A nice night for a chat


Ella enjoyed her night walks in the Pembleton Cemetery. Despite a name that invoked stately residences, Pembleton was not an upmarket zone. The grid of unadorned streets was lined with 50’s wooden boxes in various states of dilapidation, high fences boasted a variety of graffiti; some bordered on art, others sported ugly botches and ill spelled profanity. The pavements were cracked, in parts weeds were winning the battle to regain control. Not the path to the cemetery though. Age worn well-attended cobbles led to a set of grand iron gates that led her through a stone wall of gothic proportions. The cemetery was a gentle hill of manicured grass and elegant gardens presided over by stately elms and an aura of dignity. This cemetery had been here long before the suburb had decayed around it; even before the time when the streets were promises of quiet family life in neatly matching boxes and white picket fences. A time when a village had dreamed big.

Cemeteries old or new; ancient and revered or military squares of lined up plaques all tend to offer one thing. Silence. The people here are at peace. Many of those in Pembleton’s cemetery had been at peace for over a hundred a century. A warm blanket of security settled over her. Coco was asleep with her Nan. Rob may or may not be back from wherever he had stormed off to. Ella needed the solitude of the nigh time cemetery to think.

She was a little surprised to see two elderly men chatting on a bench, it was rare to see anyone there during the day, less likely so late. She gave them a nod and walked on.

“That is her.” 

“That is who?”

“My granddaughter. They still live here you know. He got a new car last week. One of those modern sleek things. Looks like a suppository.”  

“Ahh… (chuckles). My family have gone. But what brings you here tonight old friend? It is so long since we sat here together wagging our chins.” 

“It just seems like a nice night for a chat.” 

“Yes. It does.” 

“So what have you been up to Reginald?”

“Ah Bill! I have been having fun! Of course. I rather like visiting the Nortons. They brought our place on Edgar St. I pop in. Enjoy a cuppa. Let them know what I think of their lack of improvements of the old house. They don’t know what to make of me!” He chuckles.

“You old shyster Reg!

“So what do you do with your time then, William?”

“I hang with family mostly, keeping an eye on them.”

You got to have a bit of fun. I still pop down to Benny’s sometimes. Remember Benny’s?”

“Hahahaha! How can we forget! We had a few rumbles there back in the day. What are they up to in there Reg? I gotta come in with you one night!””

“It’s bigger, noisier. All parked up with big dirty road bikes outside. A lot more rumbles. No honest flying fists these days.” Reg scowled. They get mean. Mean drunk and mean fists. Sometimes knives. Hard looking girls. Not like Bessy and Pats! Still, I will give them a pat on those tight butts and they have no idea where to look hahahah!”

“Ahhh! There is some nostalgia for you. Back when bad girls were good!” He chuckled wryly. Those gals knew how to make a man feel good. Until I met my Elizabeth of course. And you settled down with Katherine. Or pretended to.”

“Heheh! Don’t get me wrong, I loved my sweet Katherine. A good girl. A good mother. But, I reckon it just did a good man good to pick up Bess in the old Ford once a month or so.” Reg grinned salaciously.

“My Lizzie was everything. Sure I thought of Bessy and Pats from time to time, like recalling a childhood sweet you no longer want. Like those milk bottle candy when they were good. They just aren’t so good no more. I reckon I would have one of those again if I could.”

“What happened to your boys Reg? You had a couple didn’t you?” His brow creases, trying to recall.

“Good as I far as I know, gone off to Australia. Land of sand and weird critters. Too far for me to go. No idea even how.”

Clouds had rolled over the moon immersing the cemetery in a velvet cloak. The air was a little chiller. The two men did not notice as they sat quiet for a time in their memories.

“Your granddaughter’s a fine looking lass. No ‘semblance to Lizzie though.”

“No, but you should see her wee girl! Just three months old. The spit of my Lizzie. She looks at me and her eyes light up, gives a smile that’d melt an iceberg. She knows me! Ella thinks little Coco is looking at her; but no, it’s me she’s seeing.” Bill settles back with a happy grin.

His grin fades as his thoughts take a darker turn. “I reckon her man is no good. Not a stupid old coot like you, nasty. Sometimes I see a bruise on her that don’t look like she banged into a door. Come to think of it I hang around there a lot and I hardly see him. Maybe I better pop into Benny’s with you, mayhaps that is where he’s lurking.” He thinks for a bit.

“It’s good this chat Reg. It’s waking me up. Making me think. Living in this dump how did that man of hers buy that fancy car? And why does she walk up here all on her own?”

“Yes old friend. I think we been woke up for a reason.”

“It has been a nice night for a chat.” The two men shook hands.

Ella completed her circuit; as she walked down the curved path toward the gates, the moon shone briefly through a thin patch of cloud bathing the two old men in a luminescent glow for a few seconds, before they disappeared altogether. Ella shook her head. She was seeing things.

Pembleton Star 1/11/2019

Last night local man, Robert Drake, was declared deceased after a fall from Denny’s balcony. Why he stumbled backwards over the high rail is a mystery; but observer Candy Floss said “He looked like he had seen a ghost.”

October 26, 2020 19:32

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