Friday 19 April 2013
At 07:24, the minibus arrives to pick up Master Kaufman.
At about 08:25, Mrs Oldgreen’s car is parked wth its midsection where the sapling used to be. Ten minutes later, Mrs Oldgreen approaches the car, opens the tailgate and puts something into the load-area, then gets behind the wheel. She is wearing her usual woollen hat. The car performs a three-point turn; at George Street it turns right.
A little before 08:40, Partner’s car is parked part-way onto the pavement, on the opposite side of the street from the Old Man’s house.
I don’t see either boy carrying anything, but Partner is carrying Small Boy’s book-bag and sandwich-box in his right hand. Small Boy trots, and Tiny Boy behind him toddle-runs, to the place from which they usually cross the road. Small Boy crosses ahead of Tiny Boy; Partner catches up with Tiny Boy and, a couple of paces onto the roadway, he grabs Tiny Boy’s right hand with his own left hand — the two of them then cross together.
When Partner is returning to his car, do I detect a hint of weariness in his gait?
At 09:15 it is raining.
In the late morning school-run, Mrs Fern’s car is parked alongside the Trimots’ house. The Kulaks’ car is parked alongside number 35; Mabel is the driver, and she has a front-seat passenger who is a woman with dyed red hair. Both Mabel and her passenger cross the road, heading towards the middle entrance.
Partner parks by the right-hand side of the Old Man’s front lawn. I see him walking past the Ports’ house, towards the school — the swing of his arms, and the configuration of his shoulder-blades and neck, are unmistakeable. When he returns, I see him walking past the Ports’ house in the opposite direction, carrying Tiny Boy who is supported on his father’s left arm, against his left front. With his right hand, Partner is carrying a white sheet of artwork, which is fluttering somewhat in the breeze. His facial expression reveals his interest in, and love for, his son.
When they reach the car, Partner opens the fpd and sits down on the fps, with Tiny Boy now on his lap. A few minutes later, the car departs up Acacia Grove.
At lunchtime I go to Sandbank Shoals for fish and chips. Young Girl and another woman are serving, Big Man is cooking, and there is someone else at the back of the shop. There is a stack of five or six wrapped packages of fish and chips on top of the drainers.
When I drive off from my usual parking-spot and loop round via the service road, again I see the Wormwoods’ car a little way to my left, with its offside to the right-hand kerb. They must live here! It’s a long way from Acacia Primary.
On Cypress Crescent, feeble attempts have been made to patch some of the potholes. There is a big one, unpatched, in the middle of the roadway, just where I turn left into Cypress Crescent.
I expect the fish and chips to be hot, as Friday is probably the shop’s busiest day. They aren’t very hot, but they are tasty. Last time the fish was slab-shaped, but today I have a fairly long, slim piece of fish.
Not long after 14:35, Esmé’s car has parked alongside the Efords’ house.
Twenty minutes or so later, a woman in a pale-blue anorak, and a teeny girl inboard of her, walk hand-in-hand past Vinnie’s short hedge, in the direction of the school. The girl is wearing a light-brown anorak, and she has a toy animal tucked under her left arm — it seems to have multiple tails or multiple flippers.
Partner parks at the boundary of the Thornboroughs’ house and number 6; and he walks to the school past the Old Man’s house. He is carrying Tiny Boy supported on his right arm, with Tiny Boy’s left arm draped over the top of Partner’s right shoulder. Tiny Boy’s face is partly hidden against his father’s shoulder; either he is asleep, or he is crying. He is wearing a long-sleeve red pullover and dark-grey trousers.
With his left hand, Partner is carrying something that I can’t immediately identify — it resembles an elongated basket with a transverse handle.
Partner crosses the road, towards the middle part of the school-house garden, and then he lowers Tiny Boy to the pavement. He takes Tiny Boy’s left hand in his own right hand, and they walk to the lower entrance.
When Partner and the boys return, Small Boy is in the lead. He is carrying his book-bag, which he is swinging very little if at all. His olive anorak is not hanging off his shoulders too much. Small Boy’s facial expression is that of an animal unleashed — he is obviously ready for the weekend. Partner is carrying Small Boy’s sandwich-box.
When they are walking past Vinnie’s short hedge, Tiny Boy is on foot, outboard of Partner and half a pace behind him. He says something to Partner, who solicitously bends sideways towards Tiny Boy — they pause for a second or two.
And now I realise that the “basket”, which Partner is still carrying with his left hand, is (of course!) a carry-cot. No baby is visible.
The arrival of a new baby could explain a lot about Tiny Boy’s behaviour. But whose baby is it?
At 15:22 the Kellners’ car has parked alongside the Old Man’s front lawn. The front passenger is a boy. Miss Kellner opens the nrd and gets in.