The End of an Error

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Saturday 18th October

This morning I got out of bed, had my daily shower, and made some toast. Mei had some porridge her mother had made for her. Her mother had already been outside on cat shit patrol. She does this every morning. Armed with a trowel, she goes out and checks the gardens for any presents left. I don’t know if she found any. She’s a hard woman to read.

It’s Saturday morning. Usually I wouldn’t work weekends, but with our guest being here I opted to work seven days. Agatha agreed only so she can use it against me at a later date: how she did me a favour and I owe her one.

Anyway, forget about that old bag.

Mei doesn’t work weekends so it gives them a chance to spend some quality time together. They can go shopping and get it out of their systems, which works well for me. Hopefully I can finish my round quickly and get home to a quiet house to myself. I think I’ll be looking forward to these days more and more over the coming months.

I didn’t see Agatha this morning, which I’m thankful for. That sour face was something I didn’t want to see today. Or any day for that matter.

Only sixteen deliveries today. Mr Byrne is on again. I wonder if I should flip a coin to guess what mood he’ll be in today. Mrs Mellor isn’t on, though, which is odd because she’s always on.

It makes me worry.

All through my round, the Mrs Mellor thing is on my mind. Mr Byrne turned out to be hard work again, telling me to shove the meal up my arse. I didn’t of course and left it on the table between an already prepared knife and fork. His carers should be due soon so they should sort it out. I write a note on my list so Agatha will see it in the morning, just to cover my back.

After my final delivery I head for Royal Avenue. I need to see if she’s all right. I’m not going to knock on her door. I’m just going to drive past her house.

This time I feel apprehensive in a different way than I did yesterday. Yesterday I knew she would be in, I just didn’t know what state she would be in. Today, she might not be in at all. I know she doesn’t have family so that can’t be why. She doesn’t have many friends either. Neither do I for that matter. The few I have are close to me. Well, as close as Nottingham can be. Even she’s a selfish arse at times. I’ve known her since school and she’s always been the same. Leanna’s one of those who expects you to go out of your way for them, save up money to do things, but she won’t for you. She’d say ‘I’ve given you plenty of notice to save up so surely you can make the effort’. I’d then cave in and do it but when I ask a similar favour she says she can’t afford it and that’s the end of it. She can also be stupid. We were at a friend’s wedding once and some of his bride’s family were from Denmark. Neither Leanna nor I knew who they were, so when they spoke I wondered what language that was. Leanna, the ‘all knowing’ Leanna, said they were speaking in some sort of scouse dialect. Now I’m no expert in English accents, and I do find the scouse accent difficult to get my head around, but I do understand English. That’s partly why I don’t bother with her often. She’s an arse.

I drive past Mrs Mellor’s house slowly and I can’t see any white frizzy hair in the window or any sign of anything. I hope she’s OK. I’m worried about her.

I turn around and head home. There’s nothing else I can do.

As I enter Preston over the river, I no longer look forward to the afternoon alone. I just don’t feel like it now. And then Mei phones me. I don’t have a hands free kit, so, like an idiot, I press loudspeaker and hold it away from my face so nobody can see. She asks me if I can meet her at the supermarket at the docks. They’re heading there now. I agree only because I want to make sure they buy the things I will eat.

It’s only a small detour that takes me along the side of the river Ribble.

I pull into the carpark. This particular supermarket has changed its policy of using a pound coin to free the trolley. I did like that idea. It meant that you couldn’t leave it in the middle of the carpark like an inconsiderate prick. Since they got rid of it, the lazy bastards who can’t even be bothered to walk a few yards to the trolley park show themselves. They leave the trolleys blocking the spaces, some of which are prime parking spots. I hate it. To me they’re just as bad as the disabled space parkers.

I find a space and see Mei and Wei waiting for me at the entrance. I collect one of the trolleys that are blocking a space and we head inside.

Mei and her mother pile up on fresh vegetables, which I like. I also like fish and fruit, so I make sure they’re in the trolley as well. But most of all, I have a sweet tooth and want something that’ll fix that.

I say to Mei, ‘Do you want me to cook a roast tomorrow?’

I love to cook and bake, and I fancy something that isn’t Chinese.

Mei asks her mother if she’s all right with that and she looks at me with a smile that says: I didn’t know you could cook.

I think: who do you think cooks when you’re not here? But I don’t say it.

In the end we all agree that I will cook a Sunday roast beef tomorrow.

As we continue around the supermarket I can’t help wondering what happened to Mrs Mellor. Mei can see I’m bothered about something and asks me.

‘She wasn’t on my list. I hope she’s OK.’

She tries to comfort me. ‘Maybe she had a hospital appointment. It could be anything like that. Don’t worry about it.’

I try not to, and after we’ve paid for the food – after her mother paid – we go home.

Harold is just coming back from walking Poppy when we arrive. He says hello and offers me a cuppa. I tell Mei I’m going to speak to Harold and she goes inside with her mother.

‘Saw your mother in law this morning,’ Harold says, laughing.

I look at him puzzled.

‘Saw her walking around to the back of the houses, to the field. She was holding a trowel of cat shit. She was holding it out front of her like it was about to attack her.’

I smile. ‘She’s quirky, I’ll give her that.’

We take a seat in the living room as we always do. Poppy gets her treat and takes her seat beside me while looking at Harold. We talk about the usual things: football, politics, local news. I tell him about Mrs Mellor and he says what Mei said. But I just can’t help it. I hope she’s on tomorrow.

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