This is the seventh part of a fiction serial, in 885 words.
The thing about the Loud Couple was that they weren’t actually that loud. Yes, they annoyed Edna because they had laminate floors, but they got their name from the weekend when they moved in. I found it hard to believe that two people could make so much noise, but it didn’t help that they had some friends or family helping that day, and they constantly shouted to each other from the car park up to the balcony. I could hear every word in my flat, even with the balcony door closed.
So the name stuck, even when they went quiet after that.
The following week, I met them as they walked back from their car to the entrance. Not friendly or chatty, just nods. I think the woman might have mumbled something, maybe hello. It was obvious they both worked for a well-known bank, as they were wearing the corporate uniform always seen on the TV adverts for that bank. In those few moments, I looked them up and down, and decided everything I needed to know about them. He was a mixed-race guy, good looking in a Craig David way. Tall, and well-built, looked like he spent some time at the gym, or worked out at home. I gave her at least ten years on him, definitely the older of the pair.
She had one of those faces that looks like it has never smiled, and her natural white skin had changed to the colour of house-bricks, from too many tanning beds, and over-application of fake tan lotion. She was about a size six, skinny and wiry, with legs like a professional Tour de France rider, all sinew and muscle. Her hair was immaculate, like it had been set in a mould, and wasn’t about to move even during a hurricane, and her make-up was borderline drag queen, applied with a palette-knife, by the look of it. They were an unlikely couple, to say the least, so I concocted a story in my head to explain how they had come to buy their flat.
I decided that she was senior to him at the bank. He had got off with her to get on at work, and she had shocked him by leaving her husband for him. With two bank salaries, and a discounted staff mortgage, they should have been able to do better than Spencer House. That convinced me that they probably both had other financial commitments, perhaps him paying for a couple of kids, and her not getting much from the equity of the family home when it was sold. It didn’t matter to me if everything I thought was wrong, as once I gave a name and thought up a theory, it always became the truth in my head.
Then someone moved into the flat opposite Edna, Number One. I watched from my balcony as she tried to talk to him outside, with no luck. He hardly had any stuff, and took the few things from his car into the flat in ten minutes. I used to imagine him sitting on the floor eating takeaway food, and wondered if he even had a bed. But of course all that stuff got delivered during the day, when I was at work. Edna kept a tally of what was going in, watching through her peephole. She mentioned it one day as I waited for the lift, and fortunately it arrived before she could get into describing the colour and pattern of his sofa.
She also told me that he left for work every day at three in the morning, and she heard him locking his door at that time, six days a week. She went into great detail about how he had so many keys, she could hear them jangling in the lock. I decided that anyone who goes to work that early must work in a market, maybe Spitalfields or Billingsgate. So he got his name of Market Boy, whatever he actually did for a living.
Flat three above him, and opposite the loud couple, stayed empty for a long time.
After the numbers had been painted in the car park spaces, it wasn’t that long before it was noticed that nothing was ever parked in space twelve, which was nominally reserved for me. Despite the ongoing parking hassles, it had surprised me that nobody had ever hijacked my space. Sometimes a visitor or delivery driver might stay in it for a while, but none of the actual residents ever used it. Then one Sunday morning, there was a knock on my door. I opened it to see Mrs Middle-Aged Biker Man. She actually had her own name, and it was Teacher Lady. They lived below me, in flat ten. I had christened her Teacher Lady because she looked like one, and dressed like one of my secondary school teachers. That turned out to be a good call, as one day in the lift she told me she was looking forward to the school summer holidays, to get a few weeks off.
That Sunday, she was all smiles. She didn’t ask to come in, and I didn’t invite her. She made some general chit-chat about the parking problems, then got to the point.
Her and Biker Man wanted permission to use my space.