Saved by the VCR

The landlady just glanced at me and quickly went back to the TV and the new VCR as the husband crawled over to the other corner of the manual like a five-year old. “I saw something here, wait.” The old man said dragging his multicoloured tie across the spread out manual. “Yes, here it is, insert the tape . . .” “Daddy you haven’t . . .” the daughter. “Shut up! What do you know?” She turned to go to the kitchen corner. Apparently there was something burning on the stove. “Maybe she knows something baba . . .” “Did she finish High School? Hah? Tell me?” It was no secret that the old man had been hurt by what happened to his daughter. I heard before I showed my face the girl used to be the apple of his eye. I don’t exactly know what this man does for a living. He works for a certain company somewhere in the industries. He leaves the house everyday, shoes carefully polished, hands in the pockets and a tie around his neck. He comes about back round about five still looking smart plus a newspaper under his arm. Whatever that he does he is not really well paid. His ties are always very interesting, always old fashioned, multicolored and rather too wide and long for his small stature. There is nothing really to say about him except that he is always there like a clock that only says 5pm when it is 5pm, . . . according to it sometimes. I have my doubts about the level of brainpower for people like him. Why they have to follow a routine so religiously . . . never straying . . . why why why? I was still there watching drama unfolding when suddenly the old man thought he had stumbled on something. He crawled again to the other end tripping on his tie . . . he nearly choked on it. The fear that I had when I walked in was ebbing and I cleared my throat. “What exactly are you trying to do?” The daughter glared at me. The mother didn’t even look my way. The old man sat up smiling. Here was a chance for him to brag about the newly acquired gadget. “I just bought this thing today . . . cash, I should add.” I glared at him. “You know this is their latest offering and I don’t think anybody knows how it is operated as yet.” He was just old and definitely behind time. I saw the son duck his head. “May . . . maybe I could help.” I was sure they would all laugh their heads off. I remember the first time I met the landlady. I was going through the grill for the small room. “So what did you say you do for a living . . . because you know my husband will not tolerate any nonsense.” I was surprised later to realize that the husband had no say in what happened to the tenants. I was trying to look sophisticated, “I am a writer.” “And what that supposed to mean? What are you supposed for? You know you have to have a clear-cut job to stay here. We don’t want stories at the end of the month.” “Actually I work at Food for the Stomach.” “Oh there.” She was familiar with this one. Now I got a smile . . . no idea I was just a packer and she would surely get stories at the end of each month. I was tired of pounding the streets, the room didn’t look that bad though but the toilet . . . hey. “You think you know something? I think you have not seen this one as yet.” The daughter looked away. I reached for the code and plugged it in. The son handed over the remote and I started punching button quickly . . . partly to show off and also to confuse the pompous bunch. “Let me see . . . what do we want to do here . . . okay let’s go to menu’installation . . . search . . . that’s it . . . go on my friend’that’s a beauty. Bingo . . . here is your blue screen . . . give me that.” The landlady surrendered the videotape her mouth wide open. I enjoyed that moment much more than all the time I had been there. “Is that all?” The video was already showing. “How did you do that?” I wanted to tell them to pay for lessons . . . I wanted to tell them what I had above my shoulders was no pumpkin . . . I had a lot to say. “Well you don’t need to do it again. Every time you want to use it . . .” They liked this one. “What did you want by the way?” The old man asked not taking his eyes off the screen. “Well I was . . .” “Ha, this is nice.” The old fool wasn’t listening. “The rent money that . . .” “Do we still have those peanuts? Maybe you should put some in a plate for . . .” My fellow tenants were still waiting by the door. They nearly fainted . . . a plate of peanuts!

June 2006
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