Since we have yet another brand new luxury car (this time a Mercedes instead of BMW- speaking of BMW, there is only one thing I could say about this brand- never again) we decided to leave the gate open while we are away from home for a short period of time as opposed to always locking it which we had done in the past. This way we can drive straight to our driveway instead of always parking next door and leave the car there till we are about to sleep and only then D. will fetch his precious carriage and park it where it supposed to be. This time we agreed that in this current climate you cannot be too careful.
Why we can park next door indefinitely? Because the house next door is a show model, a model home of the company from whom we bought our current house so, it is always empty. Well… almost. Sometimes the cleaning people will be there, mostly on Fridays or the occasional window cleaners, the gardeners and of course, the once in a while buyers. So no one is paying attention anymore if there are marked and unmarked cars park on the driveway, and that’s why we decided to leave our gate open since we have the new car because like I said, in this current climate you never know…
Yesterday arriving home after gallivanting (in our situation gallivanting means running after practical chores like shopping for food) passing the house next door I briefly saw a glimpse of a small dark car blocking their driveway. Stepping out I asked D. How many vehicles were there this time, he said two. Which is odd because it was Sunday. Sunday here is the equivalent of siesta somewhere else, everything is closed, therefore you cannot conduct legitimate business anywhere aside, of course, from those fast-food chains which are always open and some occasional business establishments like sports stores and cafes. But then again, some people visiting immediate neighbors sometimes use the roomy parking to abandon their cars for a couple of hours so perhaps it wasn’t that odd after all I thought.
I hate dressing up, I’ve said already before. If I could I would go around naked eternally. So, what do I do the moment I come through the door, run upstairs and peel off every bit of garment I could discard and change into something more comfortable. In my case a pajama or a jogging pants or just a robe.
As it happened, my room (mine because D. has his own) is directly opposite the house next door. If I look outside my window, I can see their driveway, front door, side garden, and their entire back garden. The whole house in fact. From the outside that is. You see, this modern building (which the company called Skin and if in the time we bought our place is for sale, I would have opted for) is so cleverly built that despite having floor to ceiling windows even with the lights on you can’t glimpse of anything that is private. A corner of a chair perhaps, a fraction of a table, a bed lamp but further than that, nada. The glass sections of the house are systematically placed to ensure maximum privacy, which I am mighty jealous of and dreading the time when it is going to be sold and live in by real people.
Directly outside the front door which is located on the right side of the house, therefore, facing my window is an elevated portion of the garden, a neat rectangular area roughly the size of three parking spaces dressed in state of the art artificial grass (like the rest of the garden and similar to ours) and housed two giant plane trees with spotlights under. There at the far end with her back to me facing the back garden was a woman sitting with a carton of milk next to her. And contrary to what D. said, there was only one car instead of two. A dark-gray old model of Kia cadenza. I know I cannot trust D.
My initial thought was she was waiting for the estate agent. Perhaps they made some special arrangement to meet late in the evening on a Sunday.
When I finished dressing down and had a bite and check on her again (I don’t know why I had checked on her again, call it instinct) I had to revise my initial thoughts. Maybe it was not the estate agent she was waiting for but someone more intimate to her, a lover perhaps?
I watched her stood up and walk up and down the length of the side garden. She was around my age and there the similarities stop. The woman was tall with dark wavy hair that reached her shoulders and very fair skin, almost bloodless. Her arms and legs are on the skinny side but the overall picture is not anorexic but rather wiry. She was wearing a simple black sheath and believe it or not a pair of bath slippers yet she managed to look regal, chic even. Her posture and demeanor don’t belong to the car, she was somewhat out of place. Strange.
The next time I looked in on her she was lying on her side underneath one of the plane trees on some kind of sheet, a pillow under her head. Not a cushion but a proper bed pillow. She was facing my window but her eyes were closed. I decided to grab my phone and alert D.
We debated for seemed hours to me over what to do with her, or rather with the fact of her being there. D. refused resolutely to go down to her and ask what was wrong or if she needed some help. He said maybe she was just a bait and the moment he put himself out there someone or more people will jump on him and rob him or worse even, use him to gain access in our house and all those nightmarish scenarios we are seeing lately on the news. I can’t say I blame him.
Personally, I found the woman and the situation not only strange but scary. She looked like someone who belonged to a horror movie, a vampire film for example. She is definitely a caucasian but not from around here. More like from Eastern Europe, Romania perhaps? She could also pass for Greek or Middle Eastern. Anyway, for some reasons she made the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I was very, very alert. Which rarely happens. I am expect the unexpected kind of person but I trust my instinct more than anything or anyone. When my gut feeling says flight instead of fight, I follow without question.
When she started dragging an inflatable mattress under the tree and cover herself with a thermal blanket we realized she was planning to spend the night there. That was when we finally decided to call the proper authorities to deal with the matter.
We waited anxiously for the police to show up and breathed a sigh of relief when they did. We watched guiltily while they talk to the woman (which took ages) searched her car and finally drove away with her in tow.
There are a lot of things that bother me about the incident. One of those is when I was secretly taking pictures of her and her car (for evidence in case…) she suddenly opened her eyes and looked straight to my lens. What I saw there was a mixture of sadness, despair, silent plea, and resignation. Enough for me to run down to her and offer my help if not underneath those emotions I saw also a cold-blooded calculation, a daring appeal and a shadow of a chilling smile behind those hopeless eyes.
She scares me. I expect her to materialize in the middle of my living room to collect what it is she thinks I owe her. The rational part of my brain tells me that perhaps she had a heatstroke and was not able to drive so she decided to lie down. Outside on someone else’s driveway with a proper pillow, inflatable mattress and thermal blanket which she happened to have with her? How about the carton of milk and all the things she had with her the car was stuffed to the brim. Okay, then maybe she had a row with her partner and he had thrown her out. I’ve been there done that. Asocial introvert person that I am I managed to keep a couple of friends I could spend the night with when it is really necessary, and how about family and relatives? Doesn’t she have anyone she can call for help if that was the case? Maybe she was embarrassed to let those who are closest to her know that she was having marital troubles or whatever troubles she was having. What is more embarrassing than to sleep in other people’s garden my brain said to me.
I can go on and on theorizing about her real situation but I guess I will never know. I passed the opportunity to know and even then if I asked her, would she tell me the truth?
I guess what bothers me the most is the guilt, did I do the right thing? Perhaps she was really in some kind of trouble and I added to it by calling the authorities. But it was for her own good my brain insists, for her safety, if she needed some help the proper channel could provide it for her that way. You did the right thing. But I still have my doubts.
What do you think?
Did we do the right thing?