“Stop faffing about, Henry,” Bill hissed, looking up and down the hall.
“Stop bouncing that light around then! I need it right here,” Henry pointed with his screwdriver.
Bill adjusted the light, shining at Henry’s industriously working tools. The screwdriver slipped, stabbing Henry’s finger. He sucked in a breath before returning to the lock.
“Is he in yet?” Frank called down the hall in a loud whisper.
Henry sighed, shaking his head. “Why did we invite him again?” he muttered.
“We needed a third to stand guard,” Bill said before waving Frank away.
The rec room light came on just as Bill heard a click and Henry’s huff of satisfaction. They quickly slid through the door, turning the lock behind them.
They waited quietly as footsteps came down the hall, stopping to test each door. Their doorknob rattled, then the guard moved on to the next. Bill and Henry looked at each other, then got to work. Fifteen minutes later they left the Director’s office, door locked neatly behind them.
“Well?” Frank asked as they got to lounge area.
“Oh, she’s never gonna know what hit her,” Henry smirked.
“Yeah,” Bill agreed, “that’ll teach her to take away Friday night concerts!”
“Concerts,” Frank sneered. “It’s a guy on a piano in the rec room. But it’s our guy! And who knows what would be next–desserts?!”
Bill looked at Henry as Frank wandered off, still talking to himself.
“Not quite like the old days, huh?”
“Nope. But tonight we had a much better chance of getting back to our beds,” Henry replied.
Bill nodded agreement as they headed to their rooms. Tomorrow should be quite exciting, he thought. As exciting as it gets in a nursing home, he added wryly.
faff about: to “dither, fuss, flap.”* I liked this one, it just sounded fun. Not surprisingly, it comes from the United Kingdom. It has a bit of a Scottish sound to me (can’t you just hear a Scot accent saying “stop blethering and faffing about!”?), but there is no proof that it came from that direction. It was first recorded by Sabine Baring-Gould in 1874:
T’ clock-maker fizzled an’ faff’d aboot her, but nivver did her a farthing’s worth o’ good.
The phrase has probably saved the word “faff” from extinction, as it isn’t really part of our language any moreexcept in conjunction with the cliche. Even the cliche has fallen out of fashion in current UK slang. The word Faff originally came from the word Faffle, from the 16th century. Faffle meant to “flap idly in the breeze.” Faff did travel to Australia with British inmates, as it can be found in 1879 The Austrialian Journal:
“No, it [a candle] burns quite steadily now; you are right about it faffing about before, because it blew towards my face.”