Mum's wine storage was working well , a cool dark place to allow the wine to age and sediments to settle . Despite several cheesecloth strainings before bottling , there was always a layer of sediment in the bottom of each bottle . When one was taken upstairs , opened and allowed to breathe before serving to visitors , the smell of yeast was inevitably the back scent of the 'bouquet' .
Mum always knew the exact count and age of every bottle . Rather than the monthly check for clarity , Mum began a weekly inspection . Still , wine was disappearing . She eventually deduced that they had to have been removed while no one was home , or at night when everyone was asleep .
Finally , the day came when the mystery was solved . Mum and Dad laid a trap for the thief. They got into the car as if going out for a while and hid it on the other side of the tracks . They returned home unseen to lay in wait with the basement door ajar. Within minutes , they could hear footsteps , but they waited a little longer to be sure the culprit was committed to the act . Finally , a shuffling and groaning confirmed that someone was in the basement . Not wanting to alert him to their presence , they quietly pushed the door aside and crept down the steps . By this time , there was a commotion of scuffling and cursing rising from the darkness and they entered unnoticed .
Dad crept to the bottom of the stairs , fists at ready to take on whoever was skulking around . Mum followed him close at hand with her favourite weapon , the kitchen broom . The denizen of darkness was still unaware of their proximity . From behind the log post that supported the house , Mum and Dad peeked towards the infiltrator .
There , struggling in the red slime of the basement seepage , lay our new neighbour . Squirming in the muck , and well coated by this point . Cursing 'a red streak' to match his condition .
He was firmly entrapped beneath the partition wall that separated the territory of this duplex section house : theirs and ours . The wall was about a foot from the floor over the ditch and he had got himself wedged , having slithered up the floor's slope a bit where the space was closer to 8 inches .
Dad and Mum barely held in the laughter at the sight . But there was still the matter of of trespass and theft with which to 'deal' .
Mum was , by this point , shaking and crying in the pain of suppressed laughter . " Watch this ," Dad whispered , forcing at serious look of anger around sparkling eyes .. Out of the darkness behind the post , he pounced into view . "WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING ?!?!" he roared as he rushed forward .
The neighbour screamed " a note that would have impressed Caruso " , as Mum described later , and he popped from under the wall " like a ripe banana from its skin ".
The neighbour scurried from the trap whimpering ," I'm sorry , I'm sorry " over and over as he scuttled up the stairs on his side of the basement .
Dad guessed the release of air and other matter shrunk the neighbour enough to slide with the force of fear from under the wall . (Of course more coarsely.)
Mum and Dad laughed until they cried over the incident . Coupled with the comments of false bravado coming through the wall from next door , they enjoyed a good few hours of entertainment. The story is still recited in the tale telling as one of the better ones .
Retributive Justice . Ain't it a beautiful thing !
Did I mention that the neighbour was Dad's immediate boss when he still worked the section in Mattawa at that time ?