Wednesday, 1 May 2019

The Boxer and the Hoopoe

More adventures of Carol and Bev

The house is cool, and the light curtains move pleasingly in the breeze.

'Look at that!' says Bev, dreamily, from her comfortable bed.

'What's the matter!' Carol pulls the duvet quickly over her head.

'Blue sky!'

'Eh?' Carol relaxes for a moment and then adds, 'What about the incessant barking of the neighbours' brainless bloody boxer?'

A volley of barks sounds nearby.

'All morning, mark you! "Woof, woof, woof...and...woof".'

The dog confirms the pattern of Carol's complaint.

'I suppose-' Bev begins, still contemplating the view.

'Don't say anything nice! I know what you're going to say. "It's not his fault. He's just lonely. He's seen a cat! He just wants a walk."  I'm going round there to sort it out, and you can come, or not!  What's French for "dog" and "kill"?'

'Shall I make some coffee and get some croissants?  There's a boulangerie on the corner.'

Carol grunts heavily.

Outside, some children start a ball game against the wall of the house.

'What? Jesus! What's that?' Carol sits up in bed. She has mascara on her cheek and her hair is flat against her head on one side. She goes to the window.

'Oi! Clear off! Go away! Get lost!'

They stare up at her and smile.  One of them says: 'Bonjour Madame!'

'Bonjour les enfants!' Bev leans out of the window and Carol goes off to the bathroom in disgust.

Bev hears the front door open as she finishes the coffee and puts the croissants on a plate.

Outside, Carol chases away the children, who squeal in delight. Then she advances on the boxer.  There is a woman of indeterminate age and developing corpulence holding onto a child which has inherited its mother's pug nose and sullen expression.

'Good morning! Are you the owner of this dog?' Carol says, in an unmistakably belligerent tone.

The woman does not understand and scowls at the English girl with the flat hair and blackened face.

'Ah, bonjour Madame!' Bev arrives. 'Nous sommes en vacances juste à côté.'

The woman does not reply.

'Tell her I'm going to poison her dog if-'

'Je m'appelle Bev et mon amie s'appelle Carol.  Enchantée!' Bev puts her hand out.

The woman turns and goes back into the house. A moment later, a man comes out. He smokes a cigarette in an aggressive manner and stands in the doorway to the house, his chin jerking up, once.

The dog barks.

The child wails.

'It's like The Good, The Bad and The Bloody Hideous,' whispers Carol.

Bev is undaunted.  'Bonjour Monsieur!'

The man steps forward and puts a hand on the gate. He takes the collar of the boxer in the other and lifts the latch.

Still he does not speak.

There is a moment when the threat of violence is tangible..

'Je vous souhaite un bon matin!' says Bev, jauntily, taking Carol's arm and leading her away at a brisk pace.

'What did you say to the ugly bastard?'

'I wished him a nice morning!'

'You're such an optimist!'

They stagger back to the house hooting with laughter.

'Let's hope the latch on that gate holds!'  says Bev.

'I'm hungry,' says Carol.

Bev sets a tray of freshly baked delights on the garden table and tries to decide between strawberry and raspberry jam.  Carol fidgets for a while and then settles.

'They've stopped now,' she says, 'listen'.

Carol helps herself to butter and stares at a pair of hoopoe wandering around the lawn. 'Never seen one of those before...'

Bev grins.  'They make a noise like their name.'

And they did.

If you like this, you can read more about Bev and Carol in One Summer in France, Bunny on a Bike and Stranded in the Seychelles.  Links are to the right of this post. Thanks for looking:)

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