Questionable Character

He was a Character.

Upon this fact, everyone agreed,

Back in the day, when people still spoke about him at all.

There was that time he picked his nose in the dentist’s waiting room,

And decorated their curtains with the contents.

And then another time, after a parents’ evening,

When he decided to break wind just outside the school gates,

And did the cocking of the leg thing that was So Very Funny,

And the Headmaster was standing there,

Just behind him. Downwind.

There’s no record of what that gentleman thought.

Or smelt, for that matter,

But we used to laugh, when the story was told.

And the Character did not mind.

He’d do it again, he said, given half the chance.

(He wasn’t. Not so much as a quarter.)

Then there was his propensity to back the horse

That would come in first in the race to the glue factory.

He was a genius at that.

And at breaking his glasses, too, when he hurled them across the kitchen,

When he realised just how much he’d lost this time.

He was such a Character that you’d think writing about him would be easy.

That I’d have a head start on this 101 questions thing

They recommend to “make them real” on the page.

Favourite colour, favourite band, the secrets kept when he was a child.

What did he tell himself he was going to do with his life?

What did he see when he looked at us,

When he saw us grow,

When we turned to face the same world,

He seemed so cocksure about himself?

(And, no, I don’t just mean the cocking of his leg –

Although, perhaps, actually, yes, perhaps I do.)

But it isn’t easy when all I have is the glasses

(Fixed with sticking plaster for months after each explosion)

And the sitting and the scratching and the –

He never read anything; I can’t even picture him with a book.

He had one cassette tape, and I don’t even think that was his.

Abba’s Super Trouper. Funny the things you do remember, isn’t it?

Not so funny when you realise how little they tell you.

When you’re not able to ask the questions.

When you’re given no help with the answers.

When the Character is all you have.

Apart from the name that, in another life, was supposed say everything:


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 frustratingly as unproduced as it was the last time he updated this biography. Maybe it would be better off as a novel?

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