It was after two o'clock in the afternoon or thereabout, he was alone indoors, a knock at the front door rattled the noon silence. Not again, he thought, for he already knew who it would be, he grimaced inwardly and headed to the door. He was wrong, it was'nt the pest neighbour woman from next door, this time it was her teenage daughter and her younger brother. they stood there like two sour thumbs, presenting an inquiring sight for my already bored eyes.
Oh hello, my mam says can you lend her £5 till her giro arrives tomorrow? says Joan, plaintively. Her brother peering inquisitively
behind her. He disguised the bored look and smiled benignly, he was about to say, ' but your mam hasn't repaid the £10 she borrowed last week' but he stopped himself, he hated embarrassing others, do unto others as you want others do unto you, was a strict edict to him. instead, he opened the door wider, 'come in, I'll get my wallet. like rats into a cheese larder they scuttled after him as he turned into his lounge. Turning to face them, he immediately noticed their wide-eyed awe-struck gazes and immediately realized he had never invited anyone of this family indoors before.
He was later to learn they had stated there was a hidden Palace full of treasures next door. to him, it was just a tastefully decorated and tidy flat. Little did he know what laid ahead. Take a pew, I get my wallet, he said, as he made for the bedroom. He return to see them starring at his record cabinet with the neatly stacked LPs and the gleaming Bang & Olufsen sound system. I see you like your music, says the girl, her eyes darting all over the room, the brother just sat there as if mesmerised. He was now wondering if it was a good idea inviting them in, for he could see from their deportment and gazes, they were overawed and almost ill-at-ease. He mused they might think he was showing off. he handed over the unreturning £5 and hoped they leave.
In years to come he would regret this afternoon. they did not leave after taking the money and he did not have the heart to usher them out. instead they settled in and the girl talked about them moving from Scotland and living in hostels, about not fitting in at school and how communication was difficult because of her accent, about her liking Reggaege Music and Bob Marley. I watched her in her worn dress and stained sandals and the boy in faded t-shirt and ***** jeans, I'd listened to the commotion regularily emanating from their flat, was aware of the regular Police visits and the various anti-social happenings around them. Now she's six months pregnant and Bobby who get her pregnant didn't want to know.
I felt sorry for them, my wife and I had felt sorry for them from day one, on numerous occasions, they had come to beg food, eggs, bread sugar and even milk, it was obvious they were dysfunctional and Jim the father was always in and out of jail. I didn't know how to help other than just keep on being their Lender. Sat on our comfortable divan, she continued about missing school and leaving early because she was bullied by her school mates. Now I made a mistake, I had read somewhere that a good way to emparthise is to try and relate with the issue, yes, I said I know what its like to be bullied, I said. I had never been bullied, I was a Class Prefect from Form One, I was an A student, always capable and well adjusted. I was popular, liked by both the Tutors and my school mates and known for my humour and effortless coolness, even if I say so myself.
They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, Little did I know, when in trying to empathise by saying 'I know what its like to be bullied' I was making a rod for my own back. Unsuspectingly I was talking to feral people, to predators and extortionist, little did I know, these are damaged morally bankrupt people, little did I know that what I thought were appreciative glances were my properties been scanned and listed for misappropriation, little did I know that in East London and suchlike areas, your neighbour can actually break into your house and steal from you. Little did I know that envy and jealousy can be such potent forces and little did I know that white is right and black is always wrong.
I managed to usher my guests out that afternoon by promising a Musical day to listen to Bob Marley, I shut the door behind me and buried my head in the book I was reading earlier. If you were to tell me what laid ahead for me and mine, I would have told you, you are crazy and would make a super imaginative Fiction writer.