2nd February

A Bad Dream

The garage door ajar, the van backed up to it. Something was not right. I walked up the drive. My shoes made no noise on the gravel. It was my par- ents’ house even though they did not have a drive or a garage. Even though it did not look like their house.

My mother was not at the window. My father did not come to the door. The van had its rear doors open. I walked down the driver’s side and looked in the back: a lot of old furniture, junk mostly, as far as I could tell. They were having a clear-out, and why not? They had collected enough over the years, but would they not have told me, asked me to help? It was not inconceivable, however, that my mother had organised it, although ‘organise’ was not a word I associated with her of late. The previous week she had been about to post a wad of £10 notes to some animal charity when I arrived. I’d said, ‘If you want to give them something, that’s fine, but let me send a cheque for you.’ ‘But I want them to have this money,’ she’d replied.

‘Hello?’ I called. A man emerged from the garage, rather quickly. A bulky man, middle-aged, unshaven, in dirty overalls: he looked a bit shifty, but he smiled pleasantly enough.

‘What’s going on?’ I asked.

The man said, ‘We’re clearing the garage, like the old lady asked us to.’

‘This is my parents’ house,’ I said. ‘Where are they?’

A second man appeared from the garage. The first man might have been his father. The younger one had a mean, devious face.

‘I’m not sure that they really want to get rid of all of it,’ I said.

‘Have a look yourself,’ the older man said. ‘If there’s anything that shouldn’t be going, it’s no problem.’

I turned to inspect the van’s contents more closely. There was a lot of wood. The furniture seemed all broken. I saw a pile of my father’s sweaters.

Something was definitely not right. Just as I was thinking that I should not have turned my back on them, the blows began to fall.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Subscribe here for more stories & music