“Thief!” yelped Professor Geoff West as I stampeded past him in the stairwell of the New Technologies building armed with a deck chair and a backpack stuffed with household cleaning equipment.
“It’s mine!” I yelped back. Indeed, I had been carrying the chair since I left my new home in Manning half an hour beforehand, riding one-handed on my bike and occasionally no-handed as I signalled my way through the light morning backstreet traffic. Nobody else had commented on the chair up until that point.
“Why do you have a chair?” Geoff asked, shattering this conspiratorial code of silence.
I thought about this for a moment.
“It’s complicated,” I managed.
It wasn’t that complicated, I later admitted to myself. I had a bag full of household cleaning equipment because my previous property manager, wielding the considerable insight one is gifted with in such an occupation, had decided that dusty skirting boards and a box of a few items present in the Rivervale flat from before I moved in constituted sufficient excuse to threaten my bond money, if I didn’t immediately clean it all away. She’d made a good go of being extremely distressed about all this on the phone the day before. I had a deck chair ostensibly so I could clean the light fittings while I was at it, but mostly it was so I could extract a small measure of revenge by stealing the power-saving light bulbs.
After all, they were my bulbs, and I’d replace them with functioning incandescent bulbs from the aforementioned box of what the property manager had, with much distress, termed “rubbish”. There were also several small air fresheners in that box, I realised on the bus, in between wondering whether my chair truly deserved the seat it was effectively occupying. Excellent. I’d steal them too.
My machinations eventually fell apart, however, when a representative of the dark forces of property management arrived to conduct a property condition report before I was even half done machete-ing my way through the skirting board dust. This was the same person who had handed me the keys to the flat, though probably not the one who phoned me up. One can scarcely imagine how the remaining catacombs of dust could have escaped such a report, given the length of time she spent in (I assume) studious analysis of the six otherwise empty rooms. Yet, if they didn’t, theoretically the next tenant would bear no responsibility for removing them.
In any case, I probably wasn’t going to be stealing anything in her presence, and her mind powers somehow erased all motivation I possessed for doing so at all. I even let the smoke detector stay, even though I could quite legitimately have nicked that if nothing else. Oh well, the best laid plans…