The old man crossing the road that is. I wasn’t driving fast – luckily as it turned out – for he just stepped right off the pavement in front of us, pulling his wheelie suitcase right behind him. I slammed on the brakes and my car did that cartoon thing of almost standing on it’s nose. But we didn’t hit him, or his suitcase.
He looked surprised to see us, but I thought the fact he was heading towards the old people’s home may’ve been a clue. We stayed in the car and watched his slow progress across the road, up onto the pavement on the other side. He had a fair bit of trouble with that case, so much so my boyfriend was nearly out of the car to give him a hand till a couple more old men rushed out and helped him with it, waving us on our way.
So, we did just that, we went on our way.
The local news channel ran a story a few days later. Police were investigating the copious amounts of blood found in the village reading room. The odd thing was there didn’t seem to have been any attempt made to clean it up, but there was no body to be found. Given the amount of blood, they expressed surprise there’d been no bloody footprints at the scene either. The public were asked to contact them if they had any information.
That night, I lay in bed with my boyfriend and we speculated. Had those old men and that wheelie suitcase anything to do with what had happened? He’d been right outside the reading room when he’d stepped out in the road in front of us. We speculated if the missing body had been in that suitcase and whether that’s why he’d had so much trouble getting it up onto the pavement. We pondered back and forth for a few days and finally decided it was better to say something than keep stum.
They didn’t seem to take us seriously – the police – and who could blame them? But they did follow it up – or so they said. To be honest, we forgot all about it once we’d done our civic duty.
The following summer we were at the airport, waiting for our flight – delayed due to the French traffic controllers being on strike. It was a regular occurrence, so we’d gone prepared. We were reading our books in the coffee shop when they came in – those three old men. I thought I was imagining things until I saw the look on my boyfriend’s face. We sat whispering to each other, feeling really daft. But we couldn’t help ourselves – one or other of us kept a watch on them. Until our flight was called that is, when we decided enough was enough, we were going on holiday and would forget all about it.
We duly checked in for our flight. I’d all but put it out of my mind when we passed the first class check-in area, and there they were – with their brand spanking new luxury luggage, and not a wheelie suitcase in sight.
I swear he winked at me too – the one I’d nearly run down – but I must’ve been imagining things …
© Debra Carey, 2019