A Cold Dripping Tap
Drip, drip, drip.
Pete woke up, again, and stared at the ceiling. He cursed, viciously, under his breath. From the distant bathroom came that stupid, irritating, continuous damned noise. It annoyed him.
It annoyed him for two reasons. The first reason was that the sound of a dripping tap, coming from a room all the way down the corridor half a house away, should awake him at all. As a boy he used to have one of those old clocks, the kind that tick - tocked all bloody night. And that didn`t wake him. When he stayed round his dad`s, well, he had a flipping cuckoo clock of all things. Every hour, on the hour, a brightly coloured fluffy - thing! - that didn`t look like a cuckoo at all, came out and made a ridiculous screech which, incidentally, didn`t sound like a cuckoo at all. Yet even that didn`t bother him. But that bloody dripping was driving him mad!
The second reason was that, (this being the third night of sleeplessness) he should have forgotten to get the little rubber washers that would have cured the whole damn problem. Two days he`d had. Two sodding days, and yet, what with the everyday outside noise, he hadn`t heard the tap dripping during the day, and had hence forgotten about it. He wondered if it only started dripping late at night to spite him.
He looked across at Claire and saw that she was sleeping peacefully. He was still in her bad books, following an unsuccessful afternoon when he should have hung her washing out, and was even more so for waking her up two nights on the trot. If he did so tonight she may well re-enact Jekyll and Hyde, and turn in into Mrs Bobbit!
But that dripping was driving him mad, and he had to do something!
Pete slipped quietly out of bed, put on his dressing gown, and tip-toed into the bathroom.
Drip, drip, drip.
"Why can`t you just shut up?" He whispered viciously at the tap. It chose to ignore him, and instead carried on dripping.
Pete looked around the bathroom, hoping to find some inspiration, a solution to the problem. His eyes fell on the cotton wool balls that Claire used to take her makeup off. Grabbing two of these he stuffed them up the tap. He waited.
"Ha ha!" Sorted. "That`ll teach you." And he made his way back to bed.
Drip, drip, drip. He`d barely closed his eyes when the sound came again, this time louder, the drips heavier.
"Oh for Gods..." But Claire stirred and he quickly shut up, eyes wide with the fear that she may yet wake up. She settled and he again put on his dressing gown, and made his way to the bathroom.
He could see the problem. The water was soaking through the cotton wool, and was then hanging until a sufficiently large drop fell into the bath. He stood there frowning at it, as though the tap would get scared and change its course of action.
He knew it was late, and that it would cost a fortune, but maybe he could call out an all night plumber. He had the number for one somewhere. On the computer!
"No way. That just isn`t happening," he mumbled
Inspiration came in a flash, and he rushed off to the bedroom. From under the bed he withdrew his slippers. As slippers go, they worked. That is to say they were warm and comfortable. This despite the fact that they were large, clumsy, fluffy figures of Pluto the dog, his long thin ears flapping about every time Pete took a step.
Except that one Pluto only had one ear - and had a half mangled face - where Mr Beresfords dog had literally ripped it from Pete`s foot, then savaged it for a full ten minutes before they could get the slipper back.
Pete made his way downstairs. The main stopcock to the house was out the front on the pavement. If he turned that off, the pressure would be reduced, and the tap would stop dripping! Simple. He got the tools he`d need from the kitchen.
He`d never been outside in just his dressing gown and his slippers. If he had, he might have known that one of Plutos stupidly long ears would catch the door. He was halfway down the path when he heard the front door softly close. He turned and stared dumbly at it. Then he turned and looked at the stop cock cover. Then back at the door.
He stood there for a few minutes, unsure of exactly what to do. He finally realised that he may as well see to the stop cock first. He opened the cover and turned the tap off. He could visualise that in the bathroom the tap had finally stopped dripping. Not that it did him much good stuck out here in the cold. He had to get back in. And he`d have to do it without waking Claire.
The windows at the front of the house were all closed. What was more, they were double glazed. Only the door wasn`t double glazed, since the glazing companies hadn`t started all the 'buy two windows and get a door free' offers until a month after he`d bought his windows. So now they had to save up for a door.
But he wasn`t too happy at the thought of smashing one of the small panes in the door, so he crept round the back of the house. Sure enough there was a window open. The toilet window. It was the smallest window to the whole house, but at least it was open, and it could well save his life - or at least a very important part of his body.
A drainpipe ran all the way up to the open window. It looked strong enough, and as long as Pluto was up to the job there shouldn`t be a problem. He reached the top with surprising lack of difficulty. The window was smaller than it seemed from the ground, but he knew he just had to get through it, so he began to squeeze his body through the small gap.
He was halfway through when he heard the voices. There was the sound of feet hurrying up the stairs. Suddenly the toilet door burst open, and Pete was confronted with an irate uniformed policeman and a livid wife.
"What the bloody hell are you doing?" Claire fumed.
"Er, the tap was dripping." As if no further explanation was necessary, he pulled himself into the room. Unfortunately, only one of the Pluto slippers decided to stay on his feet. The other came off, bounced on the cistern, the plopped noisily into the toilet bowl.
It was a good ten minutes later, after many apologies, and only after the policeman had insisted that they phone a plumber there and then, that the policeman left.
"I`m going back to bed. Don`t even think of joining me!" Claire told him.
The thought of himself asleep, whilst Claire wielded a pair of scissors sprang into Petes mind, and he knew he wouldn`t be able to sleep in that bed tonight anyway. He went to the kitchen and decided to have a cup of tea. But of course that was a bad idea, as there was now no water to the entire house.
He rested his head on the breakfast bar, and must have dozed off, for the next sound he knew was the doorbell ringing first thing in the morning. He opened the door and saw a strange man standing there.
"Do I know you?" asked Pete.
"No, but you called me. I`m the plumber."
Pete took him upstairs and explained the situation on the way.
"I had to turn the water off from the stop cock outside in the end," he said.
"Didn`t you just turn it off from the bathroom one?"
"Er, no. I didn`t know there was one," he confessed.
"You should really find out the whereabouts of these things. You never know when you`re going to need them. Yours should be here in the airing cupboard," he said, and squeezed himself into the cupboard.
"Yes, here it is," continued the plumber. "And look what I`ve found." He pulled himself out and held up a little plastic bag for Pete to see. "The last person who had this problem must have left them there. It`s a bag of washers."