I have no job, I can't get one, everyone has a job but me. I was in the army for fifteen years, I've got one skill, a really good one if you are in the army, but I'm not allowed to tell anyone about it.
It's OK, I've got a small army pension, though I'm not that old, somehow I keep going, I go once a week shopping at the supermarkets on the edge of town.
First the discounter, not much choice, but very cheap, useful for milk and salt and toilet paper and things. But why do all the women who work there have purple-dyed hair? And why is it always the same woman on the checkout?
I've seen her stacking shelves, but when I get to the checkout she's always there. And she's awful, I don't know whether to call her the Beast or the Brute or the Butch, she is always awful to me, polite to all the ladies, but awful to me.
She doesn't insult me directly, but somehow she tries to make me feel small, perhaps she hates men. She was there again that day, such a big woman, purple-dyed hair, thick painted eyebrows, same colour lipstick, real butch; but I paid and escaped.
Normally I walk to the next supermarket, it's just the other side of the parking space. It's upmarket, more choice, better quality and nice ladies to serve you on the meat counter, cheese, bakery and fish. Oh, and it costs twice as much.
There's a nice young lady on the meat and sausage counter, she's rather big and a bit plump, but she's got a pretty face. I like to be served by her.
That day was different, the weather was foul, it was dark, cold, windy and wet. I drove to the other supermarket and there I saw her trying to walk home without getting too wet. The wind was blowing the rain in all directions, what we call blustery.
She was holding her umbrella with both hands, she put one hand down to prevent her skirt blowing upwards in the wind, the wind changed and blew hard. Her umbrella turned inside out and the fabric separated and flew over the top of the supermarket.
“Can I drive you home?” I could.
She didn't look too happy, her brolly was ruined, she was wet and cold and then “And I'm all stuffed up too.” I did not understand what she meant, my imagination supplied some interesting ideas, she explained.
Her apartment was as I expected full of pastel pinks, blues and mauves and there was still water in the wash basin. “I will unblock your waste, have you got a bucket and a floorcloth?” I sat on the floor, opened the cupboard underneath, removed all sorts of feminine things and unscrewed the U-bend. “Hold onto the tap.”
A small hairy animal slipped out and plopped into the bucket. “What's that?” “Two years of your hair.” I put it into a polythene bag that she gave me. “Hold onto the tap.”
I cleaned out the U-bend with a wad of toilet paper while viewing her legs. “What are you doing to my daughter?” The loud voice was her, that awful woman from the discount supermarket. “I'm unstuffing her.” That was my stupid reply.
She began a long tirade, a list of things not to do to her daughter, she was angry, she was loud, she had more imagination than me, especially about stuffing and unstuffing. The daughter brushed a knee across my face, I decided that her name was Denise.
I screwed the U-bend back into place. “What's that?” she roared and pointed to the bag. “Oh, I think it's dead, it's not moving.” The awful woman sang “I'm on my way to Alabama, with a banjo upon my knee” in a strange voice. She put her telephone to her ear.
“Oh, I've got to go back to the store, there are not enough people for the second shift. And through all this awful weather again.” I felt sorry for her “I'll take you, I've got a car.”
She explained again all the things I should not do to her daughter, plus some new ones, in the car. That really gave me some ideas. Denise gave her mother a big hug at the store and the two of us drove back.
“You know, that was a very interesting list of things to do” said Denise. “Would you like to try some of them with me?”