Beachum stops at the Bi Lo to get his latest prescription filled. While he’s waiting he looks for something to kill the cat, some kind of poison. He looks up and down the aisles. It appears that grocery stores do not carry poison anymore.
“Where would I find the poison?” he asks the pharmacist
“What kind of poison are you looking for?” asks the pharmacist. He acts as if the mere contemplation of such a question has given him indigestion.
“Something that will kill a cat.”
The pharmacist sighs. “There are many things that will kill a cat,” he says stapling a sheaf of instructions and disclaimers six inches thick to the bag containing Beachum’s prescription that no one, least of all old Beachum, will ever read.
“Can you recommend something?”
The pharmacist shakes his head sadly. “No,” he says.
And now little Charlie is banging on the door. He doesn’t understand why his dad has locked himself in there, and neither do I. All I know is that I started looking at myself in the mirror and now I can’t get out. And I’m sweating through my shirt, my tie hanging undone around my neck. And I’ve only just realised that my trousers are down around my ankles. I’m ridiculous. A grown man rooted to the floor with his trousers down. Imagine if Charlie was to see that? He’d be traumatised, confused, even more than I am.
The grass was wet round the back of the job centre; ten am here was a damp ass and frozen toes. Stella pulled a 70cl bottle of Gordon’s Sloe Gin that she didn’t pay for out of her bag, slotted it between her thighs, and rolled a cigarette she didn’t plan to smoke.
Pineapple yoghurt. Trifle. The last few months he wanted milky things. I bought a bottle of Rémy Martin. He took a sip, made a face. ‘It’s too much now, too strong. I’m sorry,’ he said.
‘I need a lift you see.’
My voice strains to be heard outside Mike’s house. There’s a hot stink of ale chasing him out the door, a cigarette resting along his ear, and a slapped cheek look about his face. He looks down from his considerable height, bolstered by the chunky doorstep. He is a statue on his plinth and I’m a beggar with a crutch.
It was a Monday morning. A village hen clucked at the assembly, looking for its youngling. The school principal, Mister Rakobo, went off with the hen, leaving the assembly divided into several assemblies. The Mocking Birds choral conductor raised a hand, calming the sopranos and tenors that were going this way and that. “Whose mother is that?” inquired some. “Someone must have stolen money or something,” speculated some. “A family death? A bullying case?” Some concluded that this was not the case.
Wonder had him in its grip and worked him over, tossing him into past years as clean as a pistol shot. More than half a century flipped through his movie mind, stopping whenever he wanted, at whatever spot and breaking loose the sounds, the smells, the fingers touching, the skin knowing again, rocking him with total recall. He saw again the older woman who paraded nude behind a window, who finally beckoned when he was on the way to school one day, calling him on to manhood, and to silence and war, and to the eternal draw.