As the Volvo finally made it ’round the corner she was able to step off the kerb and walk over the roundabout leg, calling a couple of thoughts after it.
Such a day ! – and that nice bloke at the clothing alterations place had taken up the cheap jeans while she waited .. which was just as well, as she’d forgotten to collect the old ones when she left the flat. She blithely stepped up onto the next block of the footpath, a virtuous walking person.
Approaching the next roundabout (Essendon is rife with ’em) she saw a man appear on the left quadrant, fair way away; and as he half-turned to see her, he smile hugely and waved, immediately loudly starting up what was obviously meant to be a conversation but that couldn’t yet be discerned.
“Fuck me !” she said to herself: “do I know this bloke ? – I do not .. At least, I believe I do not ..” and she interrogated her mental gallery of acquaintances. “Oh, hang on !” – as he grew ever nearer – “it’s that fellow from the fresh market – the unfortunate bastard I practise my Italian on !”, and she waved back. “Giorno !” she cried gaily; “come stai ? Fa meraviglioso, no ?” happy in the knowledge that such basic stuff couldn’t be wrong.
They were getting closer, but the very imperfect hearing in her left ear had still not allowed her to make out anything he was saying, so she continued. “Perché sei qui ? – abiti vicino ?” (not nearly so confident, but who gives a shit ?!) and by now they were close enough to make each other’s features out.
Not the bloke from the fresh market. Not anyone she knew.
His face had fallen. “You’re not who I thought you were !” he said accusingly; “for heaven’s sake, why were you talking to me ?” A thought .. “And you were talking IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE !”
Deeply offended, he stalked off in high dudgeon.
She stood there dumbstruck for a moment, then wickedly called after him, vowels flattened, “Whaddya mean, a foreign language ?! – are you quite MAD ?” and watched him stop and turn back for a moment, his face a picture. “Jeez, mate !” she expostulated, throwing her hands in the air.
Then, gleeful, she continued on in her own direction. Very satisfying.