He removed a PDA from a zippered pocket on his thigh, walked up to the door and rang the bell. He could hear movement and judged it to be coming from the rear of the premises, the footsteps neared the other side of the door, but stopped short of opening it.
Declán rang the bell again. The resident had apparently decided the visitor wasn't going away and she opened the door to see Declán holding his PDA in one hand, studiously examining the device. "Mrs Bligh-Whallingsley?" The woman standing in the doorway shook her head. "Not surprised. My worksheet hasn't been correct all morning. I swear that technology is making things more complicated. It was much easier when we had clipboards."
The woman blinked as Declán continued with his spiel about being from the gas company and checking the area for leaks since a recent upgrade to services in the street. She asked to see his identification and nodded as laminated photo card was held up for her inspection before she ushered Declán inside.
It may have been second nature to check a workman's details, but she neglected to notice that they didn't mention the gas company. If asked she would not have been able to recall the name she read or that perhaps it was a little odd for a workman to be wearing leather. Five minutes after Declán left she would even be pressed to recall that she'd had a visitor.
As Declán wandered through to kitchen, he kept up his chatter, stopping only long enough to thrust his PDA into the dark recesses of cupboards, allow it to beep and take a brief note. It all looked very professional to a homeowner and allowed him to look around.
Amid a series of apologies and denigrating comments about the poor state of records in his company, Declán had managed to get the woman's name — Lindiwe Mzizana — learn that she was originally from Johannesburg, that she was staying with a friend — Nkosinathi Ngema — also from Johannesburg. An infectious smile, a shared disdain for the state of public utilities and a natural charm were all he needed to encourage the woman to talk.
Nodding, offering the odd agreement where necessary and politely declining the obligatory offer of tea, Declán allowed Mrs Mzizana to blather away to her heart's content, while he took notes on her, the condition of the house and any relevant identifying information she happened to mention.
The house was in need of repair, but had been kept neat and tidy. The kitchen was used for preparing and cooking meals rather than nuking ready made meals; African cuisine by the smells pervading the room and the vegetables and herbs on display. The living area confirmed that there was at least one adult male living in the house, but there was still no sign of a child having lived there.
Declán thanked Mrs Mzizana profusely for her help and assured her that her gas connection was safe and in perfect working order as he left, waving over his shoulder and throwing her an easy smile as he headed next door.
The door closed and Declán continued past the neighbour's house, flipped open the cover of his PDA and calling up the e-mail function, passed the information onto Wolf. There was something definitely off about Mrs Mzizana, but he couldn't put his finger on it. Shrugging to himself, he crossed the road and headed into the park. Perhaps watching Samuel playing football would jog something loose.
15minuteficlets — word #95: contagious
moonbeamsfanfic — challenge: declán and a child
Part of the Sangoma!verse and the Wolf&Declán!verse