I come back to my flat to find my front door ajar. My heartbeat quickens. A burglar? An escaped murderer from a local jail? My excellent mood following the ESTAC Troyes match dissipates almost instantly. Cautiously I push the door open to reveal the living room of my flat. The first thing I notice is that there’s a small children’s paddling pool over by one of the armchairs. There isn’t usually a small children’s paddling pool over by one of the armchairs. Sitting in the armchair, with her shoes and socks removed, the bottom of her suit trousers rolled up slightly and her feet in the pool, is Sylvania.
I look at her, dumbfounded. She looks back at me showing a tremendous amount of excitement, from her Cheshire cat grin to the jazz hands she’s holding out. After a moment to take in this bizarre scene, I manage to say “What?”
“VOILA!” She cries. “I did it!”
“What on Earth could you possibly be referring to? Where are my cats?” I ask.
“Around,” she says vaguely, flourishing her hand dismissively. “I spoke to Auxerre and they gave us a bonus for avoiding relegation!” She squeals, if anything getting even more excited with each word.
“Right… What kind of bonus?”
“Well it wasn’t much.” She says, abruptly dialling it back several notches. “10 of the finest pounds!”
“10… thousand?” Sylvania shakes her head. “10 Hund… A thousand?” She continues to shake her head. “You got me a bonus of 10 pounds?” She nods. “OK… Well first of all, good job for… Getting anything” I start cautiously, “Can I have it?”
“You’re looking at it, Monsieur Franjo!” She beams. I look at her. And then at the paddling pool. And then around the room.
“I don’t think I am.” She nods vigorously, ramping her excitement back up to 11. She gestures down to the pool. I face the truth that I didn’t want to believe. “The pool cost £10, didn’t it.”
“15!” She corrects me, hardly able to contain her misplaced joy. “I had to put some towards it, but I thought you would enjoy it far more! It’s the finest one they had!” I just stare at her, slack jawed. “You do owe me 17 percent though”, she adds, suddenly deadly serious.
“17 percent of what, this pool?! It’ll flood my bloody flat if you try and take a chunk out of it!”
“Not of the pool!” She beams. “Simply pay me the £1.70 I am owed and reimburse the £5 I put towards the pool, plus my travel fees for the day.”
“Which were?” I groan, regretting every decision I’ve ever made.
“About £10 for trains and buses”. I open my wallet, take out a 20 pound note and dejectedly hold it out for her. She stands up and leaps out of the pool, spraying water across the living room as she lands next to me to snatch the note.
“Merci!” She smiles, as she walks past me towards the front door. “Make sure to call me the next time you need my expertise!” I scan every surface in my eye-line quickly, but it doesn’t look like she’s left a business card. I doubt I’ll need one though. She slams the door as she leaves but it swings back open. The lock’s broken. I guess I’m out of pocket for that too. And as far as I can see, I’m down 2 cats.
What the fuck is happening?