“Masie, just let me come in and help you?” said Arthur from the other side of the closed door.
“No! Just go and check for the truck. It must be here by now.”
“You know I’ll hear it Mase. I’ll hear it on Scartree and I’ve still got five minutes to get down there,” replied Arthur. She was quiet and that was not usual at all for his wife. “Mase?”
“I’m so tired of this Arthur. No privacy. Please, I’m ok. Can you just leave me be and get the truck.”
Arthur lingered a moment but knew well enough that once Masie had made up her mind, that was it – end of discussion. You learn a bit over fifty odd married years. He’d need Mase to remind him exactly how many. Still he worried and would be glad when he could help her out of there.
He may as well do as she asked and head out to the end of their driveway. Arthur stopped at his mailbox although junk mail had all but stopped. Nothing much to advertise anymore. At last Arthur heard the familiar distinctive drone of the council truck. Finally. His hearing was pretty much as good as it had always been and he was grateful for that at least.
Arthur waved to Paddy two doors up who was already waiting at the end of his drive. They were the last two ‘originals’. Both families had built their modest post war homes back when there were paddocks, single lane dirt roads and milk and bread delivery. Masie had grown most of the greens and vegetables that they needed and kept chooks, her girls she used to call them. The coup was long gone. Their ‘kids’ deciding it attracted rats and snakes.
Arthur could see others coming out. They too had heard the truck. No one dared not to have someone at hand. There were plenty of faces he didn’t know. Sure, some of them waved in passing but mostly people pretended not to see you or turned back and got busy just to avoid talking. Guess they thought an old bloke like him might hold them up for too long. In his day that was called being rude or up yourself – now it’s called social something, oh social distancing.
The truck was coming into the circuit now and seemed a little slower than usual. Most of the houses were double storeys and very modern. The small wooden two bedders with a sleep out were getting razed to the ground as each year more and more of the neighbors sold up and went off to units or retirement villages. The same sort of kids who took away chooks – took away parents. Masie and Arthur were only a few streets from the beach and the once village centre. It was now a mix of high rise holiday apartments and a few of the old family businesses still clinging on with the next generation in charge just waiting for a developer’s offer.
“Come on,” Arthur muttered impatiently because he wanted to get back inside to Mase. Now he could see the fancy automated council rubbish truck with its round belly and massive logo – that blow in Mayor wasted money on anything and everything just to get his face or name plastered any where he could. Arthur recalled when the bin boys would turn up and run into their yard, jump the fence to grab their round tin bin – just to run it out to the truck and empty the contents before replacing the bin and lid to its place in the yard beside the house. The ‘boys’ as they were called were mostly agile, impossibly fit men often in their thirties and forties. Wirey, they were called. A lot of blokes were like that back then. The sort of blokes who could do their own building, concreting and knock up a fence in a day. Not an inch of fat on them. Not like now. Mase got a painter to the house who refused to move a bed because he had a bad back. He stood there and watched him and Mase coax it out of the way. Tosser.
The truck was at the end of their drive with the mechanical arm pulling the plastic bin up to sink its contents into the fat metal belly. That was not of interest to Arthur. He was waiting for the drop from the attached trailer. The driver pulled the next lever and for No 22, the two occupant home of Arthur and Mase out would drop the precious weekly four pack of rolls.
“Don’t worry Mase. I’m on my way now,” chatted Arthur as he started back up their driveway.