I can’t help wondering about him. There was a knock on a friend’s door a couple of weeks ago, quite a rare occurrence as she lives out in the boondocks, eight miles from the city centre with just a very light sprinkling of other cottages around. There was enough light left to see the shape, not large enough to be worrying, of a man through the half glass door that she opened.
‘You left your keys in the door.’ he said handing them to her with an open faced smile.
It could have been a bluff but she took it as a sign that he was okay-ish as he hadn’t just barged in, attacked her with a blunt instrument and left with the family treasure. He held out two large containers and asked for some water ‘for the dogs, we’ve been for a long walk and forgot to bring them a drink.’ Friend looked behind him and there were no dogs to be seen, but thought there should have been at least a hunts worth of beagles to need that much water.
‘They’re down the lane in the car with my mum,’ he was quick to read her thoughts. ‘Of course you can have water,’ and grabbing a torch, she led him to the garden tap as he chatted, with a pleasant educated voice. He looked a bit untidy, dishevelled, but not dirty. She was more puzzled than anxious as he said goodbye and once he was out of sight she followed him down the drive, about sixty feet into the hedged lane. There was no dog filled car nor was there a mother, young man or a single soul to be seen in either direction. Mystified and wondering if her post work crumpets by the fire had sent her to sleep, she ‘phoned her husband who told her to give the neighbours just along the lane a call. Brian, a retired police officer put his investigating hat on and with friends responses deduced that the water carrier was possibly a rough sleeper who could be bunking down in the copse across the road.
Slightly less retired local community police were called and apparently came out to shine a few lights into the copse but found no-one. Friend made sure that her keys were on the right side of the locked door for the next couple of nights. She couldn’t forget the young man though, it wasn’t particularly cold but there had been quite heavy rain.
The weekend came and friend and husband decided to walk over to the copse to check. It’s not a place that gets visited, it’s too small to be a woodland walk but they go in the spring when it’s carpeted with bluebells. Their lack of faith in the local police investigation was confirmed when a couple of hundred yards in they found water carriers lair. Just two pop up tents, a washing line tied between the trees and not enough belongings to be a mess, but no one at home.
They didn’t linger, it felt intrusive somehow to be looking at his hidden world. But they were concerned about his well being. They thought about returning with some hot food, but in the end decided that unless they could keep it up for the entire winter, it was best not started. When he’d knocked on the door requesting water she had told him ‘No problem anytime’ but there were no further visits so he may have moved on. The weather remains mild, 10-12 degrees, no frost but quite a lot of rain since he was there. But who was he? And what brought him there? It’s Christmas, would you want to be in his shoes?
I can’t help wondering about him.