Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The Suit

It was in late September, just as the trees were beginning to turn shades of gold and auburn. A few weeks earlier Adam had moved into his new apartment, the first place that he ever considered to be truly his own. In the sense at least that he was the sole tenant (it was rented), that it was of reasonable quality and that he intended to stay for a while longer than a year. Taking these three factors into account meant that, in his opinion, the past three years living in student digs hadn’t counted as moving away from home, but rather that it had been something more of an extended trip, or life-lesson. It also meant that the rest of his earthly possessions needed to be boxed and moved because, as his mother had so eloquently put it: “We’re turning your room into a spare bedroom; and that doesn’t mean that you can let your friends stay in there when you come to visit.” Hence, he was planning to head home and complete the move, which actually only involved shifting two boxes of books and his funeral suit (which had only been worn once, at his grandfather’s funeral a year earlier). The plan was to head down on the Friday and come back on the Sunday. A simple plan, he hoped.

A few days before the Friday, he received a phone call from his father to confirm that he was, in fact, coming home for the weekend.

“Don’t worry about it Dad, it’s all sorted.”

But then of course he was lying.

A separate set of circumstances that occurred whilst he was heavily drunk resulted in him double-booking himself on the Friday night in question. These set of circumstances also happened to have occurred whilst he was deep in conversation with the attractive girl from IT at a spontaneous office outing (which he later discovered was all too common). He was carefully informed by several colleagues that you only got one chance with the attractive girl from IT and that if he had means and opportunity, he should take it. The result was that he was forced to phone his father on the Friday afternoon, make up a work related excuse, then promise him he would arrive first thing in the morning. Of course, he didn’t arrive first thing in the morning, because he was still slightly drunk at that time and didn’t want to wake up the attractive girl from IT, who he discovered quietly snoring on his pillow. He happened to note that she seemed fairly plain without any make up on but that he didn’t mind at all and that this just added to her charms.

When he did finally come home at a time closer to midday, he found that the house was in a mess and the curtains drawn. There were at least three bottles of Scotch in various states of emptiness and old take away boxes littered almost every open surface above the floor. The ash tray on the coffee table was full of black-grey detritus and at the head of that table, sitting almost ceremoniously, was his father; garbed in a black suit with his shoes polished to a shine and a half burnt-out cigarette placed between index and middle fingers. His top button remained undone and his tie untied. The greying mess of hair on his head looked ruffled and the lines in his face seemed somehow… deeper.

“Jesus, what’s going on?”

“Hey, son.” The middle aged man huffed and lifted himself out of the chair. “You got here just in time, your Granny and Aunts are about to arrive.”

“You look like you’re dressed for a funeral!”

“That’s because we’re going to one.”

“What do you mean?” Silence. “Dad?”

“It’s your mother. She died last week.”

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