Files Left Open

File 1: Dodgem

Sitting in the dodgem, wrenching the steering wheel side to side and not budging. Dad hadn’t mentioned pedals. He was too busy smoking and jangling his few coppers as he eyed up the girls on the Waltzer. Meantime, I was slammed sideways into next Tuesday. Before the pimpled youth came over and accused me “pissing about” and threw me off the ride.

File 2: Burger.

The cheeseburger in the face in the school hall. New uniform, first week, on the way to one of the very first lessons, and a Year 11 decided he’d had enough of his lunch and needed to dispose of it pronto. Right into my face.

I always wondered if he’d been told I was a vegetarian.

File 3: Evil.

The boy who’d shout “evil” at me in the street every time I made the mistake of passing his house. Or stepping outside. I’d given a speech once – not hubris this time; it was Speech Day at school – and evil was my chosen subject. Mrs Unwin had even encouraged me. And the boy round the corner was really quite upset at my tackling of this most thorny of questions. Until he got bored with me failing to react and started shouting that I “took it up the arse” instead. For the next five or six years.

Was it my walk? Or his idea of how the insufferably righteous ought to be afflicted? My speech hadn’t covered that. Maybe I should have spent less time researching Hitler?

File 4: Car.

My dad left home for good one Sunday night with his half-empty black bin liner and the portable TV he never once let me borrow. Or see. He needed it for work, he said. Something to pass the long nights, he said. Snooker, he said. Which was peculiar, because the reason he was leaving home, I was certain, I had been told, was because of his other night-time ball and pocket related activities. But what was even more peculiar than that was when he turned up, after the court hearing, in a Škoda Rapid coupé that, yeah, we laughed about as we sheltered in Frank’s house next door and waited for him to give up the knocking and hollering. As I wanted to ask mum whether she knew he could drive. I wanted her, at least, to say that she didn’t.

Why didn’t he tell his son the dodgem had pedals? Why was I the one most deserving of the beef patty in the face? What precisely bothered boy-round-the-corner so much that he had to shout sexual slurs at me for half a decade?

Fifteen years and Dad had known where the pedals were all along.

Questions never answered. Files left permanently open.


Mike Hickman (@MikeHicWriter) is a writer from York, England. He has written for Off the Rock Productions (stage and audio), including 2018’s “Not So Funny Now” about Groucho Marx and Erin Fleming. He has recently been published in EllipsisZine, Dwelling Literary, Bandit Fiction, Nymphs, Flash Fiction Magazine, Brown Bag, and Safe and Sound Press. His co-written, completed six-part BBC radio sit com remains unproduced but available to interested producers!

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