I got up early this morning because I mistakenly thought a Facebook notification was my alarm clock. It was Stan, he was in San Francisco. I made a cup of barista style coffee and sat down with Saturday’s Jersey Evening Post. I flicked through it until I reached what I wanted, the back and the General for Sale section. My eyes were immediately drawn to an advert for what I have long been searching for. I felt ill. Anxious. It was too good to be true. I knew it was Sunday. It would be long gone, thousands of people would have been in touch with the vendor yesterday, as soon as they got their greedy sticky hands on the paper looking for bargains. Why didn’t I read the paper on Saturday like a normal person? A wave of melancholy hit me like an Indian bus covered with people. I wasn’t even going to phone but then I thought, what the fuck, may as well.
The phone rang three times before it was answered by a sleepy sounding woman. “Your advert in yesterday’s JEP,” I screamed.
“Has it been sold? I suppose it has. I shouldn’t have called, I’m sorry I’ve wasted everybody’s time. Stupid Jamie.”
“No, it’s still here.”
HOLY FUCKING JESUS, I thought.
“Can I come around?” I gasped.
“Certainly.” She gave me the address and said 10am would be good. Before she went, she asked me if I knew the time. I laughed and told her I didn’t, then I put the phone down.
10am on the dot I rang on her doorbell. She ushered me through to a room that was neither a living room nor a kitchen.
“There it is, hardly been used,” she said pointing towards an empty glass box. I began to suspect she was mad. I was in a mad woman’s house on a Sunday. Gah!
“Well… the fish tank.”
“Where?” I asked, not understanding. I went over and looked around. Nothing.
“The advert said a fish tank.”
She was seriously freaking me out. She seemed to be suffering the effects of gas poisoning. She wasn’t making any sense. I didn’t really know what to say. So, I stood there smiling. After a bit of smiling, I asked her where exactly the fish tank was. I needed this straight in my head. I was missing something.
“So, where’s the fish tank?” I asked.
“There,” she said pointing at the empty glass box and I nodded and sighed. I’d been duped.
“It’s here, is it?” I asked, gesturing at the nothing in the box. Fucking brilliant. She didn’t reply. A nut case trying to sell me an invisible fish tank, great. Perfect. “It’s in here, is it?” I repeated, trying to conceal my rage by inhaling and exhaling through my nostrils..
“That is it,” the woman replied. She was a bit hoity-toity. Had one of those faces that always look like they’re smelling a bad news story.
Jesus, I thought. I humoured her but I wanted out of there. I was a bit scared. She could knife me. I had to keep her calm. “Well, it’s a beauty. Erm… but it’s not quite what I’m looking for. I was after one more… well, visible,” I laughed and immediately regretted it. That’s the kind of sass mouth that can set a nutter off.
“Hahaha,” I said.
“Well, I’d like you to leave now, my husband will be back shortly,” said the woman.
Hope to fuck he’s got your brain medication, I thought. “Well,” I said and sort of half bowed, don’t know why I did that. And then I left. Outside and around the corner and away from the insane asylum of a house, I took him from my pocket and straightened the little green helmet covered in netting that I’d made him. A tiny box made to look like cigarettes tucked into the band. “Sorry, Sergeant Goldie Flippers, that woman was a time-waster. We’ll get you something to drive.”
“Onwards and upwards!” replied Sergeant Goldie Flippers, displaying his trademark stoicism.
“I’m sorry,” I said and then I kissed him and I stuffed him back in my pocket. He’s beginning to smell.