She’d sat on that bench every workday for the last month. I knew, because I’d been watching. My office window overlooked the park, and every day at noon she’d place her bags next to the bench, take some bread out of a coat pocket and break it into pieces. The pigeons flocked down every day when she did so, so I guess they’d been watching too.
She intrigued me and the weather was fine, so today I crossed the road and approached the bench. I looked at her and she smiled at me. ‘Do you mind?’ I said, indicating the empty space next to her.
‘Of course not. Be my guest’. She was obviously homeless, everything she owned I assumed, in three black dustbin liners, her clothing old and worn, but reasonably clean. It was her voice which caught my attention. Her vowels were rounded, her tone well modulated and suggested that she was both well bred and well educated.
So how did she find herself here, in the park with all her worldly goods. She saw me glance at the bags. ‘I expect you wonder what’s in my bags, young man?’ She pushed one of the bags with her foot.
How did I reply? If I inferred she was homeless and she wasn’t, she would probably be offended. I decided to go with the truth.
‘Erm. I see you from the window every day. Yes, I wondered what you had in your bags.’
She smiled and leant down to open up one of the black sacks. A truly dreadful rotten meat smell wafted out, and I recoiled, although not before I saw a mass of sodden black fur.
‘Cats, dear. I can’t let all these cats take my pigeons, now, can I?’