The Boiler Room

DIMNJACAR

We had a visit from a chimney sweep yesterday. A fucking chimney sweep! But we may have inadvertently caused ourselves some bad luck…

After a couple of abortive attempts to enter our apartment – “I’m sorry, I only speak English,” I lied to the man who buzzed our intercom – we finally let in the dimnjačar in his black overalls, cute little cap, ladder and, of course, chimney broom.

DIMNJACAR
Not actually our chimney sweep, but this is just how he looked!

It was the broom that convinced us. I fib. It was the hat.

He was a surly fellow, fast and professional. He had the chimney off of our boiler in but a moment, seemed to wave a magic wand over it a few times as we turned on taps in the apartment, then put the chimney back on and off he went.

To add to the list of things which are normal in Croatia but which we don’t have in Australia: chimney sweeps.

Later in class we were learning Croatian words for various professions. Chef, pilot, hairdresser, chimney sweep…

“When you see a chimney sweep,” our teacher told us. “You should touch a button for good luck. And you must keep touching the button until he leaves your sight.”

C and I looked at one another, aghast.

I can’t honestly say that we touched our buttons while the chimney sweep was in our house. We more kind of gaped in stupefaction. I mean, a chimney sweep was in our apartment! Straight outta Mary Poppins. Weird. As a result, I fear we may have accidentally blighted ourselves with the dreaded chimney curse. Maybe the fact that he’d cursed us is why he was such a dour bloke. That’s a lot of guilt for one young guy.

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Nat Newman

Nat Newman is an award-winning writer of short stories, content, podcasts, feature articles, drunk text messages and, soon, a novella.

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