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Grouphug | 14 comments ‘Um, hello...Dad? I mean you could be, you are! Just, will someone pick up the phone, please? Dad?’
Somebody had picked up. She could hear heavy breathing. It sounded like the noise of a raging bull.
‘Talk to me, please’
She could feel her loose change dwindling to her last five pence.
Now she was desperate. The phone box she was in felt like it was closing in on her and she was ashamed that she was sobbing. She really needed someone to be on end of this phone. She needed her dad.
She peered out of her prison. Around her was the darkness and above her dark clouds, looked like rain. The air was static. She felt so spooked all of a sudden and she shivered. It was a night for curling up in bed with Robert, for watching the TV, reading a good book, eating a box of Coco Pops, a bar of Galaxy chocolate. That’s what her mum would be doing.
She looked at the urn that was at her feet.
‘I don’t know what your looking at, it’s your fault’ she said to the urn ‘It is, don’t argue. I rescued you, I didn’t steal you’ She wiped her tears away. Tears were not going to work here. They never did work.
She dropped more money into the slot. She was afraid to leave the phone box. It was a solid connection to her dad, a way out and she had to get out. She held the phone to her ear. Maybe this time someone who did more than breathe would pick up and answer.
No luck. Heavy breather was still manning the phone.
‘Look’ she said ‘I’d like to talk to Brandon’
Nothing.
She flung down the phone in disgust. She would have to go there herself. To his flat. She called on one of Robert's mates to help her out.
He drove lorries and was making a delivery five miles from where she wanted to be. It was perfect and he was happy to help her. They all were, all of Robert's mates. They fell over themselves to help. To do or get anything she wanted.
She was touched, really she was but sometimes she wished it could be like it used to.
Robert’s mates would ignore her. Dismiss her as another one of his girlfriends. Then they realised it was serious so they tried not burping or farting when she was around and Tom broke the ice with a joke and they all started being, not friendly, they were always friendly but more open with her. They could talk about the trivial stuff and the heavier stuff.
Then...
She didn’t want to think about it. It had ended in a single hour, in a minute, a second and it was all over, taking her happiness with it, her life.
The closeness of his mates with them, her and Robert being ‘them’ together, linked. The endless days they spent as a group. Just messing around in the park after school. Go to Tom’s house for food. In school the group struggled. People tended to drift.
Tom let her sleep in the lorry. She slept and Tom drove.
‘Hey’ Tom said softly, shaking her awake gently. ‘We’re here, shall I stick around for you?’
‘Uh’ she coughed, her throat dry.
‘I got you water, here’ He handed her a cup. ‘I drank some of it, spilled it too. I’m sorry’
‘It’s OK. Hold on, where is the urn?’ Instantly my calm become panic.
‘It’s safe. I put him at your feet, look’
‘Oh thank God. Oh Tom I can't lose him’
‘I get the creeps thinking of it. I don’t know how you can carry it around with you. You don’t have to. You can let it go, you’ve got to’
‘I won’t’ she leaned back her seat, relaxing. She took a mouthful of water.
‘I can wait for you Scarlett. I can be you with you all day if you like’
‘It’s OK, you can go. I’m not sure if I can do this. Maybe we should both go back home’
‘I am not flirting with you when I say this but I need to book into a motel and go to bed. I’ve not slept and I am exhausted’
‘Can I come with you?’
‘Aw, no. You wanted to be here. To see your dad, right?’
‘Yes’
‘Now your here, you’ve got to see him. Seeing is believing. I believe, now I’ve seen those ashes’
‘I don’t want to be on my own’
‘We can come back here later. Looks dead, maybe it comes to life at night’
She stayed with Tom for the rest of the day.
For most of it he slept and she watched him sleep. Thinking of her dad and what he would be like. As a kid she had heard plenty of made up stores about him. He would be a dashing, handsome hero. When ever she hadn’t known anything, something she needed explaining and her mum wouldn't, or couldn’t explain then she would say ‘my dad would know, he would tell me and her mum would reply ‘your dad doesn’t know his arse from is elbow’
She didn’t know what to expect. Her mum gave her ideas of a dumb, oily, think he knows it all kind of man and she had imagined herself a hero. Maybe her mum was right. Would it matter? What if she met him and didn’t like him? What if her dad didn’t like her, what then?
Maybe he had decided to not to like her all those years ago before she had even been born. That’s why he never kept in touch, he wasn’t interested. She wouldn't know what to do, have to face her mum, go home and tell her. Mum would take great pleasure in saying ‘I told you so’
Mum hadn’t said everything had been bad. She did tell some nice stories of her dad. When they had liked each other. Things her dad did for her, played the clown.
She waited until seven. The time when Tom had said he wanted to be woken up.
‘I think I should go’
‘Yes, you should’ Tom said yawning.
‘I’m nervous’
‘Hey, come on. Nothing to be nervous of’
‘Oh, not much. Just that I am seeing my dad for, like, the first time in ten years’
‘I have to see my dad every day. I envy you, I do’
‘I like your dad’
‘Yeah? How about living with him? Hogging the bathroom every morning, singing, stinking of this knock off aftershave’
She laughed ‘I wouldn’t mind that’
‘Yes you would. I haven’t seen him so happy in my life. His divorce has made him Britain's happiest man’
‘How many times has your dad been married?’
‘Five times and he ain’t stopping yet. He’s addicted. I cant stop him’
‘I should warn my mum’
‘You should, yeah. No woman can resist him, once they smell him. They come running’
Tom dropped her off on the edge of the estate. The blocks of flats were stern, tall, imposing buildings, looming over them.
‘Will you be alright here, on your own?’ Tom asked.
‘I’ll be...OK’
‘Be careful of, you know, people’
‘I’ll be careful’ she stowed the urn safely in her bag and shouldered it.
Mum said this estate was full of losers. Mum called her dad a loser.
She waved goodbye to Tom.
She walked on, nervous of every person she met.
They didn’t look like losers.
They just looked angry, drunk, dazed.
She relaxed but the grip on her bag never loosened.
On a wall she passed sat a man who looked like the ghost of Jimi Hendrix. He laughed her way and raised a hand.
‘Evening, love’ he said. He sounded unlike Jimi Hendrix. He sounded like one of those old - fashioned English gentlemen. All this ghost needed was a bowler hat.
‘Evening’ I replied. My teeth were chattering from the cold.
‘Sit with me’
None too gracefully, hitching up her skirt, she hoisted herself onto the wall.
‘Do you know’ she said ‘a man living round here named Brandon?’
‘Oh yes. Everyone knows of him’
‘Do you know where I could find him?’
‘He’ll be in the pub, most likely. Friend of yours, is he?’
‘My dad’
‘I see. Do you want me to escort you to the Golden Pint? Pretty girl like you, can’ be too careful’
‘Yes, please. Thank you’
‘Give me a minute to find my head...and my legs’
Shocked I saw his legs has been cut off below the knee. He wore a prosthetic limb. He had it there beside him on the wall.
‘With these, I can go any way I want’
‘How?’ I uttered.
‘I am not sure how it works’
‘How did you lose your leg?’
‘I don’t like to talk about it. I am Jimi. It is a real delight to meet you, my love. I’ve been shut off from the company of women for a good few years’
‘Why, because of your leg?’
‘No, because I got married to a hag of a woman, very unforgiving, I am afraid to say’
‘Blinded by love’
‘No, blinded by the drink and me with my leg gone off I needed care around the clock, I wasn’t adjusting well, you see and this woman, my wife, was my nurse and she was so concerned for me. I felt I just had to marry her’
They both laughed and she helped him off the wall. He helped her by giving her a drink of something out of his flask. She didn’t ask what it was but it warmed her.
They set off.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Jamesdean wrote: "‘Um, hello...Dad? I mean you could be, you are! Just, will someone pick up the phone, please? Dad?’
Somebody had picked up. She could hear heavy breathing. It sounded like the noise of a raging bu..."


interesting


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