As I was hanging out my washing, Mary, my elderly neighbour called me over.
“Victoria, I don’t really know how to tell you this, but my son is coming to stay with us, on Wednesday.” she muttered.
“That’ll be nice for you. I didn’t know that you had a son,” I replied, somewhat in shock.
We’d lived next to Mary and Ron for over two years and they’d never mentioned a son.
“He’s been away,” she continued, “in jail.” The last two words were whispered.
“Oh!” I put my hand over my mouth, “You never said.”
“Well, we were embarrassed, and we didn’t think that he would want to come home, but his parole officer has insisted. I’m sorry, I’m really sorry.” Mary was crying now.
Over a cup of coffee, Mary explained that Tony had got in a fight with his girlfriends’ ex and stabbed him. A condition of his early release was that he had to live at home for six months.
My husband was just as shocked, as I was, when I told him the news. We agreed that there was nothing that we could do, but to be civil to him, for Mary and Ron’s sake, and we’d try to keep our young sons away from him.
On the Wednesday evening I watched Mary and Ron arrive home from prison with their son.
He was a ‘man-mountain’! Over six feet tall and he’d obviously spent all of his free time in the gym.
We didn’t see or hear anything from our neighbours over the next few days. Then on the Saturday, when I was hanging out yet more washing, I could hear clanging noises from Ron’s garage. I looked up to see Tony setting up some gym equipment through the open door. When he spotted me, he waved. I smiled and nervously waved back.
Over the next few days I would hear or see him working out whenever I was in my garden or kitchen, when he spotted me he would always wave and flash a very cheeky smile.
On the Wednesday, when I was hanging out the washing (again!), I heard Tony grunting as he lifted his heavy weights.
I looked over to see him lifting some weights above his head, only wearing a pair of tiny shorts. I’d never seen a man that looked so fit. His whole body was full of rippling muscles. He looked like someone off Baywatch, but with cheap tattoos on his arms.
I must have been staring at him for a couple of minutes, because I was startled when he dropped the weights, grinned and went into one of those poses that makes a bodybuilders’ body look like it’s going to explode.
Embarrassed I ran into the house.
The following day I was late for work, and as I ran down the garden path I dropped my keys.
As I bent over to pick them up I heard a car horn ‘toot’. I looked up to see Tony sitting in the drivers seat of a smart BMW.