Thursday 6 February 2020


by James McMillan

milky tea


Green, blue, lemon, pink, nearly every colour you can think of, the roofs of the market stalls had looked enticing on what had been a sunny day, but the sun had now gone, the customers had disappeared and the traders had taken their trolleys back to their vans and retreated. They would be back tomorrow. 

As the daylight began to fade and the orange streetlights slowly came on, a brown uniformed security guard and his German shepherd dog made their rounds. All the doors and shutters were securely locked, and the guard had seen nothing to concern him, but the dog was restless and seemed reluctant to leave.  The young guard decided to walk around again.

From his usual place on the roof tops the Cheeseman watched the dog. Should he give it a friendly pat? Not now, he decided, perhaps later. She would be here now; it was time to find her and he was late. She would be in her usual place. As soon as the market finished for the day and everyone had gone home, she came and the first stall she always went to was her friend Sally’s retro clothes stall.

He guessed she would be looking at Sally’s latest finds which would be at the back of the stall, so he swooped down from the roof and through the army surplus stall and the second-hand books stall. Yes, she was there, and he hovered behind her to try and see what she was looking at.

‘Get lost cheesy’. She said without turning around. ‘Sally has found some pretty dresses and I am having a real problem in deciding what would have been right for me’.

‘That blue one with the long sleeves, trust me, I know you so well’.

‘You had your chance and fluffed it mate.'

‘That is a lovely dress, it is so you.’

‘You don’t know which one I am looking at.'

‘Blue was always your colour. You always wore blue tops and jeans and dresses and skirts and shoes and…everything.'

‘Cheesy, that was pathetic, even by your standards. All those years our stalls were in the same row and really close to each other, but you never noticed what I was wearing.'

‘Well, excuse me, I couldn’t see around all those customers who wanted your bacon rolls, your sausage rolls and your fried egg rolls with a tea or coffee to go. You had the busiest stall on the market. And remember I was busy too! I was busy selling cheese. It’s not easy making a living selling cheese. Everybody wants a taste before they buy which is really a free sample and you can’t be too mean in what you cut off and give to them. Because you’re confident the cheese is wonderful, and they are going to love it. But you’ve no idea how much that cuts into the profits.'

‘How come you never gave me any samples of cheese?’

‘How come you never gave me a bacon roll?’

‘I never gave bacon rolls to Ed on the flower stall or George the fudge seller, but they were lovely to me. They used to come around at the end of the day with a little surprise.  I bet they both remember me and know what I used to look good in.'

‘I do remember what you were wearing, sometimes. When we all went to the pub on Christmas Eve; Ed, George and me, you, with your mates,  Yvonne and Sally.'

‘What did I wear then?’

‘You wore a Santa hat.'

‘Everyone on the market wears a Santa hat on Christmas Eve’.

‘But you looked good in yours’.

‘You are wasting your time Cheesy, you had your chance.'

‘When exactly did I have my chance? I must have forgotten.'

‘When we were both living. That would have been the best time really.'

‘Well this is the next chapter. I loved this place. The very best time of my life was spent here. That’s why I asked to come back. I chose it and you must have chosen it too. So, it makes sense to stick together. It really does Wendy.'

‘You can’t even know my name.'

‘Is it not Wendy?’.

‘No, it’s not! And that makes a thousand guesses you have had now.’

‘Oh, come on. Give a guy a break.  All those bacon roll eaters used to call you love or darlin’ or honey.'

‘Those I didn’t mind, petal or flower I never liked much, duck I hated! But I have seen enough now. Let’s have a look around and see if anybody else got any new stock in today.'

‘Is this a sort of date?’

‘Certainly not. Who wants to be Mrs Cheesy?’

‘Sally did.'
‘No, she most certainly did not! Well, are you coming?’
And she was away. He followed her as he always would. 

The German shepherd dog felt a strange coldness touch his head briefly and then allowed the security guard to gently pull him away.  They both liked working at the market. Everybody does. Nobody wants to leave.

About the author

 James loves outdoor markets and any stall selling bacon, sausage, or fried egg rolls.

No comments:

Post a Comment