Goodbye Mr A

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
Post crossbar and I was on the up. Me and Leigh clashed for what I hoped was the last time.

Submitted: October 04, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 04, 2016

A A A

A A A


My eye was only a weakness that everyone else could see. For me, desperation and slow progression had developed into something much more substantial. The patch hiding my eye was a lie. I wasn't suffering, I had become stronger and more self aware, that was my only consequence. Leigh no longer disturbed my confidence nor my ambition. He was going to leave. I wasn't delusional, I was winning.

 
Christmas was so close it was bumping into us, at least that's how I felt. It was an inconvenience and a  tool Leigh could use to try and rectify his failing balance of power in the house. If he thought he was going to evoke a thank you from me he was disgustingly ambitious. Not unless he was going to wrap up a one way ticket to the sun, then let me open it and see the lady-esque spelling of his name on the ticket. Never then would the conventional box of celebrations at Christmas be so apt and deserving.
 
It was now two days since me and the goal frame had words and my mum had taken me shopping. I was only here after several assurances that the money she was spending was hers and not lard mans. My mother confirmed, shaking her head in sorrow at the feud that wasn't going to end. I was shaking my head in sorrow also. Today was the Derby, the match I'd been preparing for when the crossbar gave me a head butt. If I'd have been allowed, I would've played, I'd said it would take a huge effort to keep me at bay and it had. 
 
Christmas Day arrived and with it arrived a wave of awkwardness that engulfed the house. Glancing down at tags written so obviously by my mother that bore the words "Love From Mum and Leigh" sickened me. They weren't from him and the label was just the desperation of my mother to validate the notion that we were a family. In short, it was bullshit. But still, Christmas was alright and a far cry from last year's shambles. I had new football gear to try out and I wasn't going to spend longer in the company of Leigh than I should. He had received a keyring that beeped or played a tune when you whistled. It was supposed to ensure you never lost your keys, unless of course you lost them somewhere outside of hearing range. It was sensitive. Ashley and Rachel's voice even set it off. I'm glad Mum had got him something shitty, even if unintentional.
 
I messaged everyone on presumably new laptops and PCs and we were set for John Henry.
 
This was Christmas. A kick about with your mates, free from the threat of some jobsworth kicking us off the pitch. I began to forget that my eye was only held together by heavy stitching. It really was heavy. If my eyelid had biceps he'd be getting all the girls now. 
 
On the way back Gary suggested we have a party at his sisters' place. I was up for that but I'd remembered we were all meant to be going round to Leigh's dad's place in Sandy. Fuck that. I didn't want to be part of his facade, his fake family. This was my real belonging: I had to get out of going there. I needed as cunning a plan as ever.
 
"I feel sick." Was the best my addled brain could muster. Half bunched over in phantom cramp that didn't exist I held my stomach for emphasis.
 
"Lie down when you get to Leigh's dads." My mother suggested, not aware that I was trying to suggest that I stay home. I couldn't lie down there, that would make it worse. First having to be there and then having to do nothing and pretend I was ill. Nah.
 
"I should stay." I crooned, my voice nearly bordering a cough, which of course wasn't relevant, but it comprised that voice everybody puts on when they're trying to feign illness. Why do we do that?
 
"Of course not. It's Christmas, I'm not going to leave you here." My mother wasn't budging. Leigh wasn't exactly as spiriting as her in persuading me to go. He span his keys round his fat thumb whilst I thought of measures much more cunning.
 
I had left a trump card in the bathroom just in case. An old trick of Joe's I had ready to deploy. Closed door, gagging sound and then pour the glass of water into the toilet. Flush away and then you were seemingly just sick. Genius.
 
"You really weren't kidding. You are ill." My mother held her hand to my head as if her fingers had mercury to read me in degrees. Leigh's agitation began to manifest in grunts and faster spinning keys. What more could I do now. With a silent strop that only I knew of, my legs took me to the car. The engine rattled and we left Berwick. As the car scaled the bridge I grew in bitter frustration at my failure. Why was this so difficult? Why couldn't they just leave me at home? Why do they want to take someone throwing up to someone else's house. Fuck it, I should've tried harder. I still could.
 
"Stop the car Mum. I need to be sick."
 
One last grasp at return. Although no glass of water to authenticate me. Just pure pretend. Gags of deception broke the winter air as I tried desperately to fool everyone that I was about to hurl.
 
"Leigh, I'll take him home and stay." My mother conceded.
 
For fuck sake, that was no good!
 
"No it's fine Mum, I'll go, I feel a little better after that." Of course that was bullshit, I hadn't felt ill and I certainly didn't feel better now that my plans were down the toilet. It looked like I was off to Leigh's dad's house. Yay! Whoop! Fuck!
 
Once there, I did my best protractor impression and performed a 180 on the sickness, by eating everything in sight. Turkey, nuts, bacon, crisps, more turkey. I ate so much that a genuine subtle nausea befriended me. This would be ironic.
 
I spent a large part of the evening in the next room playing Stick Football on the pc. I finally managed to reach the final match, succumbing to an accidental own goal in extra time. This ended my chances by my own hand. His house sucked.
 
That night, I watched a DVD of Shankly's era. Though he was dead and had been long before I ever was anything, his words were alive in my ambitions. In love with his surroundings and defiantly ensuring he and his team were the best, he blossomed the hope I had dawning of being great and happy again. I guess I was sort of happy again. Even though we still lived amongst a tyrant, I'd managed to reignite my spark. I was in danger of thriving and although wanting to remain grounded, I knew it. I knew secretly that my life was on the up, it was just scary to assume, that was all. The thrill of hope condensed me into slumber. Asleep all smiles. I believed in the future.
 
Boxing Day and the stitches were ready to come out. As I sat awaiting torture, I wondered if these stitches could've been dissolvable. Perhaps it was a lesson? I expected had they filmed this it would be the type of thing paranoid safety groups show kids in school to ward them from the dangers of football in the dark on land you haven't paid for. A paranoid voiceover would of course narrate: "Don't play football kids, you could end up like this poor six foot tall, twenty something looking kid and have scissors in your eye. You don't want scissors in the eye kid, do ya?"
 
Scissors in the eye is a problem. Firstly because it was painful as fuck, and secondly:
 
You can't look away! It's fucking terrifying! It's in your fucking eye! I wasn't one of those weirdos that could roll there eyes back and try and spy on their brain. I had no choice but to look. Each snip recoiled onto my delicate eye lid, which was at least held together again. 
 
It had only been a week since the accident and you wouldn't know I'd ever been hurt otherwise. The six week estimation the doctors had delivered now looked like it had been read from a different patients notes. I had only needed a week for complete restoration. I imagined that somewhere there was a woman somewhere playing tennis, tearing stitches out, who had been told she could return to sports a week after giving a caesarean birth. So it was now back to John Henry for me. Bizarrely, everyone now had greater concern for me now the stitches were out.
 
"Go in goal or something Tom. I don't wanna feel responsible when you head the ball and your eye falls out." Rhys teased. I was aware that he probably just wanted what he perceived to be a half decent keeper in the net. 
 
"When the fuck do I head the ball Rhys? Apart from that one time I scored that beauty and snugged you off in front of Mr Moore." I smirked.
 
"Alright, if you save this penalty, then I'll play with you out on pitch." He began to stride towards the ball that was, with the utmost convenience to his cause, say soundly on the dot. I knew that my body language had already committed to this bet and I now had to provide a barrier from the net. Rhys' conviction smacked the ball and it twirled to my weaker left side. My reactions not enough to stop it and Rhys gritting his teeth with imminent pride.
 
Smack. The post.
 
Smack. My eye.
 
My left eye. My bad eye.
 
Yes the ball had spent no more than a millisecond in contact with the post. It had then raged off it and flew at me. Me and my bloody reactions meant my head had turned instinctively and bang. My eye. My left eye. My bad eye. I held it before pain had arrived. I needn't. I was fine.
 
Rhys' roar of laughter hit me too but instead of allowing him his glory, I punched the air in victory. He may hit the post but then I saved it. He didn't miss. I had saved it. His laughter ceased to an abrupt stutter as he allowed the facts to sink in. He turned to face the pitch. I would play outfield against him. 
 
Football had been my driving force, the good guy to rescue me from the problems embedded at home. But for every good guy there must be a bad guy. And what better way for Leigh to cement his place as the villain, than to step up his campaign to stop me playing the beautiful game. If my hand injury had stirred his interest in retiring me from sport, then this eye injury was going to satisfy his fetish for it.
 
We had a game on the 29th and I was certain to start. I was in the form of my life and had declared myself fit to play. Phil had been surprised to hear from me after the derby game, considering that when Reece and Chris scored they pointed to the sky in tribute, as if I was dead. Then they had further smoked the fire, when they told Phil I was dead. It was slightly believable, I had told everyone that nothing would keep me from that game. In fact, had it not been for my mum and Leigh's insistence, I would've played.
 
The 28th and everyone had received a phone call to tell them when and where to meet for tomorrow's fixture. Everyone but me. This couldn't be right. I waited anxiously for a few hours and then rang him to try and clear up this mistake. Phil was confused.
 
"Your Dad answered and said you were ill." He said, bemused by the query.
 
"Well I'm not." I stated, loud enough for the boulder in the next room to hear me. I thought he would react but there was a menacing nothing. Why was he just taking this? He clearly hadn't given up on his campaign. My dad? Please! He wasn't even worth step dad. There were orphans I was jealous of.
 
Fuck it, it didn't matter, all I needed was my boots. My boots! Where the fuck were they?! Not in the hallway. Fuck. It's not like they had a spare of size twelves at an under 18s team. Shit. Wait! Of course. Him.
 
I knew where he'd hide them. Without any evidence I just knew. I could second guess his mindset. His car. All I needed were his keys, his...... now singing whistling keys. For fuck sake!
 
First I needed to find them. What if he had them on him?! I spied with as much closer ambiguity as possible. The keys were on the sofa, suffering the unbearable punishment of having him sit on them. I could see a tiny key gasping for air. I needed him out of that chair. I also needed him to not realise why? Plan time.
 
"Leigh, come and read this quickly." I had searched some bullshit transfer rumour surrounding Newcastle and knew I had seconds to react. Once he perched himself in the kitchen I seized my chance. I bunched the keys tight in my palm and moved them to the other side of the living room. Hidden behind the other sofa, I could retrieve those without much concern. Leigh re-entered and sat down once again on the sofa, mercy given to the keys that no longer had him on top of them. 
 
I bent down to clear up presents and take them upstairs. The noise of this masked my capture of the keys. Squeezed tight, I wandered to the hallway and quickly snatched at the front door. The keys began to beep.
 
Fuck. They really were sensitive. I waited for his ears to realise my crime. Seconds of silence passed and somehow he hadn't heard. I jokingly mopped by brow and they sing once more.
 
Shut the fuck up! This keyring was a nightmare! I whisked my way towards his car before the keys tried to alert their owner once more. There they were. My beautiful boots. He really had his them. One day I dreamed that one of these studs may break his leg. Of course they wouldn't, that would be ridiculous. There's no way I could've ever penetrated the layers of fat that coated his greedy bones. I think he bled brie he ate it so often. Of course I couldn't go back inside with these boots, I had to play my own game of hide and seek. I walked over to Gary's and hid them in his recycling bin, it's not like they were in any danger of being discovered or being collected at Gary's. 
 
Phew.
 
Back inside I hung up the keys in their rightful home on the rack. Would he notice? Who gave a fuck? All that mattered was that they were now in my possession. I was not the same Tom he could bully and manipulate. Post-crossbar me was a vibrant challenge. If I had ever been genuinely unable to play at any point I could understand but this monster had tried to stop me playing because of my hand when I could perform knuckle press ups with him. Care and concern were a cloak of his deceptive bullying. Not any more. 
 
The next night brought the obvious. Leigh had become aware that there were two boots not in his boot. He began at my mother before me.
 
"He's stolen them. He's stolen them from me." Leigh dared yell theft. That was rich. He'd had to steal them from me to put them in the car.
 
"Nice one, would you report the police for theft of they seized stolen goods from you?" I retorted.
 
He clasped open his eyes wide and stared at my mother for support. His trademark thigh slap irritated me further and I awaited further scolding from my mother.
 
"Thomas, why did you take the boots?" She asked, with unexpected politeness.
 
"Oh yeah, coz they're mine, so I didn't steal them, I took them back. He stole them. I don't know why he's jealous that I play football and he doesn't." I knew what I was doing here, I had begun to understand what buttons worked when pushed. It was ambiguous but implicit of the ten stone weight gap between us. I could run and couldn't. I could play and he couldn't. I had friends and he didn't. His eyes sought help from my mum once again.
 
All three of us treated with unusual unison to the kitchen table. The table had played host to a catalogue of rows and one day it had to be the last. I longed for the day when it only needed to be divided into quarters again to seat us all. 
 
"What's your fucking problem?!" Leigh shook, uncomfortable with how the situation was unfolding. I had him rattled so I played the silent game again. 
 
"What is your problem?!" He tried again. I just glared. A warm smile enveloped inside me.
 
"What's your problem Thomas?" It was my mother turn now, although she was uncharacteristically calm about this all. "Is it me?" She asked. "Is it Leigh?"
 
I was going to say nothing. Instead my eyes spoke. I flicked then from her to him like an arrow, back and forth. It was so obvious what I was doing. Implicit but blatant.
 
"What is it Thomas?"
 
Was she serious?
 
Again my eyes flicked between. This time with more venom and direction.
 
 "What is it?" She couldn't be serious? Even the cats knew what I was doing at this rate. I threw my eyes again at least a dozen times. They were sore now. Leigh had enough of his silent humiliation.
 
"It's me, clearly." He conceded, and threw the chair aside. "I can't deal with him Sharon, I've had enough, I'm going!"
 
He meant going as in moving out right, not like going out. Fuck his ambiguity!
 
My mother walked after him and I followed suit.
 
"He knows what he's fucking doing?" He alleged. Too right I did cunt. I was back and in business. I didn't care how he left, I didn't care if I looked selfish. If he'd have been hit by a bus I'd have bought shares in Arriva.
 
"Look at him, he knows what he's doing! He's never wanted me here!" At least his allegations were correct. Leigh then half stepped towards me to assert himself. Leigh had never been physical and only taunted that he could handle himself if needed. Would he be violent. I fucking hoped so! Prison for you tubs!
 
"Why do you think he doesn't want you here?! Why would he? You don't like him and you've never made an effort with him! You're fucking horrible to him!" My Mum said.
 
Did that really just come out of her mouth?! This was sensational. I stared at her in disbelief. She was stood in front of me, protecting me from his half step. Did she actually just defend me against Leigh? Could this be real?! Mum, are you back? Was she the Mum of old? Had she been hit on the head too? This was a revelation!
 
For once, this financial felon had his cocky mask of confidence ruffled. My mother's words had shocked everyone. Leigh had his mouthed posed in that melodramatic, damsel in distress style, but then again, so did I.
 
"Why do you think he doesn't want you here?! Because you're nothing but horrible to him. You are why he's like this!" My mother roared at him in the way I had been for the last eighteen months. Now, at last, she was protecting me. She even stood in front me, not allowing his evil eye contact to stare me down. His trademark slap on the thigh accompanied words I'd longed to hear since this era began. 
 
"I'm moving back to my flat." He said, an apathetic defiance haunted each syllable. Still, whether he thought this would enlist my mother to her knees begging him to stay or not didn't bother me. He had finally began to understand what it was to be on the losing side. Struggling, faded and overpowered. He was resorting to trump cards and last straws.
 
Go on. Leave you fat bastard.
 
The next day passed without incident. Of course I am referring to dialogue between me and Leigh as incident. The only evidence of change was a large suitcase, presumably packed with Leigh's things. I knew there was no way that contained everything. The geezer had a fucking piano in the living room. Unless he had Tom and Jerry's pockets, he wasn't nearly as close to leaving as I ambitiously hoped. Maybe I was mistaken, that suitcase could easily just be tubby's packed lunch. 
 
Screwin'.
 
The only solace to extract from their argument was that my mother now mirrored me, in that she wasn't talking to him. I think he thought he was going to renegade on his kind gesture to get the fuck out. I hoped not. With all the hope I had in the world, I begged on my knees that it would soon be over. 
 
New Year's was decent. A contrast to the last one where I had been plagued by toothache and immersed in the misery of Leigh's early spell. Me, Ryan and Joe drank away at Mr Mott's house, discussing hopes for the future in a deep philosophical manner, followed by a juvenile prank call. I say juvenile, my prank calls always had narrative and structure. I thought hard about them. 
 
Me and Ryan secured a bettered friendship than what we'd had before and it was another ally I could add to my roster. 
 
Five days into the new year and so far no change of any kind. 2008 had the perfect set of conditions to be my year. Its infancy had Leigh on a knife edge and it had been such a long time since I could say things had been good. Five days in this potential transition was an unbearable age. Something had to change or my hope and expectation had been completely synthetic. 
 
Five days in.
 
Upstairs and I could overhear a phone call, an angry phone call. My mother spat her words at the receiver. I tried, with the cover of her bedroom door, to evaluate who and what was being discussed. 
 
"You messaged her saying oh you look so good tonight. I've read it Leigh." My mother stated, condescending in tone.
 
One of them then hung up and I waited a minute before knocking on the door. I didn't want it to be so apparent that I had heard the call.
 
"Mum, what's happened?" I asked. My voice was sincere but strayed itself over to subtle excitement.
 
"It's Leigh, he's been cheating on me, for months."
 
She sounded more harassed and annoyed by it rather than caught in the pursuit of sadness. Her face frowned in agitation that he'd been unnoticed, rather than the betrayal itself.
 
"Oh." I came my meek gasp.
 
Leigh had been cheating. Now Leigh had been caught cheating. I no longer need Leigh to remove himself from the situation, instead, the only other gatekeeper in existence had banished him. It was over. Just like that. I didn't know what to make of it, it didn't conform to how I'd pictured it so many times. I always imagined a fiery showdown of screaming, followed by him doing something stupid or threatening to make him leave. Then my mother casting him out into the concreted wilderness, a harsh wind striking and stealing the warm air of the inside as the door would be thrust open. Leaves swirling at high speeds and curtains jumping up and down. Him begrudgingly accepting his fate, slowly moping as he waddled outside. Him turning with his plump cheeks saddled as a frown, hoping for respite, only for me to slam the door with a year's anguish. His nose gently bleeding as the door made contact, his frown still undisturbed. 
 
None of that. Just, he wasn't coming back. He wasn't ever coming back. Fuck yes! He wasn't ever coming back. Silent celebrations began kicking off inside my mind. Every cell danced a small jig I would never be able to perform myself. It was over. It was finally over. But my celebrations would be held to a sentence of imposed silence. My mother was distraught. I felt sorry for her, I really did, but I had pleaded with a power that I didn't care how he left. Nothing had changed.
 
I journeyed for the door to deliver the good news to everyone else when I was stopped. Rachel, with arms folded, asked the question someone had to answer. 
 
"What's wrong with mum?"
 
My face shuddered as I struggled to grasp to think up an alternative to the truth. You don't tell a six year old her potential step-dad is an unfaithful fat liar do you? Do you? I wanted to tell her that. I looked at her in expected hope that she would never have to deal with a situation like this. Not now he was gone. Leigh's infection of our home was curable. Infidelity was the antidote. 
 
"I know." She stated. "Leigh's been cheating on her and he's gone now, isn't he?"
 
She posed it as a question but I doubted her statement could ever be identified as one. Rachel didn't wait for my reply and her legs began a subtle retreat to the living room.
 
I nodded, hesitantly. Did it really matter? She'd notice when he never came back. Either that or the wind would change and a grin would forever be a feature of my face. Then everyone would know. Bloody intuitive six year old. A psychic, a prodigy or just that the signs that something in their relationship was so wrong that even the eyes of a child were enough to expose it.
 
Tyranny had an epilogue in Berwick that day. I, at last, had genuine hope and happiness. My life belonged to my own dictation once again. My new metaphor had its biggest day thus far. An Independence Day. Leigh's era now existed as a harsh and haunting allegory.
 
Happy chapters, you may resume. 


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