Blistering cold again this morning. Wrapped self in duvet for walk into woods. Enjoy sitting on the small arched bridge which spans the stream before it opens out into a pond.
Is lovely peaceful place to be and do frequent it every day, sitting on bridge with feet dangling on edge. Have three cigarettes while there. And yes, I keep all of the butts and take them home with me because am, at least, a very conscious smoker if nothing else.
Was on third cigarette when heard that classic twig-snapping sound you hear in movies; alerting you to danger.
So looked up towards the sound. Was a man standing there on the opposite side of the bank. Typical British country uniform of flat cap, green mack on top of knitted jumper, dark blue jeans and green wellies. I need wellies. White trainers are no longer white, but brown with mud and slush contracted on journey to the wood.
Quite an unkempt look to the man who I knew was my landlord. Long grizzly beard of grey and brown, but not in a trendy, hipster way. This beard had not been manicured in any way; simply left to grow as if he couldn’t be arsed shaving any more.
Hair was long and wispy under flat cap. Indistinguishable in colour. Brown, mousy, greyish. Strawberry blonde on the ends.
Landlord looked at me with initial shock and scepticism. Was on his land, after all. Took a moment or two before his face relaxed. Realised who I was, I suppose. Remembered he had told Gruff I could walk the property as I wished.
Smile broke across Landlord’s face. Looked like he had to work hard at smiling. Is probably how I look when try to smile. Am out of practise. Seems like Landlord is out of practise, too.
He walked towards the bridge, a little unsteady, probably because of slippery, wet ground.
‘You must be ________,’ he said, when within normal talking distant.
Thought, well done, dickhead. But yes, yes, nodded in acquiescence.
‘Have you settled in okay?’
Nodded again. Wished I could convey gratitude to him. Had left me with a warm, well-stocked little cottage. New linen on the bed, towels in the bathroom, a roaring fire and stack of wood.
But couldn’t give thanks. Landlord wouldn’t know about my muteness. Watched him carefully.
He was watching me, too. Strange expression on his face formed. Wide-eyed, almost panicked. Mouth actually fell open a little. Looked like he might cry.
And then, just a few moment later, his eyes narrowed. Was now searching.
Could not imagine what the hell was going through his mind. All very odd. Very odd. Because then he seemed scared. Got all fuddery. Like Hugh Grant in any part Hugh Grant has ever played.
‘Ah, yes, well, have a good day, ray, ray, rah.’
And then was gone. Disappeared back into woods with another twig snap.
Of course am now completely paranoid about whole situation. Texted Gruff: ran into Landlord. Any reason he behaved in odd manner, practically running from sight of me? No answer. As of yet. Am now worried there’s some kind of conspiracy between the two. That maybe Gruff has told Landlord a little too much. Perhaps Landlord is aware of history and therefore frightened of repercussions. May find self without home which is a bit of pain because have only just figured out how to set perfect temperature in shower. Would be disappointing after suffering many bursts of cold water for nothing.