House Sitter Wanted

Adil withdrew fifty dollars from the ATM. He knew he was overdrawn but couldn’t do much about that. A man needs cash in his pocket, even if he doesn’t own it.

He stopped at the noticeboard behind the machine to glance at the ads. He saw a jet ski, ski gear, and a mobile home. Maybe if he had a win on the lottery, say twenty thousand bucks, he could buy them all.

There was a note saying Assorted Items for Sale, detailing hand tools, a tool belt, pulleys, ropes, chains and a harness. It was useful stuff for a construction job. Maybe he could bargain the vendor down from $200 to under $100.

He was about to note down the number when he spotted another ad behind it, saying House sitter wanted, with room and wage.

For someone who wasn’t working at present, and who was sleeping on a friend’s couch, that was a mighty attractive offer. He’d recently applied for gardening, retail, cleaning and security jobs without success. It seemed that Lucerne had an excess of unskilled workers, somebody had told him “more than ten per job.” Professional jobs were a different matter. It was a shame he lacked qualifications.

Adil called the number. A man answered, “Hello, Lucerne Valley Rentals.”

“Hi, I am calling about the ad for the house sitter…”

“Which one? Does it have a reference number? We advertise many properties.”

Adil reread it. “I am sorry, I can’t see one.”

“Look carefully please. Is there a name or number?”

Adil looked again. “No there isn’t. It just says House sitter wanted, with room and wage. If you…”

The agent interrupted. “Okay, I know the one. It is in the valley, ten kilometres out of town. Do you have a car?”

Adil lied, “Yes I do.”

“Good, you will need it there. The client is a very private person. His name will not be revealed to the sitter, and you cannot tell anyone where you are. You can receive no visitors while there. You will receive a free room and a weekly allowance of a hundred dollars, plus a wage of a hundred dollars a day, payable at the end of each month. How does that sound?”

The client was clearly a secretive individual. Adil didn’t ask any more questions.

After sending Adil’s photo and resume to the client, and performing background checks, the agent said that he’d got the job on a one month rolling contract.

He said, “You start today.”

Adil chatted to his brother that night. “The house is a little strange. It has minimal furnishings, and hooks and rings on the walls. The owner must have removed the old fittings in a hurry. I wonder what he’ll put there instead. It seems like a big house from the outside but the inside is pokey, with very thick walls. Do you remember that castle we went to in Spain? It’s a bit like that. I’ve looked for hidden doors and panels. Yes, I’ve checked the bookcases and none of them slide back, and the paintings don’t have hollow eyes…”

The owner of the house wondered how long Adil would keep talking. He had sneaked out of a trapdoor while his new sitter was showering, and slipped some Rohypnol into his coffee. He crouched down with chains, ropes and harnesses at the ready, and smiled, recalling Adil’s comment about paintings with hollow eyes. With CCTV and infra-red goggles available, who used those these days? You only saw them in old horror films. He preferred making modern ones, with live action.

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One Response to “House Sitter Wanted”

  1. The first two paras explain perfectly why Adil is unemployed and in debt. “I can borrow money. What can I spend it on?”

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