Monday, 14 September 2020

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by Roger Noons


a bottle of Stella



After Mum died, I begged my father not to remarry. 
    ‘This house needs a woman,’ he insisted, but waited the acknowledged six months before he went through a private ceremony. So private, even I didn’t attend. In fact the first I knew of the event was after they returned from a weekend at the coast and she couldn’t resist waving her left hand around.
    ‘This is Shelley,’ he announced. 
    I nodded then left the room.
    Within a week I had acquired a new job; assistant manager at an hotel sixty miles away. I was provided with a standard room, so I could stay away from the newly weds.

It was the first week in December and we were beginning to become busy when she rang to say Dad wasn’t feeling well and acting funny. I’d had no time off since I started at The Crown, so my boss could hardly refuse my request. 
    I decided to walk from the station, use the time to get my thoughts in order and calm my attitude. I rang the bell four times before I heard the sound of a bolt being drawn back. I was confused when the door opened and my father stood blinking against the light.
    ‘Hello Son, come in.’
    ‘She rang me, said you weren’t feeling well?’
    ‘When?’
    ‘Three days ago. I couldn’t get away until today.’
    ‘Well, she’s gone … come inside; don’t want to talk on the doorstep.’
    I followed him along the hallway. He didn’t bother to switch on the light. In the kitchen, he waved me to a chair and opened the fridge door; handed me a can of Stella. He took a bottle of cider unscrewed the cap and put the bottle to his lips.   
    Without opening the can, I said, ‘What’s going on?’
    ‘She left, yesterday.’
    ‘Did you have a row?’
    ‘No more than usual.’
    Each second I became more confused, sat, shaking my head.
    ‘You were right Adam, I shouldn’t have married her. She wasn’t right for me, nor I for her. Said my lifestyle was too unconventional.’
    Before we could continue our conversation, the doorbell rang. He left to answer it. I  ring-pulled my can, took a swig, and stepped up to the window to look at the garden. Not ten yards away, either side of a heap of soil, were two uniformed police officers, each holding a spade.



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