Mrs. Grey lived at number 13 Brown street. She was a delightful old dear. She sat on her patio and knitted and watched the world go by. The three young friends, Sandy, Mike and Troon walked past the house every day and she would greet them with a cheery wave and a smile.
Mrs. Grey’s house was always neat and her garden was neat, with orderly beds of poppies and hollyhocks and some snapdragons some of the time. Well actually that was not quite true. The front garden was very neat but round the side of the house. less visible from the road, there was a patch of garden that was quite unkempt. It appeared to be just long grass and weeds of various descriptions and the 3 friends noticed that it seemed to be getting worse as time went by. Then one day Mrs Grey was not on her patio. She was not there the next day either or the day after that and the friends were concerned. “She is old” they said to each other “and maybe something untoward has happened to her”. So they gathered their courage, entered her gate and walked up the paving stones to the little blue front door and rang the bell. There was no answer and after ringing a few times they tried the door. It was locked but that did not tell them whether the lady was inside or away. So they circled the house, knocking on the windows and peering between the closed curtains to see if they could see anything. They all jumped when they heard a woman’s voice behind them. “Can I help you” said the newcomer in a not entirely friendly tone of voice.
Mike was the first to recover. “We’re concerned about Mrs. Grey”. He thought his voice sounded a little squeaky but the newcomer didn’t seem to notice. “We always greet her as we pass but we have not seen her for a while”.
“I am Mrs White” said she. “I am Mrs. Grey’s neighbour. She was not very well and her daughter came and took her away for a few days till she felt stronger again. She should be back home by Sunday or Monday”.
“Well that’s a relief” said Sandy. “We’ll pop back next week and see her then”
“But Hey”! said Troon. “Perhaps we could do her a good turn. Why don’t we come and tidy the garden up a bit. Maybe do some weeding and clearing round the side there”.
“Great idea said Sandy”.
“Yes. Let’s do that” said Mike.
Mrs. White smiled and said that she thought that was a jolly kind thought and that it would be very nice if the three friends did that.
Well Saturday came round and the three friends arrived bright and early at the house with garden tools in hand. They were making an adventure out of the thing and laughed and joked as they dug and raked. In no time at all they had collected several large bags of grass and weeds and loaded them into Mike’s bakkie. There were quite a lot of twigs and branches in the bundle too and one of them suggested that they take it all home to Mike’s house, build a large bonfire and braai (barbecue) on the remaining coals to get some benefit from their labours. So they planted a patch of impatiens on the ground they had cleared on the shady side of the house and all went back to Mike’s to finish the job off in fine style. They enjoyed watching the roaring fire as the day darkened and the chops and boerewors (sausage) were duly braaid on the coals. Some of the garden refuse they burned had a bit of a stink to it but it all went well. After a while though, Sandy went rather quiet. When they asked her what was wrong she said she was feeling a bit strange and decided to go home and get an early night. The next morning she confirmed that she was fine again. She had felt funny but it had passed in the night.
“Well it‘s interesting” said Mike but I had very strange dreams last night. “Very vivid and a bit disconcerting. But I’m fine today. I wonder if there was something in the boerewors that triggered it”?
“Well I’m not trying to get in on the act” said Troon, “But I also felt a little bit strange last night. You must be right about the meat or something being a bit off .
They walked down Brown street on Sunday but Mrs Grey was not home yet. Neither was she home on Monday but on Tuesday she was there again, knitting away on her patio. The friends waved to her and asked how she was.
“I’m fine now” she said but not very cheerily. Perhaps she had not fully recovered yet from whatever ailed her? “But say kids” Mrs. Grey went on, “was it you who weeded and cleared my garden whilst I was away?”
“Yes” chorused the three happily. “It was us”. They smiled broadly at Mrs. Grey and waited for the warm words of gratitude – but they never came.
“I wish people wouldn’t interfere in other people’s lives” said Mrs. Grey in a tone that sounded for all the world like a reprimand. The friends were shocked into silence . They looked at each other and then, not knowing how to take the matter any further they all started backing away from Mrs. Grey’s gate and then turned and walked silently up the road.
“I wonder what that was all about?” said Sandy eventually.
“Who knows” said Troon. “Some people are just ungrateful I guess”.
They lapsed back into silence until eventually Mike started to talk again. “You remember how we all felt a bit strange after our braai the other night?”
“Yes” said Troon, we did. “It was a sort of disconnected feeling for me.
“Yes” confirmed Sandy. For me too. Very strange.
“Yes, strange” agreed Mike. – Does anyone know what it feels like to inhale the fumes of burning Marijuana leaves?”