Marlon had never liked Jasu Shan, but he was happy beyond words to see her. Ms Shan was abrasive and talked over him and would change the topic of conversation right in the middle of one of his sentences, and there wasn't a damned thing he could do about it because she was the General Manager and he was just the Duty Manager.
When Ms Shan taken ill, Marlon had been quietly pleased. He'd expected corporate to put someone else in charge for a while, preferably some quiet little pen-pusher who would take care of the big picture stuff and leave Marlon to the rest. In fact, head office had made Marlon acting manager. He'd been doing double duty as General Manager and Duty Manager in exchange for a nominal--and temporary—raise in salary.
Even that he might have coped with, had sales not started tanking when the DIY Barn had opened. That had put him in the awkward position of being both the good-guy boss he liked to believe himself to be--champion of his staff against the penny-pinchers at head office--while simultaneously acting as a penny-pincher from head office. It was vexing. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 12: Tea and Scandal"
Seamus awoke to the full moon, shining down on the Handy Pavilion garden centre. He yawned and stretched, though even at full extension his arms didn't go very far. He smacked his lips and put his pipe in between his teeth, though he did not, could not light it. Standing, he began his inspection. All the neat rows of plants, all the trees and seedlings, all the ferns and that little corner full of bonsais. Walking slowly on his little legs, he began his methodical rounds, examining the leaves, testing the dampness of the soil, squinting in the moonlight for any sign of aphids or thrips.
He had one night to do it. He had to make it count. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 11: Silver Men in Moonlight"
Wellsey watched Fiona with horrified interest. Here was a woman who not that long ago could barely tell one end of a plunger from another. Hell, a fortnight ago he'd seen her reduced to mumbling incoherence by a simple question about bath plugs. Now she was selling like Arthur Daley on steroids.
"Sure, this one's top of the line," she said. "But you've got to ask yourself, 'do I need top of the line', yeah? You're doing one of those dream home sort of projects, you've got money to burn, then yeah, get this one. But for a place the size you're talking about, I'd suggest this baby. Looks good, solidly built, nine year guarantee, half the price of the one you were looking at." ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 10: A Dilemma for Wellsey"
A man was looking at melamine boards. He checked their lengths for defects, then raised them it to eye height and held it straight ahead to see if it was straight. He was doing a terrible job of it, taking too long about it and picking a bunch of boards that even from five metres away, Gwen could see were sub-par.
The customer had probably never had to check boards before. He'd probably learned the technique out of a book or a YouTube video. Men who were just starting in on woodwork tended to be like that. There seemed to be a weird belief amongst men that woodworking is in the blood, and so asking for help was admitting something was wrong with them.
They seemed perfectly okay with asking about paint, though. Colours. Women's stuff. A bloke could be forgiven for not knowing. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 9: The Phial"
From the South Hertling Super Centre Newsletter February 29th , 2016:
Robbery Nearly Strikes Super Centre
By Karl Wintergreen
Last week, an armoured car was robbed on Wellington Rd, mere moments away from the South Hertling Supercentre. Had it been a mere fifty metres south, the car would have been within the precincts of our beloved Supercentre. This, apparently, would have justified the expense of an additional issue of this newsletter, to write about the exciting crime. But, since it took place a whole fifty metres away, I was unable to write about it until now. Also, I am not allowed to devote the entire issue to the crime, since I still have to make space for that piece about how Place 'O Pets teamed up with the local high school to raise money for Guide Dogs.
Some of you are probably interested in that crap. Sheeple. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 8: The Newsletter"
Captain Stellar had couple of lengths of two-by-four in his trolley. When he reached the cashier he realised he'd put them in the wrong way around, and the woman at the checkout couldn't get at the barcodes. It was a stupid mistake. Cycloman always did that and Stellar would have to correct him, and now here was Stellar doing it himself.
Annoyed, he'd flipped the two-bees end-over-end. He must have whacked the poor cashier while he was doing it. Her eyes were shut tight in pain, and was clutching her temple.
"Oh! I'm so sorry!" Stellar said. "How careless! Here, let me…"
Let me what? Apply a tourniquet? Kiss it better? What could he do? What could he do?
The cashier let go of her forehead and smirked. There was no bruise; no cut. "Nah, I'm fine. You're the third person I got with that one." ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 7: Diversion"
"Will this take an LED bulb?"
Sadie McGregor looked up from the manifest she had been checking, to see a huge fat man. At first she took him for a glutton, but a closer look told her he was not. Perhaps he had a glandular condition? It didn’t matter. What mattered was the box he was thrusting a standard lamp at her.
"It will take any bulb with a standard Edison screw," she said.
"You sure? I don’t want to have to bring it back."
Sadie looked up from her manifest and gave the man her full attention. His eyes widened, startled and he swallowed hard. This often happened to people on the receiving end of Sadie’s full attention. She stared further into his eyes. His soul was in relatively good shape, other than some mild office pilfering and... ah. A short, doomed affair that he’d never told his wife about. He really should tell her.
"Here,’ she said. "I will show you." ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 6: Luminiferous"
Axel sat in the loading dock. It was nearly midday and it was as hot as an oven. A little drop of sweat made its way down his face to the point of his chin. It hung there for a moment, then dropped down to the green collar of his Handy Pavilion shirt, where it soaked into the fabric. Axel ignored it. His eyes were focused on a spot between the Place O’ Pets’ building and a parked truck. He could only see a little sliver through this gap – a busy roadway, and beyond that a small section of concrete wall, painted an unpleasant yellow.
The DIY Barn.
“Hot out, eh?”
Axel was aware of the voice in the same way he was aware of the drops of sweat down his face--there, but distant from his thoughts. He heard his own voice reply: “Going to get hotter, they say.” ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 5: The Shirts"
There was a sink overflowing.
This wasn’t supposed to be Wellsey’s problem. The Handy Pavilion was like any other shop, in that if there was a problem with a sink or toilet then a plumber should be called. But Marlon -- cheap bastard that he was -- would generally call on Wellsey to fix leaks in the grimy Pavilion bathroom. Wellsey could and did argue this was not his problem. He was senior staffmember in the plumbing section, sure, but that didn’t make him a licensed plumber or even, you know, a competent plumber. Marlon usually responded by glancing around and seeing no customers talking to Wellsey.
“Well, it’s not like you’re busy,” he’d say.
It was true, usually. A lot of customers didn’t like talking to Wellsey. Not so much the tradies, they didn’t mind him, but the middle class mums and dads who came into his section always gave him funny looks. Fair enough, he looked like he was bad news. He was a big man, and even though he was pushing fifty, he looked like he could dish out some damage if he wanted to. A shaven head, a facial scar, a missing front tooth and an armful of tattoos all seemed to confirm the inevitable first impression that Wellsey was a dangerous customer. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 3: The Mystic Spring"