up to the second floor. Your name is on the suite, and I think you’ll find everything you need to make yourself comfortable. See you in the morning. Goodnight.’

I decided to take the stairs to give me a chance to see a little more of the layout of the house. The beautifully carved staircase wound its way to a landing with several doors set along a corridor, then up another short flight where sure enough a door plate displayed my name. There was a key card in the lock which opened to reveal a beautiful lounge with mega TV screen and comfy settees. In a separate area there was state-of-the-art computer equipment on a desk beneath a window looking out to the grounds.

Other doors leading off the main area revealed a luxurious double bedroom, a bathroom and shower, and a compact but fully equipped kitchen. As I was browsing I heard a noise, and opening the front door of the unit discovered my luggage placed outside but no trace of anyone delivering them. Although the accommodation couldn’t be faulted, it was a little eerie that I hadn’t yet seen or spoken directly to any human being, but the enticing smell wafting from the food box remind me I was hungry.

It contained a tapas of various dishes to suit every taste, and with the aid of the chilled bottle of excellent wine from the fridge, I soon demolished every morsel. If this was to be my home and work for the next few months I wasn’t complaining.

Turning out the light as I made myself comfortable in the King sized bed, I was looking forward to seeing what tomorrow would bring.

To be continued.

© Val Portelli August 2021

Although this short story is totally independent, there is a connection to my latest book release which also features an old house. The stories are very different but if you’re interested, you can find ‘Alderslay’ here:

https://mybook.to/Alderslay


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