Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Everyone Says You're Perfect

Your right index and middle fingers were nicotine stained just as my mouth was stained by the rainbow colours of my rocket ice lolly. I could never understand how you managed to pass so much time in that little room which smelt of hot light bulbs and metal. Those fingers of yours were so big and the transistors you soldered endlessly to build the organ so small; it must have been a very fiddly job. You always had a miniature glass filled with Drambuie. I could smell its sweetness on your breath as you turned your head when I opened the door. You were often wearing headphones, speaking into some sort of handset to someone with an oscillating Donald Duck voice punctuated by white noise from the other side of the world. What did you talk about? The weather. Your soldering iron rested at an angle on the desk and sometimes a blob had dripped down off the nib and onto the wooden surface. The table top was as scarred by burns and scratches as a desk lid in my comprehensive school French class and sticky ring marks had attracted cigarette ash and turned black. Your chair was one you bought especially; a captain’s chair and its leather soon took on the odour of your electrical equipment. I’ve got that chair now; the cat sleeps on it. In the cupboard, what would have been a wardrobe in a more conventional household was your gun safe, a cold metal coffin. Late at night, as I got up to go to the bathroom, I would hear your fingers banging away on the keys of the organ. I couldn’t hear the music but I knew it was there.

When you die, everyone says you’re perfect. I know you weren’t but it doesn’t matter.


cheryl63 said...

I really enjoyed this story. Is it based on any real life facts? Do you really have a chair? Was it based on your Father? Am I too nosy!
Well done on a good story anyway.

Kathryn said...

Yes, yes, yes and no, you're not!

A captain's chair is a swivel chair with arms, perhaps nautical in origin judging by its shape (although I'm not sure). It only struck me when I was writing this piece how ironic that he was a pilot and had a captain's chair!