26. Secret

24While I was drawing this a person in the house next door to the one I was drawing came out to the front of his house, and with some kind of mechanised trimming machine, trimmed the grass at the edge of his driveway.
I turned my podcast* up, to block out the noise, and then watched him for a bit while he trimmed the grass edge at the front of his house.
Then he moved to the garden of the house I was drawing and trimmed the grass at the edge of their driveway and the grass at the edge of their footpath.
After he had finished he stood, briefly, on the driveway of the house I was drawing and made a phone call, and I wondered if he was calling the owners of the house to report me.
Then, well after he’d stopped pushing his machine around the grass and I had stopped paying attention to him, I saw him reverse out of his driveway, in a dark blue SUV, and drive away.
Then a good while later he returned, and so knowing he would be curious and probably tell the neighbours about a mystery stranger sitting in front of their house, with an easel, I walked across the street to talk to him.
‘Hello?’ I called to him, as I walked up his drive with the finished drawing in my hand, ‘You clearly know the people who live in this house.’
‘Yes,’ said the man who was wearing beige rugby-style shirt, pleated blue trousers and a sunhat like Gilligan from Gilligan’s island wore, ‘I do, yes I do.’
‘Well,’ I said to him, ‘I’ve been drawing the house and I’m going to leave it on the porch there, rolled up, so perhaps you could keep an eye out and make sure she’s picked it up.’
‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I saw you there and wondered what you were doing.’
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘It’s a present for Maggie from her sister, Annie, who commissioned me to do it, but it’s a secret, so please don’t tell her before she comes out and gets it.’
The man said Oh I see, and smiled and shook his head.
‘Okay, thanks,’ I said as I walked across the driveway to Maggie’s house to leave the drawing, ‘And I hope you can keep a secret.’
The man laughed and said he could and I smiled and said thank you and gave him a little wave as I walked back down the driveway to put the rest of my drawing equipment in my car.

Todays podcast: The Daily – ‘Charm City,’ Part 5: What’s Behind the Black Box?

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