Posted in English, Stories

When She Knocks

Cavan sat in the tiny kitchen staring at the half empty can of beans in tomato sauce and the crusts of bread. His gray hair was frizzy. He tore his glance from his dinner and let it wander over the cupboards again. The once-white paint was peeling off and nothing edible was left in them.

His stomach’s growl brought him back to the present. The gouty fingers reached for the butter knife on the rickety kitchen table. With trembling hands, he scraped the green spot off the bread.

A squeak came from under the table. Cavan’s knotted hand calmed the skinny Irish wolfhound.

“It’s okay boy.”

Cavan’s hip cracked as he hauled himself off the wooden chair. For a moment, he leaned against the table, trying to find his balance. After daring to let go of the edge of the table, he grabbed the can. Watched by the dog, he shambled to the stove, placed the pot on it, and poured the beans in. He turned on the gas and pressed the igniter.

Tick tick tick — nothing.

He tried again. Tick tick tick.

Remembering the gas company’s last letter, he released the igniter.

Back at the table, he pushed aside the unopened envelopes and placed the cold beans in front of himself.

The dog squeaked. Cavan scratched him behind the ear. “It’ll be okay.” He offered the hard bread to the animal. The black, shiny nose leaned towards the offer and sniffed. After the dog rested the head back on his legs, Cavan sighed. “Never mind, old boy.” He retrieved the bread and replaced it with the beans.

A knock at the door. Cavan hesitated and listened, unsure of what he had heard. Another knock. His hip hurt when he got up. His knees cracked and creaked. A knock again.

“I’m coming.”

In front of the door stood a young blonde in an anthracite colored business suit.

“Hello, Olga Kever, my name. Bailiff. Are you Mr. Make?”

Cavan nodded.

“Cavan K. Make?”

“Yes. Please come in.” He shambled into the kitchen and offered the woman a chair before settling into his seat, suppressing a groan. She paused with her mouth slightly open. For a moment, only the dog’s munching could be heard. Cavan watched her blue eyes scan the cabinets. “May I offer you something?”

Ms. Kever blinked. “Uh… no, thanks.”

Cavan, relieved at her answer, still could not stop fingering his plate with his thumb. When he saw the woman looking down at the bread, he pushed it aside and lowered his eyes. The lady took the offered chair.

“Mr. Make, is that your car in the driveway?”

Cavan nodded.

“Mr. Make, a…” She cleared her throat and began again, “Mr. Make, a lien was obtained against you.” She put a letter on the table. Her pen flitted across her notepad. “I have to seize your vehicle today. I’ll put a deposit seal on it. This means for you that any further use is prohibited. If you do not comply, you are liable to prosecution for breaking the seal. Do you understand that?”

Cavan, eyes lowered, nodded.

“A parking clamp will be installed in the next few days.” Her voice trembled, almost inaudible. Cavan had resumed playing with his thumb on the plate.

“This is your copy of the affidavit.” She tore the paper off her pad and slid it across the table. “See overleaf for more details and who to contact if you wish to appeal.”

Cavan’s eyes remained fixed on the bread. The blonde rose to leave, but hesitated. Cavan could feel her eyes studying him. A zipper rattled open. Ms. Kever rummaged in her purse. A button popped, and slender fingers placed five Dollars on the table. Cavan did not look up. Trembling, he took the money and put it in his pocket. Ms. Kever swallowed. She reached into her purse again, for a few more bills, then she quickly disappeared. The staccato of her heels echoed as Cavan stared at the money. The dog licked its muzzle and laid its head in Cavan’s lap. He scratched him behind the ear. “It’ll be alright.” The bulb overhead flickered, and the light went out.

Understand German? Read the German version here.

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