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Drastic Measures

This is not good. Not even remotely. I will kill Lloyd, and it will be enjoyable.

This morning I found a small package in my letterbox. Inside was a CD and a note.

The note read:

“Dear Artie,

You haven’t guessed my name yet. You’ve already had two whole weeks and you haven’t guessed it. Is there something wrong here? Why can’t you guess my name? I’ll tell you why. Because you’ll never be able to guess it. And that’s a shame, Artie. A real shame.”

It was unsigned, of course. On the CD was a photo file (criminal waste of a disc if you ask me):

Now tell me, is this not the work of a madman? How on earth does he know where I live?

More importantly, what am I going to do?

I went for a walk in the park to shake off my irritation. Surely, I thought, surely this is a ridiculous situation. What on earth can I do that doesn’t seem equally as childish and ludicrous? Again I ran the options through my mind.

  1. Confront Lloyd. Not likely to work out too well – it’s difficult to reason with someone so completely illogical.
  2. Request help from Joanie. Seems so petulant, doesn’t it? Over something so small? Well, I mean, the iPod set me back a hundred and fifty dollars, but is it really worth troubling her? Abi’s still bafflingly ill, Joanie’s not looking so crash hot herself – what kind of selfish idiot would I have to be to trouble her at a time like this?
  3. Hurt Lloyd until he returns the damn thing. Unfortunately, as puerile as Lloyd is, having me arrested for assault would not be beyond him.
  4. Call the police myself. “Excuse me, officer, but I want to report a theft. An iPod. At my place of work. No, I know who took it. He just won’t give it back. What? No, this isn’t a joke. No, I’m not trying to waste your – yes, I know wasting police time is a criminal – no, officer. Yes, officer. Sorry, officer. Goodbye.”

I kicked around on the grass until I found a spot that looked nice, under a tree, where I huffily threw myself down and crossed my arms. That bastard.

Nearby, a picnic was underway – three or four families with young children, all shrieking happily and running around, except for two. A small girl, probably about six, and a boy of four or five. The girl was playing on her own, throwing a small ball into the air and catching it, down near the pond. The boy stood a little apart from the larger group of kids, torn between wanting to join in and watching the girl. His face and clothes were smudged with dirt – it looked as though he’d probably been pushed to the ground a few times during the course of the game.

Eventually the inevitable happened – the little rubber ball ended up in the water, and the girl ended up in tears. I looked over to see if the parents had noticed, but they were busy chatting and taking lazy sips from a bottle of white wine. When I looked back, the boy had gone over to the girl and was patting her on the shoulder. She pushed him away and pointed to where her ball was floating, bobbing lazily on the pond’s surface. The boy fetched a long stick and started carefully manoeuvring the forked end to pull the ball back across the water. Once or twice I nearly jumped up, sure he would fall in (though the pond was not so deep), but after a lengthy struggle he was proudly able to present the dripping ball to the girl, a grin all over his face. Yet she merely snatched her toy from his hands and ran back to the picnic blanket. Despondent, he sat down by the edge of the pond, and poked moodily at the floating leaves. Poor kid.

I stood up, and brushed the excess grass from my clothes, ready to head home. I was just checking my pockets to make sure I hadn’t dropped my phone, when I caught sight of the little girl again. She had turned back, ambling sheepishly towards the boy’s hunched figure. She touched his shoulder, lightly, and when he looked up, offered her hand to him, the ball sitting snugly in her palm. She tossed it to him, and he caught it with both hands, looked at it a second, then threw it back. The girl caught it and laughed. I trudged away from the happily playing pair, feeling better.

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