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Saturday 8th November

Last night we actually made love for once in what is fast becoming a rarity. It’s only the second time since her mum arrived and that’s another reason I don’t really want her here. She’s putting a strain on our lives. My life anyway. Mei seems happy to have her here. I’d probably be the same if it were my mother.

With it being Saturday, I know Mrs Mellor isn’t on today. I ask Naz how she was yesterday and he tells me her home felt different somehow. A little empty, like there were some things missing from the house. He didn’t know exactly what as he hadn’t taken that much notice before, but there was definitely something missing. Very odd.

I wish she hadn’t requested a different driver. I want to see if she’s all right.

When I collect my box Agatha is at her office door. She was watching me talking to Naz. ‘I hope you’re keeping your nose out of people’s business.’

I ignore her. Who does she think she is? Just because she hasn’t a kind bone in her body doesn’t mean others don’t.

The round goes as usual. The snow hasn’t really landed well. It was just a dusting that had melted by the time I got to work. Though I think it’s a sign of things to come.

The rest of Saturday and Sunday are quite boring really. They go at snail’s pace. The only thing to happen was on Sunday when we went food shopping. Just before that we’d gone for some dim sum for breakfast and, silly me, I filled up on green tea. There also must have been something that didn’t agree with me because when we got to the shop I felt a stir in my stomach. When I got to the gents, I found pee all over the seat and the smell was horrendous. I don’t think the toilets were cleaned from the day before. I was fuming. Luckily I managed to hold it in until we got home but that wasn’t before I took to Twitter to complain. I would have complained in the shop, but that would be too direct and I don’t really like to make a scene. The shop was busy. So I took to social media to vent in a none direct way. Like a wimp.

I rarely use social media these days, mainly because I was fed up seeing baby pictures all over it. I’ve seen a baby before.

*

The rest of November until Black Friday on the 28th is run of the mill. It’s a circle of get up, take Mei to work, go to work, ask about Mrs Mellor, do my round, see Harold (who now has a cat), pick Mei up, eat and go to bed. There might be an hour of gaming mixed in with that lot but that was about it. Jason hasn’t been the little bastard he’s known to be. Mainly because he’s rarely been seen. For all I know he’s been locked in his room. But I don’t care what he’s doing. It’s not my concern.

My complaint on Twitter got me a £10 voucher for the shop. I might have to complain about things more often.

Harold decided to call the cat Harry. ‘I couldn’t think of anything else,’ he tells me. It’s black and white and looks like a ball of fluff. It’s only a kitten. I hope it gives him the company he needs.

As predicted, more snow came and went. It looked particularly nice in Harold’s garden. He’s decided that, starting tonight, he’s going to turn the lights on. I think he’s a bit fed up of people asking when they’re coming on. I know I’m looking forward to it.

The kitchen window got repaired with a new pane of glass, which came just in time before the snow. Forty pounds a year my premium went up by. Scandalous. It wasn’t my fault.

Being Black Friday, Mei gets the bus to and from work today. Because it’s the worst day of the year to get into town. There’s no chance I’ll get a parking space let alone get into the carpark. So the bus is the best option.

My round also takes me longer because of the traffic. I hear on the car radio that people are fighting for TVs and whatever bargain they can get their hands on. The police are there and, as usual, they’re being blamed for the whole mess. I think it’s the shops’ fault personally. They shouldn’t bother with this joke of a day. All this hurt just to save a few quid that they could probably save on another day. Stupid.

Although I say that, I have been buying online. There are bargains to be had that don’t involve risking my life. I managed to get my mum a nice white gold bracelet and cook book. I got my dad and new flat cap and scarf but I didn’t get Mei anything. Not yet. I’m still thinking that one over.

Harold phones me in the evening when the light is fading. Mei and her mother join me outside, watching. It’s time for the switch on. It’s not really a big event and I’m making it sound more than it actually is. It’s just the flick of a switch. But it is exciting.

A bus pulls up at the bus stop and Jason and his mum get off. I swear I can hear the relief from the suspension as she does. I’d smile if I didn’t think they’d notice.

They walk by us on the opposite side of the road. Jason watches as they pass but his mum looks ahead with her head high like she’s above us all. She can do whatever she likes as long as she keeps on walking.

When they’re gone, Harold flicks the switch and the lights turn on. I wince at first as they’re so bright. I think everyone does. But when my eyes adjust, they see something that has a lot of heart. Harold has taken a lot of time this year in placing everything in the right place. It all looks symmetrical and pleasing to the eye. I love it. I think Irene would have loved it too.

Harold smiles. ‘I think that looks good, don’t you?’

I nod. So does Mei. Her mum has her phone out and is taking pictures.

I think I can safely turn off my living room lights and still be able to see.

It’s Saturday again. These weeks do pass by quickly. Every old person I know was right: your life flashes before your eyes.

I do my usual routine of shower, work and go home. But today is different. Today is the day the ball starts to roll in the wrong direction and things happen that shouldn’t happen.

When I get home from my round I see Harold at his gate talking to Constable Smith, who has parked his Corsa in my space again, meaning I have to park in the carpark. In the slush. Tut.

Harold looks visibly upset. ‘All right, Lee?’ he asks with such sadness you’d think someone just died.

I look at him with questions. Then I look at his garden. I hadn’t noticed this morning when I left for work. It’s not symmetrical anymore. Some of his lights are missing.

‘What happened?’ I ask.

‘Last night. Someone took them. Five of them altogether. They must have been quick. They also broke the cables to the penguins.’ He points to them. ‘Why would they cut the wires and not take the lights?’ He shakes his head in disbelief. ‘Pure spite.’

The cables were plugged into a waterproof box that fed into his house. The burglars must have been fast and knew what they were doing. Or someone just took their time.

‘Any idea who it is?’ I ask.

Constable Smith says, ‘We’re working on it.’

Harold says to him, ‘It’s got to be Jason. I know there’s not a lot you can do but you need to speak to him.’ He raises his voice. ‘I’m fucking sick of him!’

This is one of the few times I’ve heard him swear.

I want to get CCTV even more now.

I say to Smith, ‘Can’t you get that family evicted?’

He shakes his head. ‘I’ll do what I can.’

When he leaves I offer to help Harold but he declines. He thinks he’ll take them all in now. He doesn’t want any more to go missing. It’s put him in a dejected kind of mood. This year was one to be particularly proud of in regards to the lights.

I tell Mei what happened and she relays the information to her mum, who becomes angry. She must have had enough of that kid as much as anyone. It seems like every week there’s something else to add to the list of ‘What Jason did’. But there’s no proof of any of it, really. He’s just everyone’s first suspect.

For the rest of the evening we sit together and watch some crap on TV. None of us are paying attention to it, not while we can imagine Harold next door alone with his cat. I think something has to be done. But what?

Then, on Sunday 30th November, something finally gets done.

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