Harold snorted and awoke with a start.
“Hmph. What’s that racket? Those fool children playing in the street again?”
“Yes, the McClartys and Browns. Oh, I see the Martindales, too.”
“Can’t they tell I’m trying to rest here? I worked all my life, and now I have to put up with noisy children running wild in the neighbourhood. All I ask for is a little peace. Is that too much to ask?”
“No, dear. You’ve worked hard. You deserve peace and quiet.”
“Get me a glass of milk, would you, Edna. I’m sure I’ll get heartburn, though. It’s all those chemicals they add, you know.”
The screen door slapped shut behind Edna. She returned with a glass of milk and handed it to Harold. He took a long swallow and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. His chest heaved and low rumble issued forth unceremoniously.
“Used to be a man could get a decent quart of milk delivered to the front door. Be waiting here on the step in the morning. Remember, Edna?”
“I sure do, Harold. I’d leave a little note rolled up inside the empty bottle if I wanted cottage cheese for lime salad.”
“I don’t like the cartons nowadays. Makes the milk taste odd. Gives me heartburn.” Another growl reverberated from Harold’s inward depths. “I need a tablet.”
Harold hoisted himself from the porch chair. “Stay here, Edna. Make sure those children don’t run into the yard. If it wouldn’t be such a dad-blamed nuisance, I’d get a watch dog.”
Harold shuffled inside, the sound of his scuffling slippers mingling with his sighing and muttering. Shaking her head and pursing her lips, Edna took up her knitting again. Her lips moved silently as she counted stitches, but she kept her eyes on the street. Harold returned, white crumbs outlining his lips, a minty cloud hovering.
“Need more tablets soon, Edna.” He brushed remnants from his shirt front.
“Look, Harold, the Cavanaughs have a new car.”
Harold watched the shiny vehicle glide by before commenting.
“Must be nice to spend money like that. They lost a bundle in depreciation just driving it off the lot. And why’d they pick such an ugly colour?”
“I like our car, dear,” Edna affirmed.
“Paid good money for our car back in ‘79. These new cars just have gizmos and contraptions that cost too much to get fixed. Why on God’s green earth would you need a navigational system? Just go to the store and go home. Uses too much gas to go anywhere else.”
Suddenly, Harold stood up.
A couple of boys on skateboards rolled by on the sidewalk, but cracked concrete was no match for the experience of one of them, and the board flipped. The boy tumbled onto the grass. Harold leaned over the porch railing.
“What are you doing?” He gave the boys a menacing look. It was enough. Both boys picked up their skateboards and raced away.
“Didn’t they make a park for those board things over by the community hall?” Edna inquired.
“Yep. With my tax money. And the kids are still roaming the streets like bandits.” Harold shook his head, disgusted. “I heard those skateboards cost over a hundred dollars. When I was a kid, I played with a rock and a stick.”
The clicking of the knitting needles continued, along with the occasional swishing of yarn from the skein in the basket. A breeze ruffled the leaves and the grey fringe of Harold’s thinning hair. He sighed again.
“What are you knitting now, Edna?”
“It’s a sweater for Lorraine’s youngest. The trash she dresses him in is appalling. Today’s styles.” Edna held up the half-knit cardigan for Harold’s inspection. “At least he’ll have one decent thing to wear.”
Harold nodded. “I hope you made it large enough so he can wear it for a few years.”
“Speaking of the kids, they don’t come by much any more. They used to come every Saturday for dinner.”
Edna put her knitting in her lap. “You’re right. I wonder why they don’t come.”
“Well,” moaned Harold, “I need another tablet. My stomach is sure acting up lately.”
The screen door slammed shut behind him.
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