This is the sixteenth part of a fiction serial, in 715 words.
Mum’s house sold for an incredible four hundred and sixty grand. Two buyers fought over it, and one offered well over my asking price of four-thirty. I gave thanks to the god of gentrification, and to the fact that it went through in just six weeks after the previous tenants had gone. I hadn’t even needed to get it decorated, just hired some firm to remove everything, and skip the lot.
I had stayed off sick all that time, fending off the calls from work asking about my welfare, and playing up on feeling depressed about my mum dying in a foreign country. Once the money from the house sale was in my bank, and I had paid off the flat in Spencer House, I wrote a long email to my boss, requesting an early retirement package that included not having to go back into work. Except to sign some papers, say goodbye, and surrender my police I.D. They didn’t try to talk me out of it, and I knew they wouldn’t. I was also not surprised that there was no talk of a leaving party, though they did have a collection for me, presenting me with a Citizen digital watch they hadn’t even bothered to wrap.
I looked it up. It cost twenty-four ninety nine.
And that was that. I was man of leisure, with no intention of finding another job. I had enough to live on from the pension and lump sum, as well as that huge sum from the house sale, if I ever needed it. On the first day I woke up when I would normally have been at work, I went out and bought some very expensive casual clothes, then took a taxi into Covent Garden and treated myself to a slap-up lunch at Rules. On the way home, I stopped off in Mayfair, and bought a very nice Breitling watch.
The one the team had given me had gone straight into a bin as I walked out of the office.
The next morning I had a thought, and scrolled through the laptop looking at home security companies. I made an appointment for someone to come round late that afternoon. I was impressed with what was on offer, and chose a very unobtrusive camera to be installed in my door peephole, as well as one fitted on the balcony that would give me a wide angle view of the front of the block. The images from both could be live-streamed to my TV or laptop, and I paid extra for the option to have it all recorded to play back anytime I liked. It wasn’t a cheap system, but it was all in colour, and the one on the door had a microphone too.
A very efficient guy turned up two days later, fitted it in less than an hour, and showed me how it all worked.
By the end of my first week of leisure, I had pretty much bought all new stuff, except for the comfortable sofa and chair that I intended to keep for as long as possible. The biggest TV that Dixons stocked, a new double door fridge-freezer that only just fitted in the kitchen, state of the art washer-drier, and a new Apple computer too. I got the biggest monitor in the shop to go with it, and bought the latest phone so that I could download the app from the security company. Now I could even access my cameras when I was away from the flat.
Then I got a cable company in to set up the full package on the new telly, so I could watch anything that was ever shown.
During the autumn, I enjoyed watching the comings and goings around the block, and on the landing outside my flat too. I had a great view of Theatrical’s door of course, and I was very surprised to see how much action the ugly old Conehead was getting. Most nights, he would come home with some coy-looking rent boy or giggling youngster, and rush excitedly into his flat. He had to be paying them, I was convinced of that.
By Christmas, I had done everything I wanted to do. I bought a Christmas meal deal in Marks and Spencer, and spent the day watching my cameras.