Mystic Water – Charlie Chitty

There was a leak in the Algrove shopping centre. It wasn’t a very big leak or a threatening leak, but it was a leak all the same.

Stubs, the janitor, had solved the issue in a very janitorial way of sticking a mop bucket underneath the dripping pipe above and leaving it at that.

Stubs was also fond of his solution to fix gum under the tables of the food court (Just yer’ finger round the rim and start yankin’ if you feel tha pink, laddie!) and his solution to cleaning up sick. (Wet floor sign o’er it, leave it fer a bit if none’s seein’ it, then scoop it up in fiver hour when it curdles, laddie!)

He’d left the mop bucket under the dripping pipe for a week.

And, bizarrely, it had began to accrue a small selection of two pence pieces along with a twenty pence that had rusted beyond recognition.

One coin belonged to an old greying electrician named Colin.
The oldest-looking two pence, that he’d nonchalantly flipped into the bucket after doing a routine check on the circuit breakers throughout the building.

Two weeks later, he won the national lottery. And, in an interview with the local news afterwards, he mentioned the bucket of water at Algrove shopping centre.

The news hosts joked, asking if perhaps the shopping centre shared the water mains with a local church and made comments on how it would be perfect advertising to have a mop bucket full of mystic water in the middle of a small shopping centre and ended the relatively fluff piece of TV journalism asking Colin how much the mall was paying him.

Months passed and Stubs had a few problems.
They were small ones mostly, kids playing up and leaving mop buckets all over the mall with signs saying “The Lottery Bucket” and then coming back a few hours later to collect their spoils.
He kicked them out, and they eventually got bored.
Then there were the others, old people mostly, who’d tap him on the back when he was cleaning and ask him excitedly about the mop bucket.

He’d tell them he’d fixed the leak and they’d look away looking crestfallen. He never saw them after that.

The problems came to a head soon after.
Stubs was cleaning a dusty bannister, a cleaning job he’d long been putting off, when a woman approached him.
She was attractive, wearing a slimming Maxi skirt with the top button of her blouse undone.

She talked to him for some time, about how long he’d been working at the mall and how difficult it must be to maintain an entire building.

Stubs initially thought the woman was after a job, and told her that there was a small application booklet table on the second floor next to Subway and opposite the jewellers.
Then she touched his arm.
Asked him if he went to the gym, or if he got all his exercise through work.

Stubs went red. It was the first woman who’d taken a genuine interest in him in three years.

He could hear a clanking nearby.

The woman asked him if he’d like to go to dinner sometime.

And suddenly, Stubs was aware that she was blocking him in.

The clanking got louder.

Stubs pulled away from the woman and headed around the corner, noticing out of the corner of his eye that the woman who had been flirting with him wore a wedding band.

Her daughter was around the corner, sitting in her wheelchair.

She was wearing a pink bandana that stretched tight across her head. There were pipes coming out of her nose and mouth. Cannula.

Her hands gripped the old water sprinkler, desperately trying to break it open.