pearls around the neck • 71
His birthday was coming up, as it did every year… But what present could I possibly get him: my
husband had everything. Well, almost.
Suddenly, while I was taking a stroll in our garden, an idea sprang into my head: I was going to give
him a pond, a small aquatic estate with a stream and waterfalls, goldfish and the faint trickling sound of
water peacefully flowing into a small greenish blue, liquid expanse…
Right before me, where there only was a random accumulation of boulders and shrubs, I could see
a crystal clear water spring coming to life between gray rocks covered with soft emerald green moss,
and stones scattered as though some mad Japanese Kami had thrown them. I could see water trickling
down gently, into a first, deep pool in which Japanese Kois swam lazily. Giant rhubarb lined the banks
and a variety of sweet flags composed a green carpet of short iris-like leaves with white trimmings. The
stream flowed further down, following a bed of smooth pebbles bordered with cardamoms crowned
by their pink and white blossoms. A waterfall, a pond…surrounded by marsh sedge, fern trees, water
wisterias, and reeds reaching extravagantly for the sky. The pond simply imposed itself to my astounded
eyes; the vision of an aquatic Eden, wet, fertile, and rather…irrevocable: it had to be a pond!
But who could possibly build a pond for me in three weeks?
“No problem,” my neighbor, Maudy, instantly claimed. “Piece of cake,” she added with great
confidence. “I know a guy that can do this: Bob By the Pond”.
Back to reality.
Somehow, although I didn’t know why, I had a gut feeling about this.
However, having no other references, I dialed the number she’d given me. I didn’t understand a single
word of what the person at the other end of the line was saying to me. Bob and his southern drawl
unsettled me, by the trickle of purrs and whirs he was speaking into the line.
But in the end, he understood what I was telling him and repeated my address – which I no longer
recognized – arranging an appointment for the afternoon of the same day, at 5 pm: “At fiiiive. Ah’ll bee
A jade green, 1976 Cadillac Eldorado convertible pulled in and parked at the end of the driveway. The
two somewhat indefinable characters in it remained inside leisurely, smoking and listening to the radio,
which was blaring what I thought I recognized as “Suspicious Minds,” by our beloved Elvis…
I watched from the kitchen window, as discreetly as possible.
The unknown pair was smoking, impassibly. The man was nodding his head slowly to the rhythm of
the music while the woman was just smiling and regularly letting out puffs of smoke.
Was I supposed to go and see them?
Was it Bob?
“I’ve never lied to you, mmm, yeah, yeah…”
Elvis languorously finished his song and the couple decided to leave their coach.
I then saw them come up the steps, open the garden’s gate, and settle down on my terrace. The woman