The Self-employed Housewife: A Seaman's Wife's Story Ch 12
Whatever you learned in the past is never for nothing
The anticlimax of being alone with the kids again was hard on her. After she had dropped the children off at kindergarten, several housewives from the complex joined her in her garage where she worked at her leather business. After she punched the holes in the gussets of the handbags her friends would thread the bags together as she had shown them how. She served coffee and this morning Debbie joined them, and brought a cake she had baked.
The Beetle was mostly parked outside.
The housewives of Palm Springs
Corrie was telling everybody about her first experience of having a char. She was a fun loving and rather homely looking woman but with a great sense of humor – a bit of a people pleaser with a heart of gold. Corrie had never had any housekeeping help before, but she wanted to start studying for her law degree while Jim was working off his three year contract. When that was completed they would return back to the UK.
She had been a law student when she met Jim and they were married five months later because she fell pregnant with her first girl. Jim was a geologist and was paid rather well.
Pat had been born in Johannesburg. She was an English speaking South African, married to her second husband Dirk, a store manager for OK Bazaars, who had placed the leather belt order with her. Pat was at least fifteen years older than the rest of the housewives, very thin with long dark curly hair tied up in a bun. She was a heavy chain smoker and liked her wine. Her full time maid was the wife of one of the laborers who worked for the building firm developing the townhouses at the other end of the estate.
Debbie her Dutch neighbor was slim and pretty but she had a bad skin with lots of acne. Her hair was always in a ponytail tied back severely. She was trying to get pregnant with her third child, hoping for a girl. They all smoked except Nicole, her Afrikaans speaking friend from the corner unit down at the end of the cul-de-sac which they owned. She was fully bilingual unlike the Afrikaans couple with the fat ugly husband who now stayed away after meeting Jan. Nicole was as usual wearing very smart clothes especially designed for pregnant women. They seemed well off. Her husband was an accountant.
The disruption of her daily routine
There was just enough time to clean up before fetching Sascia and Jeroen after her social coffee morning was over.
Yesterday a postcard had arrived from Piet and Yolanda in Johannesburg. They were back and settled into their new home and asked her when she would visit them. Now that she had transport and Jan would be away for at least six weeks, she was tempted to drive up to Johannesburg by herself with the kids, but was that advisable? Could she manage that?
As she drove past the townhouse where the difficult woman lived, she spotted a boy of around sixteen sitting on the curb crying. Her impulse was not to get involved, but she stopped anyway.
It was daunting to walk towards this rather hefty teenager who was clearly in distress.
“What‘s wrong?” she whispered resting her hand on his shoulder
“It’s my mom. She is dead.”
“Oh dear, I’m so very sorry. When did she pass away?” She squatted next to him, thinking, he must have come from the funeral.
“She is upstairs” The boy was clearly in great shock. She was the only one from the complex who had stopped by and she was now wondering what could have happened. Did she hear that right?
Walking into a strange home
“What do you mean? Are you sure?” The boy nodded. She got up and ran to the front door, which was open. She felt really creepy entering the home of the woman who had been spreading nasty rumors about her.
“Hello, anyone home? Hello!”
Silence. What was she expecting? The teenager had mumbled that his mom was in the bedroom, so she climbed the stairs, feeling like an intruder.
On the landing upstairs a pool of water led from the bathroom to the main bedroom. She peeped into the bath and saw that it was full of water and that the floor was all wet. With a pounding heart she tiptoed into the bedroom where a woman was lying on the bed covered in a sheet.
She looked dead alright. Her time as a nurse came in handy because she knew how to check for a pulse. The woman’s skin color was already showing signs of a deathly pallor. It clearly looked as if she had drowned herself in the bathtub and her son had found her and carried her to the bedroom. She was naked under the sheet.
What next? The boy needed to be looked after. The police and ambulance needed to be phoned and what about the family?
Making decisions on the spot
She ran down and out the front door and led the boy by his hand towards Pat’s home, knowing that she had a land-line. She saw that Corrie had come out to her car to fetch her two little girls from playschool.
“Corrie please could you fetch my kids from playschool? Something terrible has happened.” She whispered on the way to Pat’s front door. Pat must have heard the commotion because her front door opened. She explained briefly to both women what she had found inside the home across the street and it was then that she had to ask what the boy’s name was. He seemed calmer now that he knew he was not on his own.
“Ronald” he said, “Can I call my dad?”
The eyes of both her friends were large from shock. Corrie ran to her car telling her not to worry she would get all the children and keep them at her home.
“Ronald we do need to call an ambulance and the police. That is normal procedure, but after you call your dad. Do you have any other family members whom you need to contact?”
“My older brother and his girlfriend, they live with us.” he replied with a calmer voice.
Pat was on the phone to the police who would summon the ambulance, so at least that was done. She was great with Ronald, giving him lunch while she herself went back to his home to wait for the police to arrive.
It was not long before both the ambulance and police entered the complex. That alarmed more of the residents who were at home. She introduced herself to the policeman and he followed her up the stairs. He told her to wait while he did what she had done, checking for a pulse in the woman’s neck. The pressure of his finger caused a sound to come from her throat, which made her almost jump from fright.
“She has drowned, that is why” he said
Her sudden trip up to Johannesburg
She made a statement and they cordoned off the home with yellow tape. She wondered where the family would go when they arrived.
“Nobody is allowed to enter the home before a proper investigation has been done.”
“Does it not look like a suicide?” she asked the police. By now more officials were entering the home and the family had arrived. On the spot she made a decision. They could stay at her home while she drove up to Johannesburg. It was lunchtime, so she could quickly pack while the children were at Corrie playing.
The husband and older boy had arrived. They were in shock and did not know what to do. They were resting on the lawn. The girlfriend was hysterical; which made it all the more dramatic. Ronald came outside to be with them. He seemed to be the most calm of all of them.
“Ronald listen, I’m going to offer you and your family my home while I am visiting Johannesburg. I will leave you with the key. You all need to be by yourselves.”
Ronald just nodded in understanding while she told him that it would take a half hour to pack her suitcase and get the house in order.
She had never packed so fast. She put a lot of private stuff into the garage and into the one spare room and locked them both. The rest went in one big suitcase that fitted in the boot in the front of the beetle. Thank goodness the house was tidy and there was some food left in the fridge.
She looked around and it felt as if she was leaving for the last time. She was also questioning, why had the woman committed suicide? Her family was clearly totally shocked. She had never met the husband or Roland’s brother and his girlfriend. Was there a connection between them and Unicorn shipping? She never did find out why the same woman had spread these false rumors about her.
After closing her front door she drove up to Corrie’s house just as Jim arrived. She gave the house keys to Ronald and told him to hand them back to Jim when they could move back into their own home again.
The kids had no idea about all the commotion. They were playing inside. When she told them the news, that they were going to visit Aunty Yolanda in Johannesburg, they both jumped for joy.