The Magnificent Inheritance
When I first came back home there were kids who pursued me. I can’t even write down what they said to me. If I wrote it down and then one day this computer broke down and I had to take it to the shop then I would get arrested and put in the special wing. They said it like a kid might have asked a grown-up for a cigarette when I was a kid. Or like a pretend kid in a comic when I was a kid would have blown a raspberry at their neighbour.
I stopped jogging.
Being afraid of children was the sign either of the apocalypse, or your own breakdown. I went with the simpler explanation.
I lived in the empty house. I didn’t fill it up. Didn’t bother it.
I slept with all the lights on. I remembered the feeling of getting burgled again and again when we were young. The worst part was just before you ran down the stairs with your dad and just after. Running down the stairs was alright.
Or maybe the worst part was when your brother cried for “no reason” when it was all done. Or maybe it was the stony face of your dad.
Maybe it was sitting in the empty room with the lights on and new dust patterns where the telly and record player had been. Tellys were big back then. Burglars worked hard. Now they probably run away with an iPhone or something.
Maybe that is why they kill you in your sleep now. An excess of energy,.
I had been around the world, quietly. Now it was okay that I didn’t fit in. When I went for a drink with my mates they bought weird stuff, cocktails etc. I think they were trying to make me feel better.
“Are you gonna sell the house then?”
“Yeah. Do you think someone will buy it?”
“Yeah. It’s a house. Someone will do it up. Some lad with a big dog. Why don’t you get a dog.”
“But I’m selling the house.”
“I think you’re still gonna want a dog, mate.”
There is a samurai sword in the big bedroom. I used to think it was real. Dangerous. Now I am not sure. It’s definitely a nice souvenir. I think it could be sharpened.
This and a fake watch and piles of clothes and papers that I can’t handle: The Legacy. And leather jackets that I give to one of their old friends every time one comes round. I have 21 cans of Carling Black Label left in the fridge. And 3 leather jackets. Some have flakey elbows. Others don’t, but make me look like a giant wallet if I ever try one on. I am a man who can’t wear leather jackets or any kind of hat. Or sunglasses.
I don’t jog but why not go for a walk? I walk down the old road to town. Pakistani kids won’t bother me, will they? They watch me, though. Two big lads follow me down to the old market place where the clock stands. It is at the exact same time it was last time I was here and I was 4 foot 1. Infrastructure investment is low here.
The Pakistani boys sit on the bench next to me, drinking Tango.
“Alright, mate,” they say.
“Alright, lads,” I say.
“You from here, mate?” they ask.
I say yes. I can’t ask them. It would be insensitive.
“What do you lads do?”
“Nowt. Yeah…you do nowt. Do you ever go to that Chinese place and get the curry chips?”
Was that insensitive? The curry.
“Charlie’s? Yeah, mate. Sound, mate. Chung gau feio ming chung!”
“I’m an orphan, lads.”
“Sorry to hear that , mister.”
“It’s my own fault. I thought I had to go around the world. It took a long bloody time lads. When I got back, I had an empty house. But the world is spinning round, innit? I could have stayed. I could have learned Chinese with you lads at Charlie’s.”
“You on the smack, dad?”
“Nah. I’m not on the smack.”
Then I start laughing. I’m laughing because smack is like leather jackets and hats and sunglasses to me.
“You’re on the smack, mate!”
“Hey listen, lads. Have you got like uncles and aunties and stuff in your house?”
“Cause we’re Pakistanis?”
They stand up and walk away.
“I have an empty house!”
I go home.