Waiting, short story by Victor Roy Kirwan at Spillwords.com



written by: Victor Roy Kirwan


I was waiting in the middle of a large asphalt area surrounded by tall buildings. Blocks of flats? This appeared to be a rather large service area. I expected garbage and furniture removal trucks operated here. There were a few parked cars and lots of garbage bins.

My wife had just dropped me here. Wait a minute! No, she didn’t. What am I thinking of. It’s Thursday. Time seemed to get away from me these days. She’d gone shopping. My wife always goes shopping on Thursday. I remembered her saying, “I’ll be back shortly, sit in the sun and read your newspaper.”

Which I did. But it was last Sunday’s paper. Today’s Thursday. My wife should have spotted that.

I remembered deciding to walk to the corner shop to get today’s paper. Our gates had been left open. Odd, they were usually kept shut to keep the riff-raff out. It was a lovely mild day and the walk was enjoyable. The shop was further than I remembered. But I had plenty of time before my wife got back. I selected a paper and went to pay for it. No wallet! I had no money on me. I’d left my wallet at home. I was standing there like a dummy staring at the shopkeeper. Bloody embarrassing.

“Sorry.” I said and handed him back the paper. I’d told my wife, time after time, to make sure I’ve always got at least ten dollars in my wallet. Oh yes! She would of. My fault. I’ve come out without my bloody wallet. The shopkeeper was talking to me.

“No no, I’m alright,” I smiled and left. Course I’m alright. Just a bit forgetful at times.

Actually, my wife looks after me pretty well. She’s wonderful, really. And beautiful. Hardly aged a day, despite being sick a while back. Still beautiful after all those years.

Oh well, I’ve had a nice stroll in the sun. I took the shortcut back. A bit of variety. Maybe someone’s got a nice front garden. Yes, some of the gardens are lovely. Good people, gardeners.

There’s a cafe ahead, people sitting at tables in the sun on the footpath. I might stop, rest, and have a coffee. Sitting, waiting for a waiter. Sign on the menu says to order at the counter. I stood to get my wallet out. No bloody wallet. Oh yeah. Walk on, stupid. Time passed and I found myself in that large service area. No gardens there. It should all be turfed and set up with park benches and shrubbery. It would be a perfect park for kids to play, kick a footy or chase each other. Odd. No kids. Must be tea-time. I looked at my watch. Where is it? My wife will be upset if I’ve lost it. It was gift from her. Probably in my room. I rarely wore it. Time seemed to slip past without me looking at my watch. Besides, there’s always someone telling me what to do.

Definitely, this should be a park. My wife and I used to stroll through parks, sit on a bench, and just absorb the ambience. We loved parks. Haven’t done it lately. Wonder why?

Thinking of my wife: that wasn’t my wife who had me wait in the sun with my newspaper, it was the other woman who wanders about that place, Saint something or other. A resort. I can’t remember her name either. It’s on a badge she wears.

I was looking about. Oh yes, meet my wife here, of course! I’ll just wait for a bit, she won’t be long. My doctor told me it’s normal to be a bit forgetful at my age. Cheeky bugger.

The sky was looking a bit heavy and the temperature was dropping. Hope it doesn’t rain before my wife gets here. Something caught my attention. A tall skinny bloke had walked out of a door and flung a bag into a dumpster. I started towards him, but he was back through the door before I could have a word.

This waiting about was getting to be frustrating. Time was dragging for once. I heard voices. Yup. An old couple walked into view from between the buildings, stopped at the corner, and appeared to argue. I walked towards them and the elderly lady tugged at the sleeve of the old feller and said something. He looked at me. They were well-matched, shortish, solid a little heavy. Well dressed-overdressed! He was wearing a baggy old tweed suit and waistcoat, collar and tie, and a tweed flat cap. His partner was wearing a long brown coat and a matching hat. Bet they’ve been to church seeing it’s Sunday. No! It’s not Sunday. It’s Thursday. My wife goes shopping on Thursdays.

“Excuse me, I’m at a bit of a loss. I have to meet my wife here and I don’t know where she is. Have you seen her?” I asked. They stared at me, his eyebrows knitted together in concentration, turned to each other, and gabbled away in some foreign language.

“Do you speak English?” I asked.

“Anglais?” the old boy asked, shook his head and shrugged. He took the lady by the arm and then marched off mumbling.

Oh no. I needed a toilet? None. That dumpster! I hurried over and got behind it. Whew! Nick of time. OK. Gotta move. Get back and put the jug on for my wife. She’ll be back from shopping soon. We’ll sit down over a cuppa and she’ll tell me all about it. I used to go with her and buy clothes and stuff for myself. Haven’t for a while. I seemed to just live in these track-suits.

I passed a window and saw movement. Stopped and stared. Only my reflection. Is that me? Medium height, skinny, a bit stooped. Grey whiskers. What? Receding hairline. Gawd, I look old. When did that happen? I don’t feel old. I feel good. Except for my feet. They hurt. For goodness sake, I’m walking about in my bedroom slippers! My wife will laugh and call me a duffer. My beautiful wife. How on earth does she stay so young when I look so old? I smiled to myself, I bet there’s a painting of herself she’s got hidden in the attic that’s aging instead of her, like in that story.

Not much traffic or pedestrians. I think that my wife and I are the only walkers these days. We liked to walk along the beach-front of a morning. She often got admiring glances. She looked good in her sporty shorts and top.

I stopped a couple of pedestrians to ask them if they knew where we were. One bloke said,

“Dunno,” and walked on. Then next, a woman just bolted.

It was starting to get dark and there was a chilly breeze. It was going to be cold shortly. Lights were coming on in windows and I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. I passed a door with a light behind a fancy glass pane. Stopped, back-pedaled, mounted the two steps and knocked. After a few seconds, the door opened. A large middle-aged woman with iron-grey hair and wearing an apron stared out at me.

“Excuse me, Madam I appear to have lost my —” I asked. Before I finished, she closed the door in my face. “Thank you for your kindness and courtesy, Madam,” I told the door, turned around to march on. No, I’ll sit on these steps and rest for a bit.

That rude woman looked a bit like the lady at Saint Whats-a-name. Not as nice, though. Now there’s a funny old duck. She refers to me as ‘we’. The Royal We. “Have we finished our dinner, yet?” she asks. Or, “Have we moved our bowels today.” Some people are odd! These steps are cold.


I told my daughter about the odd woman when she visited us and we laughed. “When’s our holiday finished? I’m waiting to go home and I’m sure your Mum is, too.” I said. “Where is she? She was here a moment ago. Matter of fact, when you walked in, I thought you were your mum. You look so much alike. Make sure you say goodbye to her before you go.”

“Will do, Dad. Now what’s this I hear about you wandering around the garden in the middle of the night?”

“I had to take a wee walk and I noticed that Mum had got out of bed. She gets restless at night so I went looking for her. Thought she may have been sitting on the bench in the garden. We love to do that, you know. And hold hands.” I tell my daughter. “When your mum was sick I’d sit beside her bed and hold her hand. She’d smile up at me. What’s wrong with you, my beautiful daughter? You’re lookin’ glum. Am I boring you? Anyway, the security bloke found me and told me that Mum has probably gone to the toilet and ushered me back inside. One of those busy-body ladies insisted I go to bed and told me that if I took my pills she would go and find Mum. I’ve been sleeping well every night since. The lady brings me a nice warm drink late and I sleep like a baby.”

“That’s good, Dad.” My daughter told me. “You keep up those nice warm drinks. But I’ve got to go now. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Find your Mum and tell her I’m waiting for her. Bingo’s starting in a minute.”

“Yes Dad, bye.”


I’m sitting on that lady’s steps shivering in the dark. Freezing. But my wife will be along soon to take me home. Hope she hurries, I’m getting sleepy. I’ll just wait here until she comes and picks me up.

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