January 19th – One last yank then a pull and the landing was clear
Overpaid, Oversexed and over Here.
Clemence Winthrop had had enough.
It was bad enough that his father had had to live through the wartime invasion, but he’d had to make do vicariously: second-hand indignation through his father’s wartime stories. Yanks and Yankees and Yankee-Doodle-Dandies, strutting around like they owned the place, speaking in their ridiculous movie accents and smiling those smiles.
Clemence’s mother had disappeared with one of them shortly after VE Day: Seventy five or more years later he had pretty much resigned himself to the fact that she wasn’t coming back for him. And now, to add insult to injury, the smarmy suit man and his wife who owned the flat upstairs had told him that it was an Air bee-and-bee, whatever one of those was, and for the next two weeks there would be four Americans in the flat upstairs, discovering London and being loud and obnoxious. Clemence was quiet and obnoxious: that was the British way.
For the first couple of days Clemence didn’t have too much to complain about. They were noisy, of course, and brash, and over-exuberant, and all of the other adjectives that you would expect him to ascribe to his North American cousins (not related by blood, you understand). Lots of ‘Wow’s and ‘Awesome’s that he could only hear if he put his ear to the door, or, on a couple of occasions, opened it. But he couldn’t really complain to the smarmy suit man, as much as every fibre in his body was wanting to.
It was the first Saturday night that it all came to a head. Clemence was sitting in his favourite chair, listening to the radio (he had never been a subscriber to that television nonsense: ‘A waste of time and money if you ask me.’) when there was the sound of a door opening, and voices, louder than he’d heard them before. Much louder.
Clemence slowly raised himself from his chair, and as quietly as he could, opened the door. What in God’s name were they doing? He opened the door a little wider, and pushed his head outside. They were sitting up there, drinking some God-awful colourful concoction, no doubt, on the landing! Wasn’t the inside good enough for them?
With a speed belying his eighty years. Clemence was up the stairs before they knew what was happening. He had been a big man in his youth, and even in old age he had retained his prodigious size. He grabbed the nearest one to him, a girl, by the ankle, and with all the strength he could muster, threw her down the stairs. The boy next to her followed the same way.
One of them, another young man, was, he felt, about to cuss. That would never do. He had raised himself from the floor, but had not got past ‘What the fu – ?’ before Clemence had dropped his shoulder and flipped him down where his companions had preceded him. Which just left one. The drinks were spilled: he supposed he would have to do something about that later.
The remaining visitor was whimpering in the farthest corner, terror showing in her eyes. ‘Please, sir. Please!’ But Clemence was determined. He would rid the building of this pestilence. He grabbed her by the ankle, as he had done with the first girl. One last Yank remaining.
A deep breath, then a pull, and the landing was clear.
Inspired by a prompt from here