Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mystery House

We live in a mystery house. It looks pretty normal from the outside, and appears very normal inside. But we have a mystery.
We moved a few months ago, a complex set of affairs that you can only really appreciate if you're in mid-move. Being distanced from it is like any painful experience, you erase it as quick as possible. Ironically, in this complex move which involved the simultaneous sell/purchase of two houses in different parts of the country, it was the estate agents who came out smelling of roses. It was the people involved who stank. Including the first vendor who, having led a merry dance for several weeks was eventually revealed to be bankrupt, unable to sell the property, and thus a total waste of everyone's time. By which time we'd lost the house we were buying.... But let's move on, shall we?

The Vendor of House One cheated us out of some money, it doesn't matter how much, suffice to say that all subsequent comunications were through me, alone, a deafening silence emanated from the person sitting next to me on the sofa whenever Vendor Woman appeared. Come D-Day, or whatever removal day is called, communications were at an all time low, but Vendor Woman called to say that she had 'left something' in the house. This turned out to be a dishwasher and various other items which, frankly, could barely be missed. In turn, she had taken a very vital key with her.

I attempted to keep communications open and civilised, despite provocation. At dinner one night, amid boxes and rubbish, two strangers entered the back garden unannounced to take away the dishwasher. Apparently we didn't need to know who they were. More importantly, we couldn't open the bloody door, without the missing key, which caused irritation levels to soar.

But to the mystery...... I had mentioned by text and voicemail that we rather needed the key, like now. We were on the verge of getting a hammer and chisel out. VW was strangely silent on the whole thing.

But without warning, she turned up, slightly flustered, to 'collect her things'.
I asked for the key.
"Er, it's in the bathroom upstairs" she declared, eyes swivelling around her old house, "It's in a secret place where I keep all the keys".

I looked at her suspiciously. She was nervous.

"The bathroom's in use" I stated.


She looked at the floor then fished into her bag. "This might be the key" she said brightly, "but I'd still like to check the secret place in the bathroom" motioning as if to suddenly run up the stairs.

I tried the key and it fitted. There was now no need to 'go upstairs'. She suggested she go anyway, and wouldn't say where the 'secret place' was. I gave her her stuff and bundled her out the door, muttering something about coming back later in the week, whatever. She started to panic a little and texted me several times, left a voicemail or two, and indicated that she would like to come round soon and check. "To see if the key's there."

Of course, we have now been through our new, neatly tiled bathroom inch by inch to find the 'secret' place. There is not one loose tile. The floor is sound, the walls are sound, there are no cabinets, holes, compartments anything that might conceal a space big enough to hold even a key. The ceiling is sealed. The windows are tight. We can't find it.

More intriguingly, it is beyond the bounds of possibility that this 'secret place', in a bathroom upstairs, was ever used to hold doorkeys for use downstairs. It clearly holds something else. Something small. Something secret.

But what? And where is it?