2/29/2020 Short Story Saturday:
Beckett’s Old Place
Large 4 bedroom house
Needs some work
He stands staring at the advertisement. His reflection in Lloyds Real Estate Agent’s window bounces back at him. He studies, for a second, the curvature of his face, the wrinkles, and the white hair. The words ‘needs some work’ means ‘dump’, he knows that, everyone knows that. Although he doesn’t have much money he can still turn his hand to most things.
The clerk looks up and he indicates the advertisement. She gives a quick smile, and pages a salesman. A young man, bedecked in a fancy suit, engaged with his phone, appears, looks him up and down and motions to an office.
‘Great choice there Mr…?’ He elucidates no response from the old man.
‘There’s been a dozen inquires already. I don’t expect this property to last long. These opportunities don’t come along very …’
‘There’s a well’
‘It’s off the grid’
‘The vendor’s looking for a quick sale, bought a place upstate, so a very reasonable…’
‘I’ll give ya $10,000.’
‘You’ve got to be kidding me! That’s an insult…damn you wasting my precious time, get out…’
‘My phone number…’ The salesman tosses it to the floor but the old man picks it up and leaves it on the counter.
‘Don’t bin it – you’ll need it.’
A smile crawls across a canvas not used to such movement. He stands on the sidewalk near Uncle Charlie’s old car. He’d learnt to drive in that old thing. Some good times were had. His head fills with voices, of his sister and the girl next door, a dog is barking somewhere way back in time, and his mother’s washing flaps in the breeze. His Pop sits on the porch swinging lazily in a hammock whistling some old song.
‘Hey there Becket. Ain’t seen you in a while.’
‘I hear tell ya bought tha’ place.’
‘Well ya heard right.’
Sheriff O’Malley is uneasy, rocking from foot to foot. ‘Lotta work for an old bloke.’
‘I’m used to whiling away me time.’
‘Ya not getting any younger.’
‘Wrongs need ta be put right.’
‘It’s been a long time Becket. ‘
‘That don’t change nuttin.’
‘Don’t you be makin trouble.’
As he walks through the house he notes; the structure‘s still solid, the wallpaper, faded and tattered, flutters, and a calendar locked in time shows September 1970. He stares at the number, circled in red, his 18th birthday.
The house fills with laughter around him. His young sister is chasing her best friend, giggling, around the lounge room table and mother is berefting them else they tip it over and spoil the wallpaper. Mother, so proud of her wallpaper, ordered it special from New York and had the post office lady quite put out. His girlfriend’s smile, fiancé, takes his breath away, she chose him over all those other boys more fancied than him. He has weather all the jealously, rivalry and bullying at school and all his plans, hope and dreams lay open in front of him.
Tonight’s a celebration. He’s just got his unrestricted drivers licence, and acceptance into Yale. How his parents have gone without so that he could go there. The party is rocking. His mom and pop proud as punch of their son. Relatives have come from far to wish him and his girl well.
The sound of car wheels skidding in the gravel and loud voices stab at the pleasantries. Drunk and disorderly they gate crash his celebration. Pushing and shoving a fight breaks out, a knife appears, and her life is taken. He gets blamed. Those young lads, Lloyd, O’Malley and the mayor’s boy.
His heart breaks again. At least he has his family home back. He continues his walk through the house and out the back. He runs his hand along the wall and finds the camouflaged latch, old and rusty it still opens. He runs his fingers over the smooth warm wood and the long cold metal barrels.
Tomorrow he will go and see ‘those young lads’ and right some wrongs.
Maree Collie loves the idea of Flash Fiction. So much to say in such a little space. She also dabbles in short stories, monologues and plays. Maree has had pieces published in anthologies, a play performed in 2018, and a monologue being performed currently. She has completed a BA in Professional and Creative Writing at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. https://collieflowers.wordpress.com