Approaching the cottage in late afternoon, Peter's heart sank. Besides the air of neglect, the distance from the village was a concern. Collecting his bags from the car, her walked up the overgrown path. Dodging the overhanging branches of the old plum tree, he fished the keys out of his pocket. Exerting real pressure resulted in the screeching of swollen wood on worn quarry tiles as the door finally opened. Fusty air seeped out to meet him. Grabbing his bags, Peter entered the kitchen. Hoping against hope, he flicked the light switch. Instead of a light, all he got was a click. "Just my luck," he said. Kneeling, he searched his bag for a torch. Lighting his way, he explored the rest of the cottage. Moving to the countryside from abroad and buying the cottage unseen was turning out to be a challenge. Night was drawing in, so Peter decided he would eat then bed down on the old sofa in the sitting room and assess the situation in the morning. Optimistically, he had stopped and purchased a bottle of wine, some cheese, ham and salad together with a loaf of ciabatta bread to celebrate his first night in his new home. Pouring the wine, he ate and drank but without the feeling of celebration. Questioning his reasoning in buying unseen, he fell into a restless sleep. Roused by furious knocking at the kitchen door, he stumbled to answer it. Standing on the doorstep was a big guy, wearing a denim shirt, well-worn jeans and work boots. "Troy Haskins," he said, sticking out his hand. "Understand you 've bought Ma Forman's place, so you will be needing me." "Very rundown," he said, looking around. "We have a lot of work ahead of us." Xerox copies of plans appeared in his hands. "You can look these over and see how you like what I have drawn up so far." "Zombie-like, Peter led his new best friend into the kitchen.
By Issy Lauder