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"

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2

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"

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"Ow!"

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"

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"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"

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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.

The enemy.

“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"

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Gwen sipped her coffee in the breakroom that smelled of smoke. She didn't light up herself. She smoked, but she did not care for tobacco. For all his laxness on OHS, Marlon did not appreciate it when anything else was smoked in the workplace.

She drummed her fingers on the plastic table. There was much on her mind. She lived a simple life, and seldom found herself with great moral choices to make. What Pennington offered… It can’t have been the right thing to do. And yet, how could she say no? Legally, Pennington’s plan was probably legal. No law against it – or if there was, it were part of some old law against witchcraft, something that remained on the books even though no one had cared since the dark ages. No, there was no law against it exactly. But there were similar things, modern things that were pretty damn illegal. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 4: Coffee Break"

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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"

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The wood sang its sweet song to Gwendolyn Harper, but for once she could not listen. Most days, she could hear little else. Her ears filled with a thousand tunes and she was happy. Now there was no room in her broken heart for the joy of wood.

Sunday morning and the crowds were yet to arrive. Gwen worked in the timber section of Handy Pavilion, amongst the vast shelves of potential. Rough long baulks of framing pine, neat thin strips of hardwood decking, huge pallets overloaded with sheets of plywood and MDF. This was her kingdom and these were her people, and yet she would give it all away from one sweet kiss from the man she loved from afar.

Norman, his name was. Norman. Nor-man. New hire. Worked in power tools. He was a young man of perhaps twenty, perhaps less. He had a tufty little beard which didn’t suit him, and yet which could not obscure his beauty. There were tattoos up and down his arms. She wondered how far they extended beneath his shirt, beneath his apron. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself — Chapter 2: A Wooden Chorus"

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It was a Saturday morning, and the hot sun beat down on the hardware centre. The centre’s air conditioning struggled to put up a fight, but it was still anyone’s battle.

Axel Plazoff was restocking a shelf of caulking guns, when out of the corner of his eye he spotted a familiar face. It was a handsome face, screwed up in an expression of concentration, and it belonged to a big man who examined the label on a can of exterior varnish with the intensity of a bomb-disposal expert wondering which wire to snip.

Oh God. It was Captain Stellar-- not in his uniform, just a t-shirt, shorts and sandshoes. Please, Axel thought. Please don’t let him recognise me. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself — Chapter 1: The Reunion"

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