Written for JD Mader's 2minutesgo website. If you fancy writing or just reading, head over there this weekend. This one took longer than 2 minutes! :) Cheers
Harry never wanted to be normal, do the usual things, the average humdrum walking-through-life-not-seeing-it-really kind of normal. So he did everything in the book to prove he was otherwise. He grew his hair, got some tats, even a facial piercing or two.
And then he travelled. Everywhere. On a shoestring. And not the usual; the stuff that involved scaling mountains with one hand or hand-gliding in ill-advised weather, giving goofy looking pigeons a run for their money. And money was something he really didn’t have much of, or crave. He didn’t want the wife, Volvo and two-point-three kids, so he bought a guitar and played gigs for a bit, and took up painting houses. But then being skint got boring, so he got the only job that truly scared him: stuntman.
Ah, relationships. Well, he’d had more than his fair share of those. And fair they were, to be sure. Back in the day, he didn’t have to try too hard, there was always someone; always someone who took a shine to him, and whom he took one to back. It wasn’t that he wasn’t picky, he just loved women, and he fell in love or lust frequently. Of course, it wasn’t his fault that these things never worked out. He just never met the right woman who got him where you’re meant to be got. And when he’d finally given up on that, he met her.
Bang! Slap in the middle of town, outside the bookies, walking his so-not-normal dog. The one everyone crossed the road to avoid. His grin was like a graveyard of jagged canines, looking to rip your head off. But no, she bent down and stroked him, coo-ed and ahh-ed, and had the soppy old sod eating out of her hands in no time – both of them. One thing led to another and they married (not the dog). But even Martha couldn’t tame him. She came close, but that wandering spirit couldn’t be rested.
Thirty years of wedded bliss and then came ‘the affair’. It wasn’t even an affair to remember, but she couldn’t forget it. And he could never forget that she left. But he had the most wonderful daughter. She forgave him, still spoke to him. Harry read an article once, claiming people who could never settle, moved a lot, had the wanderlust, had many relationships, carried a special gene. He forgot the name, but some of the world’s greatest explorers had it. How he’d love to get tested for it.
It was just like him to be a stuntman, Martha always said, and “can’t you get a proper job?”. He’d never meant to make it a career. It just looked fun. A pitstop. A break in the road. But a whale of a time it was. He never meant to get a little bit famous, but that happened too. Some might say that’s almost normal, but he managed to put a crazy spin on it. Until the accident, the one that brought him here, to this bed in this ward, this piss-coloured place. Who chose this damn paint anyway?
Harry glanced down at the little face staring up at him through a shagpile mop of hair. “Did I drift off again, son?” he asked.
The boy nodded. “Were you daydreaming? I do that all the time.”
The old man laughed, knowing that dreaming was the start. “Yes. And I have some advice for you, son. Be normal!”
The boy screwed up his face.
“Be normal. Don’t stand out. It’s easier. No one will question anything you do. And everyone will understand you.”
The boy bit his tongue and shook his head. “But Mum will kill me!”
Harry turned to the bonnie, red-haired woman holding his hand on the other side of the bed, her eyes creased up in amusement. “He’s a chip off the old block, Dad. It’s too late now! Look at the example he’s had!”
“Well, I never approved of all your tattoos, Joy. Wait til you’re eighteen before you get one, son. These things stick with you for life.”
“Uh-mm, okay, granddad. Can I get a ring in my nose like you instead?”
Copyright Vickie Johnstone, Friday, 13 December, 2019