‘There were noises up in the attic
When I arose today, Maureen,
Have you been storing your batik
Up on the shelves, for the shelves aren’t clean!
I said you shouldn’t go prying there,
There is nothing up there to see,
Just things I cast from a hazy past
Before your marriage to me.’
‘I keep all my art and craft downstairs
In the cupboard, next to the door,
You’ve watched me folding my batik there
So what would you ask me for?’
‘I only wondered,’ her husband said,
‘Those scrabbles, they could have been rats,
More reason never to venture there…’
‘I’ll bring in the neighbours cats!’
She smiled, and blew him a kiss just then,
They hadn’t been married long,
They’d worked together for six long months
When she only knew him as John.
But after the office party, and
That cupboard, under the stairs,
A half a jug of Bacardi, and
They knew, the future was theirs.
She heard the scrabbling overhead
On a Sunday, lying in,
And what seemed like a rattle of chains
Though she thought, it couldn’t have been.
John Dean was out at the supermart
So she scrambled out of bed,
Pulled down the ladder and mounted it
To the attic, overhead.
The hatch slid back from a faulty catch
And she peered, up into the gloom,
There were spiders webs and rusty beds,
And dust, in that grim old room,
She saw what looked like a cabin trunk,
Padlocked, and covered in chain,
And another trunk with an open lid…
She climbed down the ladder again.
At lunch, she mentioned the sounds she’d heard
And she watched her husband’s face,
He seemed quite distant, then perturbed,
Got up and began to pace.
‘You haven’t been up in the loft, Maureen,
That attic is out of bounds!’
‘Well listen to you, the stern John Dean!
How do you think that sounds?’
They didn’t talk for another day
But her anger was aroused,
While he went up to the attic twice,
Mad at the scene he’d caused.
‘I didn’t mean it like that,’ he said,
It’s just that it’s full of dirt.’
But she shrugged off his excuses, she
Was playing at being hurt.
She searched the house for the padlock key
That had locked the trunk in chain,
Then finally found it on his ring,
And slipped it off again.
She waited until the coast was clear
With John Dean not around,
Climbed the ladder and opened the trunk
With the key that she had found.
Just as she went to raise the lid
His head appeared in the hatch,
‘Sorry it’s come to this, our kid,
You’re about to meet your match.’
The lid went up and she looked aghast
At the woman, speared with a knife,
‘Maureen, please meet Deborah Dean,
She was my former wife.’
She pulled the knife from the woman’s throat
And she pointed the blade at him,
‘Don’t think you’ll ever do that to me,’
Her voice was dour and grim.
‘That open trunk is your future home,’
He said as he locked the hatch,
‘You’ll jump right in and you’ll close the lid
When you hear the giant rats!’
David Lewis Paget