Wednesday 15th October
It’s Wednesday morning. Mei’s mum is still in bed with Mei’s laptop on her lap watching something I don’t understand. It could be porn for all I know, but as long as she’s happy I don’t care. Unless it is porn. Then I do care.
It’s raining. Not a lot, but enough to make a difference if you get caught up in it and enough to make me put the windscreen washers on intermittent.
Mei and I are in the car in the morning rush hour. I’m so close to the turning into the Blockbuster carpark I could spit at it, but there’s an idiot trying to turn right out of the entrance and into my lane. It clearly states on the ground LEFT TURN ONLY with an arrow pointing to the left for those who can’t read. I guess this guy just doesn’t give a shit. Seems like everyone lately.
I press my horn and he just looks at me. Mei isn’t best pleased. I don’t know if it’s with me or with him. ‘I’ll just get out here,’ she snaps.
‘But we’re in the middle of the road.’
She gets out into the rain and slams the door. She puts her hood up and runs to the pavement.
I feel sorry for her. She studied all those years at Preston University to end up working in a clothes shop.
Someone finally lets the idiot in front of them when the lights change. I just make it through before they change to red, thankful that something is going right.
I head to the meals depot in Leyland.
The meals depot isn’t very big. The name Food to your Door is hand written on a piece of wood. Three years this place has been here and still they haven’t got a decent sign. No wonder they’re losing clients.
The building is around the back of Talbot Road in Leyland in what looks like a converted garage. When you walk in you find an office to the left where the witch works. Most of us call her that because, well, she is. It was her who told me off for interfering with Mrs Mellor. That sounds wrong doesn’t it?
I’m early and the meals have only just gone in the ovens. I’m the only driver here. The witch is in her cave so I think I’ll just wait in my eight year old Renault Clio for the other drivers to arrive. Usually I would talk to the cooks, Timothy and Thomas, aka Tim and Tom. Or tweedle dum and tweedle dee as most drivers call them. But I’m content with looking at the closed shutters through the rain splashed windscreen in front of me. When I think about it, I’m pretty content with my life overall, apart from the intruder currently in her bed with Mei’s laptop in front of her, and my job of course. But I have a beautiful wife and a mortgage, so I’m where I thought I’d be at thirty years of age in that respect.
The witch’s name is Agatha. She did tell me her last name but I don’t remember because I don’t care. At this moment in time I couldn’t care about anything she says, not after the other day.
Eventually the time comes and I have to go inside a collect my box of meals, not that there are many to collect these days with Agatha in charge. The other drivers have been and gone while I waited in my car. It was unsociable of me but I’m really not in the mood to chat shit with them today.
When I enter through the side door she’s already waiting for me, her arms folded and her face the picture of ugliness. I ignore her and feel her watching me the entire time.
Tim and Tom can sense it. They watch me. I smile at them and head for the exit.
She steps in front of me, arms still folded. I have no choice but to look at the ugly face with a nest of scraggly gingery blonde hair resting on top. I swear she could pass as a cartoon character.
She says, ‘Don’t go interfering with Mrs Mellor’s life today. You’re paid to deliver meals and that’s where it ends.’
I feel like saying to her: ‘Fuck off. It was on my own time.’ But that would make it worse. So I just smile and walk past her without a word.
I sit in my car and examine my address list. There’s a new client on there. I let out a sigh. I just can’t be arsed today.
I’m now on my way to Mrs Mellor’s, my last of twenty one deliveries. The round has been mostly easy. My usual deliveries were problem-free, but that new one, Mr Byrne was his name, was a right cantankerous old fart. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but he complained when I knocked on the door and then told me I was late and spoke to me like I was a piece of shit. Like I was his slave. I’ve never had to bite my tongue as hard as I did in his house.
It’s still raining as I pull up outside Mrs Mellor’s house. I can see the bob of grey hair in her living room window watching me. Or watching the children. I’m not sure which but I’ll soon find out.
The door is wide open when I walk up her garden path. I knock and shout ‘Meals’.
She doesn’t answer me but I know she’s there, so I walk inside and close the door behind to stop any more rain dripping into her hallway.
I find her in the living room looking through the window. She’s holding a photograph of her late husband in her hands.
‘Mrs Mellor?’ I ask.
She jolts a little bit like I’ve woken her from a trance. I feel a bit uneasy.
She looks at me with hurt in her eyes.
‘What’s the matter?’ I ask.
‘They were here again. Those children from that school.’
I feel my blood boiling.
‘I went outside to ask them to leave my front gate alone and they just shouted abuse at me.’ A tear rolls along her cheek.
I’m reminded of Harold and his issues last night. The exact same issues Mrs Mellor is describing. How odd. ‘Not again,’ I say. ‘There must be something you can do.’ I put her meal on her trolley and wrap it in the towel.
‘Oh, don’t bother yourself with my problems,’ she says, like a lot of elderly people do. I’m sure that a lot of them think that their problems aren’t for younger people to bother with, like they’re ready for the end so what’s the point in trying. But I’m not like that. This is still abuse. It’s bullying and those little bastards should be punished. But it won’t be me. I’d like to think that I could do something to them, only I can’t. I’m not strong enough, not really. More passive aggressive I’d say. Like the black BMW yesterday in the disabled bays. I would only have done something to the car if the owner wasn’t there and that’s something I need to work on. I need to stick up for myself and those around me better.
I tell her it’s no bother. ‘I could call 101 for you? It’s a non-emergency number. They could send out a community officer to see you.’
She smiles at me and says, ‘You have a kind heart, but please, don’t bother yourself.’
‘You’re not alone, Mrs Mellor. There are kids around where I live that do similar things.’
She smiles at me again and asks, ‘Same time again tomorrow?’
I smile back and nod before leaving her house.
Inside my car I sit watching the school like I did the other day. I’m in two minds whether to go inside and tell someone what’s happening. I don’t care what Agatha the witch says. This isn’t her problem. It’s not mine either, really.
I don’t inform the office this time. Instead I just start my car and pull away from the kerb. Farther along I stop and reverse the car around a corner to turn around. I don’t really go anywhere. I just sit in the car like my brain has stopped working. I don’t want to leave.
Fuck it I think to myself.
I turn left and head along the road and pull into the school’s carpark.