“‘Ope yon Vita Reali’s cleared up?”
Martien stood in the new doorway and looked around. There were new scuffs and scratches in the battered timbers of the floor, and the Bombastophone proper wasn’t in sight. The compressor and steam engine, however, had moved in, the latter leaning against the wall.
“We’re much better now, yes,” the old man remarked, then sneezed from cement dust.
“Nasty stuff,” the foreman trundled on unstoppably, “I’ve ‘eard of folk catching it, and they’re laid out for months. Ain’t that right Fred?”
“Right,” said the duly designated Fred, whose garments indicated he had done the actual door installation.
“Why, I’ve known of folk who went and got it terminal, Vita Mortuus them doctors call it! Ain’t that right Fred?”
“Right,” said Fred.
“Now, afore we can get some more of t’ lads in to move t’ furnace, we ‘ave a small problem with t’ roof. Ain’t that right Fred?”
Fred indicated agreement by stating the opposing direction to ‘left’.
“Ye see, yon furnace is fastened t’ water tower there,” a thumb jerked over a shoulder to where the tower was visible through the green glass of the skylight, before diving back to the safety of the foreman’s belt, “but this ‘ere roof don’t ‘ave the space to support it, unless you bash an ‘ole in t’ glass, an’ I guess you wouldn’t want that right. Right Fred?”
Fred signalled affirmation by stating the standard side of the screen designating east in early console role-playing games.
“Damn,” Martien growled, “So we’ll need to push the roof work forward then.”
“Afraid so sir,” the foreman somehow shrugged without his thumbs leaving his belt, “And what I was thinking was, I know some clever lads who specialise in roofs, see, and they can take a whole roof off, and put a new one on – all in one day! Ain’t that right Fred?”
Fred just nodded. “Seen them lads at work, sir, marvellous work they do. Nowt out of plumb, nowt leaking, if it weren’t for bein’ so clean ye’d think nowt been done!”
The foreman blinked at his normally taciturn subordinate.
Martien frowned. He looked up at the roof; part of him still wanted to tear the thing down and rebuild from scratch. But if he could save on materials…
“All right,” he grunted, “give them the word, tell ’em what’s to be done. Then get that furnace moved and set up so we can move on. We need to open by Christmas.”
“Right you are then sir,” the foreman declared, “I’ll drop in on t’ lads and get them going, bit of extra work should ‘elp with the old Christmas cheer, right Fred?”
Fred just nodded. He also spoke, but as he merely repeated a previous monosyllable it will not be recorded.