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Things Going On

by U.N. Known

Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 30 Mar 2018


THINGS GOING ON

 

Thank you for doing this, Bernice, Cassie Collins spoke the moment the door was opened. I never would have thought to bother you if Rick hadn’t suggested it.

It is my pleasure dear, the old lady smiled, But where is young Richard and who is this strapping young lad you’ve got with you?

The boy smiled, well aware he wasn’t strapping at all, just a slightly below average sized twelve year old. Still it was something Mrs. Rossington had always said about him since he was in nappies and he was glad some things didn’t change even if pretty much everything else had.

My you look so grown up in your big school uniform, the lady stepped around Cassie to give the boy a hug, I remember when you wore nothing but short trousers, running about all over the place. So full of life you were. Do you remember, Richard.

I do. he nodded solemnly, That was years ago though, when I was in little.

Yes indeed, and I used to make all your little clothes. So cute you looked. All arms and legs you were, Richard?

The boy nodded not sure what to answer that other than by opening his jacket and showing what was beneath it, I’m wearing the jumper you made me. See.

The grey sweater with the double band around the neck opening highlighting the V shaped opening, had been one of the last things the old lady had machine knitted for him before she’d moved into the sheltered accommodation four years earlier.

Back then the jumper had somewhat swamped the boy in room to grow but now it was a touch on the tight side, but still acceptable, and still in rather good condition seeing as Rick had only worn it once to school. The teasing from his peers making sure he would never do so again, even if he did sometimes wear it at home.

He wears it all the time. put in Cassie but no one was listening to her.

I’m glad you like it dear, Mrs. Rossington smiled at the boy now looking so grown up, resisting the urge to smooth down his somewhat wayward hair or suggest it needed a cut as she knew boys didn’t like that.

I do. He nodded, making that hair fly about, I like it a lot. And thanks for letting me stay Mrs. R.

You are most welcome, Richard. I’m sure you will be no bother whatsoever.

That wasn’t quite what Rick was planning, but he said nothing further allowing his mum to apologising for them turning up with little more than a few minutes warning.

We thought Rick was going to stay with his friend while I was away, but that fell through for some reason at the last moment and, well, here we are.

The three of them stood for a moment not knowing what to say until Rick reminded his mum that she had better get going if she was going to meet up with her co-workers before her flight to Scotland.

It’s just a conference. Been planned for ages so I can’t cancel it. Not at this late stage. she’d explained over the phone.

You go dear. Mrs. Rossington had said. Young Richard will be fine with me for a few days. It will be just like old times when I used to look after him when he got out of little school.

Are you sure. Cassie had repeated several times both down the line and again at the front door, before, finally a Rick had reminded her that the taxi was still waiting. With the meter running. Only then had she left, Rick and Mrs. Rossington waving her off until she was out of sight when then turned to each other.

Come in. Richard. Come in. Is that all you bought with you?

Picking up the small rucksack, Rick confirmed that it was without going into details as to just why he’d bought his school uniform with him, when school wouldn’t be starting for several weeks yet, once the summer holidays were finished. Right now he was wearing an old pair of jeans and t-shirt under the jumper, which itself had been hidden under his jacket, in case anyone he knew saw him in it. That wouldn’t be an issue at the retirement village, so he wasted no time in taking the jacket off once he was inside.

Welcome to Skyward Gardens, Mrs. Rossington, closed the front door behind him, snapping the double lock just as the security warden had advised.

Skyward! That’s subtle, ain’t it? the boy chucked looking up to the heavens in case the old lady didn’t get what he meant. Which she did.

Yes I know. Silly name, but it also the name of the man who owns it, so beggars cannot be choosers, as you will discover as you get older young Richard. Still I have done what I can with it.

Rick glanced around, noting the large sewing machine on the table, and the other tools of Mrs. Rossington’s dressmaking past, not to mention all the furniture that was familiar to him, Looks good.

It looks like an old lady’s house, is what it looks like but thank you all the same. You are a good boy. This time she didn’t resist ruffling his hair while he fought the impulse to pull away like a nearly teenage boy should.

It looks like your old house, when it was next to ours. he replied, smiling a little shyly now, comfortable with the women with whom he’d spent most of his after school life, while his mother worked hard at providing for them both.

She glanced around, It does, I suppose, but without the stairs. Thankfully.

Noting the sadness in his former babysitter’s voice, Rick decided to change the subject. Speaking of the stairs, where’s the toilet I need a pis... he blushed at what he was going to say, I mean a wee.

Through there. she pointed to the door at the back of the corridor, I’ve only the one now so we will have to share it, and no shower so baths only I’m afraid.

That’s okay. he shrugged, peering down the corridor, Where’s my room?

Next to the bathroom. Come, I’ll show you.

A few minutes later and Rick’s bladder was as empty as his rucksack, but his stomach was starting to fill up with the sandwiches and milk Mrs. Rossington had prepared for him.

These are great. he spoke with a bit of a mouthful or red bits and a white line along his upper lip highlighting the tiny hairs that were just starting to grow there.

Just my homemade jam is all it is. The way you used to like it. she smiled watching him eat, but not eating herself waiting until he’d finished before asking him what he wanted to do next, fully expecting him to suggest watching the television. Only Rick had something else to do. Something that involved what he had in his jacket pocket.

Mind if I go out for a bit. he suggested, wriggling himself out of the v-neck jumper and pulling on his jacket. There’s something I need to do.

No, of course not dear. She got up to open the front door, You are a big boy now. You do not need my permission to go out but I am not sure there is going to be anything for a boy of your age to do around Skyward Gardens.

Oh there is. mumbled Rick eager to get started on something that Mrs. Rossington wasn’t going to be finding out about until the following morning.

In the meantime she stood at the door, Watching him walk with a put on swagger down the path until he turned the corner and was gone wondering about the changes that had come over the nice young boy she’d known.

He wasn’t gone for long, but seemed a little flushed when he returned as if he’d been running, but could have just been down to how hot he must have been in the heavy jacket and jeans. Either way Mrs. Rossington didn’t push the matter, not that she got much of a chance as Rick slipped passed her at the door heading almost directly to bed even though it wasn’t actually that late.

Odd! she thought but there would be time to sort things out in the morning. Or so she thought anyway.

 

 

Mrs. Rossington woke earlier but remained in bed for a further hour or so working on some needlework, before getting up to make the pot of tea she liked to start the day with. It was just as she was about to sit down when there was a knock at the door.

A peek through the peephole showed the familiar sight of the warden standing on the other side.

Good morning Larry, she opened the door, How can I help you?

Morning Bernice, he smiled, Official business I’m afraid. Can I come in?

Of course. Would you like some tea?

He did. Waiting while she fetched a second cup and saucer, which he then held as he gave the reason for his visit.

Sorry to disturb you so early, but I’m sad to say there was some vandalism last night here at Skyward Garden.

Really! she was surprised. Nothing normally happed in the sheltered accommodation. That was, after all the point of it. Nothing serious I hope?

Not really. At least that’s what the Police would say. Just some trampled flower beds, that sort of thing. Plus the graffitti, of course.

Graffitti, you say. Bernice put down her tea, What did it say?

Ah yes. You see. That’s the rub. It’s why I’m here Bernice. Because of what it said, because Leonard thinks it may have something to do with your visitor.

Mrs. Rossington, gave him a surprisingly hard look, Oh I don’t think that can be right, Larry.

He sighed. That’s what I said to him but you know what Mr. Skyward can be like once he’s got an idea in his head?

I do indeed. she nodded having had several run-ins with owner herself since she’d moved in.

Still, I said I would check it out and now I have. he paused spotting something on the back of the chair he was standing beside, I guess this belongs to your little visitor, doesn’t it? Did you make it Bernice?

I did indeed. It’s his favourite pullover.

I can see why. He must be a good little boy to go to the sort of school that would have such a smart uniform.

Indeed!

Well, anyway, Larry put the jumper down, I should probably meet the little fellow just to keep Leonard happy, but clearly no little boy would have done such things. Probably why Leonard decided to ban kids over the age of ten from staying with the residents.

Indeed. repeated Mrs. Rossington, her mind processing the rule she hadn’t paid any attention to before, and the situation that put her in.

Unfortunately, little Rich... Rickey is sleeping at the moment as he’s missing his Mum... mummy, but how about I give you a call when he’s up and about, Larry.

The warden was satisfied with that especially as it meant he would be able to have another cup of tea, and perhaps some cake if he was lucky, so he left to continue his rounds.

 

 

Mrs. Rossington, didn’t waste any time. No sooner was Larry Gaines gone from her doorstep then she went into action. Hurrying over to her sewing table where she set up some grey cotton in the bobbin before snatching up her large scissors which would lead the changes she needed to do in order to pull this off.

It didn’t take long. The job wasn’t complicated after all and Mrs. Rossington was more than qualified to perform it, to a point where no one would be able to notice the difference. Certainly not a couple of men.

Then once everything was as it should be, she went straight into the guest bedroom and woke Rick via a rapid shaking of his shoulder.

What is it? he mumbled turning over, rubbing his eyes in a pretence of innocence that was easily undermine by the state of his head.

Get up and get in the bathroom, I’ve just had the warden here telling me about some louts spray painting and trampling gardens.

What? his eyes snapped open, What’s that got to do with me?

Hopefully nothing, but first you’d best get into the bath and wash that spray paint from your hands and out of your hair before anyone sees it.

Holding his hands out in front of his face, Rick could see that would be a good idea so he tossed back the covers and slipped his legs out onto the floor.

No pyjamas! Mrs. Rossington tutted to herself as the boy stood up wearing just a pair of boxer shorts that were clearly a touch too small for him.

I like wearing shorts. He mumbled as he went passed.

Well let’s hope so dear. Now hurry up and make sure you get it all off. she urge him on his way the only way she knew how, by giving him a pat to the buttocks just like she had when he’d been smaller.

Hey! he protested, but it worked. The boy pretty much skipping to the bathroom where from the sounds of it, he was soon busy setting to work with hot water and a bar of soap on his discoloured fingers.

It didn’t take that long as it was a water passed paint, but he took his time pretending that he was doing as he was asked, when in fact he was doing something else entirely. SOmething he always did when he thought about living with Mrs. Rossington again, and being told what to do, rather than doing whatever he wanted which he got to do when his he was home alone, or even when his mother was there.

However, he made no effort whatsoever to wash the paint out of his hair, as that hadn’t ended up there by accident. It had, in fact, been remarkable difficult to just get the paint just on the longer parts of his hair, and not the rest. After all he wanted something to be left once Mrs. Rossington had come up with the same plan she had when he’d done the same thing as an eight year old.

Finished, Rick left his boxer shorts in the bathroom, wrapping himself in one of the towels instead, and returned to his bedroom where, he wasn’t the least bit surprised to find Mrs. Rossington waiting for him.

Oh that’s better dear. All nice and squeaky clean now.

Yes, but I couldn’t get all the paint out of my hair. he showed her what he meant, ducking down.

Oh dear, that’s not good. What are we going to do about that? She had an idea, but never thought Rick would go for it. Not until he suggested it himself. If somewhat hesitantly.

Well. You could. Maybe. I guess. Cut it out. Couldn’t you?

Mrs. Rossington’s eye’s showed her surprise but her voice didn’t. That was all business. Maybe. Let me have a look.

For several minutes the boy stood still, clutching the towel to his waist, as slender but wrinkled fingers picked at his head until the verdict was ready.

It might be possible Richard. But I’m afraid I will have to cut quite a bit of our hair out to do anything with it.

He shrugged, as if this didn’t matter although his apparent nerves did slip through when she told her to do whatever she had to.

A few moments later Rick was sitting in a kitchen chair, still clutching his towel, listening to the snip-snip of Mrs. Rossington’s scissors, and trying not to be too alarmed at the amount of hair that were falling to the floor around him.

Mrs. Rossington said nothing. She needed to concentrate. It had been some time since she’d cut a boy’s hair, and her hands weren’t as agile as they had once been. Thankfully Rick’s hair was every bit as fine as she remembered it being, and clearly he’d used shampoo and conditioner on it previously to getting the paint mixed in, as it was easy enough to comb making the removal of the clumped parts rather easy. Once that was done it was just a matter of evening things up, and making sure it was all straight.

Finished. she said, brushing the remaining loose hairs away from his neck and shoulders. Pleased with what she had been able to achieve without doing anything too drastic. Rickey though had a different opinion.

It’s still long. he gasped, before realising what he was saying wasn’t what a boy in his situation should be saying, I mean, you can still see the paint. Maybe you should cut it shorter.

Shorter! Really? Are you sure dear?

Yes, maybe if you do it like you did when you were looking after me. What did you call it?

A short back and sides? she asked.

Yes. One of those.

But that’s a little boy hair cut.

I know. he nodded. But that’s what I need if I’m going to look like a little boy for your warden guy, isn’t it?

Yes, indeed so. agreed Mrs. Rossington, once more picking up the scissors and slowly putting two and two together.

It took another half an hour before Rick picked up the little hand mirror he’d been given for the second time and took a look at what had been done to him.

Wow! he gasped, turning his head from side to side, to see the areas around his ears that he hadn’t seen for some years. I really look like a little kid.

Indeed, leaning over his shoulder, Mrs. Rossington took the mirror from him, That’s what you wanted isn’t it, dear?

Yes. I mean No. he floundered, It’s just to fool the warden guy that I’m a little kid so I don’t get into trouble, right?

That was my plan. she confirmed. And, it would seem, your plan too. Seeing as I have yet to tell you what my plan was going to be.

Instantly Rick realised his mistake, You didn’t. Are you sure?

Quite sure. with her hands on his back, she eased him out of the chair,