Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The door to door salesman.

He comes to my door in the cold bright light. His fingers thick like small pale tubors, and his arm reaching over his head - rather like that gesture the mill-owners used to use to work out who was too young to work and who was not - reaching up for the strap of his bag and manouvering it over his head.

"I'm deaf," he tells me, "I can't find work. I do what I can."

I look, as I always look, trying to divine if this one is telling the truth and see that his face is young, and yet already aged in the way that the muscles are set, and his eyes tired and too pale, and when he asks me how my day has been, I don't tell him but say it has been fine.

Then he hands me a crumpled piece of card with the letters tumbling over it in infantile script and he stands while I look, trying to decide which item will not take up too much room in the cupboard already stuffed with brushes, rags and cleaning fluids.

A few seconds is too long. He shifts and grunts a noise that has the rising tones of a question, and I hurriedly select and pay for the demister. I don't need it, but as my husband would say, who has taught me to be generous, that's not the point.

"Are you cold?" I ask him as he zips his bag, but he doesn't read my lips. The deal is done now and his mind has drifted on to the next house. He shifts his right leg further away from his left and swings his bag back over his shoulder, then, regaining his balance, looks at me and thanks me so earnestly that I know the small object in my hand is not the thing that I've bought.


Blogger Marly Youmans said...

Nice closure...

Tue Mar 18, 05:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A small piece of your own generous soul - that's what you've bought. I always knew that you are a lovely person, Clare, and now I know that Hodmandod Senior is too.

Tue Mar 18, 05:42:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Marly...and Susan, that is so kind. I suppose what I was trying to say is that there is a kind of selfish satisfaction in giving. It certainly made me feel a lot better because before he called I was contemplating what exactly what I was doing on the planet and that not coming to a happy conclusion.

Tue Mar 18, 07:10:00 pm  

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