Thursday

bucket of ice

Every day Timothy would walk from one end of the city to the other with a bucket of ice. The city wasn’t a small city; it took him near enough to three hours to get from one end to the other. There was public transport available and at seventy years old Timothy had his pensioners bus pass so wasn’t required to pay a fare yet every day he insisted on walking. There were several shops along the way that sold bags of ice for fairly nominal prices, fresh sealed in plastic bags, yet timothy insisted on bringing his bucket from home.

Most people who knew his routine thought Timothy was a little touched in the head. That old age had gotten to him and impaired his mental processes. Some of the kindlier neighbours had called social services to come and assess Timothy on several occasions. Yet always they had scratched their heads as full of tea and with friendly waves the social services people left Timothys house. They could find nothing wrong with him.

One of his neighbours’ sons was a doctor. She asked her doctor son if she would look in on Timothy and test that he was OK. She gave her son a carrot cake for Timothy and asked that he pass it on. The doctor knocked at Timothy’s door and presented him with the cake from mother. With a beaming smile and bright watery eyes behind his thick bottle end glasses Timothy invited the doctor in for tea.

Over the course of an hour and a half the doctor had three cups of tea and two slices of his mother’s carrot cake. He quizzed timothy subtly, dropping in questions about the year, the Prime Minister, the date, the city he lived in. Yet always brightly and merrily Timothy answered rightly and without fuss. The doctor could see nothing wrong and was forced to give this conclusion to his unhappy mother. At 4pm on the dot she drew asides her net curtains and pointed at Timothy beginning his journey. She pointed and asked her son if there was nothing wrong then why does this old man walk across the city every day with his bucket of ice?

The following day his mother made flapjack and insisted the doctor go back again, this time later in the afternoon. See if you can figure out why the ice she said. See if you can make it stops for winter approaches and he is awfully old. The doctor knew his mother was only concerned and he had never been the type to deny her anything so that afternoon he ventured over at three with the flapjack under his arm.

Once more he was greeted with warm smiles and cups of tea. They shared the flapjack and Timothy said to be sure to thank his mother. As three-thirty approached timothy asked to be excused for a moment, ever so politely, and he disappeared to his garage. With stealth and intrigue the doctor crept to spy on Timothy and watched in silence as timothy fetched his bucket and placed it on a workbench. Timothy opened a great chest freezer and with some effort pulled out a large and solid block of ice. With a pick he deftly carved the ice into a flat-ended cone and slipped it into his bucket. The doctor noticed a faint odour, which he could not quite place. With his tasks done and his bucket ready Timothy made his way out, the doctor crept rapidly back to his armchair no more enlightened than he had been before. Timothy made his apologies for ducking out and they carried on with their tea. Four on the dot and timothy made his apologies but explained that he liked his evening constitutional.

The doctor retold this tale to his mother that evening who scratched her head and worried at her apron. She sat quietly for a few minutes absorbing all her son had told her and asked him again if he was sure there was nothing wrong with the old man. The doctor confessed that as puzzling as this behaviour was his faculties were all in order and he could see nothing wrong. Her wide eyes filled with worry she asked him once more if he would go back to Timothy’s house. If he would follow him on his walk. If he would just solve the mystery of the ice. He never could deny his mother anything so reluctantly agreed. He was less than keen to follow an old man across the city, not when the days were cold and the nights were drawing in early. But he had to confess; his interest had been piqued. Why did the old man carry his bucket of ice?

The following day his mother baked scones to take and presented him with home made preserve to take to the house of Timothy. Dutifully the doctor knocked at Timothy’s door and was welcomed in the warmest of manners. Timothy did not question why the doctor had visited him, he was fairly sure he knew why, which made him smile. He was always happy enough for the company and always happy to set minds at rest. Timothy was no fool and he knew he caused his friends worry but he was happy enough with them thinking he was a daft old man.

Tea and scones and Jam they enjoyed until Timothy went to carve his ice once more. They chatted gaily about this and that until four on the dot where timothy once again made his apologies and thanked the doctor for his company before setting out on his walk.

With stealth and intrigue the doctor followed Timothy across the city. Timothy did not take the quickest route or always the quietest route but he moved as if on autopilot, like a rat in his run treading the well trodden path. Initially the doctor undertook some extreme and comical evasive manoeuvres. He pressed himself behind lamp posts much to the amusement of onlookers. He ducked into alleyways; poking his head slowly round to watch his prey. This he abandoned quickly after having his trousers severely bitten at by a small yappy type dog whose front paw he had inadvertently trodden on. Besides, it was soon clear to the doctor that all this ducking and hiding served only to entertain his secret internal private detective fantasy. Timothy never looked back.

Halfway through their journey the doctor noticed the occasional slosh of liquid over the side of the old wooden bucket. As their travels continued the slight spillages turned to larger spillages. The ice was melting and it did not seem to concern Timothy at all. Timothy ambled along merrily in the same way he did at the start of his journey and the doctor trailed him a little more conservatively than he had at the start of his journey.

Their ambles led them to a suburban cul-de-sac at the other side of the city. The doctor was relieved to see Timothy turn into this quiet road because it surely meant an end to their travels although, as tired as the dear doctor was, he had not lost an inch of curiosity as to the reasoning behind this seemingly pointless journey. The doctor lurked near a bend in the road as he watched Timothy approach a modest modern detached house. His eyes widened as Timothy rolled up a sleeve and put his hand into the bucket before tipping away the remaining water and the small remaining block of still frozen ice. Timothy then placed his bucket behind a shrub in the neat well managed garden to this modern modest detached house but not before reaching to retrieve a bottle from the inside. Timothy rang the door bell and straightened his cardigan and flattened his hair the doctor crept a little closer. Positioned strategically behind a large pampas grass the doctor could just make out the word ‘vintage’ on the bottles label. Ducking behind the pampas grass as the door opened still afforded the doctor a view of the recipient of Timothy’s ‘vintage’ bottle. A kindly lady of age welcomed Timothy with a kiss on the cheek and a warm hug. She accepted the bottle as it was offered to her with a broad beaming smile.

“I’ll never figure out how you manage to keep it so cold Timothy!”

As the door closes and the elderly couple go into the warmth of the modest modern home our dear doctor friend with a grin turns back towards the city to hail a taxi home to ease his mothers fears.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch subject. Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? Why has bush turned our country from a country of hope and prosperity to a country of belligerence and fear.
If ever there was ever a time in our nation's history that called for a change, this is it!
The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren't living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

3:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush goes ballistic about other countries being evil and dangerous, because they have weapons of mass destruction. But, he insists on building up even a more deadly supply of nuclear arms right here in the US. What do you think? Why has bush turned our country from a country of hope and prosperity to a country of belligerence and fear.
What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
The more people that the government puts in jails, the safer we are told to think we are. The real terrorists are wherever they are, but they aren't living in a country with bars on the windows. We are.

1:22 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home