Outside: Part Nineteen

This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 782 words.

In no rush to reply to the woman, Thomas spent the weekend in his workshop a few miles from his house. He had sourced the wood for the commissioned bookcases from a salvage place he frequented, and it had cost even less than he had anticipated. All the work would be in the carving, something he found theraputic to occupy himself with.

As he carved the requested Art Nouveau design into the sides of the bookcases, it occured to him that it might be nice to find out where she lived. He could perhaps drive by her house on his way back from delivering and installing the bookcases next week. They would be finished by Monday afternoon, but he would wait until later in the week to inform the customer they were ready. Always best to let them think he had spent far more time making them.

Driving past her house when she had no clue who he was would add a nice frisson to the proceedings.

Replying to the last email, he thought carefully about what to say.

Dear Gill, I was touched by your offer to send me money. It brought tears to my eyes, and shows what a lovely person you are, deep inside. My sister came to see me as she had time off from flying. I told her about you, and she wants to send you some flowers to thank you. I cannot accept any money from you, no matter how much I appreciate the offer. I would feel ashamed. My sister paid two bills for me, and bought me some shopping, so things are okay for now. I told her I don’t have your address to send flowers, so she told me to ask you for it, and email her the details. Sorry to hear about that trouble with your neighbours. I wish I could help you, but I will just say that you should ignore them. I bet the Council has enough to worry about, without bothering over a few bin bags. Your friend, Charlie. X

Gillian didn’t see the reply until after she had packed away the grocery delivery that had arrived. She couldn’t decide whether to be pleased or annoyed that Charlotte had turned down her offer of money. Still, it was very nice of her sister to offer to send flowers, even though her and mum had never bothered with them, as they never lasted in their house, for some reason. She read the email again before replying.

Hi, Charlie. Glad to hear your sister was able to help you out with some money, she sounds like a good sister to have. I don’t have any brothers or sisters. In fact I have no family at all since my mum died. Tell her not to send any flowers. They cost too much and don’t last a week. Chocolates are better, and cheaper, but she doesn’t have to send me any. If she does, I really like those Belgian Truffles. Like I said, they are cheaper than flowers.
My address is
Miss Gillian Baxter
53 Longcliffe Road
Keep in touch, and let me know how you are getting on. Love, Gill. x

It didn’t bother her in the least to send her address. Charlotte never went out, so she was unlikely to ever show up at the house. And she might get a nice box of truffles.

It was no surprise to Thomas that she had readily sent the address. They always did. He knew the country quite well, but checked his big map book anyway. Grantham was a place he had only ever passed on the main A1 road, and it was sixty miles away from his home in a village on the outskirts of Sheffield. Fortunately, it was just twenty three miles north of Stamford, where he had to deliver the bookcases. It would be very easy to divert into the town on his way home.

The customer was very new-money. He had bought the house on the edge of Stamford as a weekend retreat from some northern suburb of London, and discovered it was built in the Art Nouveau style, before the turn of the century. Determined to exploit those origins, he had no doubt spent a great deal of money buying up period pieces in the same style, and furniture that was probably, if not almost certainly, reproduction. Thomas arrived at the house early, and spent much longer assembling the bookcases than it actually needed. Taking time and appearing to be careful only exaggerated his reputation as a craftsman.

By three that afternoon, he had stopped to refuel his van just a mile or so outside Grantham town centre.

32 thoughts on “Outside: Part Nineteen

  1. I have great compassion for our girl since she is so easily taken advantage of. I am sorry no one in her life wants the best for her since her mom died. And her mom really didn’t want the best for her either as it turns out since she can’t cope with regular life alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you feel that way. Gillian was never really allowed to become an adult. After losing her husband so early, Rebecca kept her daughter close by as a companion, and cossetted her in a world which did not prepare her for reality.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thaks very much, Carol. Gillian is a naive, unworldly young woman who was cosseted by her mother. She doesn’t really understand about people like Thomas, and is blissfully unaware that Charlotte is not a woman.
      Best wishes, Pete. x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) When will Art Nouveau become known as Art Ancien?
    (2) One of the first movies I remember seeing at a drive-in was “Goodbye Charlie.” I’d like to put the title of that movie into Gillian’s mouth.
    (3) “Your offer to send me money…shows what a lovely person you are, deep inside.” With all that fat on Gillian’s bones, the loveliness truly is deep inside. Very deep.
    (4) Flowers never lasted in the house. But they thrived on Rebecca Baxter’s grave.
    (5) Some stuff will make your belly bulge. That includes such bulgin’ stuffles as Belgian Truffles.
    (6) Did you hear about the handthome lad who thang the national anthem in Grantham with a lithp?
    (7) Thomas does actually want money. A lot of it. He hopes to carve out a fortune.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Grantham is mainly known here as the birthplace of Margaret Thatcher. And I was once in hospital there after a serious car crash on the nearby A1.
      But I only made it into the local newspaper, not the nationals! 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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