‘Look out of the window,’ said Maude. ‘Now.’
Maude was downstairs monitoring the girls. I could hear one of them crying and complaining incoherently about a crime committed by the other one. I was upstairs grabbing a minute put Brylcreem in my hair. It was one of those mornings when the smell reminded me of my father.
‘Have you looked?’
‘I’m looking, now.’
I was surprised to see that the third car in a funeral cortege was parked outside our house. My eyes followed the train of cars up to the hearse – as it was being filled with a coffin three doors up. Mourners and funeral professionals were milling around.
‘Oh.’ I said.
Three doors up is a rented house – tenanted by a couple in their forties for about six months. They could often be seen walking past the house with shopping bags – as they didn’t own a car. I did pass the time of day with them. Regrettably I never really took the time to engage them in neighbourly conversation.
Initially I wasn’t sure which one of them was dead.
‘Is it him, do you think?’ asked Maude.
I then saw ‘him’ getting into the first car. A large wreath emerged from the house with the name ‘JAQI’ at its centre.
‘Well it’s not him, he’s there.’ The upstairs window afforded me the better view.
‘Must be the woman, then’ called Maude from downstairs.
‘They’re fetching out a big wreath – it says ‘JAQI’. J,A,Q,I.’
‘Rather unorthodox spelling,’ suggested my wife.
I coughed and realised that I now have my father’s cough – he was virtually in the room.
‘Your daughters are out of control. Are you coming down any time soon? ‘