Sirens up and down Hull Rd are hard for meditation and Ben suggests taking a break from the house. He is growing his gray hair into a pony tail and the kids are egging him on to get dreads. “Seen Frankie?”
“Nope,” he replies and helps me into my jacket.
“I think he’s got a girlfriend.”
“You always think that.”
It is hard to hold hands and walk at our different rhythms but we do it anyway.
The railways bench near the pedestrian lights is weathered. Flowers have been placed on it, and cards . Quiet suburbs ought to be quiet, but this station has drug pushers and chromers.
The video store is next to the supermarket, past the petrol station and some empty looking eateries. The real estate agent’s piped Vivaldi overrides the recently installed Beethoven at the station. Two cops stand near the rails three meters away looking like they are about to play bongo drums.
One of those cops punched my oldest son to the ground for giving him lip. Frankie has hair dyed red at the base and orange and yellow towards the ends. He has brought home another ticket for jaywalking. My astrologer says Frankie has money and power all over his chart, an ideal candidate for a career in the police force, or as the head of a corporation, or even the president of a country. He’s only seen a chart like Frankie’s in, he pauses and coughs and changes his mind about telling me. Great future, he says.
Frankie is standing behind the bench and a young girl in black leather is giving him a voluptuous hug.
Don’t stare, I say.
I’m not, Ben replies.
He starts to cross the road.
Chrysanthemums aren’t my favorite flower. The bench has been decorated by teenage girls who haven’t learnt about flower shopping. Frankie says the boy who got pushed in front of the train was a dickhead, a boy who picked fights and beat up Ron, the gay hairdresser. But he was a friend and while Frankie wasn’t sad at first, only pissed off, when everyone got sad, and newspapers reported the boy as a hero saving his thirteen year old girlfriend from attack, it affected Frankie and he started to look sad.
The cops watch the teenagers and the bench. They look to be barely seventeen themselves. One of them walks towards Frankie with his hand on his gun.
Frankie throws his arms around Ben and says, “Hey dad, I love you.”
When Frankie lets his body hang relaxed over his dad it is as if he is having a rest, and his huge mohawk raises up like a tourist attraction.
The cops stare at Ben and then at me. Hoodlums don’t love their dads.
What cops will look like in fifty years time? Will there be radical changes in bench design? Will I survive teenagers? I tell myself that I’m going to eat healthy starting now.
About the author:
In the US, I have been published in Agni and The Boston Review; locally, my work has appeared in the Visible Ink anthology; online stories in Zoetrope All-Story Extra, Margin, Opium and The Front Street Review. I have been shortlisted in several competitions including GlimmerTrain and New Century Awards. Forthcoming fiction in Temenos and Salt River Review. New Fiction forthcoming in Temenos. I found out recently that I was runner up to the $10,000 Josephine Ulrick prize.
© 2011 Word Riot