Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Man Next Door. Chapter 16.

Mother: Thank goodness!

Both houses still intact! No more smoke and heat!

No fire engines!

Daughter: I wonder what happened.

Mother: It must have been a chimney fire, which could in fact have burnt down the man next door's house, but didn't.

Daughter: I hope that's the end of fires in next door.


Daughter's studio room is filling up with lovely paintings based on memories and dreams, set in the bushland of her childhood.

She's painting for an exhibition to be held in a nearby gallery.


Mother walks to an exhibition opening at a Redfern gallery she hasn't seen before.

Daughter had gone ahead, so Mother had to find her, after arriving at the large, impressive gallery, joining all the pretentious, smartly-dressed people milling around, enjoying the atmosphere and the wine. No doubt they were enjoying the works of art as well.

Daughter appeared, and led Mother to the room where strange wooden sculptures were on display.

In settings such as a strange wooden car, or a little wooden boat, there were fantastic wooden personages, which you would like to have sitting around in your house for company, or just to be admired.

When Daughter introduced Mother to her sculptor friend, Mother planned to tell him how much she admired and enjoyed the sculptures, but her attention was so fixed on the sculptor's face, that she was struck dumb.

Daughter (soon after, in explanation): He has some problem with his eyes, I think, that causes those big fluid filled bags under his eyes....and he's probably already rather drunk.

Mother: He looks like a nice person.

Daughter: See the man over there. That's the owner of the gallery where I'm to have my exhibition. I'll introduce you to him.

Again Mother couldn't believe her eyes, as she was introduced to a man who was the spitting image of the man next door! .... The same demeanour, the same height, the same figure, the same head, the same face, the same expression, the same seductive blue eyes!

Daughter (later): Yes, he does look just like the man next door. And he knows him, and likes him. They drink together at the pub.

Daughter: The man next door is away a lot of the time these days.

Mother: Yes. But I spoke to him yesterday.

He was outside his front door reading his mail when I walked past.

I said "Hello", and he reluctantly looked up. He didn't seem very friendly, and I got the feeling that some of his mail was not good news.

He told me that he's away a lot these days, working up the north coast, and that his house here is on hold because of a serious lack of money.

He added ..."Work has saved a desperate situation, and enabled me to pay my mortgage."

Then he started to say something about "a sunny day", and I noticed that his face looked rather pink, and somewhat swollen.

I wondered if he's been getting a bit too much sunshine up north.

(To be continued.)

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