When I walked into the repair shop Angus was sat on a three-legged wooden stool behind the counter. His dark hair, thick and shiny, cascaded down his shoulders and disappeared behind his back, and his silver-rimmed eye-glasses were perched on his nose as he peered at something in his spatulate hands. When he looked up to see who’d come in he put down what he was holding and stood up. He’s tall, several inches over six feet, and his head nearly brushed the ceiling behind the counter. He raised one arm and pointed at me like God reaching for Adam in the famous Sistine Chapel painting.
“Get out!” he roared.
“What did I do?” I protested. Having Angus mad at me wasn’t on my list of things to do today.
“Your weather machine,” he boomed. “You’ve been using it to harass me, haven’t you.” It was an accusation rather than a question.
“No!” I stopped in the doorway, and started to unsnap the fasteners on my satchel-bag.
“Yes you have. It’s rained on me every day this week when I’ve left my shop. All. The. Way. Home.”
I pulled my weather machine out of my bag; it was the size and shape of a smart phone, and depressingly, its screen was as cracked and crushed as one as well. I thrust it at him.
“This is my weather machine,” I said. “Harriet sat on it three days ago. I was bringing it in to see if you could fix it.”
He hesitated a moment, and then the anger subsided. He seemed to shrink a little as he did so, and I suddenly realised how tense I was. If he’d shouted “Boo!” at me right now I’d probably have dropped the weather machine and run straight out of the door.
“Show me,” he said, some of his normal warmth and humour returning to his voice. I almost tiptoed forwards, the machine held out at arm’s length until he took it off me. He shook it and a piece of screen fell on to the counter with a semi-metallic clatter.
“She’s a big lass, then, Harriet?” he asked. I nodded. She was immense, and in my English class. I’d put the machine down on the seat next to me just for a moment, and I’d turned back when I heard the creak of stressed furniture, but it was too late then. She’d squeezed her bulk into the chair, splaying its legs outwards slightly, and my machine had disappeared underneath her. It had taken all my courage to ask for it back. “Well, this is going to be a tough one,” he said. “You not got insurance?”
“Ye-es,” I said. “But there’s a hefty excess on it now, it’s the third machine I’ve broken this year.”
“What do you do, get caught out in the rain with it?” Angus sniggered at his own joke. The weather machines are purely personal devices, affecting the weather in a column that extends up through the atmosphere, but reaches about ten feet around a person at most. The effect drops off rapidly, so if you’re in a crowd and several people are using the machines for different effects they’ll effectively cancel each other, and the noise produced will randomise the weather that the crowd receives. It’s made for some rather entertaining open-air concerts; just search You-Tube for the footage.
“Mostly Harriet,” I said. “I think she’s sweet on me.”
“You’re not interested then?” He raised an eyebrow, and another piece of machine clattered on the counter-top.
“I’d be suffocated, I think,” I said. “I know that’s a little cruel, but there’s a lot more of her than there is of me.”
“My mother always said that you shouldn’t talk ill of people,” said Angus. “A thoroughly boring woman she was, by all accounts. Well, this is probably going to cost as much to fix as buying new. Your insurance might be the best bet.”
“Yeah, the excess is currently twice the price of a new machine,” I said gloomily. “It’s a bad contract.”
Angus whistled softly and shook his head. He looked at the machine again and sighed.
“Tell you what,” he said. “I like you, God knows why. Tell you what. You find out who’s been soaking me on the way home every day and put a stop to it, and I’ll fix this for you at cost.”
I thought about that, and opened my mouth to agree when another thought struck me. “How much is that, exactly?”
“Hah, I thought you were just going to agree then,” said Angus. He sounded more amused than I thought the trick warranted. “It’ll cost you about £150.”
That was a third of the cost of a new one, and I knew I wasn’t going to get a better offer. And how hard could it be to hang around when Angus knocked off and find someone playing games with a weather machine?
“Cool,” I said, and stuck out my hand. “You’re on!”
[inspired by the prompt from here.]