This woman had a room for rent and a policy of no shoes. I had one shoe off when she asked: ‘Are you parking there, like that?’
I said yeah, and she said no. That won’t do. It’s dangerous for her car when she’s trying to pull out and she might hit mine and could I park it up the top there instead.
I put the off shoe back on and got back in the car and started backing back, back towards the trees and the empty pond, and the horseshoe groove that kept cars safe and undinged. It was a calm blue evening, leafy suburb, Newstalk on the radio, banging out ads about famine and starvation. Not too sure where the Peugeot came from. One second I was about to lock to the left and then there was the pokey eyes of reverse lights coming in the gate. We did a bit of gush, and push, and awkward acting the bollix, and ended up stuck beside each other in the driveway. Now there was two cars parked badly and no way out the gate. Our lady, Breda, yelped from the doorway. “Michael! Michael!”
‘Let that man in.’
The guy was Polish, Latvian, Hungarian, something. Double chin and smig and big belly behind the wheel. He shrugged, said: ‘I’ll only be 10 minutes anyway.’
A fourth character appeared; stairs left. Previously unseen, unnamed, unheard of and unexpected. Shorts, blonde hair, pale green eyes and an agitated voice. She stood beside Breda, bare feet, squinted at the two of us, tried to assess what was happening, then asked: ‘Are ye delivering my Chinese?’
Come in, said Breda, just come in.
We both walked towards the door. Crunch of stones, caffeinated blood from a long day on the road. Thoughts like haunted ghosts flitting round black tormented rooms. Coming, going, living dying, breaking through, electric saw blades on concrete.
Shoes again, please, said Breda.
Got the two of them off this time. Good job I bought decent socks in Dealz last week. Your man’s name was Justin. Breda was excited because he was the best handyman around and didn’t often come unless you were a valued customer. Even at that, his time was precious. More precious than the bad parking tenant and the girl looking for her Chicken Szechwan. He was going changing a plug, and the plug was broke for a long time, and we couldn’t let him go now or we wouldn’t see him again for weeks. I took the chance to escape up to the room. Small, functional, towel, window. Unpacked, got ready to chill, embrace silence, do fuck all. Then I heard: Michael….? You can move your car back now. Justin is gone.
Shoes on. Parked. Shoes off.
And did I know anything about broadband. There was a lad here at the door last week and he sold it to her and it was pure shite. And now Eir were going taking money out of her account and she had to ring them. And isn’t it awful, and the doorbell rang, and who’s this now, must be the Chinese, have you seen the beach yet? You should go down for a walk. It’s lovely.
I will. Which way is it?