Friday, May 31, 2013

A Sale of Red Wellington Boots

Rupert stood by his stall, if a car boot could be called a stall. Well, the car had stalled several times on the way to this late riser site, and he had arrived after the last late riser of them all. Customers had come and gone before Rupert had arrived in his banger and opened his boot ... to reveal it seemed several pairs of red wellington boots that had fallen off a lorry ... literally.

The lorry had been backing up with relentless beeping noises that had woken the neighbourhood before breakfast. An aging population that had probably been up half the night with weak bladders or just tossing and turning, half-dreaming, half-sleeping, half-waking, half counting sheep. Anxiety in fifth gear at the slowest time of existence just before dawn. Only to be further disturbed by a reversing juggernaut in their cul de sac - and, when its engine gunned to a halt, the sound of an overload of floppy footwear hitting the concrete as the driver opened the back. Rather like rubber fish just released from a teeming net onto a slimy deck...

Rupert got up and peered through the window. Just right for a boot sale, he thought. He stroked his chin as he watched the lorry head out of God's waiting-room into the stream of traffic just beyond.  .

Rupert changed into his pyjamas to convince others, if not himself, that he had been fast asleep instead of fretting at the window all night waiting for the bad dream he'd always expected to arrive, should he not be on watch for it. He watched a seagull suddenly land on the pile of boots having mistaken them for zombie stumps.

It was then he spotted Mrs Beaver peering out of her bungalow door as she inspected the red wellingtons, that had spilled over into her front garden. Her late  husband was still in bed.

Rupert was determined that he would harvest the boots for a boot sale  before she did. If this were a proper dream, he felt himself lucky that he was unexpectedly not listening to the BBC World Service on his earphones, while half awake, listening to reports from Middle Eastern war zones as part of the nightmarish world of broken sleep. If this were not a dream at all, then how explain why it felt like one? Broken waking halfway to broken death.

Only in a waterlogged Hell did you need such boots. 

"How much?"

Rupert suddenly realised that someone had approached the boot of his car pointing to the red wellingtons.

"A pound a pair," he decided to say.

"Have you got my size?" asked the prospective customer.  A young man who had a small girl holding on to his hand. Well, a man younger than Rupert, at least.

"Try a pair on, if you like," offered Rupert, while bending as if to choose the likeliest to fit a grown man.

"I'll give you a fiver for the lot, without trying any on," the man suddenly said, as he put a hat on the girl. The sun was now high in the sky.

"A tenner and it's a deal," said Rupert. He'd had enough and wanted to cut his losses. There were a few in the pile that would fit the smallest of children, he knew. He would have no conscience about palming off the boots from his boot, even if they fitted nobody but fairy story giants. But selling was an art - and being sincere as well as feeling sincere was half the battle.

Mrs Beaver was already in the road collecting up the boots before Rupert had the chance to venture beyond his own bungalow door. He went back to bed. He wondered why she had a sun hat on so early in the morning. 

As he lay awake, he heard a helicopter in the sky. 

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