Mother: Have you noticed the big wire basket full of oranges inside the man next door's kitchen window? He brought home a bag of oranges yesterday.
Daughter: They look lovely, don't they.
Mother: And have you noticed all the jars and cans of food from Aldi he has just bought, and stacked with care on the bench next to the stove? Its unusual to see him stocking up with food. There are cans of tomato paste, tuna, etc. and jars of peanut butter, bolognaise sauce, and other things.
Daughter: I think he must have bought up food because of his new girlfriend.
Mother: Yes, I was surprised to look up and see them looking my way through the window opposite our bathroom, as he showed her over the house.
Daughter: The day before she arrived he was rushing around all day cleaning and preparing his house, and after she arrived the flurry of activity has continued. I have heard a lot of her laughter as they seem to have been enjoying cleaning and organising the house together. Now they are busy in the kitchen. Look at his flamboyant gestures as he attends to the frying pan. I've noticed before that when he has visitors he likes to make a good impression in the kitchen.
Mother. What does she look like? I've only seen glimpses of her, and heard her laughter.
Daughter: I haven't had a good look at her either, but she looks very Irish, with thick, wavy, dark hair, and there is a compact roundness about her body. The nicest thing is her laugh.
Mother: Yes, I've heard her laughing a lot....not empty, show-off laughter, but genuine, happy, musical laughter, often while she is teasing him.
Daughter: Alpha said that the first time he heard them making love she was teasing him and he was calling out for mercy, and he sounded as though he was about to die.
Daughter: You know, I wonder if the man next door has found out that he is really sick, and that is why his girlfriend has started to come around visiting him. She sounds as though she is really concerned about him. And I heard him talking about multivitamins, as though he has just started to take them, and as if they are very important for his well being. He must be getting healthier.
Mother: Maybe he is being transformed. You now hear him talking in a calm, intelligent, loving way.
Mother: You know, days are going by and the oranges in the fruit basket seem to have remained untouched. They're all still there. I have counted , and kept an eye on them. There are still six oranges on top, above the rim of the basket, and then one orange on top of them. I'm disappointed that he is not getting any benefit from them while they still look so fresh and full of goodness.
Instead of getting healthier he seems to be continuing to go down hill. I just saw him walking past the house, and he looked terrible, with big bags under his eyes.
Days went by.
Mother: Yesterday I saw him coming and going out the front of his house, loading things into his ute. He was taking out mainly tools, but on one trip he had an orange and a banana in one hand, and he placed them carefully in the glove box. After I finished bringing in our bins I set out along the street and the man next door was coming out his front door again just as I walked past. I couldn't resist saying "Hello." "Are you on your way to work?"
Man Next Door: Yes. I have begun a job as a repair man for Department of Housing properties at Waterloo and Redfern.
Mother: Do you like the job?
The Man Next Door: Its bread and butter on the table......Its OK so far, but I wouldn't like to live there. There is so much noise, and the Department of Housing tenants are difficult. They live crazy lives. I feel sorry for the young people, the way they live. And sometimes I see people shooting up while I work in their flat.
Sometimes its difficult to get into premises. After waiting three days for an appointment to get into one flat to start work, I was then asked to leave while they went shopping.
Mother: I know about Department of Housing properties. I lived in one in the country for a year, and got to know a carpenter who did repairs , like you. He told me about some female tenants trying to get onto him as he worked.
The Man Next Door: That hasn't happened to me yet. (maybe with a tone of disappointment.)
Mother: (to Daughter). Then he looked friendlier, and I thought to myself ...."Don't look at me with those seductive blue eyes." I decided it was time to end the conversation and let him get away to work, while I continued on my walk. I don't find him attractive anyway.
Daughter: I don't know what his girlfriend sees in him.
Mother: But he does have a nice speaking voice, and he sounds intelligent enough when he talks.
A week or so later.
Mother: I wonder how the man next door's job is going.
Daughter: Maybe not so well. I noticed his heavily-laden ute being towed away yesterday, and the same thing happened a week ago.
(To be continued.)