For four years almost every time I travelled the side street to gain entry to the main road there is a plump woman who waves to me. Her house is on the corner and she is either sitting on her porch, feeding the birds, hand watering her garden, from early in the morning to midafternoon. Always the same smile and wave, if she was elderly I could accept this as being normal, but this woman is in her late thirties early forties and not the type of activity one expects at her age.
Always the same print dress, and wearing thongs. I have never seen a car parked in her driveway or seen her speak to anyone. She was a pleasant looking woman, so there had to be some story attached and I suddenly made up my mind I was going to find out.
So today I slowed down as I got to her house, she waved and I stopped. I waved her over and she came to the passenger's window.
"For years now I have been passing and you always wave, I think that is such a friendly gesture and I just wanted to tell you."
"I only wish more of our neighbours would even wave back, but I notice people around here very much keep to themselves."
"Yes, I agree with you there, I notice you never have any visitors, I never see any cars parked in your driveway, surely you have some friends?"
"I have my birds and plants. If I have them I'm happy."
"Maybe I can call round and see you some day, I hate to see people lonely."
"Won't your wife mind, you are married aren't you?"
"Sorry was, we separated on mutual terms just before you bought this house. I knew the old woman who had it before you. It was her that planted the soldiers, well that is what I call them. There used to be small trees in those beds with the soldier flowers a carpet at the base. I was sorry she passed away."
"I too was married, I killed my last husband. I thought I'd better tell you, for you are sure to find out. I was in prison before I came here. My mother bought this house for me. She comes to see me at times but she comes by bus that is why you never see any cars outside. I suppose you want to call off the offer of coming round, now you know I am a killer, which is what the courts call me. I did eight long years for that bastard, I am glad he is dead," she said and was about to turn away.
"Look Harry is my name and I still mean it. Want me to call round?"
"Violet, nice to meet you Harry, you can call round any time. As you know I'm always at home," she said giving me a wave as I moved away.
God she sounded a real hard woman, I wonder if she was as hard as she made out. I noticed she had no make-up on and her skin looked fresh and smooth. But God her dress sense held a lot to be expected. But a murderer, I wonder how many of the neighbours knew that. I wish I could have got her surname I would have checked her story out.
All day at work she kept coming to mind and the fact she killed her husband, but she did give me a clue. She said she served eight years and she has been in the house for four. So all I have to do is look for a woman named Violet who killed her husband at least twelve years ago.
That year there was only six and sure as hell there was Violet Martindale at the top. It wasn't as bad as I first imagined, she had killed her husband in self-defence when he was attacking her after returning from the pub. This seemed to be a hobby of James Martindale, using his wife Violet as a punch bag. She said in her defence that he attacked her and she grabbed a knife and drove it through his heart after taunting her to do it. The prosecution put up a case that she had told a friend she was going to kill him and lay in wait until he came home, and then she stabbed him. They admitted that it was a documented fact the police had been called out many times over her husband James kicking shit out of her. Anyway she was given eight years without parole.
I think I would have done the same if I were her. Some women have to put up with a lot with these types of men, who won't say boo to a man, but act tough with women.
Now I know the recorded facts, I made up my mind I would call on her. At least show her someone cares and try to make her feel welcome.
That evening after I had my meal, I drove round and parked in her driveway. At least I was going to be open about it, as I am sure someone in the street will have taken note who was visiting Violet, but then maybe like I had, they had no idea what her name was.
After numerous bolts could be heard shooting she opened the door, but I could see two chains still attached, only allowing the door to be opened slightly.
"Oh it's you Harry, so you decided to call anyway. Please wait," she said and the door closed again.
Seconds later she held it open for me to enter. Her furnishings may have been Spartan but they were clean and neat, everything sparkled.
"Since I said I would call, I thought I would just as well start this evening, I hope I didn't catch you off guard or take you from something important," I said, knowing women like to watch soapies.
"No I was just watching some rubbish on TV. It's not as nice as speaking with someone though. Can I get you a tea or coffee, sorry I have no alcoholic drinks," she said, now a fit flustered.
"Whatever you are having, white with one sugar," I replied.
"Won't be a minute, please take a seat."
She disappeared through the door; I heard cups and saucers coming together then her footsteps receding, then a door close. Two minutes later the door open and then, "Just coming."
Then she came into the room carrying two cups which contained coffee. She had changed out of the dress she always seemed to wear and was dressed in a slim fitting light woollen dress, which highlighted her bust and hips.
"My I like your dress, it changes you completely Violet, very nice indeed," I remarked.
You would think I had granted her, her greatest wish, she just beamed and a delighted smile came on to her already smiling face, "Thank you, Harry for the complement."
We started talking on many subjects I avoided any mention of her past. This talking was just finding out common ground. At least we had one thing in common, we both loved playing Cribbage. So out came the board and a pack of cards and we spent the next two hours playing.
During the conversation she was surprised to learn the woman she saw in my car from time to time was my ex-wife. She couldn't understand that we were still friends and she often called to see if I was all right and we even went out together.
"Why did you divorce her then?" Violet asked.
"We were just not compatible, we are still good friends though."
"I just can't understand it; all the women who I have met hate their ex-husbands. Usually they beat them or womanised, but the one thing that was common throughout they were miss-treated."
"Violet I have never hit a woman and I doubt I ever will. I see no reason why force is needed to make a point, and that is on both sides. A woman who throws a tantrum and throws things around, has lost it. The man and woman should keep calm, sit down and talk it over, just like my ex and I did. If they can't resolve the problem then walk away, no need for yelling and shouting that gets you anywhere, except a headache."
"Heaven's abide, you are a real cool one, but I see your point."
As I left I could see her hesitate about kissing me goodbye but I put out my hand and thanked her when she shook my hand.
"Can you come round tomorrow afternoon, or do you work Saturdays?"
"Yea Violet that would be nice."
"My mum is coming round and I would like you to meet her. Also I would like to see you myself," she said still holding on to my hand. I just pulled her towards me and kissed her on the cheek.
"I want to see you again too," I said and then left. I don't know why but I was expecting a murderer to appear different, but she wasn't any different from anyone else. In fact I found her quite nice. The only thing she had was a distorted outlook on male-female relationships. She thinks all women get hit by their male partners.
She never said what time to call round, I didn't have her telephone number and I could see no Martindale listed, well not in this area. At four I called at her home and she let me in, this time dressed in a different dress, also she was wearing make-up. I got a smile and a quick peck on the cheek as we moved into her lounge area.
Sitting on the edge of an easy chair with her hands interlocked was an older version of Violet. Her dress must have been long for it covered her shoes as she sat and came up to her neck the sleeves were three-quarter length. Around her neck were two gold chains, one with a large crucifix and the other with a teardrop pearl suspended in a gold circle with shinny stones glistening. Her makeup was heavy and her lips were well coated with lipstick. It was no amateurish affair but well done with her eyebrows plucked evenly and coloured in. Her hair with just a touch of grey was wavy and shoulder-length. In fact a very nice looking woman, sitting all prim and proper like.
"So you are Harry, Violet has been telling me about you. All good I may tell you too," she said with a pleasant purring voice.
"Harry my mother Hazel, as you can hear, I told her that you came round last night to see me."
"My Violet isn't a bad woman Harry, she just needs another chance. She wouldn't have it where I live and she wanted to live on her own, so I bought her this home here with some money I won anyway. She has been through more in her life than she deserves. Now I have to leave to catch my bus, I don't like being out after dark."
.... There is more of this story ...