She was only eight years old. Her black hair, grey with dust, hung down her back like an old mare’s mane. The once white communion dress now matched the sickly pallor of her skin and young eyes that normally sparkled at fiesta time had been dulled by her father’s death and the ensuing impoverishment.
The constant rumbling of military traffic overhead made the towpath tremble beneath his sleeping body. His restless turning rustled and tore the old newspapers under the travel-stained overcoat. He had removed this from his friend who had perished during the night. A corpse no longer had need for a quilted silk lining.
The stifling heat struck him in the face as he entered The Pantry. The familiar babble of voices and dense cigarette smoke welcomed him, as it did every night after his long day shift at the brewery. The large group of young men, zipped into body hugging racing leathers, weaved excited hands through the air as they described high-speed manoeuvres whilst sipping from large, chipped mugs, filled with frothy coffee.
The kookaburras had already begun their mocking dawn chorus and the bities were gathering above his head as he strode past the dunny and down the backyard with shorts flapping about his knees. The khaki was work-stained and he carried a shovel that was half its original length, the cheap metal having been worn down by relentless use.
The headphones were borrowed and far too small. The sides of his head were uncomfortably hot and a tingling sensation was beginning to affect his ears. Despite this discomfort he continued to listen intently while swinging the end of the long rod over the rich, newly seeded earth.
It was Tuesday afternoon and the last Lady of Shallot had been deadheaded and inspected for greenfly. Colonel Arnold Blotson, retired, was now ready for the four judges of the Best Garden of Tickles Green.
It all began and ended with a paper cup flying through the air. It was the only thing that left the ground that morning for the aircraft had come to a shuddering halt on the taxiway to the main runway for reasons unbeknown to the passengers
As he entered the village hall the cloying atmosphere of Chanel, Lancôme, Dior and Poundsavers finest perfumes drowned the light fragrance of his aftershave. Table number four had been allocated to him at the door but on gazing at the curious faces that had all turned to look him over he knew that the first table he wanted most was seven.
The litterbin stood beside the park bench on which three elderly men were sitting. They sat bolt upright looking at their surroundings but seeing little while idle thoughts drifted aimlessly through their minds.