Monday, November 2, 2009

The Bee-Keeper

Every morning I see him.

A tall man, he walks with a stoop. He seems to be afraid of having his head in the clouds. A long grey raincoat hangs loosely on his bony frame and he carries a small, black and white rucksack on his back. The heavy, black shoes are the same ones he used to wear when he was a security guard. He is retired now due to ill-health.

He has been living in the area for going on 30 years. His elderly parents moved back to their roots and he came with them. Even though his roots were elsewhere. He dutifully minded them until they died. Never marrying. He knows everybody in the neighbourhood. He knows everything about everybody in the neighbourhood.

Being a religious man, his first port of call, after his breakfast, is the church. There he meets with other retired, like-minded souls. He can be seen, chatting in an animated manner, or quietly leaning closer to catch some whispered confidence. He continues from his prayers into town. His needs are few so the little rucksack is more than adequate to carry his messages. He usually wanders home just after 11.30am. He is a creature of habit.

He likes chocolate and bananas. The neighbourhood children used to call regularly to his door knowing that they would come away laden with goodies. That all stopped when a well-meaning woman warned him that "People would talk ... they wouldn't understand". He still gives out chocolate and bananas. Carefully.

He knows everything. The best way to recycle waste, the nutritional value of bananas, the intricacies of heart surgery, the benefits of thyroid tablets in the event of a nuclear disaster and the life cycles of honey bees. He loves bees. In his back garden there are about 20 beehives. He doesn't care much for gardening so the bees get to live, joyously, in the wild. He bestows jars of precious honey on the select few of his neighbours who have been behaving themselves. These gifts are, inevitably, accompanied by a diatribe on the benefits of clean living and how much man can learn from watching bees. Every year, he tootles off for a week of bee talk with other bee enthusiasts. The other week of his annual holidays is spent in Lourdes. He usually returns from Lourdes laden down with gallons of Holy Water which, like the bees, has amazing curative powers.

He seems to be a man of simple needs. A God-fearing christian.

Why, then, do the hairs rise up on the back of my neck every time I see him?


Molly said...

He sounds a little creepy. And the aunties always said that you were here before! And are tuned into frequencies the rest of us are obliviously to. So you tell us: Why does he make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck?

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Why indeed. Too much of our life is stanardised and homogenised to a bland predictable uniformity. Give me eccentrics.

Lee said...

With out knowing his story, we guess and we always guess wrong.

We attribute our own behaviour to circumstances and other's behaviour to character. (I didn't give to the beggar because I didn't have any small coins, she didn't give because she is mean spirited.).

Offer him a tea and ask his story, you may be surprised.

Pauline said...

I'm with Lee - ask him in, talk with him and then write here...

secret agent woman said...

That's a great snaphot of the guy. I don't know the why, but I tend to trust my gut on these things, having heard so many horror stories from my patients. Once I was talking with a neighbor who gave me a creepy feeling and a woman drove up after he went back inside and told me he was her boyfriend's grandfather. She said, "Whatever you do, don't let him anywhere near your children." That's all I needed to know.