Foggy Suburban Thoughts of Grace

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
An adolescent living with his widowed father deals with his changing world.

Submitted: November 20, 2011

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Submitted: November 20, 2011

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Foggy Suburban Thoughts of Grace

Lawrence had never been a particularly talented student. He was far more interested in things other than the academic, like sport, pop music and the mechanics of his bicycle. He was a dead loss when it came to study.

“You’ll not get anywhere if you don’t do well at school, lad,” his father lectured in his broad English accent. “You’ll need to work harder than t’others if you’re to get ahead.”

Lawrence grunted a solemn response, went to his room and pretended to do some homework. After listening to his favourite radio station for about half an hour, and thinking about tomorrow’s soccer game, he emerged claiming to have finished.

“I’m going to work on my bike, Dad.”

“Well, change out of uniform, for you go getting grease all over thou.”

After a quick change, he went out to the garage and put some air in the tyres with his father’s compressor. He turned on yet another radio to find out what was going on in the fabulous world of pop. He imagined himself as a DJ one day. They’d see how stupid it was to badger him into meaningless erudition, a word he had only heard his English teacher use. Lawrence didn’t know what it meant, and besides, he’d never heard it used on the radio.

When I have my own radio show, he thought, I’ll only play really good stuff. No soppy love songs and nothing with a violin in it either. Sometimes his fantasies would extend to owning his own radio station: Radio RAD FM. Great music all day long! No boring news reports and no boring talkback either. After wiping the handlebars and checking the brakes, he decided to ride to the shop. It was almost dusk, but he could go the back way to avoid traffic, down back lanes of mundane suburban brick and weatherboard houses.

He parked his bike roughly and went look at the ice creams. He selected a Memphis Meltdown and took it to the counter. Julie Brooks from his class served him.

“Hi, Larry.”

“Hi, Julie,” he replied showing her his purchase.

“That’s two fifty, thanks.”

“Here you go,” he said, handing her the exact change. “When is the next copy of Smash Hits coming out?” he asked of his favourite music magazine.

“Probably Tuesday.”

He thanked her and rode home eating his ice-cream, a task requiring skill and concentration. It was too cold to be eating ice-cream and he was too old for such childish fripperies. Other boys at school were smoking cigarettes and even drinking beer. Jake Goulding claimed to have done it with a girl, but no-one ever believed anything Jake said. He claimed to have climbed Mount Everest and that his father had incubated a dinosaur from a shell he’d found in the Great Sandy Desert. His imagination prompted at least one of his teachers to encourage his creativity, but he showed no interest in writing things down.

Lawrence turned into his driveway, past the innocuous shrub where his mother’s ashes had been scattered. It made him sad to think how she’d gone into hospital for minor surgery and died of complications. It didn’t seem fair. He parked his bike carefully and went inside. His father was cooking one of Lawrence’s favourite dishes: bangers and mash, with peas and carrots. After helping with the dishes he watched some TV with his dad, until his bed time rolled around.

“You’d best get a good night’s sleep, Lad. You’ve a big game tomorrow.”

“Awww,” he howled. “Can’t I watch a bit more?

“No, Lad. Off you go now.”

“That’s not fair.”

“Life’s not fair, son. Life’s not fair.”

The advice was hardly consoling, but he said goodnight and reluctantly made his way to his bedroom, wondering what was playing on the radio; probably Country and Western at this time of night.

 

The following morning was crisp and cool. There was a hint of frost on the lawn and the sky was clear and blue. He put on his dressing gown and joined his father in the kitchen.

“Grand day for a football match, Lad.”

“It looks a bit cold to me,” Lawrence replied.

“Cold! Cold! You don’t know the meaning of the word…” and began to describe the meteorological and climatic conditions of his homeland. He’d heard it all before and turned up the radio.

“Can I have bacon and beans for brecky, Dad.”

“No, Lad, you don’t want to go filling up on anything heavy before a match. There’s some porridge over on the stove, and some fruit on the sideboard. I was thinking we could go out for a treat after the game. If you win, that is.”

The last sentence sounded a bit gloomy, he thought. Did that mean if the team lost he wouldn’t get any lunch?

“Can we go to Maccas?”

“We’ll see, Lad. We’ll see.”

 

He showered and put on his soccer gear and eventually got into the car. They arrived at the ground and he joined his team-mates assembled around the coach. Meanwhile, his father joined in with the other boys’ dads. He was in his element with them, cracking jokes and laughing loudly at theirs. Jake Goulding’s father was spinning yarns at least as implausible as his son’s, and giving race tips to the supporters of both teams.

“Araby Boy in Race 5 at Sandymount. Put all your money on it.”

When all the team had assembled the coach began to discuss tactics with them. It was an important game, apparently. They all seemed to be important games these days, but this one would put them into the final, an achievement no-one had foreseen. Lawrence stood on the wing and watched the ball being kicked off. Several skirmishes took place up field, but the ball seldom seemed to come his way. A large group of boys seemed intent upon chasing the ball around the field, but he knew better than to leave his spot. The boy he was marking abandoned his place a few times to pursue the throng, but Lawrence stayed put. It was a basic rule of his coach and his father’s: stay put; don’t be a nomad.

His opposite number resumed his spot next to Lawrence, who had to endure his rough-house tactics, like spiteful, unprovoked shouldering, and sneaking up behind him and trying to trip him up. Of course, the ref was never watching. He was a very intimidating opponent. The ball suddenly landed a mere fifteen or twenty metres from them and they raced towards it, and Lawrence was able to get foot to it first and put the ball over the line.

 

 

His opponent prepared to take the throw as Lawrence returned to his spot and gazed for a moment at the off-field action. A group of boys were shooting hoops, while others were skateboarding on the skate park. He wondered what it would be like to go down the “Wall of Death”, as the highest wall was called, when he was struck solidly on the side of his head with the ball, which ricocheted back into touch. The other boy laughed as he collected the ball for the subsequent throw, while a fracas broke out amongst the men lining the touchline. Lawrence’s father and the other supporters considered it to be against the rules. Shortly after this the final whistle blew and the argument was forgotten. The final score: nil all, which meant his team didn’t make the final due to season goal aggregate, so he joined his father off the field.

“Good game, Lad. You did well enough agin’ tha’ big Laddie. Too bad about the result, eh. Still there’s always next year.”

The players and their fathers all said their respective goodbyes and made half-hearted promises to stay in touch during the off season.

“Where would you like to go for lunch, son?”

“Can’t we just go home, Da?”

“Are you sure now? I don’t mind shouting you summat special; once in a blue moon.”

“But we didn’t win.”

“No, but you didn’t lose either.”

“I’d just as sooner have bacon and beans. Like mum used to cook.”

“Alright, son. We’ll have that. Come on, the car’s over there,” he said pointing. “By the way, lad, what happened t’ward the end there? You didn’t seem to be paying attention. That big bloke hit you in side of face wi’ball! You should’ve ‘ad your eye on him. He plays a bit dirty, does that bugger, as far as I could see…”

Lawrence was no longer listening. He was watching the skateboarders and the basketball players on the concreted section of the path. They didn’t even wear helmets or knee-pads, he thought.

“Hey dad,” he asked interrupting his father’s post match analysis. “Can I get a skateboard?”

“A skateboard! What do you ever want with one of them? You’d break your blooming neck on one, I tell you. Anyway, look at the riff-raff that gather round over there. By crikey, some of them need a haircut, don’t they? They look like bloomin’ fuzzy wussies. Smokin’ fags and probably sniffing glue, or such like. You don’t want to be hangin’ around with the likes of them, lad.”

“What about a basketball?”

“We’ll see, lad. We’ll see.”

 

THE END


© Copyright 2017 Craig Davison. All rights reserved.

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