Since retirement I’ve made the front garden my project, you know, to make it look nice. Roses down one side, maybe a small pond, and maybe a fountain too I’m thinking; pop in a couple gold fish too maybe. I have it planned out, well on paper at least. At the moment it’s paving slabs, you know, the ones that are yellow and pink. Bloody awful in my opinion, but she liked them. ‘Brightens the front up and keeps it tidy’ she would say. I never saw it myself.
I do have a small bench seat out front, to the left of the front door. It was with the house when we bought it. One of those iron framed things with wooden slats. It just needed a little TLC to make it look nice. She thought is was a waste of time. I now get my 11am cup of coffee when the weather is dry and sit to watch the world go by. I have a little fan club too; the bus stop beauties I call them. For some unknow reason they put a bus stop outside our house years ago. It doesn’t have a shelter, just one of the grey concrete posts with timetable built into it. On Tuesday the beauties gather to get the bus into town for their pensions, and again on Friday for the matinée bingo. I admit that even on damp days I’m out there 15 minutes before the bus arrives just to have the ladies wave and say hello. It’s a bit of company I suppose.
One thing you notice sitting looking at the street, is neighbour’s habits. Over the road, the house with the red door, which I painted by the way, because I’m helpful like that, she has people coming and going at all hours. It’s mostly men, but sometimes women, and occasionally a mixed group. They arrive and usually leave an hour or so later. In warmer weather she opens windows and you can hear her at work. If the wind blows the right way, and between traffic, you get half a sentence or someone yelling out. You wouldn’t think it to look at her, I mean, that she was one of those Sex Worker types you read about in the paper. I mean, she’s older than me, only just, but I mean, at her age! People have strange tastes, I mean, all that black gear and whips. Not my idea of fun for sure, never was; she can keep all that nonsense behind her shiny red door I can tell you. If you know what I mean?
What I find strange is that I have never seen any one I know go in there. There’s been hundreds since she set up shop, and not one person I know. Come to think about it, it’s not surprising as I can’t think of anyone I know who would want to visit her dressed like that. If she dressed and acted normally maybe friends would come by, but not when there’s yelling and such like going on.
It’s bad enough having to see that everyday right across the road. There’s loads of places you could do all that stuff without being overheard or seen. I saw her once when I was bleaching the grouting on top of the shower. I had the half window open and could see in the upstairs window. There she was, top less and waving a stick about; it all looked very sinister if you ask me.
I think she takes pleasure knowing that I sit and drink my coffee in the morning because sometimes I see her peer around the curtains, or look at me when she’s closing the red door as customers come and go. I thought about calling the police to have her shut down initially, but I didn’t. I do have spells when I think I will, but I never do. It would spoilt by private joke I guess. My neighbours, Bill and Mary on the left and Barbara, widowed, on my right never say word about what is going on over there. I guess they are just too polite and keep their nose out.
When my Kath went, they were really kind. Barbara and Mary would sometimes see her in the supermarket I’m sure, but they never said if they did. Like I say, they are very polite. Only once, when I went round for a Sunday lunch with Bill and Mary did the subject get touched on. It was only small talk, and Bill who is not great at it, asked where I bought the red paint completely out of the blue. There was an awkward silence for a bit until I lied and said it was an old half opened tin which would have gone to waste anyway. It is odd though that Bill would ask about the paint I used on the door, but never why I painted it or how I felt having Kath living over the road and doing what she was doing. Just being polite I suppose.
This morning something out of the ordinary happened, just after 11am, when the bus departed and my coffee almost finished, I saw Kath standing on the other side of the road. She looked left and right before crossing and let herself in through the gate.
“Morning.” She said.
“Morning Kath, nice day!” I replied
“You think you’re funny don’t you?” (She must have finally discovered my little joke)
“I have my moments Kath, I have my moments. What is it I can help you with?”
“I never questioned why you offered to paint my old front door. You rubbed all the old paint off and then painted it to make it look nice and said it was the same as everyone else’s door.” She said.
I smiled at her and emptied the last of my coffee into the large plant pot sitting on the concrete steps.
“Everyone has a blue front door don’t they? A blue front door is what you told me. Everyone in Blue Bell Road has a blue door you said”
“I did Kath, everyone has a blue front door. Obviously being colour blind you needed to be told that.” I said to her.
“So you thought that painting MY front door fire engine red would be funny did you?” She said, getting angry.
“I did Kath, I thought that is would be very funny to paint your door fire engine red. I thought it would match your new image” I said.
I thought afterwards that Kath should really have taken more time to look at the comings and goings of the street that we lived on.
“You’re a spiteful little bastard, you know that don’t you?” She spat at me.
The No.5 bus to town arrives at 11.05 and always stops outside the house. The No.7, ironically, goes via the cemetery on a Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, but doesn’t stop unless someone at the bus stop puts their hand out. Today was Wednesday and no one stood outside my house since my beauties had gone.
Kath turned and walked through the gate, leaving it open on purpose I assume. She turned, and I think was about to stick two fingers up at me when she saw Bill come out of his house. I guess her stepping off the curb and seeing bill stopped her from checking left and right as she did so purposefully on the way over here. The No.7, like I said, doesn’t stop, and goes via the cemetery on a Monday, Wednesday and Sunday, which as I said previously, was ironic considering the outcome.
I imagine the new tenants, when they finally move in, will want a blue door like everyone else. Maybe I’ll offer to paint it for them. I half a can of that too in the shed somewhere.