Tuesday, 27 August 2013

And they're off...


‘Who was that love?’
I hit the volume one two three bars louder.
“Looked like that was a bump on the rails there,we may well have a protest later but just behind…”
‘Who was that?’
‘Get outta the way woman.’ I sweep my arm through the air. Christ, can’t a man just watch his races on a Saturday afternoon? Haven’t I earned this? ‘It was just Stan.’
‘Oh, Stan. What did he want?’
‘Look at this folks, Atomic Force is charging through the middle. He’s come from the back of the pack and had to get there the long way but I don’t think they’re gonna catch him now. That’s a magnificent ride…”
‘Frank, what did he want?’
‘You bew-ty. You little bloody ripper. Clay’s dead. Thadda boy, I knew you could get him home.’
‘What? Frank, what do you mean Clay’s dead?’
‘Jees that’s a good win.’ I flick my eyes away from the telly to look at the wife, who’s face is screwed up somewhere between disbelief and disgust in me.
‘I don’t understand,’ she says, looking every bit as daft as the grandkids can.
‘I’m not sure how to break it down for you. Clay’s dead. It’s pretty simple.’
She grabs the remote.
‘Whoa, hang on there, I just want to check the places.’ 
She shuts down the telly just as they show that Horsethief Canyon came second at 12:1 and the favourite, Golden Willow, just held on to third by a nose.
‘But, he was just here the other day. He looked alright.’
‘Yeah well we all do and then we drop. That’s how it goes.’
‘That’s awful. How did he…what happened?’
‘Heart. Packed up a few days ago but no-one knew until the Bulgarian woman dropped in with her bucket and mops this morning.’
‘She's Romanian,' the missus says, like it matter. 'That’s awful.’ She wipes her hand on that damn floral apron she’s been wiping Mr Muscle and Domestos on for so many years the purple carnations are even more disfigured than her face is right now. ‘When will the funeral be held?’
‘Don’t know don’t care.’
‘Oh Frank, you have to pay your respects this time. You can’t miss another one.’

I don’t do funerals. When I retired I knew I’d run out of material. Nothing left to talk about so I don’t do anything bigger than a six. Got a wife a daughter a son-in-law and two grandkids and they don’t need me to talk when they come round. Daughter talks to her mother, son-in-law looks at his kids, captivated, like everything they come out with is genius. Like, ‘Daddy I can get my peas on my fork,’ is some kind of miracle. And mostly the little punks don’t need me to talk, they just yell out, ‘Grandpa, look at me? Can I do this? Look at what I can do,’ so mostly I’m good for the hellos, I’m fines, goodbye see you soon with them, and that’s all they need and sure is enough for me.

‘Paid my respects every Friday night for the past twenty five years and it was a whole lot more respectful when I talked to Stan and Stan talked back.’ I flick the tv back on.

'Grandpop, what does…’
‘Not now sonny jim. They’ll be lining up for the Sandown mile in a few minutes, and I gotta see what some of these old haymunchers have got left in them.’
‘But Grandpop, for homework I have to write a sentence with the word deceit in it.’
‘C’mon Paddy James, redeem yourself son. If you reach for that whip too late again you’ll be as washed up as that old beast you’re riding.’
The whippersnapper’s still there.
‘They’re lined up in the gates now. Just waiting for Brimstone, who we think could be running for the last time here today.’
‘Decent is letting an old man watch the Saturday afternoon races in peace.’
‘Lights on. And they’re off…’
‘Not decent, Grandpop…’
‘Damn straight it’s not decent. Come on Paddy James, don’t get boxed in now.’
‘Not decent, Grandpop, deceit.’
The kid’s standing in the corner holding a multi-coloured crayon and a notebook wrapped in paper with two rainbow-striped balloons on the cover.
‘Deceit is letting an old man get comfy in his favourite chair that’s got his arse marked in it even when he’s not there, and letting him think he can kick back and watch his races in peace, and then barging in here with your homework.
‘Dear me, Paddy James is having a shocking day today…’

Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge - see the ten words to be used in less than 1,000 words here

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