After the unfortunate incident while on the bin rounds, the whole crew got the sack unexpectedly; luckily there was always plenty of work around for fit and strong young men and they started the new job together at first light on Monday morning.
“Are you sure you know where we’re going?” Barry asked Tom, the only one with a HGV drivers licence.
“Yeah man, don’t fret, its cool.” Tom was always so laid back.
Barry had his usual swagger on, he loved being the leader of the gang, none of the others really cared, except his brother Neville sitting in the back hoping he’d get a dry seat on their return.
After a good half hours drive they finally pulled up on the roadside next to the most massive pot hole they’d ever seen.
“Quiet around here, isn’t it?” Barry lit his pre work fag and surveyed the scenery, clement for the time of year, the weak sun made the days task less arduous already.
“How long will this take, you reckon?” Barry was looking for a dodge.
“Be done by lunch, easy.” Tom replied, three men for one hole, a doddle!
Neville was trying to warm his frozen bones up and started unloading the gear, silently grumbling while the others had yet another smoke.
“What’s Up Nev?” Barry called over, he could see the expression on his brothers face and knew he was the opposite to happy.
“I don’t know about you two but I want to get this job done fast and get back to the depot, its bloody freezing.” Grumbled Nev, who didn’t own a warm overcoat, well not until payday comes anyway.
“Ok, ok don’t get your knickers in a twist bro.” Barry had a cruel streak, especially where his older brother was concerned, probably from years of childhood resentment being the small one.
“What are we shovelling first, the sand or the hardcore?” Tom didn’t know, and neither did the others; they’d all fibbed on their application forms about past experience, they didn’t have a clue so made a guess.
“I’ll do a few barrows of sand and you get the hardcore.” Barry ordered confidently, although neither was the lighter task, the sand took longer to shovel being so fine.
A bit of teamwork and they’d got into a good rhythm, the winter sun warmed their backs as they paced their mornings workload.
Then the chat turned to the fairer sex and Nev went quiet, he’d been back a few months now and still hadn’t met anyone; none of Sindy’s friends liked men with beards and with his odd ways, they thought he was a strange one.
“So the holes filled in, now what?”
They all looked at each other for the answer.
“Get it flat?”
“Oh… yeah, maybe?”
All morning the road had been deserted but in the distance a lone figure walked steadily towards them.
Neville was the first to spot her.
A vision of leather clad loveliness, her haughty expression seemed to stare straight past the bright orange overalled lads, as she steadily marched onwards.
“So you reckon we should shovel some of this back then?” Barry questioned, Tom nodded and they started digging out the pile again.
“It’s a road not a mountain, you daft git.” Tom chuckled deeply.
Neville couldn’t help himself staring, like an enchantment had come over him.
He thought she was beauty personified and he was totally smitten; if there was such a thing as love at first sight, this would be the closest he’d ever got to it.
Aloof yet enticing, incurious and beguiling, she was the woman of his dreams.
“Good morning Miss.” He had to say something, anything to get her attention.
“Do you need a hand there?”
“Nein danke.” She retorted, glancing at him for an instant.
“Ah, bist du Deutscher?” Neville had picked up her accent immediately.
“Ja, ich bin Deutsch.” She seemed pleased.
“I lived in German for a while, Berlin then….” He trailed off as she popped her letter into the Post box and turned to go.
“Er…have you got any…odd jobs that need doing?” Was all he could think to say, it seemed to work as she stopped and turned to inspect him closer.
“Ja.. yes, can you mend ze blocked sink?” She stared into his very soul with her deep dark eyes.
“Of course I can, Miss.”
“Gut, then come to ze house…zat one,” she pointed through the leafless trees to a large concealed mansion and with those abrupt instruction she turned and marched off.
Neville stood enraptured, starting after her and relished the last of the sunlight glinting in her chestnut hair as the click clack of her heels faded up the road.
All this was duly noticed by the other two, who nudged and winked at each other, ginning widely Barry couldn’t help but feel a bit proud of his elder brother, fast work indeed!
“Nice one Nev, you’re a dark horse, I didn’t even know you’d been to Germany!” Said Barry while giving him a big pat on the back.
Neville didn’t really talk much, even to his own brother, about his past life travelling the world after the army, he was a very private man.
“Yes, but it was a pretty dark time and I don’t really remember much.” He suddenly came over extra quiet as the flashbacks smashed around his head like ping pong balls and made him shudder.
The hole was filled in and even a bit of extra sand on top so the lads were pleased their mornings task was completed.
“Who forgot the broom?” Barry moaned.
“You did.” Tom and Nev shouted in unison.
So much for taking turns, Barry loved his brother but not as much as he loved his comfort; it was a cold bumpy drive back to the depot. Barry hoped they’ll get allocated some power tools soon and do some proper digging with loads of noise.
Later that afternoon, eager Neville had biked over to the mysterious mansion in the trees, up the long crunchy gravel drive and stood nervously by the front door.
It seemed to take a long time to be opened after he’d knocked, he could hear her heels click clack steadily along an echoey hallway and what he thought was a distant scream.
“Come, enter….follow me to zee kitchen.”
“I’m Neville…” he stammered nervously although she didn’t seem to be interested in introductions.
The corridor was indeed long with many closed doors and dark passages leading off in every direction; as he walked swiftly behind the stoic Fräulein, Neville had the uncanny feeling he was being watched.
What is in this house and who is this mysterious German lady?
I hope you are brave enough to find out.
©Juliette Dodd 2020