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A Mews-ing Myself with Questions

One of the things I'm finding charming about the new place is that, from the living room (or lounge as we like to call it over here) and the kitchen, we overlook a mews. Especially at night, it reminds me of the back lot of a film set, sorta like Rear Window. I used to say that about our place in New York also, but we were on the ninth floor and the townhouses behind us were only five stories high, so it was more Mary Poppins meets Rear Window.

This morning there's a bit of a hullabaloo outside, so I popped open the window to see what's going on.

One of the mews houses is undergoing a major refurb. Or something ...

*cue mysterious music*

There's usually a van parked outside of it during the day, and a couple of what appear to be worker-type men lolling about. Today there are three of them. There is a big container of dirt in the back of the van, and one of them is shoveling the dirt into plastic bags. The other two men are carrying the bags of dirt into the house. The three of them are each wearing hi-viz day-glo green safety vests with silvery reflective stripes. I don't understand why they need this visual precaution. It's not like there's tons of traffic whizzing down the bricked road.

What on earth could they be doing with the earth? Laying a new foundation perhaps? Or maybe encasing someone in a modern day Cask of Amontillado?

But if that's the case, then again I must wonder about the high-vis vests. Surely they wouldn't want to be seen. Aha, but that could be their alibi, couldn't it?

"If we were doing dodgy deeds, clearly we wouldn't call attention to ourselves?"

Surely Mr F in Austria didn't call so much attention to himself when he outfitted his cellar to keep his daughter and children/grandchildren stashed away. Secret panels that could only by opened with electronic keypads. My, that's very Bond James Bond for a "rural village," innit? Was Mr F an electrician? Did he hire an out-of-town electrician/plumber/carpenter to fix the place up while he sent his wife on a cruisee? He'd had to have, because a local tradesman couldn't be trusted to keep such a secret. We all know the truth about small towns -- everybody knows everybody's business. How did nobody in this town notice? How did he feed them? What did the local grocer think, that his family were a bunch of bulimic overeaters who bought twice as much as necessary but never gained weight?

There are more holes in this story than a gopher-infested golf course.

And, really, how could his wife not have known there were four people living below her? How could she believe that their "missing" daughter would just drop off her kids (three of whom she adopted)?

It reminds me of one of the first stories in Panos Karnezis' Little Infamies, where a man keeps his twin daughters locked in his cellar, raising them like animals as punishment for killing their mother during childbirth.

You read these fictions and think, that's surreal, it could never happen. And then the news story breaks.

All right then, that's enough speculating. I need to feed the old woman in the attic before I go teach.