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17. Testament 1 19. Should I Move

August 19th, 2020

Cats in Hats

'You have too much pride,' the one friend admonished, as the other finished telling his tale. 'Tell me about it,' he replied. They both laughed. 'Cats in hats.' This was a term they had developed over several months of lockdown-based DIY projects. A good example would be the yellow bathroom where they had taken up the carpet (red carpet, yellow walls, in a bathroom), removed the plastic shower guard - which leaked - in favour of a draw-back, swapped the frilly curtains for venetians. These jobs all went surprisingly well, apart from not being able to remove the plastic seat from inside the shower, or getting the shower to a state where it doesn't scald you for three minutes before rapidly cooling to cold. Or, for that matter, solving the issue of having to turn the shower on at an industrial stop valve in the laundry cupboard, running to the bathroom next door for the allotted three minutes, then running back to the cupboard in nought but a towel to avoid water wastage. The whole routine, which after a year or so became second nature, continues to surprise guests who often try the door between the laundry and the bathroom, which has no handle and doesn't go anywhere at all, and is now painted soft banana yellow. On the wall behind the bathroom door they'd decided to put up a towel rail, there being five in the house and a regular tussle for hanging space. The rail in question was a simple affair, two straight bars that attach to the wall via screws hidden by small flat plates. The points on the wall were measured and pencilled, holes drilled for the screw plugs, and the plugs themselves found in a box of bits and bobs downstairs. This is where the cats began to dust of their hats. At the end of a long day one friend was at the end of his patience-o-meter, not through any particular disagreements but from several hours sweating in a bathroom. So he rushed the towel rail. The plugs were the wrong size, or the holes were drilled to small, in any case the rail went up seemingly fine, but hung rather wobbly, leaning out of the wall precariously with any added weight, certainly more than two damp towels worth. 'It's fine.' 'It's hanging out of the wall.' 'It's just wobbly.' 'Yeah...' They left it, and didn't use it for fear of the thing coming creaking out and bringing a chunk of the wall with it. Perhaps a week later, with renewed DIY vigour they came back to the bathroom, took the towel rail down and filled the holes from the plugs with the plan to start over clean and get the thing up properly. The other friend sanded down the dry filler flush with the wall, taking some large flecks of paint with it. A simple enough job, repainting the filled and scratched sections. 'Do you have the blue?' 'I'll have a look.' He didn't. 'Could be in the garage.' It wasn't. 'Wasn't there some left from the other room.' Nope. No blue paint. 'Do we have the card so we can get some more?' Nope. They painted a grey stripe around the whole room in the end, to cover the marks in an artistic, intentional-looking manner. Then added some blue rectangles for further creative merit. The towel remains to this day un-put up, for fear of opening a further cat hats. 'Cats in hats.' The tube from Manor House, Piccadilly Line, change at Kings Cross to head North. Except he wasn't paying attention when the tube slowed to a stop, and only looked up from his phone when he realised they'd been stationary for a little while. He looked around, Kings Cross St Pancras. He should get off, this was his stop to change. Two options, stay sitting and pretend everything was normal, this was his route, it went to Leicester Square he could change there, or quickly jump up and make for the door at the risk of them closing on him and the embarrassment of not noticing his stop being poured over him from the fairly busy carriage. The doors were still open. He thought of all the times he'd seen someone notice their stop at the last second and sprint off. It must have been a minute, the doors were still open, tempting him. He had judged those people, in his head accused them of being too fixed to their phones or just lacking in awareness. It was quiet, the doors still open. He was one of those people now, but then... The doors were still open. Another thirty seconds based, painfully slow and eventless. The doors closed. He wasn't one of those people, he was sneakier than them, he had a back up plan which would add fifteen minutes to his journey. The change at Leicester Square is quicker anyway, he told himself, I'll probably make up the difference on the Charing Cross Branch, it's definitely quicker, he lied. Finally the doors closed. He took a long look at his warped reflection in the black windows opposite, his body up to chest as usual, then shoulder to nose squished into six inches, eyes upwards elongated to well past a five-finger forehead. He bobbed his head surreptitiously, the window stretching and stretching his head, now pig-like, now rat-ish, now alien and bulbous. Yet, each was the same face, each the same boy who wouldn't get off the tube to save face in front of a room full of strangers. The wobbly boy in the window pulled a face, it said, you dingus. You complete dingus. Dingus. I'm a dingus, he thought. Then he took out his phone and messaged his friend to let him know what he'd learned, that he, in fact, was a dingus. He changed at Leicester Square, went to the Northern Line platform, and tried very hard not to get on the wrong branch.

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