Unpoured coffee ruins Midsummer. The village bad boy saves the day.
We’re on the veranda. He’s laughing, prideful even, at my job-hunt anguish.
“I’m in the process with three of them now… All I want is X-Team thought,
but they seem to only hire the best of the best. I haven’t got enough to show for”. “So what? You are the best of the best, if they can’t see that — fuck ‘em”, he says, throwing one leg over the other and looking at me with his “duh, what did you think” face. I semi-nod, “if you’re going to be mowing the lawn, can I work on my application?”. “Sure, we’ll do that for two hours. Then we’re building the bridge to the island”.
I work for a little while, unable to concentrate. The pain in my ovary fanning out, pulsating. In S******, ovarian cysts that aren’t cancerous aren’t removed, no matter the pain they cause. Although, it’s been fairly obvious that it’s more of a personal thing than a policy thing. I once, during life-threatening arrhythmia, admitted to smoking a joint. I haven’t been able to get help medically ever since. For sure, they let me in the building, but after reading my medical journal, the friendliest doctors faces turn blank and within moments I’m turned away.
“Junkies” don’t get no help in this country.
Finally I trot down the stairs and put on some more coffee, I return to some emails for a short while before venturing out into the garden. He’s standing in the garage, swearing at something, sweat pouring down his face. “What the fuck? I called you.” . “Yes? I was here before you even put down the phone”, it was true — moments earlier I had watched as he entered the garage with the phone to his ear. “The fucking Arab was just here. You were nowhere to be found”. “I don’t understand, you only just called me?”, I confirm by glancing at my phone and seeing a missed call 10 seconds earlier.
“And no fucking coffee either, I can’t fucking enter the house like this,
don’t you ever fucking think? What the fuck do you actually do?”,
the harshness doesn’t phase me, I’m so used to it. “I’ve made coffee, that’s why I’m here”. “So where the fuck is it? That’s not my fucking cup”, he looks at me with my cup in hand, disgusted. “I came to check if you wanted coffee now, we said two hours but it hasn’t been two hours”. “Fucking two hours? You don’t give a fuck about anybody”.
He’s gotten madder and madder during the couple of minutes exchange. We walk back to the veranda, I place my cup on the table and hurry in to
pour his coffee. “WHAT THE FUCK? THIS ISN’T MY FUCKING CUP, FUCK THIS”, he shouts and leaves as I come round the corner from the kitchen, with his cup of coffee in hand.
I place it on the table and try to get back to my application. If only I could
land this job, this perfect bloody job, things would get better. I could pay my
way out of the abuse, engross myself in work, maybe even be happy for a while. The application questions stare back at me, and all I can think about
is the debt he’s put me in, the emotional prison of implying he’ll kill himself
if I move out of the country that I was forced to move to, the endless abuse whatever I do. The jobs I’ve turned down in exotic places, and my dream hub Silicon Valley. Tears stream down my face as I realise it’s only 13.00 o’clock and I’ve set myself up for a whole day of abuse. It’s Friday and the fifth day I’ve given up trying to complete my application. The sheer agony of getting through another five days sends me into the dark thoughts, the thoughts laying out the only way out I can fathom. Dear me, please save me.
I’ve retreated to the second floor again, laying on my bed looking at investments. It’s the only thing that soothes me, everything else I try to do makes me feel sick.
I hear him coming in. Loudly huffing and puffing, he starts swearing about the coffee machine still being on. Within a few minutes he’s ascended the stairs and gone to bed to sulk. I quietly descend the stairs back to the veranda, blankly staring out the sliding glass doors as the rain starts pounding against them.
As the rain eases I glance up from my phone, how long I’ve been staring at it, I don’t know. I see *him* (we’ll call him HH), we’ve only met once before, yet I find myself getting up while waving frantically. He’d been looking at me, I realise he’d stopped on the walkway to see if I’d look up. I feel a twang in my stomach, the possibility of seeing him again hadn’t passed me by. I’m embarrassed to say it was the only thing I was looking forward to having to come down here the fourth time this year. We start walking towards each other. He stops by the wooden gate, I’m halfway across the lawn when he calls out to me, “I thought you were here! I saw the little’n”. He’s referring to my little terrier, already standing by the fence, wearily sniffing at his mastiff. He’s standing in all black, shorts and a t-shirt, his jet black beard reaching his chest. We’re both smiling as we linger by the gate, exchanging pleasantries. Before long I’ve let him and his dog into the garden. We linger a while longer by the gate, I’m excitedly telling him about my investments, a topic we’d talked about the first time we’d fallen upon each other with the dogs. He tells me how he always carries cash, and lots of it. “Even in these ridiculous shorts”, just looking at his shorts feels naughty, but I can’t not. The mosquitoes nibble at us and we awkwardly laugh, simultaneously slapping at our legs and glancing at each other’s. He’s looking at my bare feet, his broad shoulders squarely facing me. He glances away, trying not to catch my eyes scanning his face. “Your father said to be careful of you”, we both know in what capacity he means. I’m hardly a looker or a man-eater, but I can hold my own. “How about coffee”, I say, turning to walk back to the veranda, knowing I’m not really giving him much of a chance other than to follow. “No coffee, but I’ll come with you”, he says following me.
We sit on the veranda, giggling, talking about criminals we know and the crimes we’d begin tomorrow if we were pressed. He says my plan, from a business perspective, isn’t worth it. I can barely hear what he’s saying, eating up every twitch and flinch of his face. He’s restless, but I can tell that he wants to stay with me. We both nervously glance behind him every so often, wondering when and if my father will emerge. At one point he rolls up his t-shirt sleeve and flexes, I can’t help but blush and look as he turns up the other sleeve and does the same. Who flexes both arms? I wonder, trying not to smile at him too sweetly as he’s telling me how he never needs to work out. Good god, I’m sitting in front of not only the village bad boy, but the former regions bad boy. I’m at ease, perfectly comfortable as he sits right next to me, showing me clips of him boxing, pictures of a nearby lake he thinks I’d like. Our legs brush against each other. Not once do I think about his wife, mother of his three children. I later wonder if it’s because I’ve never seen her face. The burqa covering everything except her eyes, the one time she passed by the house.
He doesn’t want to leave, even when my father turns up, who’s still pissed with me but clever enough not to give me shit in-front of HH. He jokes with father, “ha, I’m on your veranda without your permission”, father smiles bleakly. All three of us know that nothing can be said, my father relies on his protection. Father asks me to take pictures of all the dogs playing, as usual I jump up and comply. Moments later father’s calling me an idiot in the kitchen, my phone’s uncharged battery being the cause this time. As I’m walking away from him I sneer back “what kind of point are you making by dragging me here to just give me shit?”. I rarely say anything back, it feels good.
HH pretends not to have heard when I return to the veranda, a phone call conveniently comes in and he answers “call me back in 5” before hanging up. We walk out onto the lawn together, me taking pictures with my fathers phone, him moving about so he won’t end up on a picture, “I trust you” he says as I turn the camera away from him. We stand a little longer, still not being able to say goodbye. Finally he tells me he’ll be in the garage, his mechanics garage that is, every night while I’m here. I tell him I always take the dogs out in the evening. He asks me at what time, I can’t help but bite my lip and look away as I answer. “That’s too early for me tonight… come tomorrow?”, I nod, not even thinking. Not thinking about how father always watches me walk out the front door and across the road, how he always watches as I come round through the gate. Not thinking about what would happen if a neighbour saw me, specially one that HH has been accused of threatening. Not thinking, just smiling and laughing as I push his giant mastiff towards him. Neither of them want to leave. I want to touch him, but we keep our distance.
Later, father wonders how the hell he got on the veranda. I tell him. I say that I didn’t know he hadn’t ever been in. “You don’t invite the wolf into the house”, he mumbles, seeing that look in my eye. I hate people, so me talking to someone, anyone, is a red flag. I only talk to the strange, estranged and dangerous. “It’s strange, he walked by twice when I was outside”. I have to look away, hiding my grin. He’d walked by to see me. We took four attempts to say goodbye the first time we met, it had counted for something.
I have to stop myself from smiling the rest of the evening, unable to get him out of my mind, blissfully ejected from the days abuse.