Eighty seven minus twenty six

October 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

It seemed to blow up out of nowhere.

He’d been thinking about his leg and the operation, how the doctor had said he wasn’t to stress, how he shouldn’t still be working at eighty seven, but he’d shrugged it off, because you would, if this was your line. It’s not a job, it’s a vocation.

The kids today talk about vocations, vocational training, as if it’s something new. His brother’s grandson on about it, when what he’s doing is an apprenticeship, off to learn welding and about time too. Keep him out of his parents’ hair and out of the bloody police station and all.

But this, it’s a vocation. Ten rooms of sale items, and he knows what’s where, every object. Nowhere else like it in the north of England, he tells people. A million records. More than the BBC.

And then that bastard coming in, saying he left that chess set at the bungalow when he never did, and the old man’s adamant – you don’t get to eighty seven being soft and giving in – and the man’s calling him a liar, and it’s so fast and before you know it he’s threatening to have him killed. What sort of person would threaten a man of his years like that? Besides, what life could be wrung from him? He’d had his best times, long before. He’d the mill paid for, he knew what was in every room, on auction days they all still nodded, gave him the wink, but for the last twenty six years, he’s waited and wondered and kept himself busy but he’d have swapped all of it in an instant to have her back even for an hour.

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