The evening was darkening as he hastily laced his trainers, & zipped his jacket. He had decided to take a run, down to the football oval to watch the training.
He had even kidded himself that he might join in.
After his hot day spent heaving bales of hay about for old man Purdy, he was feeling quite weary, & more than a little muscle sore. Old Purdy had made damn sure he got his money's worth out him. The cunning old sod had offered a price before the day's labours began, and he kept adding one more task, one more "little job".
The fact that he only had daughters had never slowed Purdy down, in the dishing out of jobs. He made them work for their keep. As he saw it, they were free labour, and rightly so. One by one, they had grown and gone, as soon as they could. One girl went nursing, down South, one got pregnant and married, making sure she moved away with her new husband. The baby of the family was not waiting around to be worked to a standstill, and she had run off to who knew where.
For months, the talk of the town had been that her father had killed her, and fed her to his pigs, but her mother claimed she got letters from her, so apparently she was not dead at all. Needless to say, the old biddies in the town were rather disappointed there was no juicy scandal.
However there was always other gossip to be found, not least being his return from his 'corrective' holiday, at one of Her Majesty's Establishments.
He supposed his father must have taken his share of the gossiping stares and whispers, and drowned his sorrows each night in his sherry filled haze. In a way, he felt he couldn't blame his father. He was not really sure whether his father was a drunk, or an alcoholic. Either way, the effects were the same, and he felt his father had been missing quite a lot throughout his childhood.
At least he had offered him a home again, once he had got released. It was the considered opinion of the 'Biddies' that poor Angus deserved better than his son, Ross, who had temporarily, gone a little 'wild'.
When Ross had come home from Purdy's, he was surprised to find his father had cooked him a passable meal. There were mashed potatoes, some hogget chops, which had of course come from the inevitable frying pan, along with some soggy cabbage, and a bit of carrot. No gravy, but the tomato sauce bottle was on the table.
Angus had grunted, when he thanked him, and had retired to his room, his radio blattering away, behind his closed door.
Ross had eaten, washed his dishes, then run a bath, & had a good soak to loosen his shoulders.
As he was closing the door, Angus stuck his head out, and shouted, gruffly,
"Go careful, son!"
Ross jogged down the street, in the rapidly chilling night air. As he approached the corner he saw a small bundle of fury come hurtling down the lawn. It looked like a tortured clump of brindle rags, in the streetlight, as it snarled and barked furiously at him.
"Oh Sparky, darling, come here! You know Ross, don't growl at him, he is a friend." Titter titter.
The neighbour daughter, who owned this ragged ball of slathering rage, came daintily out on the lawn, dressed in her nighty, pretending to be shocked at Dear Little Sparky's rage.
Ross ignored them both, and continued jogging on.
Who was she kidding? The dog behaved exactly the same, night or day, no matter who passed by. Ross had contemplated giving Sparky flying lessons, but had decided the aggravation would not be worth any pleasure he might get.
He jogged on down past the houses, then the 'Church of the Lisping Godbotherers', or whatever they called themselves, then past the last straggle of shops, to the footy oval, which was behind the imaginary 'end of town'.
Past the empty basketball courts, where the sweating, heaving girls, with their huge legs, and Gym frocks, with black stockings, manfully played their Saturday Games, with a fury and a passion only a player could understand.
Christy never played Basketball. Did not have any understanding of the game.
He stood outside the bright Oval lights, watching the would-be players running round the oval, passing the ball. The coach was yelling at them.
"Move it MOVE IT!!"
He watched them puffing and panting, most of them a little out of condition, from Summer's pub visits, and parties.
He watched Bennie 'Blue Balls', soon to be married to Donna Keyson, daughter of the local cop. Her father watched her like a hawk, & Bennie had no chance of getting into mischief, or anything else he should not be touching, while Old Keyson watched over Donna.
Hence the those stone flinging, tension filled, drives home, like a crazed man, once Bennie said 'Goodnight' to Donna.
Ross found his feet turning up another street, and he was running quite quickly now, a good rhythm developing, and his feet pounding out her name.
"Christy" "Christy" "Christy"
He knew he should not be coming back here. He knew it was wrong.
He just could not seem to stop himself.
As he neared the gate, he could see, the lights in the diningroom were out. Her mother's car was on the lawn. Her mother must have the night off.
He slunk up past the car, sneaking around past the tank stand. He could see the light was on in Christy's bedroom.
He was startled by a sudden burst of light, from Old Man Dan's next door, as the old man opened his back door- which was his only door, in his humble dwelling, a bach he had built himself.
Old Man Dan, had come out with his teapot, to empty the tealeaves around his lemon tree. For some reason, he believed it would give the tree a better crop of lemons. Maybe he was right.
He went back inside, & closed his door, the light suddenly gone.
Ross edged closer to Christy's bedroom windows, trying to get a glimpse of her, but her curtains were carefully closed. Her mother's bedroom light was on, but her curtains too, were closed.
He stood trembling with ... emotions, swirling, of what, he was not sure, ... was it anger... sorrow... despair?
He knew he had done the wrong thing.
She had given him the benefit of the doubt, the first time.
She had warned him, there would be no third time, should a second occur.
What the hell was wrong with him? What had he been thinking?
Cursing softly, he stole out of the yard. He began his lonely walk home, in the cold, moonlit night.
11 months ago