From the moment he saw it, that wet pink slip of paper wedged into the hedge, he knew that it was a lottery ticket. Always conscientious and meticulous he picked it up and put it along with the other pieces of litter from his walk into the now rather bulging coat pocket.
He was not a curious man and had always been a quiet neighbour. Some had said that his wife had died a few years back but everyone he met gave him the courtesy of a reply to his ‘good morning or good evening’, such was the makeup of the street in which he lived.
Stopping by the newsagent, he took the rubbish from the coat and placed it carefully into the wire bin. Two tins, a plastic bottle, a glove and a sweet paper joined the detritus of modern fast snacking wrappers that would be collected later in the day. Except, and he never thought much of it, the lottery ticket seemed to stick to his hand, maybe because it was wet. He folded the paper oblong in half and put it carefully in his wallet and forgot all about it,
That was Monday.
Over the rest of the week, not much happened. His life revolved around daily walks, reading the newspapers in the library, the Thursday ‘seniors’ lunch at The Feathers and his weekly treat of ‘silver screen’ on Saturday. He always dressed well, had a clipped mustache and polished shoes. Only he knew that his pension was just adequate, and took care not to be a worry to his family or even himself in the matter of finances. Money to him was not to be discussed, like politics, over breakfast. However, as he lived alone that problem never arose.
His house was modest, detached with two elm trees providing more than enough shade to the front lawn that was dreary, damp and moss thick. The smell and decay of the rotting leaves reminded him of the hill station outside Dehradun where he was born.
He liked the darkness of the house, the narrow hall leading to the drawing room with french windows that opened to an overgrown garden that had tall bamboo plants fighting for space with the ferns and roses. Sepia stained photographs in polished frames explained his life far away from Esher. The faces on them looked out from behind picket gates, in groups of military men seated as if on a pyramid grid and of course, there were hunting dogs with their quarry.
On Sundays he reconciled the bank account, sitting at his father’s desk with its blotched green blotting paper.
Staring at the debit balance, scarcely able believe that he had so badly miscalculated he noticed that the monthly Indian Army Pension credit had been reversed out the account with a reference of AODP. He rose to the bookcase and found the pensions booklet dated 1953 and under advice, AODP was the acronym for Advice of Death of Pensioner.
He felt sick and grabbed the bookcase to steady himself and turning quickly felt his jacket catch, tearing the breast pocket lining, spilling his wallet onto the floor. He bent down slowly and picked it up by one corner. The credit cards and licences slid out leaving the folded paper hiding in the creases.