It was a miserable rainy Saturday as Tony made his way round the Supermarket, to do his weekly shopping. The drizzly weather matched his downbeat mood. Shopping was a job he hated, but the loss of his wife after only three years of marriage, killed by a drunken driver, was a blow he was finding it hard to recover from ... For the last four months he had existed from day to day with nothing much to look forward to.
Any meaningful life for him had died with his wife, now he was on a sort of in between land where he existed from day to day. He ate, he slept, and he worked. The house was a mess, because he hated housework, and he only washed dishes when there were no clean ones left. The washing machine was rarely used, and like the dishes his dirty linen was piled up in the laundry room.
He looked blankly at the Supermarket shelves, trying to decide what food he fancied, but as usual, apart from the essentials, he had little interest in food. He ate out as much as he could, which saved him a lot of trouble.
Suddenly his attention was taken by a young lady. She looked slightly unkempt, and her clothes were wet, as she was not wearing a rain coat At first he thought he recognised her, but he could not put a name to the face. But then as he watched her closely, he realised that she was looking at baby food on the shelf, and then counting the money in her purse, she dropped a coin which rolled under a display cabinet and she burst into tears, obviously she was short of money and it seemed she had a baby to feed...
On the spur of the moment he went up beside her and said "Excuse me miss, but I think you dropped this twenty pound note just now."
She turned her face startled, as if Tony had broken her concentration and he could see that her eyes were red where she had been crying.
"Oh no sir thank you but it is not mine."
Tony looked round and said. "Well I am sure that it was you that dropped it, and there is no one else here. I know it not mine, so you had better have it."
The look of relief that flashed across her face, was all the reward that Tony needed, to know he had done the right thing, as he dropped the note in her basket, and hurried away to discourage any more discussion on the subject.
He was curious about her, so he waited a while outside in the car park, and he saw her hurry out with a parcel of food. As she hurried down the street. in the drizzling rain He pulled up alongside her, and opening the window called out.
"Jump in you are going to get terribly wet."
She hesitated briefly, but then having decided he looked trustworthy, jumped in the car. Murmuring a "Thank you." as she did.
She directed him to a trailer park. As they arrived at her trailer, he saw a man dumping her few possessions out on to the path.
When she protested, the man said "You are two weeks behind with the rent, so out you go.Missy"
"Where is my baby?." She cried.
A woman called out from a nearby trailer. "I've got him ducks, or that bastard would have left her on the pavement with your luggage.
Tony made a quick decision. "Get your baby, and I will put you up for the night anyway."
"But I don't know you." She protested.
"Well what is the option, are you going to spend the night outside in the rain?" Tony asked. "Just make up your mind and be quick about it."
While she went to fetch the baby, Tony put her luggage in the boot of his car. The landlord shouted at Tony.
"Oi I'm keeping that luggage until I get my money.".
Tony laughed at him. "Tough. Sue me", As he dropped the last case in the boot, and opened the passenger side for the young lady to climb in with the baby in her arms.
As they drove Tony said. "I have a big house with plenty of room, and you will be quite safe with me, but I could not leave you out there in those conditions. Now could I?"
At home he showed her to the main bedroom where he no longer slept, as their were too many memories, and told her. "Help yourself to any of the clothes or make-up in the wardrobe. It's either going to be thrown out, or given to charity if you don't want them."
While she showered, and had settled in, and fed the baby. Tony went out, and bought some Fish and Chips and they ate. It was obvious from her healthy appetite that she had not eaten properly for some days,. She told him that her name was Julie, and the father of the baby, she had later found was a married man, who claimed that he had previously had a vasectomy They had sex three times, and then she had never seen him again. It was later she found out that he was a married man. On their last meeting when she had told him she thought she was pregnant, he had just said "Tough luck girl". He had also boasted that he had put something in her drink the first time before they had sex.
Subsequently, her father had thrown her out because of her pregnancy, she was sure that it was her stepmother behind his action, as her and her father had always been very close before he had married her. At first she had found work, until the baby was born, but her money had soon run out, and she could not, leave the baby with a stranger, or afford a crèche. Social services were not very helpful, although she had received some initial help...
Tony then told her that his wife had been killed by a drunken driver, and that he was still trying to get over her death. "When I saw you today, at first, I thought I recognised you ... I am still not sure, but I could see you were in trouble. As far as I am concerned, you can stay here for a few days, until you can get sorted, and see how we get on ... Perhaps you can help get the house in order for me, as a sort of housekeeper. I will see to all your food and pay you a wage as well, if it works out.".
Julie suddenly gave him such a warm smile and thanked him profusely. "But you don't know anything much about me."
"No that's true, but you don't know much about me either." Tony replied.
Later he fitted a bolt on the inside of her bedroom door ignoring her protest.
"Look Julie. You are in a strange house, with a strange man, and you will sleep better if you feel secure."
Julie sat in her bedroom wearing a night dress she had found in a drawer. She could not believe her luck When Tony had first suggested she stay with him, Julie had suspected that Tony had some ulterior motive, but she had quickly realised that she had no other option, so she took a chance, and went along with his offer...
At first she was highly suspicious of Tonys motives, but when Tony insisted on fitting a bolt on the inside of her bedroom door, she had to admit that her suspicions of his motives were allayed to a large degree. Nevertheless, she did use the bolt, and for the first time for a few weeks, she was free from immediate worries, she slept soundly.
The next morning she was up early. The baby was still sleeping. She soon realised that the house was badly neglected, and for her the wardrobe and dressing table was a treasure trove of female clothes, jewellery, and make-up that suited her. So far the story of his wifes recent death rang true.
In the laundry room she set the washing machine working, while she used a vacuum cleaner and a duster to good effect in the lounge. Several months supply of newspapers were stacked outside for salvage, and she laid the table for breakfast...
Tony waking later the next morning, heard the faint crying of a baby, and suddenly for the first time for weeks, he had a reason to get out of bed. Exploring, he found the baby in a makeshift cot demanding attention. He picked the baby up, and started to play with him on his lap. He was so absorbed that he did not hear Julie come upstairs. She stood in the doorway, and watched Tony play with her baby son Mark, until Tony turned and saw her.
"I hope you don't mind but the little fellow was lonely?" Tony said looking a little embarrassed.
It was then that Tony recognised Julie freshly showered, and with her hair done. "I now know why I recognised you. I have seen your photograph many times on your fathers desk."
Julie looked startled "You work with daddy Do you want me to leave?"
"Why should I want you to do that?"
"Well if you are a friend of my fathers... ?"
"Your father is no particular friend of mine. I just work for the firm!"
Changing the subject he said. "Come on Julie, your son needs feeding, and so do I ... While you are sorting him out, I will cook the breakfast."
.... There is more of this story ...