“I’m tired,” grumbled Morten Harket as his wife shook him gently.
“Come on, dear,” she said lovingly. “It’s not like adult time lasted that long last night?”
“I know. But I had two Babychams. Maybe three.”
He sat up in the bed and rubbed his eyes, his chest fur curling in the nippy early morning air. “Why am I getting up?”
“You can’t lie down in darkness all morning,” she said sternly. “And you said you’d wash my car this morning. We can’t afford to go down to the garage to get it done.”
Morten muttered a brief rebuke before rolling out of bed in his tight Y-fronts. He reached out for his crumpled jeans, loose change tumbling out of his pockets as he pushed his left leg in to them. “Bugger.”
He pulled on a light blue shirt not realising it was inside out and stumbled downstairs, banging his knee against the bannister as he swung in to the hallway. His medium-length hair was sticking up everywhere, making him look somewhat like a thick-haired version of the guy from Hellraiser. The one with the pins.
He coughed up some Babycham as he poured boiling water from the kettle in to a cracked cup, missing the cup slightly and scalding his hand. “Bugger!”
Morten went out to the garden. The early-winter air grasped his throat tightly, causing him to catch his breath. As he checked that the doors and windows on the Fiat Punto were all shut tight he heard a voice from behind.
Morten spun around, backward shirt wide open, unbuckled belt hanging from his hips, sticky-up hair unsure about what direction it should point.
“I’m Neil, your new neighbour. You look a tad rough, soldier.”
Morten looked puzzled and looked behind him expecting to see Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf covered in sand and sweat.
“Oh, right. Me?” Morten extended his hand. “I’m Morten.”
“What an unusual name?” Neil laughed. “Is it Belgian?”
“Belgian?” Morten said incredulously. “No. No. Norwegian.” He shook his head.
“Sorry,” Neil said smiling. “I just remember a Belgian band from the 80s who had a lead singer called Morten Hairnet.”
“It was a-ha. And his surname was ‘Harket’,” Morten corrected him. “And as it happens that is also my surname.”
“Really??” Neil laughed. “You don’t even look Belgian!”
“I recall their mid-90s struggle,” Neil said, curiously eyeing the curling fur on Morten’s chest. “They released a US-only promo single, ‘Lie Down in Darkness’.”
Morten turned to the car again before turning back to Neil. “I don’t recall it.”
“Yeah, it was a pseudo-rock track. Started off with a whistly-bit and was quite a tight little number.”
“Any chance of rating the track for me, Neil? People seem to like doing that when they discuss a-ha with me.”
“Probably 7/10. Give or take. Roughly.”
Morten turned to his wife’s car and then looked back at Neil. “You know,” he said, laughing, “I don’t even have a hose. Bugger.”
He turned away and walked back to the house, closing the door behind him.
Neil laughed heartily. “What a nice man. I’ve always liked Belgians.”
Morten stood in the hallway – grimacing at the bannister that he hit his knee off – and was met by his expectant wife.
“No joy,” he said, before performing an impromptu karaoke version of “Sailing” by Rod Stewart. “It was the a-ha curse again,” he said. “And we don’t even own a hose.”
“Never mind, darling,” she said, embracing him. “Next week we’ll buy a hose. Perhaps after we finally get those groceries.”
She took him by the hand. “Come on, I want you next to me…”
And for the second time in 24 hours, adult time commenced.