As usual Pepino was outside his house, taking advantage of the fresh morning air. He and his wife Pilar, live in a semi-detached property down Station Street, in the centre of the village. I often see him when I’m giving Slawit her morning exercise, especially during the hot summer months.
He sneaks outside for a crafty cigarette. Wispy plumes of pale-grey smoke spiral into the air as it hangs limply from his narrow lips
If he’s not sweeping up sun-dried leaves, he’s normally leant against the back of one of his garden chairs. He always looks uncomfortable standing there, as if he’s had a restless night’s sleep.
This morning; however, he’s sitting at the garden table holding what looks like a giant, woollen tea cosy. The type a distant aunt might bring out on special occasions: dower shades of brown wool, knitted together with ball-end remnants.
That’s unusual, I thought to myself.
In late spring Pepino and Pilar replaced their ageing seating with two, brand new wicker-type chairs. The wicker is actually plastic, woven around a metal frame but they look really smart. Knowing the locals, the old chairs are probably stored in a corner of their garage, just in case they are ever needed.
As we neared, Slawit’s excitement level jumped. Her ears pricked up and she started pulling on the lead. This seemed like a very strange response to a giant tea cosy.
‘Good morning Pepino,’ I called as we neared, ‘what do you have there?’
‘Lunch,’ he said with a cheeky smile.
By now I was close enough to see for myself. It wasn’t a giant tea cosy as I had first thought, but a rather large chicken. Pepino held both its legs in a vice like grip. The bird sat motionless, seemingly oblivious to Slawit’s curiosity.
‘Soup,’ he added ‘too old and tough for anything else.’
I nodded in acknowledgement, not quite sure how to respond. I dragged the dog away and walked on. I presumed he was waiting for his wife Pilar, to deliver the last rights.
Half an hour later we were heading back up the street. Just as we reached Pepino’s house, he and his wife appeared from the back garden. Pilar was wearing her work overall and, with the same vice like grip that Pepino had used earlier, she was carrying lunch. The chicken was still motionless but for very different seasons. The fresh, blood-splatter on Pilar’s slippers were testament to that.
‘Good morning,’ she called cheerily as we walked past.
‘Good morning,’ I replied, ‘enjoy your lunch,’ I added.