Manhole | Pushing the Wave


Story, 3 May 2023
by L.A. Davenport

From the collection Dear Lucifer and Other Stories

Stacks Image 237
Manhole and cover. Bart Everson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Hello. Can you help me? I seem to have got myself stuck. Sorry to be a bore. I know you must be terribly busy, but if you could just spare a moment…No? Of course not, I understand. Maybe someone else might…Ah, yes, hello? No? Maybe you…Hello? You, over there…Sorry to bother you. I wouldn’t normally ask but…It’s all a bit embarrassing, I know, but I was wondering…No? Oh well, never mind. Excuse me. Sir? No? Not at all. I do realise this is a bit of an imposition. Hello? How about you? No? Oh well, I’m sure I’ll be fine. I’ll just wait here until someone…Funny, really. I mean, me ending up stuck in this, well, manhole. Stuck, you know. A man, in a hole…A man in a manhole…It’s just that, in case anyone does fancy…I mean, if they have the time, as it were…Just a tug should do it. A quick pull on my hands. Wouldn’t take a moment. And then I’d be out in a jiffy…Gosh, everyone is so busy this morning. Ow. No, sorry. My fault. I shouldn’t be stuck down this hole, then you wouldn’t end up having to kick me in the back on your way to work. My, it is busy, isn’t it? Lots of people…Ow. Yes, sorry, I know. I shouldn’t have got so drunk. It’s my fault for getting married, of course. Those fellows, they had to do something to mark the occasion. Mind you, I think even they excelled themselves with this particular wheeze. What was that? No, madam, I am not mad. Just talking out loud to whoever will listen, as it were. In actual fact, I’m trying to attract some attention, maybe even convince someone to give me a hand. You know, a quick tug. No, I can assure you that it wasn’t my intention to find myself stuck halfway down a manhole in the pavement right outside Victoria Station at eight on a Monday morning. Yes, I realise that it is an inconvenience to you, but believe you me, the inconvenience to me is far gr...No, no, just overweight, madam. I prefer overweight, if you don’t mind. No, my feet aren’t resting on anything, just dangling, thank you for asking. Yes, that’s right. I am completely stuck. It’s rather an odd sensation, if I may say. Like floating, I imagine, although I have never been much of a swimmer…Ah, yes. Would you excuse me, madam? I would like to attract the attention of…Good morning, kind sir, I could indeed do with a hand. Maybe a quick tug…No? You just fancied a laugh at my expense? I see. Well, who can blame you? I am sure I would have done the same. Ow…Yes, another kick in the back. Very sharp shoes you have there, sir. They could serve you well in some sort of combat situation…Ah, wonderful, a group of Japanese tourists. Just what I need. Do I mind? What? You taking your photograph with me? No, not at all. Go right ahead. I think you’re going to have to crouch down, if we are both going to get in the picture…You want me to smile? Right. Well, there we go. What was that? A typical English ritual? I suppose so. In some ways. Is it traditional for a man who is getting married…? Yes, yes, that’s right. They were indeed playing a trick on the groom. I suppose it was very funny, unless you happen…No, I was hoping to get out before now. Ever since I woke up this morning at 5am to the sound of the pavements being cleaned. No, no one has helped me in all that time. It is extraordinary, isn’t it? Actually, pretty much everyone has ignored me. And there have been a few laughs at my expense, I can tell you. No, you were the first who wanted to take my picture…Is that a policeman? No, just over there, near the public telephones. Could you attract his attention, please? No? You’ve got to get a taxi? Of course you have, but it wouldn’t take a moment to call him…You’re in a hurry? Of course you are. And what is five more minutes to me, after all, seeing as I’ve been down here for so long? Don’t worry, he’s spotted me. I can see him coming over now, in fact…Ah, good morning officer. How are you today? Yes, indeed, as you say: In better shape than me. I dare say. Well, to be honest, you are not going to believe what happened to me…
© L.A. Davenport 2017-2024.

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Manhole | Pushing the Wave