Go to Episode 1
A few moments later, Martin was back in the hallway heading to the kitchen. A frantic banging on the front door stopped him in his tracks. He opened the door to Fiona standing on the step struggling under the weight of what looked like the innards of a knackered photocopier.
‘Morning, Martin.’ Fiona struggled past him with the unwieldy machine.
‘Morning Fiona…, what is that?’
‘It’s the innards from a knackered photocopier.’ Fiona seemed surprised he even needed to ask. ‘Oh, leave the door open, Sam is on his way. He’s got a knackered laser printer!’
Sam struggled through the door with the laser printer, which had possibly seen better days, but they must have been a very long time ago. ‘It’s a laser printer,’ he said to Martin. ‘Isn’t it a beauty?’
‘Er… yes, I suppose so.’
‘Down the cellar?’ Fiona asked Sam.
Sam nodded. ‘Down the cellar? Oh, yes. Yes, indeed!’
‘Sam?’ Martin asked. ‘Why do you want to take all this… this… stuff, down the cellar?’
Sam stared at Martin as if he had just asked Sam why he had never previously considered deep-frying his own testicles. ‘Well, you wouldn’t want them in the living room would you?’
Martin conceded the point with a nod of his head. ‘True.’
Sam opened the cellar door, flicked on the light with his elbow, and disappeared down the cellar steps, followed closely by Fiona.
Martin stood for a moment, listening to their murmuring from the cellar. The door closed slowly, cutting off Fiona’s sudden – very dirty-sounding – laughter.
Martin sighed, and shrugged. Now, he felt, he really needed that coffee – urgently.
In the living room, John was up, but probably not quite awake. He was eating dry cornflakes straight from the box while watching cartoons on the television through half-closed eyes. He was wearing just a pair of jeans and one faded pink sock. One eye opened slightly wider when he noticed Martin, and a sound, which could have been some kind of greeting, found its way through the half-chewed cornflakes.
Martin glanced across at the television where a racially balanced group of improbable cartoon teenagers were swapping earnest bland didactic maxims in the cartoon maker’s conception of contemporary teenage American street slang.
‘This is shit.’ John nodded towards the screen. ‘But Tom and Jerry will be on soon.’
Martin sighed and shook his head as he headed off to the kitchen to make his coffee, hurrying in case he missed Tom and Jerry.
Sam strolled into the kitchen a moment later. He dragged a stool to the table, knocking dust off his trousers as he sat. He put his feet up on another stool and wiped printer toner from his hands. He looked up and grinned at Martin.
‘Good morning again, isn’t it a lovely day?’ Sam said. ‘You look puzzled?’
‘It’s just that someone has sent me a mystery parcel, and I don’t know who, or for that matter, why.’ Martin pulled up a stool next to Sam and sat down.
‘What was in this parcel then, if you don’t mind me asking? Not luxury leather goods or erotic literature in full colour for the discerning collector?’
‘No, nothing like that.’
‘That was what was in the parcel, juggling balls.’
‘I didn’t know you could juggle?’
‘I can’t, and what is more I have never, ever, even had the desire to even consider contemplating doing it.’
‘Oh….’ Sam was silent for a moment. He took a biscuit from the packet lying on the table. ‘This parcel – it’s not a gift from some admirer, an ex-girlfriend perhaps?’
‘No, the only balls Catherine would send me would be my own, gift-wrapped probably, with some witty and incisive gift-tag attached to the scrotum.’
‘How about your parents?’
‘No, my mother would only send out something warm and woollen, and my father has probably forgotten I’ve left home, he usually does.’
‘It is a mystery then.’ Sam shrugged. ‘By the way, you owe me some rent – don’t forget.’
‘I hate fucking mysteries,’ Martin said quietly as he stood looking out of the kitchen window at what Sam had once, in a brief burst of optimism, called the back garden. ‘I’ll give you the rent later on.’
‘Right, fair enough,’ Sam said. ‘I’m off to get a newspaper, do you want the usual?’
Martin nodded without looking around as Sam left. He turned from the window moments later, as he heard the kitchen door open once more.