The man who had a pair of pliers in his back pocket

Two old blokes  crossing the road in front of my shop door. Waiting at the kerb first because the traffic is busy. They wore famer’s clothes. What are these? I don’t know, it was the boots that made me think it. They were discussing something of intense interest to both of them. When there was a clear spot in the traffic, they didn’t take it. One was finishing a point and the other was listening and nodding. So he must have been right. He used his hand to bang out the importance of it. I could tell that his hands had done a lot of work.

Then another break in the traffic and it got quiet. The sun shone down. I wondered idly if they might take it. Well, they tried. They bent forward and made sprinting motions. They were still talking though. In the quiet I heard them. One man said (as they made their move), ‘Well, my argument on the cat side of it is – ‘

Suddenly a car with small dogs at each window passed in front of them. Each window had about a one inch gap at the top. Three dogs were screaming furiously through the gaps, one in the front and two from the back.

The men stopped abruptly and watched the car go past. One of them said, ‘Jesus.’

Then they finished the crossing. One of them had a pair of pliers in his back pocket. I still remember that.

Painting by Carl Heinrich Bloch

I’ve got two impatient men out here

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A lady visited the shop this morning and stayed mostly with the biographies. She circled around briefly, noting this and that, nodding and looking, but always returned to the biographies. She said, ‘I love them.’

Then she said, ‘I’d stay longer, but I’ve two impatient men out there.’ She wagged her head from side to side and raised her eyes to the roof. She remained looking thoughtfully upward, as though seeing some solution up there.

Then she looked back into the biographies. There was a tap on the window and an urgent face appeared.

She said, ‘Oh damn them.’

She opened the door an inch and stared out, and they stared back. She said, ‘I just told her in there that I’ve got two impatient men out here.’

They jumped back in alarm. One said, ‘Well that’s not true is it. We just want a cup of tea. You go back in there to your books and fancies. Can’t she Frank! Why can’t she do that!

But Frank was not helpful. He had turned away. A cup of tea! He disappeared from view.

She joined them outside, sighing, suffering, and I heard her say, ‘Well, my goodness”, as they continued down the street.