Francis was stoked to exploding point, as he remembered the events of the day before.
He stormed towards the garage, with evil in his heart.
As he pulled back the creaking and rotted door that scraped half-heartedly open, his eyes crossed with yet even more anger. The unwilling door eventually submitted to the lad’s aggression, gouging a groove in the drive, with the unhinged door bolt, making a neat crescent out of the tarmac. Flexing with stress, the door finally, yielded grudgingly.
Light spilled in, and a musty fusty smell, like damp hessian potato sacks, spilled out.
There stood his Papa’s prized possession, looking right back at him with the smiling chrome radiator. Daring, the boy to enter. The boy stood, with clenched fists as if to psyche out the dazzling, and every chance to be cherished, Ford Zodiac executive Mark 2.
Francis knew this would be the last thing, he was about to do, his Father would ever expect of him.
The glow of the polished bronze paintwork, beckoned him, he entered the garage stroking the side of the vehicle with his fingers, its full length. With feathery lightness he caressed the streamlined contours, of this stylish carriage, more suited for diplomats or ambassadors. It was the envy of all his Papa’s work colleagues, and rarely used for, the mundane trip to his factory. A powerful and beautiful car, that was showed off at weekends for completely gratuitous journeys, to get a newspaper, or a stick of bread.
Through the grimy, cobwebbed windows of the garage, broken sunshine caught the waxed surfaces and collided with the rich metallic. He opened the driver’s door, peering in. He wanted to pay his last respects. It was as if the boy wanted to say goodbye, with an element of respect. After all, his Father’s ‘carrying on’ was not the cars fault.
The smell of polished leather, and new carpet greeted him, as he slid, with a squeak behind the wheel and dashboard. His rear end, came to rest on the machined leather with a parping sound. A familiar sort of noise. The sort of noise that you disguise with a cough, in a doctor’s surgery, when the rub of your bottom on seats made of the same stuff causes embarrassment.
Walnut trim surrounded a sleek array of in-car entertainment and extreme luxury that
would make motorists drool.
He reminisced about the family runs to the beach, and the countryside. Picnics, in the forest. Weaving, through beautiful villages, over the Suffolk border, playing the usual ‘I – spy games’ with his sister, in between “are we nearly there yet?”
They would whittle away at their parents and wait for the well-timed snapping retort from their Father to ‘sit back and be quiet’ that silenced them only briefly.
Some I-spy games were all that his twin and he had between now and what seemed an eternity, especially when his Mama was navigating. Their Father huffed and tutted, as she single-handedly plunged the whole family into total disorientation. Hopelessly lost, and with a hot itchy back, Papa would wrestle the dog-eared, size of the planet, RAC map from his wife to try, and restore the faint hope in everyone, that they would at some stage get back on the original course.
Unfortunately, Tony Carvello was another who too would ‘get lost in his own kitchen’. Thus the typical Italian temper would ignite, some of the most colourful use of adjectives. The eyes of his Father would dilate, and narrow, and Charlotte and he would lay bets before the next lay-by as to who was geographically correct.
The rows would be of such ferocity, that one or the other of their parents, would exit the car and stride off into the sunset a full mile. While the remaining spouse with crossed arms, would sit defiantly, face of thunder and quietly fume.
Eventually, our unhappy wanderer, prodigal or not, would drag his or her sore feet back to the askew car. Starting, as a speck in the distance, and then arriving with the news, that this game was not a particularly intelligent one to play. Reluctant admissions of guilt would be whispered.
The dust would settle and his Papa and Mama, in a vague way, kissed and made up, we could continue on our way. Our intrepid motorists could begin again. Not before two cross-legged children would sigh with relief and beg for a roadside bush to water.
Francis often thanked his lucky stars, the family managed to get on a holiday at all.
Sometimes, parent’s sense of direction, or lack of it was the blind leading the blind. An undug potato had more navigational skills, that the both of them. To the road weary youngsters, it seemed logical to just ask a passer-by, but neither could stoop as low to get practical help in such situations from a complete stranger.
He was back in the garage. He was numb. He tried to switch the radio, on but he could not feel his fingers. Like, they had been nipped off, at the first joint, by blunt wire-cutters.
Sweat in tiny beads, found the easiest path to his chin, by gathering the fine dew across his fore-lip for extra ballast. His throat was as dry, caused by uncontrollable anxiety, and it felt like, he had been gargling with gravel.
He slid out tof the car and pressed the driver door closed and paused. He then walked to a corner of the ‘once in a blue moon’ junk-busted garage and after pulling a broken push lawnmower, from its lodge, found what he was looking for. A full gallon can, of rose pink emulsion. At his feet, a seven inch distemper paintbrush that he spun around in his hand, to examine nervously. It was a brand for its quality and prime horsehair. He gripped it like a six-gun.
Francis drew his rolled up shirtsleeve across his soggy brow, feeling that what he was about to do was like deflowering a virgin, not something he had experienced, but feeling just as nervous as if was about to anyway.’
His heart thudded like a wooden ruler held over the edge of a table and flipped with a forefinger. His chest, thought it might burst. It was for over six months he had woken each night with the same ‘bridder, bridder, bridder’ inside his ribcage. It was a night terror that was identical to the next. His screams would bring his Mother to his bedside. She would do what all good Mothers do and stroke his temples until the boy stopped shivering and he could let go of the clenched pillow voluntarily.
He never told his Mama, because it was about her.
He thought deeply about what he was about to do, and why. He rationalised and studied his motives. His dad had cheated on his Mama and that was it. He had to pay.
Francis now fired with fresh resentment, popped the lid off the giant can of sickly pink, and voted it his least favourite colour.
Francis was standing with his back to the grave, he had just dug, and waiting for someone to pull the trigger.
He whispered through his teeth.
“I’ll teach you Papa, once and for all.”
He muttered more curses, clenching the pink sopping brush,
Francis picked up the dripping brush held it out in front him.
Starting with the headlights he screwed the drooping weapon into the very eyes of his father’s treasured auto. Then in some furious dance he splashed the vile daub from tyre to top until all the paint was now evenly distributed over what was once a prestige vehicle, now looking like a huge, badly decorated blancmange trifle that looked like it had suffered a grenade attack.
He cast his eyes over the destruction, fell to the floor and cried inconsolably.
Then coming to his senses. Through a surge of second thoughts, he realised the gravity of what he had done and inevitable consequences and with dread and remorse, rose to his feet in blind panic.
Francis scrabbled to his feet, and picking up a fistful of dirty oil rags, began to try to rub the half drying dribbling paint off the bonnet of the car. It became painfully evident to the frantic Francis that his efforts produced none other than a grey murky ‘mousse’ that streaked and splattered across the metalwork and dripped off the insignia. However, he despaired. The car was curdled in a melted down candyfloss.
“NO, please, No!” He tried in vain, again to clean off the bedraggled car.
Feverishly, he sprawled across the sorry looking vehicle, now submerged in sludge and desperately flapped, from one end to the other. Fruitlessly, trying to bring the car back to its former glory. To his horror, this was not even slightly plausible given the extent of his vandalism.
He felt thick limbed, and lead eyed as he perused the carnage. Paint, sweat, mixed in his tears.
He stood with his head bowed, and as lifeless, as a spent ‘Lucifer’.
The boy, squirmed and coughed, with despair. Choking, with a stricken conscience, he fell upon the bonnet, with the same force, as if had the car had not been stationary, and hit him at full impact. He slid down the front of the bumper and clumped to the floor, in a dishevelled heap of hopeless emotion a second.
This time staring at the brush like he was holding the murder weapon. Through his torrent of tears, he through the brush hard at the corner of the garage, narrowly missing a mouse fleeing for its life.
His actions meant the death of hope.
Nothing, animal vegetable or mineral, would be the same again. He hoped, the white coat brigade would come and rescue him right now and wrestle his dribbling, twitching, broken mind and body, onto a stretcher. Then with time being of the essence, whisk him off with indecent haste to a local funny farm. Where, he could have his own straight jacket, and rubber room and electric shock therapy. There, he would swallow vast quantities of multicoloured ‘dolly mixtures’ and then sit, like a nodding idiot, looking out over rolling lawns, for the rest of his pathetic existence. The deafening silence, only broken by the occasional wail, or plaintive call for assistance.
This would be his destiny.
On Sundays, he would ask to be pushed a little closer to the window. Careful, to avoid the nurse coming around the corner to insist he urinate on cue, and face a life as black as a lorry-load of assholes.
Anything, Dads Zodiac was better than seeing his Mother disgraced ever again.