my bad

I’d rung to say I’d be there in twenty minutes. I’m standing outside the front door exactly twenty minutes later. So I don’t understand why Graham isn’t answering the door.

I reach out to rap the knocker again, the loudest rap so far. The door knocker is one of those weighty, old Victorian affairs, a hand grasping a heart or a brain or something, the whole thing cast in bronze with a green patina. The shock of my knocking reverberates through the house. I fully expect to hear angry footsteps coming down the stairs, Graham shouting Will you just hold on a minute! Even though I’ve been here at least ten.

I step back onto the pavement and look up at the bedroom window.
The curtains are drawn. Nothing disturbs them.

I check the address again, which is pointless, as I was only here a couple of days ago.
I look up at the window again.
Still nothing.

Maybe after I phoned Graham he decided to go to the bathroom and fell over. Maybe he’d been having a nap and fell asleep again the moment he hung up. It makes me think of that line from When Harry Met Sally : you either don’t want to talk to me, or you do want to talk to me but you’re trapped under something heavy…

I look up at the window again.
No movement. Nothing. Nada.

I take out my phone and wonder whether to call again. It’s a landline number, a cordless phone, one handset by the bed and one on the hall table. I know that Graham is slow getting about, but also that he’s determined to be as independent as possible. He absolutely refused to consider having a keysafe fitted outside the front door, even though it would mean he wouldn’t have to go through the pain and rigmarole of coming downstairs to answer the door. When I called him to say I was on my way, I hoped that meant he’d have started his slow and laborious descent to the front door, so that he was there to let me in. But even if he hadn’t – even if he’d waited till he heard that gloomy rapping of the knocker before hauling himself up off the bed – he’d have made it by now.

I put the phone back in my pocket and in lieu of knowing what else to do, wait some more.

I notice some ants wandering about on the flagstones. They don’t seem to be in much of a hurry either. One of them disappears into a gully. Comes out again almost immediately. Pauses to look around. Zig-zags across the stones to a clump of grass. Another ant comes to join it. They’re doing okay. Maybe when they find something they’ll be more energised. As it is, they’re behaving like I do when I’ve finished all my urgent stuff and drag things out a bit to look busy.

This is ridiculous.
I take out my phone again.
Hit redial.
After a few rings Graham picks up.
The moment I say my name he fumbles the phone. I hear a yelp, some swearing, and the line goes dead.


Just as I’m wondering what to do next, the bedroom curtains get hooked aside and a fist bangs repeatedly on the window. I’m not sure what to make of it. Graham’s obviously trying to tell me something but I don’t know what it is. The angry part is pretty clear, though – and at least that means he’s conscious and breathing and able to make it to the window.
I decide to do nothing and see what happens next.

Eventually I hear movement. Cursing, thumping. Something big and angry humping down the stairs. A pause, then the unmistakable sound of Graham in motion, foot and stick: shuffle tap shuffle tap shuffle tap. The chains on the door rattle off. The door flies open.
Graham points at me with his stick.
‘You made me drop the phone on my foot.’

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