Friday, 1 May 2015
“Oi! You can't park there!” Barkus turned toward the shrill admonishment and nearly dropped his armload in shock when a pugnacious redhead seemed to appear out of nowhere, fists on hips, glaring at him. The elderly spaniel beside one tottering heel yawned and flopped to the pavement, obviously pleased with the respite. Barkus looked up and down the street which was full of parked cars. This was the only spot close enough to the flower beds where he could lug over the various rusting implements he had been supplied with without breaking various parts of himself. Of course, there was no wheelbarrow. “Are you blind?!” the redhead raged on. At Barkus' bewildered look, a beringed finger shot out towards a disabled sign that was hanging upside down by a single corner and so rusted that Barkus had immediately discredited it.
“That still applies?” Barkus joked. “Even when it's no longer blue?” Immediately he realised that this was the wrong tactic when the woman's eyebrows climbed even further down her nose. “Look,” he said to forestall the storm. “I'll move the car but if I park any further away, I'll be the one who's disabled from carrying all of this.” He made a nodding motion to the collection in his arms then stepped aside so that she could see the full backseat. When the woman registered what the implements were, her expression went from raging stormcloud to bright and sunny in the blink of an eye.
“Oh! You're John Barkus, I knew I didn't recognise any part of you. I'm sorry, I thought that you were someone's out-of-town cousin come back to sneer. I'm Marlyn, but most folks call me Lyn.” All of this was delivered in one breath with all the efficiency of a Sergeant Major on the parade grounds and simultaneous with 'Lyn', a hand with more bangles than rings and more rings than sense shot out. Barkus looked at it, then at her and just knew that his expression was priceless.
“How's about I shake that after I get rid of these?” he suggested weakly.
“Oh, I'm being such an idiot, here let me help you with that.” And despite his protests, she opened the back door, grabbed an armful and closed the door with her hip. The spaniel at her heel yawned again and pulled himself to his feet in a resigned fashion. “Shall we?” she asked brightly. Barkus could only smile.
“After you Lyn.”
“So what's his name then?” Barkus nodded towards the slumbering spaniel. After depositing the tools, Lyn was 'supervising' by sitting on her jacket in the sun and watching as Barkus got stuck in. Unfortunately, this had first involved pulling plastic gloves over his gardening gloves and picking up the accumulated debris of days-long-past. There were two garbage bags full of trash and Barkus was on the second-last corner of one of the smaller -admittedly hideous- weed-covered flowerbeds.
“Arthur.” On hearing his name, the dog opened his eyes and thumped his tail on the lawn. Lyn obliged him with a scratch behind the ears and he went back to sleep in the sunshine.
“And they call it a dogs life,” Barkus laughed and he bent to retrieve yet another condom. “Jesus, is this the site of regular orgies?”
“How could you tell?” Lyn asked innocently. Barkus straightened to look at her.
“Well, that's the 5th condom that hasn't gone gooey yet, I scraped up the remains of about ten more, not to mention all of the ones where only the bottom-rings are left. And,” he stooped, then showed her his prize. “I always find them within reach of either a beer can or the plastic rings of a six pack.”
“Real gentlemen in these parts,” Lyn commented as Barkus wiped his face with a forearm and bent down again.
“Yep, no champagne and a meal for these girls, no sir. Good cheap beer and a bed made of flowers.” Lyn looked at him strangely.
“You know, when you put it like that...” Barkus looked up at her and she burst out laughing.
“What?” Barkus asked, wiping his forearm across his face again as she shook with mirth. “Attack of the decomposing condoms?” This of course only made matters worse. “Arthur, you gonna let me in on the joke or what?” The spaniel cracked an eyelid at him, glanced at his shaking mistress, yawned, stretched and rolled over onto his side. Snores were heard before long. Barkus shook his head and continued filling the garbage bag. By serendipity or just good crushing skills, he reached the top of the bag just as he reached the end of the flowerbed. Lyn had calmed down by then so he peeled off his plastic gloves and dumped them into the bag, tied it off and let his frame flop onto the grass on the other side of Arthur. Lyn glanced at his face as he pulled off his gardening gloves and slurped down a good third from his water bottle. Her shoulders started shaking again immediately and she practically dove into her purse, rummaging for something in particular.
“Okay, what is it?” Barkus cried, thoroughly exasperated. His answer was a suprisingly large 'pocket' mirror thrust blindly at him as Lyn apparently couldn't trust herself to look at him again. Barkus stared at her, then shook his head and flipped the mirror open.
“Oh, for fucks sake!”