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by Beverley, Napier, New Zealand


There was a new love in Ollie's life. He was the foreman of a road gang repairing the footpath outside our house. His luxuriant hair was tied back with a rubber band. His flowing folds of fat belied his strength. He was a giant of a man. We nicknamed him Samson.

Samson didn't feel the cold and wore shorts and singlet. John marvelled at Samson's thighs. "That man's thigh is the size of my waist," he exclaimed. John has meagre thighs and has never worn shorts since someone told him they'd 'seen better legs on crayfish'.

Ollie didn't get off to a good start with Samson. He found some sardine sandwiches in the cab of the truck and ate them. Surprisingly Samson was forgiving. I heard him telling Ollie he'd bring extra sandwiches in future.

The old concrete had to be broken up with a pneumatic drill. It was then that Ollie shone. He adored the pneumatic drill. He sat beside Samson and drooled as the ground shook and the neighbours jumped in their cars and took off to escape the noise.

"What a cat," said Samson admiringly at lunchtime. I noticed he was wearing Ollie around his neck as he devoured his sardine sandwiches. I know Ollie was equally as impressed with Samson. The folds of fat on the man must have been a delight for Ollie to explore to say say nothing of the heat generated.

When the concrete was broken up Samson was meticulous in his preparation for the new mix. The other men were delegated to dig up tree roots. Samson took measurements. Soon the truck arrived with the new mix and Samson was beside himself - smoothing and titivating - levelling concrete and shouting orders.

In the body of Samson lived the soul of an artiste. The footpath was his canvas and the pneumatic drill had been his paint brush. This would be the creation to end all creations. A pristine footpath, gleaming whitely in the sun - a footpath an artiste could be proud of.

We all arrived that morning for the unveiling, the rest of the road gang, Maurice from across the road, the drummer boy from next door and various interested spectators. The path had been covered with a tarpaulin, weighted down with bricks.

Samson flung back the tarpaulin and modestly stood back, waiting for the applause that was his due. The cat footprints marched down the centre of the concrete - set forever, like a star's footprints on the sidewalk of Hollywood.

I noticed that Ollie was smirking. I'll never know how he did it. I would have thought that the heavily weighted tarpaulin was impregnable. But the tell-tale marks of the concrete on Ollie's paws and fur told the story and were there for all to see.

I'll say one thing for Samson - he took the destruction of his masterpiece on the chin. I was the only one who noticed the glint of moisture in his eye.


Editor's note:

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