Moving In

The old house used to have a double garage. At some point in its history someone, probably a teenage child, wanted a private space of their own. So, half of the garage was converted into a room with a bedroom/living room, a kitchenette, and a toilet with shower.

Mrs. Wolfe knew this was the perfect place for a student to reside while going to one of the nearby university campuses. So, she put a small advertisement in a couple of the university newspapers. Before long she had various young people asking to look the room over. One in particular, Sue Farrow, applied for the unit immediately.

The day Sue came to be interviewed Mrs. Wolfe was doing the laundry. The clothesline on the porch to her unit was only large enough for socks, shirts and underwear to flap from its white cabling like flags to domesticity. Inside she tumble dried sheets and towels which she was folding when Sue knocked on the door.

Mrs. Wolfe answered smelling of soap powder and laundry softener. She found a tall slender woman with long raven-black dyed hair, wearing black eyeliner and a black lace dress with black boots. Sue looked as if she could be a youthful banshee. Some of Eileen's friends would have been startled and fearful of such a dark-seeming youngster, but all Mrs. Wolfe could see was a creative spirit playing an adult form of dress-up.

"Please, come in dear. I'll only be a moment," said Mrs. Wolfe.

Sue gingerly walked in and sat herself uncomfortably on the floral sofa. She watched Mrs. Wolfe finish off neatly arranging a stack of pale blue terry towels. "Would you like a cup of tea?" called out Mrs. Wolfe as she carried the towels to the linen closet.

"Uhm, would you have any herbal?" asked Sue not certain that it was correct protocol to make such a specification.

"Why yes, I could make us a cup of peppermint or chamomile if you like," said Mrs. Wolfe now bustling to the kitchen.

"Peppermint would be great."

Mrs. Wolfe quickly made the preparations for tea. With the absence of many other sounds but Mrs. Wolfe's industriousness in the room, Sue found herself uncannily absorbed by the slow clicking of the electric wall clock. Sue liked old things, but she also liked a fast backbeat to punctuate her activities. Soon Mrs. Wolfe emerged with teapot, teacups, and a plate of dark chocolate TimTams. Sue did wait for Mrs. Wolfe to serve her, but was quick to munch on a TimTam. "Yum!" she exclaimed with a grin before quickly regaining a more serious demeanour.

Mrs. Wolfe picked up Sue's application and a pair of reading glasses. "You are certainly keen to rent this room. Your application came in nearly two days before any one else's. Any particular reason?"

"Well," said Sue, "I really like all of the cool old buildings in this suburb: the stately Victorian architecture with ornate black iron gates. You can even still find a few gaslights and horse troughs in the area. I could imagine all the stuff that happened in books by Stoker, Le Fanu or Gaston Leroux taking place here."

"You do realise that East Melbourne is rather a distance from nineteenth century London or Paris?" said Mrs. Wolfe trying to suppress a smirk.

"Yeah, but it is also easy to get from here to Melbourne University."

"True enough. In any case all of your references had good things to say about you. So, if you wish to rent the place, it's yours."

Sue sat for a few moments as the news sunk in. "Yes, thank you, yes I would like to rent the place. Can I move in straight away?"

"As soon as you like," replied Mrs. Wolfe.


Pigs in the City
Copyright © 1999 Katherine Phelps
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