100 days: Day 40

13/02/2010

Swansworth

‘Hellooooooooo,’ rattled the chillingly familiar over-enunciation across the intercom. Margaret stopped fashioning a beehive hairdo from the shampoo suds that crackled around her ears. Bathtime had lost it’s joy.

Dripping and cold, her finger hovered inches from the buzzer as she watched the grainy black and white screen relay images of Robert Swansworth shifting anxiously from foot to foot. The perspective emphasized his already prominent forehead, it made him almost appear comical. That was a short lived novelty.

Buzzzzzzt.

‘Unwise… I notice your light is on, I’m aware of how energy conscious you are Margaret and so you should be in the current climate, both economic and literal. I suggest you reconsider your availability status. Margaret. Open the door,’ it was his nature to be long-winded, his vocal style was quick and clipped, this avoided the possibility of interruption. Also, he was so enraptured by his own intimidating prose that he neglected to hold down the talk button for half of it. Still, it had the desired effect.

‘Yes, hi, hello Robert. Sorry I was in the bath. Give me a moment and I’ll buzz you up,’ she spluttered into the intercom, regretting each syllable.

‘Hello Margaret, very well, I’ll be taking a note of the time,’ he turned from the front door, hands clasped in the style of a bouncer. Nobody likes this guy.

Margaret quickly evaluated and donned her most unattractive clothes and then buzzed him in.

‘Shit,’ she muttered.

Within a minute he was at the inner door, his spindly knuckles rapping out a hollow clanking rhythm against the thin wood.

‘Tis I,’ exclaimed the charmless husk from behind the door. Everything he uttered had no discernible depth, it was always small talk, but he managed to imbue each word with a seedy melancholy.

She clicked the latch and allowed him to slope in like a tendril of phlegm detaching itself from the door frame. Then he stood in the small hallway, his determination to enter the flat was now realised and so he became listless and uncommunicative, his back to Margaret. Margaret watched and waited for a while to see if this was a momentary thing… no, it wasn’t.

‘Robert?’ she prompted gently.

‘Mr Swansworth!’ he snapped back.

Ah, it’s a “Mr Swansworth” day today, thought Margaret. His mood-scale ran from Bob to Mr Swansworth, so this was a bad indication.

‘Tea, Mr Swansworth?’ she asked.

‘Earl Grey,’ he responded. He then walked into her lounge and took up occupancy on her favourite chair, the one in a sunspot. There he sat for a while, looking out of the window before leafing through an old copy of Grazia magazine and complaining of a musty smell in the flat.

He left after three hours and four cups of Earl Grey. That’s the moral of the tale, be sparing with the use of the phrase ‘anytime’ because he’s been coming over for three years now and Margaret can’t remember how it started, doesn’t enjoy his visits and is too polite to risk offending him. Just saying, be weary of that.

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