Copyright© August 2004
On my way to buy a fish and chip meal I noticed a small thin elderly woman standing at the bus-stop in the pouring rain. I wondered to myself why is she standing there, the bus drivers are on strike this evening, but then I forgot all about it. On my way back with my car now smelling of lovely hot fish and chips and the thought of sitting by the fire while this continuous rain beat down, I saw the woman again still standing there.
Drawing up opposite her I leant over and opened the door.
"Look love, there are no buses running tonight." I said, then noticed she was soaking wet and shivering. "Come on get in and I'll drive you home." I added.
"No I'll wait on the bus, one should have been here an hour ago, it must have broken down, I'll wait." She replied.
There was only one thing for it, put her in the car, I wouldn't like my grandmother left stranded in bad weather like this. I got out and as I did, another man was walking towards us with head down. I shouted to him, so the woman could hear. "When is the next bus mate?"
"No bugger knows, the lazy bastards are on strike," he shouted into the wind and rain.
The old woman heard this and she then looked pleadingly at me. "I'm sorry to put you to all this trouble son,"
"No trouble, I'll put your trolley in the back just get in and close the door."
I placed her heavy shopping trolley into the back of my Nissan Navara, which had a canopy and returned to the inside. The old woman was shivering, so I put the heater up a bit. She told me where she lived, which was a Private Retirement Village about six miles away, far too long a distance for her to walk.
She was still shivering when we arrived at her home a small one bedroom unit set among a lot others the same.
"Go and open the door and I'll bring your trolley in for you," I said to her.
Without any objections, she got out and opened the door. I followed pushing her trolley. By this time, my shirt was soaked and sticking to my skin. She looked at my soaked shirt and me.
"I think you had better come in and I'll put your shirt in the drier it you are not in a hurry?"
"No I'm not, but I have my meal in the car, can I eat it here before it gets cold."
"Of course you can son; I'll make us a cup of tea for you."
I dashed again into the rain, recovered my fish and chips, and dashed back into her unit. Even in that short time, she had placed a plate on the table with a fork and knife. I removed my shirt and then she went through a door which I saw was a small passageway, and then she closed it.
I didn't want to wait so I started on my meal, just as well I did for it was almost twenty minutes before she retuned into the room, dressed in a housecoat. She even had her nightdress on, for I saw the hem below the housecoat.
"The hot shower, warmed me up, I usually have a shower about this time anyway and get ready for bed. I never get visitors," she said sadly, as she put on the kettle and started emptying her shopping trolley.
I never thought about the elderly people who live alone. My aunt does, I wonder if she feels the same, for few of our family visit her, mainly because she is that miserable and long-faced. She is my mother's oldest sister and their ages are seventeen years apart. Aunt Katrina never married; I suppose no-one could stand her sharp tongue.
"Your shirt will be dry soon son," she said looking at me.
"Thank you I'll go then as I'm sure you want to lock up and go to bed."
"Can't you stay, I know I shouldn't let strangers into my house, but you have been so kind to me and here I'm asking you to stay. I'm sure you don't want to keep an old has been company, when you have a nice young girlfriend or wife to look after," she said in reply.
"I have neither and your right you shouldn't let strangers in your house, so I'll tell you who I am. Frank Summers, twenty-four and single, so you know my name age and marital state, now who are you?"
"Jessie Fields and I'm sixty-five, and single with no attachments and no children that about says everything about me," she said now smiling.
"Well Jessie what are we going to talk about since you have decided to have my company."
"It's not just to talk, just you being here is enough, knowing someone has spent some time with me."
"I'll even give you a cuddle if you want," I said jokingly.
"Get away with you; you don't want to cuddle an old skin and bones like me."
I admit she was small and thin, barely four feet nine or ten. She was still pretty and she hadn't died her hair, for it was what I called salt and pepper, grey with streaks of her original dark hair, worn neck length and wavy. Her face was small almost doll like and her feet and hands were small also, but they were what you would expect on such a small person. I was like a giant alongside her, six feet four weighing two hundred pounds.
"Well you know what they say, the nearer the bone the sweeter the meat."
"Surely you're not going to eat me?"
"Never can tell now can you?" I said innocently and then I realised what I'd said and wondered if she used the same colloquial as I did for fanny licking. By the look on her face I had a feeling she did.
Carrying two cups of tea, she placed them on the occasional table and sat down at the opposite end of the sofa. I just couldn't sit there saying nothing, so I just asked a question I thought I knew the answer for she had said she had no children.
"You were never married then Jessie?"
"Yes but not the way you think, but I don't want to say any more than that."
Well that cut me off from that line of questions.
"I usually watch the news at this time, you don't mind if I switch on the TV," she asked.
"No, go ahead."