A door slammed with a deafening bang, rattling on its hinges and setting off a minor tremor in the floor. Flakes of plaster drifted silently from the ceiling as if the house had developed dandruff. That the ceiling just above the door was already pockmarked suggested this had happened many times.
Ben Chandler, the door-slammer supreme, enjoyed the moment of ringing silence that followed with an air of deep satisfaction. He stuck his hands in his pockets and started toward the stairs with an impressive swagger.
Someone was coming up.
It was a stranger. An ugly, odd-looking female stranger who was carrying a huge, bulging bag that looked like it had been made from an old rug. She wore a coat which buttoned up tightly under her chin and was so long the hem disturbed the comfortable dust of the stair-carpet. Her hair was very shiny and smooth, almost as if it had been painted onto her head, and her face was pale, except for a pink patch on each cheek placed with a symmetry alien to nature.
Her eyes though. Her eyes. They were small and bright and blue as a summer sky. Quick as lighting and hard as marbles. Witch! Ben thought. She's a witch! Stupid thing to think. He shook his head and met her gaze with a challenging glare.
"Good Morning," she said. "You must be Ben Chandler. I am Mary Poppins and I will be looking after you in the capacity of Governess, Nanny and, if needs be, Nurse. Perhaps you will be a little gentleman and take my bag?"
Ben opened his mouth. Her eyes flashed.
"fffff..." Ben said. "Ffffff!" His tongue felt massive and cumbersome. It wouldn't do what he wanted. "FFFFFFFFF!" he said in desperation.
"Just say 'Yes'," Mary Poppins advised calmly.
"FFFFFFFF! FFFFFFF!!....Yes," Ben said.
Instantly the bag was in his hand. It weighed about a ton and he attempted with shocked indignation to drop it. The bag wouldn't let go, like it was welded to his skin. The weight of it overbalanced him and he fell, sprawled onto the carpet but the bag stayed tight in his grip.
"Hmph," Mary Poppins said. "I can see you are an untidy boy. Please get up."
Ben was on his feet. He said, "FFFFFfffff! Yooooo Bbbbbbbbbb!....a pleasure Ma'am."
"Thank you," Mary Poppins inclined her head in a most stately fashion. "Can you show me to the spare room?"
Ben's feet treacherously obeyed, marching him across the landing where his own hand, his own actual hand, opened the door to the spare room and held it politely.
"Thank you so much," Mary Poppins said. "Good little boys will get a treat. I will commend your behaviour to your mother. Now, if you will excuse me, I would like some time to unpack."
The door shut in Ben's face with a final little click of the latch. The bag was gone, somehow, had followed her into the room. Ben stood there, a rush of outrage flooding upward from his feet, bubbling and boiling up into his head until he felt like the top of his skull was about to erupt.
"FFFFFFFFF!" he said to the door.
Wow, but she was going to pay! He went back to his own room, his plans for the day forgotten. For it was time. Oh, it was time. To plot revenge.
He didn't know what she'd done, and it scared him. And the fear made him furiously angry. No one made a fool of Ben Chandler. Not ever.