“Say Harry – you look like the cat that got the cream! What’s the matter – you just get four balls in the lottery?”
It was Charlie the Post, catching Harry as he made his way into Meldew Buildings. And yes, I suppose, Harry McFry might have seemed happier than he had done for a long while, if you had seen him, as Charlie did, that Friday morning in January. Even the desultory drizzle didn’t seem to bother him – it was Springtime in Harry’s heart, and he wasn’t about to let a few raindrops worry him.
“Things are OK, Charlie. Things are OK,” Harry said. But Charlie knew Harry well enough. Even as he handed him his mail, he could tell that he’d be shrugging off any bills that were there with ease.
“Want to tell me how come you’re so happy all of a sudden, Harry?”
“Let’s just say everything’s falling into place, Charlie. Maybe we can catch up on a drink next week, sometime – I’ll tell you all about it?” Harry asked, already knowing Charlie wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to catch up with him.
“Sure thing, Harry! It’s a date!” Charlie said, as he turned to continue his deliveries. Whatever it was that had changed Harry’s fortunes, Charlie had an inkling that there was a woman involved.
And any dispassionate observer of Harry McFry over the last few days (and I hope I number you among them, reader – it doesn’t pay to make easy judgements about people) would have to agree that there was a change in his demeanour. Maybe he was dressed just a little more smartly, or maybe it was just his bearing .. whatever it was, anyone who knew Harry McFry would say he was a happier man.
“Morning, Mr McFry!” said Henry, sweeping the foyer as Harry walked towards the stairs,
“Morning, Henry!” Harry replied.
“Guess you sorted that rent problem out – that’s if I know Ma Shipman, that is!” Henry beamed at Harry. Harry smiled back – a smile that said ‘Yes, she won’t be bothering me in a while’.
Harry had slept the sleep of an angel. He’d woken early, made himself a modest breakfast and savoured the aroma of the coffee as it brewed in the jug. He’d even walked the whole way from his flat to Meldew Buildings. Somehow, life was looking up!
In her tiny bungalow in Vale View, Lillian McFry had made her own slight breakfast, and settled into her chair, watching the few comings and goings in the cul-de-sac to pass the time. So – Danny Longhurst would be ‘passing by’ today: with his father in tow, to boot. She wondered why Danny hadn’t yet managed to get the medals to Lauren yet. It couldn’t be a difficult task, after all.
He was young, though. Maybe he didn’t appreciate the urgency of her commission? It was easy for youth to forget that time passed more quickly for the elderly. It seemed sometimes, to Lillian McFry, that the clock’s hands had a life all of their own. A hundred years … now that was something in the scheme of things: a whole century. And she had lived through it. She wondered if, when her mother gave birth to her, she had imagined (even for one minute) the life her daughter would lead? Her mother had died when she – Lillian - was less than twenty years old. To her had fallen the task of ‘keeping home’ for her father. That was no life for her, cleaning the house, cooking his meals. Emptying those pots under his bed. Small wonder, then, that she’d taken the first opportunity that presented itself to escape that drudgery.
She’d never imagined, for even a minute, that she’d be a ‘heroine’. That came later. So did Thomas McFry.