Settling In

Manda worked the 7am to 3pm shift. At first Mrs. Wolfe would awaken around five in the morning to the gentle clink-clink of Manda doing her morning workout with the weights. Eventually, it filled Mrs. Wolfe's dreams with images of doing wondrous things like climbing mountains, pushing aside heavy boulders, or performing acrobatic feats. If she could do such things, then she might even prove to be a hero someday.

Nevertheless, despite her strength Manda did not feel like much of a hero. She had been a Senior Constable for yonks and many of her mates had been promoted to Sergeant before her. She suspected she was being overlooked because of her gender, but she wanted to make that her last point of complaint if possible. One sure way to get the promotion was to spend a year doing booth duty at Flinders Street station. So when the position came up, she took it. Dumb.

Manda asked Mrs. Wolfe if she could tend her own flower boxes as a way to work out the frustration from work. She soon asked if she could also tend the gardens for the entire block. At first Mrs. Wolfe was loathe to give up a chore that she herself derived great pleasure, but she did have her own little garden on her patio, and her work around the block did seem to pile up. Eventually, she gave in. Of course Mrs. Wolfe only expected Manda to maintain the gardens, not entirely redo them. However, the results were stunning, so she left Manda to her own devices.

Manda had in mind to create the Victorian idea of an imperial Chinese garden. This would include roses, peonies and willows. She thought she might even build a little pond filled with golden sparkling carp. She checked out a few books from the East Melbourne library to give her some ideas and to make sure her work was authentic.

Digging and hoeing were Manda's favourite gardening activities. These she could do while muttering imprecations about the inanities of her current position. "They've got me sitting on my bum all day taking crap from Met inspectors and transit police," she would growl while pulverising a chunk of earth. "I can take the odd question about directions, but then you've got idiots like the fellow from the Village cinema dragging a patron three blocks to me just because he was playing with a laser pointer before the opening of a show. Oh god, this is not crime fighting. This is a bloody waste of time."

Of course Manda would watch when and how loud she would use strong language because across from Mrs. Wolfe's flats was the Powlett Reserve and a little kindergarten. Seeing the pre-schoolers also lightened Manda's day.


Pigs in the City
Copyright © 1999 Katherine Phelps
Story Shapes