It was the third 45 degree scorcher in a row and Herb was fed up with practically living in his own puddle. Regardless of the heat this was still the second happiest day of Herb’s life. The ink was barely dry after purchasing the newly acquired house which sat on a hill and overlooked a bay and he’d already started making plans. The deck on the first floor needed seating to enjoy the crisp afternoon breeze, and the upper deck needed a reading lounge to do the same, but in more comfort. The lights all needed replacing to use less power and a gas water heating system wouldn’t hurt either but in keeping to his truest passion Herbert’s house needed solar power. It made perfect sense considering the immensity of the sun in Queensland which assaulted everyone for over three quarters of the year. It was a bonus that there was nothing he enjoyed more than helping the environment. Every little bit helps he thought to himself as he picked up the phone that was on this rare occasion working, and dialled through for customer service. It was risky trying this now as the rolling blackouts had been affecting the entire state in the heatwave, but the sooner this got done the sooner he might enjoy a little split system luxury.
The receptionist was as surprised as Herbert to be hearing a voice on the other end. She was also annoyed as he’d brazenly interrupted her 19th game of solitaire. This was the one she was going to win.
“Thanks for holding, how can I help you today?” She asked, but didn’t care.
“I live at 45 Crestview Ave, and I put an order in early last week for the premium solar package. I was calling to check when they would be installed. It’s rather hot.” He didn’t mean to state the obvious, but he did anyway.
“Yes, I see that Mr Kretzmeyer. Unfortunately with the power troubles we’ve had our teams are overwhelmed fixing existing systems.” When would this pest let her return to her cards?
“I understand that. Any chance they aren’t fixing systems tomorrow and I can get them installed?” He just wanted it over with was that too much to ask?
“They are unfortunately busy tomorrow, but I will book you in for Friday if you can manage to wait till then?” She was proud of her compromise, but secretly she was beginning to want to end this guy’s misery at an alarming rate.
“One more day can’t hurt I guess. Thank you for your help!” And with that the phone went dead on the other end. That went well he thought to himself and resigned to the fact that he would have to bear another day of sweltering heat. At least there was always the pool and that was where he found himself later that afternoon; it was a Wednesday.
Herbert John Kratzmeyer was his full name or at least what was on his birth certificate. Those who knew him called him Herb and those who loved him called him John. The boys from the old days called him Kratz and the only things they loved about him was how well he could slide tackle and how he never disappeared when it was his shout. He may have been of German origin but it was never made clear and he never felt it prudent to inquire and frankly he didn’t care. The day he was adopted by Bill and Martha was the fourth happiest day of his life; it was a Tuesday.
They were Australian born and bred and they were fans of making him sausages every Saturday, which made him think maybe he was German after all. Herb’s childhood was nothing of bizarre circumstance and essentially it was your stereotypical upbringing. Bill and Martha were great parents, they were kind and caring and warm to Herbert. The only thing they believed in was his right to believe anything he liked and there was nothing around the house that pushed or pulled him in any direction. Eventually he’d choose to not believe in fairy tales and instead side with reason. He wasn’t bullied at school thanks to his general ability to not rub people the wrong way, but he did hate learning. Despite clearly loathing being force fed information Herbert dutifully attended each class and did well considering the animosity. He was never top of the class, and Bill and Martha never expected him to be. Exam after exam he pushed along and the resilience was so impressive for a child that one day he came home to find his considerate yet adopted parents had bought him a puppy. It was their way of rewarding their beloved son. This was the happiest day of Herbert’s life, and it was a Monday. This little black ball of Labrador fur would soon change Herbert’s life irrevocably. What was once a chore for Herbert seemed to transform into something different, something acceptable and on the odd occasion something of a passion. The animosity disappeared and was replaced by joy. A joy created at the first stroke of those velvet ears and smell of that puppy breath on his face. His love for that animal grew as they spent time together and as it has a way of doing time continued right alongside them. The days turned to months and months into years. Eventually time took over and took her with it. Herbert’s life was altered already, but this would remain the saddest day of his life, and it was a Sunday.
Herbert John Kratzmeyer graduated with his environmental science degree on his 26th birthday; it was the 3rd happiest day of his life. It was the culmination of eight years of mental hardship. Every spare moment was spent remembering how a little black Labrador had filled him with joy one mild Autumn afternoon and it spurred him on. What would follow was nearly two decades of working with all manner of creatures and help keeping them alive. The work suited Herbert to perfection and he was a happy man. The passion he felt for everything further blossomed as the world joined him in recognising how vital the earth was to our survival as a species. Who knew? Every day he would wake up and smile before showering and cycling his way to work. He enjoyed his life, he was the rarest of us all. Two weeks before his 38th birthday Herbert bought a house that sat on a hill and overlooked a bay.
It was Friday. Thank fuck thought Paul as he wiped his brow for the fiftieth time that morning. The weekend was just around the corner and Steve’ sister was meeting him out, unbeknown to Steve of course. Bring on the weekend he thought, bring it on. It was another blisteringly hot day today which made it five in a row. Which was five more than he wanted and five nights of restless tossing and turning. Heatwave’s can affect more than just the temperature, and Paul was in a right state by the time they pulled up at a big house on a hill that had superb views of the bay. At least there’s a breeze here Paul thought, as his hairy knuckles rasped the front door.
Herbert had woken exactly an hour and fifteen minutes early out of sheer anticipation and his bodies inability to sleep in its own juices. It was no wonder then that he had heard the truck’s brakes squeal as they pulled up and bounding down the stairs he opened the door just as someone’s hairy knuckles made contact. He was big and saturated and he looked friendly.
“You Kretzmeyer?” Ok, he was a little gruff, but who wouldn’t be in this heat Herb thought.
“Yeah, thanks for coming so promptly. Please, what do you need to get started?” Straight to the point, Paul liked him already. He was way over dressed for 9 am on a Friday morning but that could be forgiven, if not ignored.
“Nothing at all, just tell us where you want the inverter to go and we’ll get started.” Maybe today won’t be that bad after all Paul thought and images of cold beer crept into his mind.
“Oh probably by the wall near that window, will that suit?” Maybe today won’t be that bad after all Herbert thought and images of his power bill not using too much electricity crept into his mind.
“Yeah, can be done. We’ll have to shut the power off in around two hours is that going to be ok?” Herbert didn’t have the energy to argue that there was nothing ok with the idea of no fans or air conditioners or refrigerator in this heat and he kept that to himself.
“Yeah shouldn’t be a problem I’ll just be down by the pool instead. Just yell out if you need me!” And with that they shook hands and both men got to work. Paul started stabilizing the truck and Herbert started stabilizing his brain by making coffee. Paul thought that the lazy receptionist had clearly misjudged this guy who was quickly warming to him and he wiped his brow for the sixty-fifth time that morning.
The pool was crisp and exactly what was needed to avoid the inside of his house which was assuredly now a hotbox with the power off. It was a beautifully quiet day and the only sounds Herbert could hear as he sat in the shallow end near the deck was the crunching of boots on his metal roof three stories up. Even from the pool the view was spectacular and his positioning on the hill allowed him to see the bay below. He smiled at the thought of his little Labrador enjoying it with him and the feeling of those velvet ears as they nuzzled together again. He was so lost in his thoughts that he failed to hear the screams from above. The last thought Herbert John Kratzmeyer had was that it felt unbelievable to be helping in his own little way as the panel designed to save the planet slit his head in two. And so, twelve days before his 38th birthday Herbert’s rather selfless life met an abrupt end; Herbert’s last day was a Friday.
Paul wasn’t a vicious man but he was on this day an exhausted man and as the panel left his sweaty and overworked hands he could do nothing but scream as it hurtled through the air. Unfortunately, gravity cares not for good intentions or drinks with Steve’s sister and as Paul watched the pool darken he knew that he was going to have to wait a while to get that cold beer in his hands. He had never needed one so badly as he did right now, irony has a bitterly cruel taste to it.