Afflicted – 05: Chapter 4

Bevan’s ride home was circuitous. He went via the lake near the town and had a cone and a think before he went home. Like Rick, he couldn’t stand getting back into normal life after a day’s fishing. But unlike Rick he didn’t want to hang around near the river, either, because he wanted to throw a line in and it wasn’t in-between enough for him. As a result, he tended to ride his bike around until he found a spot that took his fancy; then he’d go for a bit of a walk, have a cone and sit down and chill out, thinking about easing himself back into the family home.

Bevan’s family was smaller than Jack’s, and larger than Rick’s. He was the only one of them who had a sister that was alive and kicking, and bloody hell was she boisterous. Bevan’s dad was a quiet sort of dude, much like Bevan really, but his sister and mother were loud. If either of them was in a mood, nobody in the house managed to escape from it. It frequently caused Bevan all sorts of consternation, wondering how it was that his dad had married his mum in the first place. They were so very different from each other. His dad was tall and skinny and quiet, kept to himself. His mum was short and round and loud as hell, frequently getting into everybody else’s business. She was also a gossip, something that Bevan didn’t approve of. Unfortunately, his sister had inherited most of the traits that he didn’t appreciate, so he tried to keep away from her. The only thing that endeared her to him was her appreciation of the finer things in life, something which, in Bevan’s opinion, contrasted utterly with her loud, netball-playing personality.

Smells of cooking from the neighbouring houses wafted on the breeze down towards the lake’s edge, making Bevan’s belly rumble disconsolately. He couldn’t help thinking about Jack. It was always like this: they were all, Rick apparently excepted, worrying about ditching school again. So, Jack turned into an arsehole and Bevan occupied his mind in some other way. Drawing and studying were the two things that got him out of the shit. Unlike Jack, whose mother’s panacea was fish, Bevan’s mother’s panacea was art or study. He only had to give her something he’d done ‘for her’ and she backed off. He guffawed at the idea. What a woman, bought so easily.

Jack’s attitude today really riled Bevan. Yeah, fair enough Jack was a wanker but sometimes he just made Bevan want to deck him. The only thing that stopped him was the fact that Jack was used to fighting, and the fact that Jack liked a fight, whereas he himself went as far away from a fight as he could manage. It’s not about being a pacifist, or weak, or uncourageous, it’s just the fact that fights are pointless and they often hurt. There’s also no use fighting someone who’s supposed to be a good mate, it just doesn’t make sense. He gazed out over the town that lay spread out just lower than the lake. He’d have to seriously rethink hanging out with the fucker if he’s going to be like that all the time.

He tucked the pipe back into the inner pocket of his jeans, pulled out a smoke, lit it and headed back to his bike. He mounted it leisurely and started on his equally circuitous route home. By the time he got there, his sister was eating in front of the telly, evidently something that she’d whinged about not getting, and his mum and dad were sharing a bottle of wine in the kitchen. Bevan left his bike next to the shed out the back, retrieved his fish, and headed to the house. He dumped his fish at the back door and went in the side way, making a bee-line to the bathroom so that he could shower before tea. Having established this type of routine whenever he went fishing, and also the fact that he did his own washing, Bevan managed to smoke as carelessly as he liked, without getting it in his parents’ faces. Whenever he saw them, he managed to smell lovely, and that’s what counts. He went around the outside of the house to the back door and grabbed his fish before heading inside.

Bevan’s dad put his glass of wine down and leaned back in his chair, looking at the bulging bottom of the bag.

‘Good catch?’

Bevan hauled the bag up onto the sink where his mum had made a space for him.

‘Yeah. Caught eight this arvo.’ He pulled one out of the bag, and its scales glinted in the overhead fluoro light. ‘Good size, eh?’

His mother nodded approvingly. ‘Not bad in such a short time,’ she looked at Bevan and he instantly caught the underlying meaning of her words. The little bitch had dobbed him in. His mother turned back to the stove, where she was making a sauce for the fish. ‘If you hurry up and clean them you can cook them on the barbie so we can eat them straight away.’

Bevan glanced at his dad, who raised his eyebrows behind his wife’s back, and nodded towards the back door. This was his sign to his son to just do what Mother tells him and everything’ll be okay. Bevan grabbed his fish and dashed to the outside tap where he hurriedly scaled and rinsed his fish. He also filleted all of them except one, over which he hesitated. Should I tell the blister it’s got no bones in it, and give that one to her? He moved around to where he could see through the kitchen window and decided against it. Nah, don’t want the acid rain of hell to fall on me if I can avoid it. So he filleted the last one and threw them all on the barbie.

His dad had brought out oil and herbs for him, and left a small glass of wine next to the plate. Bevan smiled in the darkening evening as he drank the wine. Good old dad, probably did it when she wasn’t looking. He cooked and lightly seasoned the fish, and brought them in just as his mum was serving up the vegies. No-one else was in the kitchen, and as he moved near to his mum she whispered to him,

‘Wag school again this term, and I find out about it, and I will have your guts for breakfast my boy.’ She grabbed hers and her husband’s plates and moved past her son. ‘Understand?’

Bevan didn’t say anything, just looked blankly at her, and she moved on. He’d long learned that the quickest way to peace was the path of least resistance.

Share your thoughts:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.