“They're lovely grounds Dad, all those trees and the rhododendrons are beautiful.”
Dan was looking out of the window daring the world to smile at him.
“Probably hide the kennels behind there”
Jenny replied somewhat too cheerily
“Oh Dad come on now it's a lovely home, you even said so when you agreed to look at it.”
“I said it looked nice, Mata Hari looked nice.”
Jenny saw a lovely rolling lawn with a stand of trees and bushes and an idyllic Mansion style house at the end of the sweeping drive. A perfectly idyllic place to live. Dan saw Stalag Luft 17
“They put elastic bands round their bollocks and half starve them.”
“Probably do the same to all the poor old sods locked up in there.”
They were pulling up to the steps leading at the front entrance.
“Dad your being ridiculous of course they don't do that now come on, look the managers waiting to greet us by the door isn't that nice.”
As Jenny went round to open the car door for her dad he was already out and brushed her hand off his elbow as she tried to lend some form of support necessary only to her
“Probably saw us on her telly when we tripped the perimeter alarm.”
“Dad be quite.”
Jenny shushed him whilst taking the proffered handshake from the beaming manager who couldn't fail to have heard but gave no sign of having done so.
“Hello you must be Mrs Shaw I'm Ms Belden the manager welcome to The Lawns and this is I take it is Dan.”
Dan was in before Jenny could open her mouth.
“Well you can take it and put it back again it's Mr Argyle to you.”
The Beam never even wavered, Dan thought maybe a bit too much Botox and she was stuck with it.
“Of course, Mr Argyle. Maybe you'll allow me to call you Dan when we know each other better, please come in let me give you the guided tour.”
Ms Belden turned to show the way in so she missed Dans 'never happen love' and Jenny's backhand slap to his shoulder with another hissed 'Dad'.
Just as they went through the door there was a deep throated 'woof'.
Dan turned to Jenny and smiled. Jenny pretended not to notice and said as cheerily as possible.
“Oh you have a dog.”
Ms Belden replied without breaking step on the way to the lounge.
“Oh that's just Alfie my old German Shepherd. He's just a soft old thing everyone loves Alfie round here.”
“Has he been done. Dan asked smiling at his daughter.”
“What a strange question.”
Ms Belden caught Jenny's look at her dad and realised something was going on she was not privy to.
“Yes he has though he's that old now I doubt it matters anymore.”
“Not romancing any walking sticks then?”
Ms Belden was about to reply but Jenny stopped her.
“Oh this is a lovely lounge, isn't this a lovely lounge Dad just look at the view.”
Dan looked at the view briefly and then looked around the room which depressed him even more if that where possible. An open lounge with high backed chairs around the walls most with an occupant in varying stages of senility. Just sitting there watching daytime TV with the sound down or asleep though some looked as though the sleep was more permanent.
Queue here for the undertakers he thought. Is this really it. It's like a bloody warehouse for the terminal. Come to the Lawns and die, but not until we've had all your money off you. Jenny had suggested it but it was his house and pension that would pay for it.
His protestation that he'd rather his money went to his grandson fell on deaf ears. She'd married that four eyed, suited prat with about as much personality as the bloody computer he sat at all day but he seemed to be on a good salary though for doing what Dan hadn't a clue. He wanted his grandson to do something with his life but currently he was a 13 year old clone of his dad. Glasses, school uniform, class swat. Another high salary earner in the making but no life in the kid at all.
Dad your not looking isn't the view lovely.
“Yeh you can see the sun glinting off the guard tower.”
Dan's attention had gone straight past all the greenery to the electricity pylon barely visible.
Ms Belden, full of false, professional bonhomie, looked straight past Dan and spoke to Jenny.
“Oh I can see he's got a strong personality we're going to have some wonderful times when he comes to stay.”
Dan looked at Jenny.
“Am I here, I mean did I leave and a five year old's stood in my place.”
Ms Belden obviously heard but carried straight on with the sales pitch, sounding just that bit too well rehearsed. They eventually finished the guided tour and sat in the office for an interminable length of time while Ms Belden went through all the how much, when and how often. Before Jenny managed to extricate the pair of them with sincere promises to think about it, couldn't make any decisions on the day, have to consult my husband. Ms Belden gave her one of those long embarrassing handshakes that leaves you counting your fingers while wiping the sweat off.
Dan had been watching the other hand convinced it would be reaching for Jenny's purse.
They drove away in silence for a long while before Jenny broke the stand off with a resigned
Well what did you think. Already knowing the answer.
“Posh wrapper with a load of senile old codgers inside sat round the walls hiding the damp patches.”
“Dad do you have to be so negative all the time.”
“Oh come on Jenny they were already dead from the neck up, the place stank of piss and strong disinfectant, there was practically a ground mist in the lounge, mindless crap on the tv which nobody was watching and some god awful radio station on just for the benefit of the staff.”
Silence filled the car for some time
“We could have a look at another one next week if you want.”
Jenny sat up straighter in amazement.
“Do you really mean that.”
Yeh, I suppose.”
“Oh wonderful I'll do another search on Google when I get home.”
You do that he thought. Must be a lot of homes listed on there. Nice drive out, pub lunch, should be able to keep this going for a long while yet, I wonder if I should drop a couple of hints about maybe finding one on the coast.