by Robin Wrigley
pink gin & tonic
It was just past midnight when Geoff finally pulled into the car park at the back of their flat. A mixture of emotions flooded through his over-tired mind. Anger, fear, worry and sheer frustration fought to take priority. He switched off the ignition just as the Eagles were singing ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ on the CD player. He had played the album over and over on the day’s long and tedious journey, partly because it was the only one he had in the car but mainly because the songs suited his frame of mind.
Like many of his great ideas of late, it ended in failure; a pattern printed in his DNA inherited from his father, Henry. The idea was to get on the first chopper from the rig, miss the ritual piss-up in the ‘Drunken Sailor’ and be home before Dawn got in from work. The pile up and ensuing major traffic jam on the M62 put paid to that.
A quick glance at the parked cars showed Dawn’s car was not amongst them. He was just reaching for his phone when a car’s headlights lit up the car park; it was his wife’s car; she pulled in at the far end. He sat quietly watching her in his rear-view mirror as she walked somewhat unsteadily towards the flat’s entrance and entered the building.
Now he knew why she was not picking up any of his calls. Continuing to sit as calmly as he could he ran over in his mind what his options were? He played this mind game on a regular basis ever since he got the job on the rig. Discussing it with his best mate Gary during rest breaks in the energy sapping work, it never got beyond being told it was the nature of the beast working off shore.
He looked at the flowers he had bought at the service station and decided to leave them, pulled the ignition key out and climbed out of the car, locked it and headed for the flats’ entrance and climbed the stairs to the flat and went inside.
Dawn was sat at the kitchen table a glass of wine in one hand cigarette in the other.
‘You’re late aren’t you?’ Was the only greeting she offered as she took a sip of her drink.
‘Not as late as you, though, was I?’ Geoff was struggling to control an anger that had been building every time the numerous calls he made stuck on the motorway went unanswered. ‘Where the hell have you been to this bloody time?’
‘Nice to see you also Geoffrey,’ she attempted a small annoying smile. A smile that once he would have climbed the highest mountain for, now triggered a smouldering desire to knock it off her face.
The song carried on his head.
Using all the self-control he could muster he turned around and left the flat and returned to his car, climbed in and drove slowly away.
Entering the small street where he grew up, he felt a surge of nostalgia as he pulled up outside his mum’s terraced house. She and Geoff moved there a month after his father almost killed her twenty-five years ago. Looking at himself in the rear-view mirror he said half choking with tears, ‘You see, I’m not the bastard you were Henry, even though the fear that I would be has haunted me all my miserable life.’
Checking his key-ring to make sure he still had a key for the house, he picked up the flowers and got out of the car. Opening the front door careful not to make any noise he smiled a smile of regret remembering that she would not hear him anyway. His dad’s last beating had left her deaf as a post.