Thursday, February 23, 2012

Man of the House

His father told him he was staying with a friend, threw a holdall over his shoulder and walked away. From the doorstep the boy could hear his mother crying, an unfamiliar sound, somewhere upstairs. He understood that what had happened was irrevocable, that the 'friend' was a woman from the bank, younger than Mum, but thicker through the middle. But he didn't see what was worth getting upset about.

There were two ways of looking at it, he thought. He had either lost a parent (one who considered his home a sort of self-excavated oubliette, who forgot himself in televised golf for whole weekends at a time, a tactic of avoidance so classical in heritage and execution it was almost admirable - Pro-Ams, Japanese Senior Tour, WPGA, he'd watch it all, while his clubs rusted unswung in the carport, a caldera of arse-scuffed oxblood leather accommodating his crescent misery – gone now, though the golf bag remained, the mittened woods poking out from its top like reproachful civets) or gained one: a heavy-hipped woman not much older than him, numberwise. With a honest, open face and presumably an exploitable sense that she had wronged him, the son. More cash at Christmas, and the tantalising possibility that his newly single mother, trimmer than her replacement, though admittedly less honest and open of face, might herself find new love.

He shut the front door. Then he went and sat at his father's end of the sofa, and picked up the TV remote.