A Matter of Convenience

kyleakin

A COUPLE rented a weekend retreat on a Scottish island of which the woman was a native. She thought it best not to tell her other half that the lower level of their holiday apartment used to be the gents’ public toilets. Upstairs was the control room of the old ferry terminal.

During their first night she awoke to find him staring at the ceiling. He informed her that there was a bunch of people standing around the bed. She went rigid.

“What do you mean? You mean standing around the bed looking at us? Or just standing?”

He was matter of fact. “Just standing. In a line.”

“What, as in ghosts? I don’t see anything.”

“Yes. I can’t exactly see them but I know they’re there.”

“So what are they doing?”

“Just standing. Like they’re in a queue or something.”

The woman shut up for a moment and closed her eyes. “I don’t feel anything. If this place was haunted, I’d sense something. Besides, the dog would be acting all weird but he isn’t.” It was true, the dog hadn’t moved from his cosy spot on the end of the bed.

Although she knew that this was most likely another one of his wind-ups, for the remainder of the night the woman was tormented by images of rough chain-smoking hairy blokes smelling of motor oil and relieving themselves against the back wall.

II

THE WOMAN was determined that she would only tell her other half where he had been sleeping on their return home. But she cracked. And he handled it much better than she had anticipated. Eager for evidence of some kind of window into the local past, she pushed for more detail about what the avenue of men was doing. More specifically, where were their hands?

In the end, she had to spit it out. “ Could they have been doing, you know, what people normally do in public conveniences?”

“Of course not. Don’t be so bloody stupid. I made the whole thing up. And at what point did I ever say they were all men?”

III

ON THE final day of their vacation, the woman telephoned the landlord to let him know when they would be leaving and that they would put the key through the front door. As she was about to hang up, one thing was still niggling her.

“Just as a matter of interest, this building, it used to be the ferry terminal, didn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“And the living room on the first floor, with the fantastic view overlooking the harbour, that used to be the control room?”

“Yes.”

“And the bedroom downstairs, that used to be the gents’ toilets, yes?”

“No.”

“No?”

“Yes, no. The gents was next door. The bedroom used to be the ticket office.”

 

Copyright (c) M K MacInnes 2015

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