Hank didn’t have to say much whenever he came round, for as her crush grew to epic proportions she was happy to provide all necessary conversation. Jane learned that Hank’s father, also a plumber, had passed away, leaving Hank the business and his mother and sister to take care of. In her head she heard a maternal voice whisper quite loudly:
“Oh, poor Hank, how sweet. What a man; I can just imagine how loving and caring he must be toward his mother and sister; what an angel!”
She looked around, just to ensure that nobody else had been privy to the thought.
Unfortunately, Jane didn’t possess a model figure or expensive clothes; neither did she know much about how to apply make-up correctly. She had to make do with what she had and wore it with pride, hoping to attract more of Hank’s attention.
The following Wednesday Hank returned, much to Jane’s delight. He greeted her and immediately set to work. He had been working for at least half an hour when disaster struck. He had an accident involving a nail and a hammer. Jane, miraculously having no work to do at all, witnessed the accident and stood by in complete shock as the blood ran in tiny rivulets to the tile floor. In her mind a switch flipped to the “ON” position and she metamorphosed into efficient, Capable Nurse Jane.
She quickly disinfected the wound with Dettol, stopped the bleeding with cotton wool and applied band-aid. This is what happened on the calm exterior, her psyche however was in turmoil. Her head spun in dizzying circles, her stomach flipped, her hands were sweaty and her knees shook uncontrollably. That night she slept like a baby, dreaming in the most intricate details, of how she had had the privilege of holding the hand of a hot, sexy plumber. Not a lot of single ladies could boast about that, could they?
Jane knew that Hank loved Sally Williams’ nougat, wrapped in delicate, transparent tissue paper and buried in a white box decorated with golden, embossed twirls and swirls. She stood there for a while, staring at it as it lay innocently on the bottom shelf, wondering whether Hank had a girlfriend; if he would be offended if she bought it as a gift. What the heck, she thought, grabbed the nougat and paid for it, before she could reason herself out of it or drown in a pool of self-doubt.
She secretly carried the nougat in her handbag for days, never knowing when and if he would be coming. Like all women, she sometimes took the nougat out of her bag, and thought of eating it herself, especially when she had a bad day at work, but she never did. She held onto the hope that he would be there to appreciate the gesture.
That Friday, obviously the date is of no importance as dates are nothing but mere numbers in time, Jane’s love boat with Hank on board, crashed into a loveless cold and craggy shore.
Earlier that day, Jane received a call from Hank that he would pop in later that afternoon. The news left Jane in high spirits and she sauntered over to the lab to chat about life, love and everything else with wise, old, toothless Uncle Jo and red headed super witch, Tracy.
Uncle Jo was unhealthy, presumably from years spent from dusk till dawn in his cubicle which was rife with chemical agents used in developing and printing. He was fond of Jane, because he could see the true nature of her heart, because she treated him with kindness and respect and at times she made him laugh despite his circumstances. His skin color was irrelevant to the friendship. He lovingly called her Purple Chicken; due to a hilarious lunchtime conversation spent imagining what it would look like if he was the only one in the township that owned purple chickens. Uncle Jo was therefore the first person Jane spoke to about the events of the past weeks, including Hank. Uncle Jo slowly replied:
”Purple Chicken; don’t be so hasty, in time you will find the right man”.
That was just fine and dandy, but the question Jane thought, was when? Jane grew freakishly anxious about ageing. Each and every tick of the clock indicated the inevitable passing of time. She grew older by the second, by the minute, by the hour, by the day for goodness sake! It would be truly ironic if she found her true love in the old age home, when time had done her in for good and vitality leaked from her pores. Of what use would she be if her lust for life and sensuality had been stripped by the inescapable passage of time? For a moment she imagined herself as an old, grey crone, sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of the retirement home, watching as the sun crept slowly over the lawn; without any human or false teeth for that matter in her mouth, because seriously what’s the use at that age. They invariably cut up your food into tiny chunks, thinking that ageing and child- like regression accompanied each other like comfortable partners.
She imagined a shuffle, a slight thud onto the creaking rocking chair immediately beside her, a low moan, a cough, a wheeze and then a cold, almost lifeless, manly hand reaching out to hers and holding it, her fingers entwined with his. That would be love right there, fingers entwined, holding hands and staring into space with watery, bleached eyes. Can old men still get frisky without the use of Viagra? Or would Viagra kill them? Jane wondered, before wilfully erasing the whole sordid image from her mind.