The old man leaves his cabin twice a day and walks up to the shop, about 1/2 km away. He wields a fancy walking stick. Brass. I wonder if it belonged to his father. You don't see much brass around anymore. Sometimes the dog and I trail the punch-holes that the stick leaves on the sandy shoulders of the road and I get a sense of his rhythm.
He had a long life and four children with his dead wife. He nursed her through her lingering fatal illness. He then moved on, after a decent interval, with her best friend who had been widowed many years before. And that didn't last long, only five years, before she succumbed to her cancer and he nursed her too. And then, he couldn't believe it, he was eighty-five and felt he should leave the family home to his son who was back from Alberta and move into independent living in one of the small cabins up the road from me. He has his independence, he drives a well maintained saloon type car. But he's been very depressed and I'll tell you why.
Within a few months of his arrival I'd see Annie dropping in on him, bringing him cooked meals and baked offerings. It was extraordinarily odd as Annie, a first place winner in the World Class Hoarders' Championship, never bothered with cooking or cleaning before. But all of a sudden she's "doing" for Mr. Stan. Annie was the one I told you about a while back. When she went off to Toronto to visit one of her children, she came back here to a house cleaned out by her siblings and set finally to rights. Zen. Polished. Decluttered and sanitized. She ordered her brother's truck up to the dump and retrieved all they had cast aside so carelessly. Materials from circa 1942. Her dead husband's (1988)clothes, tools and gadgets, her vast stone and shell collections, 5 unworkable teevees and several trashed microwaves along with more dishes than the army needed in 1941 and every box she had ever been given. She restored her house to order with the overflow spilling down the deck and on to the sideyard. Where it proudly hangs out with her dead husband's 1964 rusted out truck.
Next thing, Annie is riding around in Mr. Stan's car like a missus. And having sleepovers at his place (nobody's been inside her place except for the siblings intervention since her last child left home in 1990). They are an item. Her daughter, who is forty and posts incessantly about her dead father on FB, was now calling Mr. Stan "Dad". I should add daughter is partnered with her own love for over 20 years. But had this papa-hole that is now filled. All is well. But oh noes!
There are huge ructions and yelling one night outside Mr. Stan's cabin. Mr. Stan is thundering-lord-jesusing. For such an old mild-voiced gentleman he has a powerful voice when he gets riled up. It certainly got my attention and I live quite a ways downhill. It seems like Annie had been two-timing him with Mr. Lenny, who is younger and has many bottles of rum stashed all over his cabin which is six removed from Mr. Stan's. Annie loves her rum. Rum doesn't love Annie. It sends her mouth into orbit and winds her up so she starts spewing venom. Which she did.
Annie, who is 70 if she's a day, told Mr. Stan that he couldn't satisfy a woman such as herself, but Mr. Lenny could. And if he could satisfy a lusty woman such as herself then she wouldn't have to run to Mr. Lenny's now, would she. So basically it was all his (Mr. Stan's) fault if he couldn't man up.
Needless to mention gossip of Mr. Stan's shortfall overrode the two-timing crimes of Annie. Actually Annie's two-timing incurred quite a bit of envy, including my own. I mean, at her age? I think I'd be bragging up and down Main Street if we had one. If I was that fortunate to snag two old men living six cabins apart and have the energy to bounce around from one t'other.
But my heart does go out to Mr. Stan, taken in by the bakin' and cleanin' Annie and treating her like a missus and hoping for a Hollywood ending. Like the rest of us.
And now he's alone, kind of bitter, and who's to blame him, taking his brass stick out for walks as if his life depended on it.
Labels: affairs, aging, betrayal, Newfoundland, true stories