a detached victorian and an organ in the attic
“You’d probably call me a communist.”
No fur hat. No balalaika.
“No. I probably wouldn’t.”
A bottle of vodka in the cupboard. Some rye on a shelf. I looked at him.
“Not Russian. Communist.”
He carried my suitcase upstairs and left in search of duvets.
I had answered an ad in the ‘Rooms Available’ section of the university dispatch. A girl who partied polo-style with a young prince and attended his mother’s alma mater was the owner of the suite. Ella said she adored the name Buffy and was ever-so-ready to welcome an American into her home (for the obligatory 500 pounds a month room rental of course). It would be fantastic. (It wasn’t.)
She sent Phillip to help me move.
I spent my first night watching Eastenders in a flowered-to-death sitting room with the blonde Phillip, who wasn’t Russian, and a pint of Guinness. He wore a green robe with matching bottoms and leather slippers.
The all-his-life Londoner looked like a young (i.e. slim) Leonardo DiCaprio – from a distance. Up close he looked very English. Very what he was.
“Why’d you move?” He asked. “Nice house. Nice area.” He crossed his legs and stuck his hand in his pocket.
“Freaky housemates.” I told him.
I wasn’t being fair. Ahmad and Teemo were only trying to be friendly. To see me after the sun went down. Maybe share a drink with the house at the round-the-corner pub. But I was 21 and repressed and didn’t know how to be friends with a 46 year old Libyan who slept in the room next to mine. Teemo was younger, only 25, and slept downstairs. But he didn’t speak a word of American and I could only conjugate the odd verb in Finnish. So I kept my door locked and my whistle by my bed. (Really).
“Well. It happens.” Phillip hand rolled two cigarettes. Skinny. Like his legs. “Ella is a nice girl. I’ve known her for a while.” He sprinkled tobacco from a silver can and wet the papers with his tongue. “George, I have never met.”
George was the fourth house mate. Ella said his daddy was a Baptist preacher.
“I thought he moved in last month.”
“He did.” Phillip never took his eyes off his hands. “Three days before me.” He stood up, belted his robe and walked to the front door. “I take a walk every evening at sevenish. I guess he comes out then.”
I didn’t believe him. Then he looked at me, and I did.
“You’ll see.” Phillip stepped outside and lit up.
I followed him. “Is he here?”
I’d spent six hours in the house. Hadn’t heard the first sound from the bedroom in the loft.
“He’s always here.” Phillip sort of laughed. “That’s what I’m trying to say.”
I was creeped. “That’s like, seriously weird.”
“Love, you don’t know the half of it.”
The words had barely left his mouth when I heard it. Dull but there. Coming from….above.
An organ. And not the kind my Pa played.
“Holy Moly!” Goosebumps rushed up my arms. “It’s Lurch!”
We listened to the eerie sound for a few minutes, then Phillip finished his cigarettes and we went back to the sitting room.
“Those old flatmates of yours….”
“…..did they play the organ?”
I stopped nodding.
Phillip smiled and left the room.
Oh Lordy, where are Earl and Chris when you need ’em!