The story so far: The house on the Mortierstraat is emptying out fast. Derk is the only resident with no plans to move. Willem-Jan and Vera are the first to pack their bags.
Of all the furniture in Willem-Jan’s room, the bed – surprisingly – proved the hardest to dismantle. It took them at least half an hour of tugging and wrenching to loosen the last plank without damaging the wood.
‘What a useless thing,’ said Derk, wiping the sweat from his forehead. A think layer of dust had become visible on the floor, with a few objects dotted about in it – beer bottle tops, crisp packets and a pair of boxer shorts. ‘Maybe we should get an archaeologist in to analyse this,’ says Derk. ‘Then we’ll know at last how long you’ve been a student.’ Willem-Jan didn’t take the bait. He had to get on with packing up and cleaning: the landlord was coming to inspect the place soon.
Derk found even more mess in the living room. Removal boxes everywhere, cleaning materials and furniture. Somewhere in the midst of it all, Filippo and Bianca were smooching on the sofa. They had hardly taken their hands off each other since Bianca got back from Africa. They would be leaving too in a few weeks, thought Derk wistfully. The only plus side was that his friend Jelle would now be coming to live here. He was just pouring himself a glass of coke in the kitchen when Vera came in.
‘I am totally ready,’ she said conspiratorially, showing him her single-lens reflex camera. He grinned back. ‘The big moment has come.’ Together they crept into Willem-Jan’s room to see whether their housemate really had laid hands on the vacuum cleaner.
‘Come and see this, guys!’ yelled Derk. ‘The eighth wonder of the world. Willem-Jan is using a vacuum cleaner.’ Grinning, the housemates watched Willem-Jan sweat.
‘We are going to record this for posterity,’ said Vera, her camera poised. ‘Otherwise nobody will believe it.’ Willem-Jan theatrically swung the vacuum cleaner tube around his head like a lasso. Soon everyone else lost interest and he carried on alone. Just before five he collapsed onto the sofa.
‘Mission accomplished.’ He made a high five with Vera, who had finished long ago. It turned out he was ready just in time because the doorbell went almost immediately. The landlord – as usual in jeans and jacket – started rolling a cigarette straight away.
‘Let’s have a look, then’ he growled. The other housemates stood aside but watched the show from a distance. The landlord cast a quick glance around Willem-Jan’s room, licked his cigarette paper and stuck his fag in his mouth. ‘Not bad, lad, but are you going to clean it too?’