Skip to main content

Can You See Me Now?

"And now on BBC 1, it's time for another lively debate with 'Kilroy'. Today's programme contains a frank discussion about the devastating effects of haemorrhoids, that some viewers may find distressing."

Casy switched off the TV and plugged in the hoover. He liked housework. It was therapeutic. It helped relieve the stress and boredom of being at home all day. First he would give the living room a quick going over and then work his way through the hall into the bedroom. After the hoovering, he'd start on the bathroom. He liked to keep that meticulously clean. Once he had finished, he'd usually have a large bowl of Hi Bran and another quick squint at the wonderful world of daytime TV. But today, Casy was struggling. The vacuum cleaner felt heavy in his arms. He could barely push it through the shag pile in the bedroom. He hadn't been sleeping well lately and the restless nights were beginning to take their toll. A couple of pints and a swift half would usually send him off like a baby, but now nothing seemed to work. He turned off the hoover and slumped down on the bed.

'Aye, that's right. Go to sleep now ya bampot.' He forced himself up and went into the bathroom. He ran a bath, stripped off and slipped into the warm water. It felt good. For a while, he just lay there and let his mind empty. All the fuss and the fury of the last four months seemed to melt away in the water. After his bath, Casy had a quick shave and brushed his teeth. He stared at his reflection in the mirror. Despite the warm flush from the bath, he looked old today. The lines on his face cut deeper than usual and his eyes looked hollow and lifeless. He got dressed and went in search of some Hi Bran.

After breakfast, Casy went out to replenish his cigarette supply and buy a paper. Duke Street was a hive of activity. He felt a little disorientated and tried to focus on getting to the shop and back as quickly as possible. But on the way there he bumped into Big Shaz. Shaz was what you'd call a compulsive liar. Not only had this enabled him to stay on the brew for over 10 years but it had left him with no wife, no family and no friends, except Casy.

'Of all the fucking people,' Casy muttered as Shaz approached. Shaz immediately started on about some job goin' at the abattoir. Shaz was a manic bastard at the best of times but today he seemed out of control. He was probably off on one already and Casy couldn't handle it. He just nodded and pretended to be listening. Soon Shaz was gone, and all Casy could remember was something about cutting throats and chainsaws. He didn't know if it was to do with the job or Big Shaz's latest run in with the Police. When he got back to the flat, he shut the door and put the security chain on.

It was getting close to lunchtime, so he opened a tin of beans and put the kettle on. When it was ready, he settled down in front of the TV for the first of the day's thrilling adventures in Antipodean soapland. After Brad and Ken had finally declared their love for each other and the Barbie competition winners had been announced, Casy hit the remote and checked out the form on Channel Four Racing. Just as he was contemplating a small wager on Bananarama in the 3.30 at Haydock, the door bell went.

'Who the hell is that? I hope it's no bloody Shaz.' he thought. He wasn't expecting anyone. It couldn't be Sheryl because she was in Tenerife with her new fella and it definitely wasn't the Pools man because he usually comes on a Friday night. He thought about ignoring it but then it sounded again, this time with more urgency.

'Oh for Christ sake.' he sighed and got up to answer it.

In the doorway, there was a small frail looking man in his fifties. He was carrying an oversized holdall that made him look even smaller. At first, Casy just stood there and stared at him. Finally, he said, 'Yes? What do you want?'

The wee man put his holdall down and reached into his donkey jacket pocket. Casy pulled back slightly, expecting the worst.

'Please let me introduce myself. My name is Bob Mac McPherson, I am in the security business.' He held out what appeared to be a business card. Casy took the card and had a quick look. It was one of those cheap cards you get out of machines at petrol stations and post offices. It read,

Robert D. Mc Pherson
I-Spy Home Securities
"for all your home security needs"

Casy tried not to smile.

'I'm no interested, whatever it is.'

The man hesitated and then added: 'Do you know that the number of burglaries in this area alone has increased by forty five percent. That's right on your doorstep. Even as I speak, somebody's house in the East End is getting done over.' There was a hint of panic in his voice and Casy couldn't tell if the man was paranoid or poverty stricken. Whatever it was, he began to feel sorry for him.

'I'm afraid I don't need any alarms or security bolts for my windows, I've got them already.' he lied.

'Oh no Mr eh ... ' the man paused and waited for Casy to fill in the gap but Casy said nothing. The man continued.

'I'm not selling alarms or anything expensive like that.'

'Well, I know you are selling something ... Whits it tae be? ... double glazing, insurance, roadside rescue, smoke alarms, two for one meal offers at harvester ... drugs?'

The man giggled and Casy began to relax.

'Oh no ... I would like to introduce you to one of the cheapest and most effective home security devices on the market.'

'A dog ... have ye got a dog in that bag?'

'The 180 degree spy-hole.' He zipped open his holdall and pulled out a small glass object that looked like a false eye. He handed Casy the eye and he examined it carefully.

'For only £3.00 you can protect your home against intrusion - day or night.'

'Whit ... ye mean like now?' Casy quipped. The man tried to ignore him.

'... and the purchase does include free installation.'

'What, does somebody come and fit it?'

'Oh no ... I can do that for you at point of sale.' Casy then realised what was in the bag. He thought about it for a minute. He was probably somebody just like him. Some poor sod trying to earn an honest crust.

'OK ... sold tae the sucker at the door.'

The man beamed and stepped inside the flat.

'You have made the right decision Mr ... ?'

'Call me Casy.'

'Mr Casy - You can't be too careful these days.'

He dropped the bag on the floor and pulled out his drill. It was huge, one of those industrial jobs builders use for heavy masonry work.

'My that's a big one,' Casy joked. ' ... are you sure it's no going to damage ma door?'

'Don't you worry Mr Casy, I have all the correct attachments in my bag.' Casy tried again to conceal a grin.

'Would you like a cup of tea, Bob?'

'That would be smashin'. Four sugars and plenty of milk, and could I bother you for a couple of biscuits ... and a mains socket for ma drill?'

When Casy got to the kitchen, the drilling started. First it was quiet, just the odd wee spurt, but then it escalated into an all out assault on his skull. It was so loud he thought he was going to pass out. He did his best to make the tea and when he returned, the wee man was nearly through to the other side of the door. He was battling hard against the drill and his head and arms were shaking in time with the revolutions of the bit.

'Ah think ma head might be blunt!' he shouted.

Casy nodded and turned away, now able to laugh without the man hearing. Finally, he made it through. He put the drill down and popped the glass eye into the new socket he had just gouged out of the door.

'There we are.' he said, proud as punch with beads of sweat trickling down his forehead.

'Now sir, if I could have your help for just one minute.'

He took a sip of tea and a bite of his digestive, and then stepped out onto the close stairs.

'Now if you could just shut the door.'


'Shut the door. If you don't mind.'

Casy closed the door and waited for the next instruction.

'If you would like to have a look through your new spy-hole and tell me if you can see me.'

Casy bent down to look through the glass eye. The man had fitted it at his own eye level and Casy had to adjust his height accordingly. He peered into the hallway.

'Can you see me?'

The man was standing directly in front of the eye.

'Yes, I can.' Casy chuckled, the man's face now looking remarkably like a badly deformed trout. The man stepped back and stood across the landing beside the door opposite.

'Can you see me now?'

'Yes, I can.'

Then, suddenly he jumped forward to the top of the stairs, next to Casy's door.

'And can you see me now?'

'Yes, I can.'

He bobbed his head back and forth, and left to right.

'... and now ...?'


'... and now?'


'... and now?'


Finally, he disappeared completely.

'And what about now?'

'No, you are definitely not visible ... wherever you are?' Casy said with a hint of pantomime twang.

'No I can't see you now,' he repeated, 'are you still there?'

Casy began to think that the man had actually gone. He opened the door. He had crouched down right under the spy-hole.

'Boo ... he said politely.' Casy jumped back with surprise.

'Just a wee joke there.' He smiled. 'So do you think it was a good investment?'

'Oh yes ... definitely, I wouldn't feel safe without one now.'

And so the man packed up his gear, finished off his tea and thanked Casy for his custom. Then he was off up the stairs in search of his next sale.

'I can see you!' Casy shouted after him, and he heard the man yelp with laughter. Later on, after he'd finally cleaned the bathroom, Casy had another look at his new low cost security device. And as he squinted through the spy-hole he thought to himself,

'The man's right. You never can be too careful.'