The Love of Solitude: Chapter Eight

Written By Abdun Nur

Chapter Eight

The Cellar

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sill quickly spun the wheel and the door swung open.

He peered inside the gloomy chamber, Phil was slumped in the chair motionless. Sill reached in and tried to pull him out, Phil’s bulk was unaffected by Sills hardest efforts, he just wasn’t strong enough. He checked for a pulse and was very relieved to find one. He decided to find Gwen and get her help.

Sill rushed to the bottom of the staircase and shouted Gwen’s name, then went into the living room to get dressed as quickly as he could.

When Gwen got down she was as concerned as Sill about poor Phil, and felt as guilty as Sill about failing to release Phil at midnight.

Gwen tried to helped Sill to pull the unconscious Phil out of the chamber and onto the wooden floor, but Phil was a dead weight, after great effort they managed to eventually get him hanging halfway out of the door, his head floating two feet from the floor, his long oily hair hanging down surrounding his bald head. They both stood back and pondered how to move him, then he just slide out banging his head hard on the ground, and his body rolling away from the machine.

He smelled even more pungent than Gwen remembered. “Should we call an ambulance?” Sill asked.

He shouldn’t be physically injured. We could just let him sleep for a while, see if he wakes up naturally?” Gwen suggested.

I don’t think we could move him far; he weighs a ton. For a tramp he seems to eat very well, he’s certainly got walrus fat in a plenty for the winter” Sill replied with a smile.

OK. We can set a bed up in here and make him comfortable, get the sleeping bag from the tent you set up last night, while I make breakfast.” Gwen told Sill.

After making Phil comfortable, Sill and Gwen sat eating breakfast, Sill took out his small note book and pencil. “Gwen, do you remember the address of Joanne Rhodes?”

Yes. But it’s very unlikely she’s still there.” Gwen replied.

Gwen gave Sill the house number and street name, which he wrote carefully in his book. “Would it be OK, if I finish a couple of hours early today, I want to go into the town to investigate Joanne Rhodes?” Sill asked.

Of course.” Gwen answered as she stood and started to clear away the breakfast things.

We should have a look at the lights in the cellar before you start on the garden Sill, see if we can’t get them working.” Gwen said.

Sill helped Gwen do the washing up, then they both headed outside to the cellar door.

As the door opened the only light came from the doorway, Sill had brought a pack of light bulbs and a small step ladder from the house, and went inside to change the bulbs. Gwen tried the light switch again but even with new bulbs the lights didn’t work. “I may need to get an electrician over to have a look.” Gwen said.

Where’s the fuse box for the cellar?” Sill asked.

I don’t know.” Gwen replied.

Do you have a torch I could use?” Sill asked.

Somewhere, I’ll have to have a rummage around see where it is.” Gwen pondered.

Eventually after much searching for a torch, it was located, and Sill found what he thought looked like the fuse box without a problem, when he opened the cover, it didn’t look like any fuse box he’d ever seen, more like a complex power distribution board, using the old fashioned type wired fuses as isolators. On top of the fuse box he found a piece of cardboard with different thickness wires wrapped around it, all the fuses were blown, he rewired each fuse and replaced it, then flicked on the main breaker.

As he flicked the breaker a powerful vibration ran through the whole building, accompanied by a momentary sound, low and deep. Sill and Gwen looked at each other puzzled.

Try the lights now Gwen.” Sill called, at which the lights illuminated the room.

“That was weird?” Sill said as they both looked around.

Gwen stood by the door leading into the cellar. “Maybe the breaker turned something on down here.” Gwen replied.

“That vibration went right through me, I could feel it in my teeth.” Sill commented.

The room walls were extensions of the room walls above, meaning the room proportions matched the rooms above. This room was a very basic kitchen in need of a good clean.

In the centre of the far wall was a heavy steel door. Sill tried the handle, but the door was locked. “I don’t suppose you have the key?” Sill asked.

“Those keys would be with my brother. My dad had a set as well, but I’ve no idea what happened to them.

I can call a locksmith out tomorrow get all the locks changed, Isambard was security minded about his work.” Gwen replied.

Again Sill was disappointed, getting to investigate the cellar was a slow challenge.

That’s the strangest fuse box i’ve ever seen.” Sill commented.

“Oh, yes. Isambard didn’t like the alternating curent system, the electromagnetic field it generates in a home is very bad for your mental health, the contaminated field makes people far less intelligent, so he installed a twenty-four volt direct current system throughout the whole house.

The idea of energy generation at a centralised point, to be distributed over heavy cables was imposed, because, you cannot transmit large amounts of energy using direct current through small cables, and the monopolists have been allowed to impose a metered, and very wasteful system of energy supply, when energy is everywhere freely available for all, without the endless consumption of materials such as oil, coal and gas.

People pay a heavy price for accepting monopolies.” Gwen said.

Gwen was very comfortable having Sill around, he was to her surprise not interfering with her solitude and had no impact on her normal activities, he was in fact pleasant for her as cpmpany. “Spend some time today cleaning this room out, you can set yourself up down here now. There’s an old steel bed frame upstairs, I found it yesterday when I was looking for something, you could carry down here, but no mattress unfortunately. I do have plenty of bedding you can use.” Gwen told him.

When I go into town later I could buy a mattress, if that’s OK?” Sill asked.

“Yes that’s OK. I’ll leave you to it, all the cleaning stuff’s in the kitchen under the sink upstairs, just help yourself.” Gwen headed back to the house.

Gwen checked on Phil, but he was still dead to the world, so after locating a local locksmith in the yellow pages, and arranging for them to come to open the locks, she went back to her painting.

Around three o’clock Sill set off into town in a taxi, he was heading to the address of Isambard’s old girlfriend Joanne Rhodes.

The taxi dropped him outside Joanne’s old house and after Sill paid him, the taxi drove away. Sill knocked on the door and waited nervously. The door opened and a large over weight man in his late eighties stared at him questioningly. “Yes. What can I do for you?”

Hello. I’m looking for Joanne Rhodes; does she still live here?” Sill asked.

No.

She moved out in the 70’s, why on earth would you think she was still here?” The old man asked.

I’m investigating the disappearance of Isambard Carnock. Are you related to Joanne?” Sill inquired.

I’m her father.” The old man replied.

Ho, excellent. Then you’ll know where I could get in touch with her?” Sill asked.

Well if you give me your details I can let her have them, and if she wants to get in touch with you, she can.” The old man told him.

OK. Thank you, I’m staying at Gwen’s. Isambard’s sister’s house.” Sill told him.

Is she still alive?” The old man commented surprised.

Could you tell me what you know of Isambard’s disappearance?” Sill probed.

I don’t really know anything, he just vanished, my daughter was devastated, there was an investigations at the time, but nothing ever came of it, I always thought it an odd investigation, there seemed little effort from the local police, but i suppose that may be normal.

I don’t believe my daughter could tell you more.

It was a long time before she got over Isambard. She eventually married a man called David Godwin, he died recently. Cancer.” The old man replied.

Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.” Sill replied.

“Don’t be too sorry…

Joanne teaches music, she’s always been a gifted musician, Isambard was a great influence in her life, I think still is, even though he’s been gone forty years, he was an interesting character as I recall, although I didn’t know him that well personally, I wasn’t too keen on him seeing my daughter at the time, the age difference was too big I thought, although I’ll admit he didn’t look his age. But ya know he was much older than me!

“So you and Isambard were on unfriendly terms?” Sill asked.

I didn’t like him at the house, and yes, I wasn’t too friendly with him to be absolutely honest.

I was quietly happy, when he vanished, but after seeing how hard Joanne took it, later felt his loss was unfortunate. To be straight with you, I think Isambard may have made a better husband than Dave did, for my daughter.” The old man explained.

“You didn’t like your daughters husband either?” Sill pried.

” No. No, I can’t say that I did, but you judge a man on his actions.” The old man said.

“May be no man is good enough for another mans daughter?” Sill commented.

“No. A man who treats a mans daughter as an equal, with respect, dignity and is loyal and honest, would make a good husband for any mans daughter. Isambard always conducted himself very well, I’d no grounds for complaint against his conduct, only against his age, and that was in hindsight foolish. Dave wasn’t a good man for any man’s daughter.” The old man replied.

“Why was that?” Sill pried.

“I shouldn’t really talk ill of the dead, but Dave had a couple of very bad flaws.

He was a gambler, and like every gambler was bad at it, gambling is a fools game, it’s a rigged pursuit. Gamblers never win, in the end the time wasted unproductively and the losses weighed to the gains make gambling an idiots paradise…

But I could’ve looked past that, if Dave hadn’t been a cowardly scumbag…

He was a violent bully, not that Joanne would tell me, but it was clear to all.” The old man explained, living alone made him overly chatty when he’d someone to talk with, which for him seemed to be a rarer and rarer event.

Sill chatted with the old man a short while longer, leaving Gwen’s phone number, then headed into town to buy a mattress and some other items.

The locksmith arrived at Gwen’s house just after Sill had left, Gwen led him into the cellar and showed him the lock she wanted doing.

Could you open all the locked doors in the cellar once this one is opened?” Gwen asked.

Do you want the locks replacing as well?” The locksmith asked.

I suppose so. How much does it cost?” Gwen asked.

Call out is £40, plus for this type of dead bolt lock is £40 to unlock, there are three dead bolt locks on this door, so that’s £120, plus the cost of each new lock, £35 for each one, £105 for replacement, with call out that’s £265. But the cost depends on what type of lock I’ve to open and replace. If cost is a concern, I can talk with you about each doors cost after I examine them, so we can agree before I work on them.” He explained.

OK. That’s expensive… Could you just remove extra locks and replace one for each door, to reduce the cost?” Gwen asked.

Certainly. It normally takes me about ten minutes to open each lock, and another ten minutes to replace one. But these locks are heavily rusted up, they’ve been stood unused for decades by the looks of it.” The locksmith smiled.

Well they need doing, best get them sorted, just do them all. Thank you, I’ll leave you to it, just come to the front door once you’re done.” Gwen told him before going back upstairs into the house.

The locksmith worked on the locks, with the last lock opened he push the door, but it didn’t budge, it seemed to be rusted shut. He hammered a jimmy bar between the door and the frame, easing the door free by working around the frame prizing the door open slowly.

The old door gave in eventually, and opened stubbornly grating hard across the floor as it opened. The locksmith peered into the darkness of the room, he flicked on a torch and looked around for a light switch, the room was very creepy almost crypt like; it gave him the willies, it even had a slight smell of death. “You watch too many horror movies Bert” He said to himself out loud, he was feeling nervous, half expecting Frankenstein’s monster to rise up from the darkness.

He tried the light switch but it didn’t work. He fitted a new dead bolt lock on the rusty door and removed the two extra locks as quickly as he could, he kept glancing into the darkness of the room warily. He pulled the door closed with difficulty, and locked it with some relief; then went upstairs to talk with Gwen.

He knocked on the front door and waited. Gwen smiled at him as she opened the door. “All finished?

That was quick.” Gwen said.

I’ve finished the first door. Here’s the new keys, each lock comes with three keys. The lights don’t work in the next room, and a torch isn’t enough light to open doors.” The locksmith explained.

I see. So what do you suggest?” Gwen asked.

Get the lights fixed and I can come again and sort the next door for you.” The locksmith told her.

That adds on £40 call out each time you open a door.” Gwen commented.

I will waive the call out for you for the next door. So that’s £195. Here’s the invoice.” The locksmith said handing Gwen a piece of paper.

I’ll just get a cheque for you. Wait here a minute.” Gwen told him.

Once the locksmith had left, Gwen returned to her painting.

Click Here: Chapter Nine

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