Sunday 31 January 2016

Jenny - The Archive Backlog 13

my shadow, jenny nowhere to be seen

Jenny is skinny; shake her and she will rattle.

But she is strong.

Hit her, and she will not fall.

She will hit you back.

You will fall.

Jack remembers this as he looks at his black eye in the bathroom mirror.

He is searching through his wife’s makeup bag for a foundation stick that he can use to hide the bruise.

His wife is asleep and Jack will be at work by the time she wakes.

He has an early appointment with a client and he hopes the black eye will not spoil the sale.

Jack doesn’t know this but the client has already decided not to buy.

The client slept badly last night and nightmares drove him from the bed an hour early.

He is sitting now in the café on The High Street watching the waitress and thinking of not even going to the meeting with Jack.

What would it matter?

The waitress’s name is Martha.

Her mother gave her the name because of the DJ on Radio One whilst she was giving birth.

The DJ played a song by Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.

It was a request sent in my mail by Gladys Thompson a widow who wanted a song played in memory of her husband Bill who had died the previous year.

Bill had been a seeds salesman and he had died in a freak accident when a grain silo fell on a tractor that he was watching sow a new hybrid corn.

The hybrid corn had been engineered by the first female graduate of the state agricultural school.

She had only gone to the school because she had filled in her university application form inaccurately.

She had intended to study pharmaceuticals but she had discovered that she liked the open air that the farm offered her.

If she had gone into pharmaceuticals her tutor would have been Mr Phyce an migrant from Wales who left his hometown after a row with his father about the Christmas gift he hadn’t bought for his mother Mavis.

Not one day passes in which Mavis doesn’t cry about this.

The only person who really understands this is the woman who works behind the fruit counter in the local Co-Op.

She met Mavis at a prayer meeting.

The co-op counter lady is Mary and Mary’s son Johnny is having problems at school.

His problems are partly mathematics- that he simply doesn’t understand - and Karen, the girl who sits next to him, whom he is desperate to.

Karen is more interested in horses and had asked her father for one for her birthday.

She is six years old.

Her father works in a bar and earns less in salary than he does in tips, though neither is enough even to buy a dog, which he thinks might be an acceptable substitute.

There is a pet shop on the high street that he passes every day on the way home from work.

In the morning he takes the path that runs along the canal side.

On the canal is a barge.

It is painted the colour of the evening sun with an outline around the windows of light blue.

The owner painted the barge herself.

Her name is Jenny.

Jenny is skinny, shake her and she will rattle.

But she’s strong.

The Archive Backlog

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