The road engineers are at it again. For weeks they’ve stood at the junction across the way, resurfacing that same bit of road, over and over. We had a letter about it. It said they can’t keep up with the rate of decay around these parts, you see, so they’re trying to repair the repairs as fast as they can, but of course, it’s impossible for them to get anywhere doing a task like that. Well, its so futile, isn’t it? But still, they carry on. No sooner have they laid one bit of tarmac than it needs to be taken off, ground away by the little machine and then replaced with fresh, rich tar, and they work continually in this way to ensure the integrity of the road surface.
But I don’t believe they actually work for any of the agencies licensed to perform such repairs. That used to be taken care of by one of the big contractors before they all went into liquidation. They do look the part however – they have the right uniforms, the right PPE (personal protective equipment), the right materials for repairing roads, the right vehicles, the right mannerisms etc., but despite all that there’s just something about them that doesn’t sit right. Do you know what I mean?
Like for instance this morning, at about eleven o’clock, Gertrude from downstairs went out to the shop to see if she couldn’t bribe the owner to sell her some food. We’ve been running pretty much on empty you see, and we already ate everything we could find when we ransacked the other apartments in the building, so we drew lots to see who would go. Our last run to the shop was a disaster. Brian from downstairs never came back. God knows what happened to him out there. Anyway, Gertrude goes out and just saunters down the street just like normal, so as not to attract any attention, when she walks past those engineers, doesn’t she? Well, she’s walking along, right, and it all seems to be going alright, (she was already past the half-way mark to the shop,) when she suddenly veers off course, straight towards them engineers. Well, I thought maybe she was going to ask them a question or something, but she just marches straight past them, straight into that hot bitumen and gets stuck, doesn’t she? She tries to free her legs, pulling at the corduroy fabric but then she totally loses her balance and goes down on all fours into the black, sticky surface.
And I’m up here, watching through my binoculars, waiting for the engineers to help her get out, but they just stand there, watching. And that’s when I saw it. Right in the middle of the tarmac, right where all the vapours are thickest, there’s this crate. And inside this crate…well…you’ll never guess what was in the crate. A smoked ham. There’s this bloody hock of smoked ham in the crate, just a bit too far away to reach from the safety of the pavement.
And then I understood.