The heat was shimmering off the road, so unseasonal, for this time of year.
Farley Granger sat and rocked slowly in his wicker chair.
His panama hat sat upon his balding head. It shaded neither his head, nor his eyes, since the sun did not shine this far under his wide verandah roof.
The creaks and muffled squeaks, of his gently rocking chair, reminded him of his joints, as he rose each day, clicking and creaking, hobbling to his bathroom, to wash, then dress slowly, patiently.
He prided himself on the fact that he still dressed well. No matter how warm the day, he still donned his waistcoat, over his neatly pressed shirt. He still wore the suit trousers, with sharp creases, which he carefully pressed under the mattress each night.
Which reminded him, he must see Harry Copesteake, at the Butcher's, to get some more of the brown paper strips he used to line his trousers, for the pressing, under the mattress.
Harry had a great huge roll of the brown paper, for wrapping the meat, and he had told Farley he was welcome to as much as he required.
Never mind that Harry's son Russell, frowned, whenever he came into the shop, to accept the free parcels of blade steak, sausages, and mince, along with great sheets of the brown paper.
Farley knew that Russell had copped plenty of teasing over his name, Copesteake, and the fact that his father was the local Butcher, and he was in line to take over the family business. His nickname had been "Steak Eyes" at school.
If the teasers were feeling particularly mean, it was "Rissole Steakeyes".
Should he, Farley, wish to venture out, into the streets of the town, he always wore his suit coat, and lately, a cravatt. He found the tying of his ties somewhat of a chore these days. His arms seemed reluctant to reach forward, so that his increasingly fumbly fingers could manage the twists the knot required, to tie the tie.
He tried to keep the knotted ties completed, so that he only had to tighten them, once he had slipped them over his head.
Then, one day, he noticed Millie Petersen, the ex headmistress of the Infants, whose eyes were like small, beady, bird's eyes, which seemed to miss neither trick, nor an ex pupil.
Millie had stared piercingly at his tie, until he felt all hot and bothered.
Why was she staring? he wondered. As they chatted, he noticed her gimlet eyes would not leave a point below his chin.
When he got home, and peered into the mirror, it became abundantly clear, why Millie's gaze had fastened on his navy and red striped tie. There upon the red, slipping onto the navy, was the distinct dribble of egg yolk.
His lovely runny brekky egg had disgraced him! How had he not noticed? He had burned with shame, at home, in his small bathroom.
To think Millie, of all people, had to be the one to notice!
How humiliating. He had vowed to never wear a tie again.
Or have his beloved runny yolked eggs for breakfast.
Farley had hastened to Manson's Menswear, and demanded to see the range of cravatts. He had hastily selected four, snapped at the silly girl, that "NO! he did not require them delivered!"
He would take them now, and he was so upset, he had even paid cash! Not his usual "Put them on my Account!"
Now, as Farley sat dreaming his old man dreams, dozing lightly, on his slightly overheated front porch, he noticed Ross Fraser jogging past.
He wondered where he was off to, at this warm hour of the day. He must still be out of work, otherwise, why would he be on the street?
Farley thought Angus had got his son to work with him, on the painting lark. He didn't hold out much hope for the boy. Ever since he had reached his teenage years, he had seemed to run off the rails.
Farley remembered he had seen Ross with that pretty young girl, with all the red curls... what was her name? Oh, yes, Christy, that was it. Lived with her mother and Grandmother. There was a boy too wasn't there? a young lad..
Farley sought in his memory banks for the pieces.
What was happening to him? His memory had always been faultless.
It frightened him, sometimes, the fact that people seemed to be slightly out of his memory's reach.
Then he remembered, the young lad was keen to work at the local bicycle shop, hung about the place every day after school... yes... Steven, that was his name.
But, back to thoughts of Christy.
What was her mother thinking, letting her keep company with a 'bad lad' like Ross Fraser?
There were times when Farley was glad he and 'Mrs Granger', as he always referred to her, even in his mind, had never had children. At first they had wondered why. He felt that Marjorie, which was Mrs Granger's actual name, had been very sad, at first. Then as the years had passed, she became very anti children, declaring them to be nasty, dirty, cheeky, spiteful, creatures.
When Mrs Granger had died, from Thrombosis aged 50, it had almost been a relief, to Farley. They had seemed to have increasingly little to say to each other, and truth be told, Marjorie had become melacholy & extremely withdrawn, never going outside, even to the letterbox.
Having driven the school bus for those many years, there were times when Farley was inclined to agree with Mrs Granger's thoughts about the children. Especially when he felt the sting of a flung apple core, or the thunk of a half eaten sandwich, on the back of his neck, or his balding head, which happened more frequently towards the end of his career.
They might have made fun of him then, but now, from his vantage point on the very edge of town, he felt he had his finger on the pulse of most of their comings and goings. He could see almost everybody who came into the main street, and he knew more than they realised about a lot of their business.
He would just keep his vigils, and know what he knew.
11 months ago