Monday, January 26th 3.42 pm.
“How about it, then?”
“Worth a go. A certain someone needs to be taught a lesson…”
“Hey. That’s what I like to hear. Remember the last time? How cool you were. I mean, really bloody cool…”
“Stuff like that doesn’t bother me, see. That’s why.”
“So, you’re up for it again?”
Despite the slanting rain, the listener to this disembodied conversation pulled her cagoule hood free of her ears to catch every word, but they soon faded, leaving her sinking ever deeper into her garden’s waterlogged soil that bordered the hedge-lined alley way.
Sixty-two year old Laura Jones returned to the planting of early radishes and rhubarb in their black, loamy bed - a calming task at odds with the aggression in those two females’ voices that still lingered in her mind. She wondered what the ‘lesson’ threat had meant. Nothing resembling what she, as a schoolteacher for forty years, had planned and delivered, that was for sure...
She straightened up, sensing a chill leach under her warm clothes, listening hard in case those girls came along again. That hadn’t been the first snippet she’d heard from her vantage point, and unlikely to be the last, for this narrow alley way was a much-used route by residents of the Craig Ddu social housing development needing to catch a bus into town at its main road end. Old, young, some with dogs, most with buggies and complaining babies. All with tales to tell, in Welsh and English, reminding her of when as a child, opening her Advent calendar windows in the days before Christmas. Every new oblong delivered a mini-story. A peep into another world…
She glanced round, sensing she in turn was being studied, and her neighbour’s new shed - a third taller than his previous one, filled her vision. What he did in there, God only knew, but whatever it was, since she’d retired just before Christmas, his one large window partly overlooking her other boundary wall, had been fitted with black
Chip, chip-chip, chip…The rhythmic sound of his chisel that marked out his days, often late into the night when he was pushed for time, was lost to the rain.
Forty-five year-old Vince Goody stepped back to admire the sycamore wood stallion’s head, now almost complete, save for his trademark twist of forelock and black resin eyes glued into place as the final touch. The head would come next, then chest, belly, quarters and tail, with four galloping legs added last. After five years of practice, he’d got it off pat. Just him and the wood, with neither apprentice nor any other cling-on to worry about.
Fairground rides were still in demand especially where new money was coming in. Where schools were close by. Yes, especially schools…And on the subject of schools and proximity, he mused, beginning to gouge out the creature’s left ear, it was time that nosy neighbour of his downsized and shoved off somewhere else. Gave him a break. Since she’d given up the classroom and had more time on her hands, he’d decided on blinds - the horizontal Venetian variety - and now, through their dusty slats, could see the bob-bobbing busybody gardening away in the piss so she could spy on school kids going home up the alley.
Vince knew her sort. They sucked in secret on other people’s lives. And the thing that really got him was, she never tried to hide it. One day, someone would cotton on and realise she was there, ears flapping - then she’d be for it.
He smiled to himself as he rubbed sandpaper into the hollow ear and blew a puff of brown dust in her direction.
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