The hours between three thirty and six thirty are perhaps my favourite ones of the day. I think of them as the quiet hours, and as my quiet time. I like nothing better than once having made myself a nice cup of Earl Grey to recline on the sofa with a chocolate hobnob and sip said tea.
Once I have settled, one of my family of cats usually joins me and on this day Pumpkin, one of the older statesmen of the family, was gently purring whilst curled in a fluffy ball on my lap.
At this time of day the interference of sound is minimal. Sitting, relaxing, imbibing, this afternoon all I could hear was the gentle tick of the clock above the television cabinet and the occasional sound of the distant traffic passing by our little town on its way to wherever.
Just as I closed my eyes to savour another sip of my recently brewed cup there was an almighty crash in the garden the likes of which I hadn’t heard before. It caused pumpkin to fly off my legs into the air leaving his claw imprints through my jeans, I could tell I had been bloodied again. Meanwhile the other cats all ran towards the guest room and sanctuary. Button, the youngest kitten, was the last to fly by as he speeded over the living room tiles like a thing possessed.
My immediate thought was that Button was indeed the cause of this almighty crash and that he had brought something down with his very usual antics.
“What have you done now, Button Mutton?” I asked as he disappeared from sight to join the others.
I set my cup on the coffee table and moved towards the garden.
On arrival in our little corner of paradise I was more than surprised and shocked to see a young man sitting on the bench in the arbour. From the perplexed look on his face He was just as surprised to see me, or perhaps had been startled by whatever had happened moments before.
My outrage at finding someone sitting in our garden had been tempered by the surprise of finding the young man and by the way he was dressed. His clothes looked more like the sort of things my dad would have worn at least 30 years earlier than what a young man would be wearing in this day and age.
I wanted to know what he was doing sitting there, how he had got there, and if he knew what had caused the almighty crash of previous mention. All I said was “Hi.”
In reply he waved noncomittally, while regarding me as if I were the interloper.
“What are…” I began to form one of my questions, only to be silenced by the look of horror he sent my way as he placed a finger to his lips in the international sign language meaning ‘be quiet’.