Part 3: Kev the cripple
It’s funny how they talk about you differently when you are gone.
Regarded as a bastard in life, yet fondly remembered since death kindly spared us from him.
‘Na speak ill o’ the dead.’
Apparently death involves a paradoxical transformation, and the rule still applies, even if you don’t have the good grace to die properly.
‘Poor Kev, he’d loved life before the accident,’ they said.
Actually, Kev had never given a toss about life… his own or anybody else’s. What they meant was, Kev passed through life with the same gusto that a jet engine travels through air. He rushed along sucking in voluminous quantities of the pure substance, exhausting a tainted bi-product in his wake. Kevin’s attention always focused upon the destination of the day with no consideration for the debris swirling in his slipstream.
‘Kevin Jackson was not a bad lad’, they said, when remembering him at the age of sixteen
In a way, it was true. Kev was not fundamentally bad; he just happened to be selfish, arrogant and inconsiderate. It wasn’t his fault, it was his nature; a genetic condition, his Mother was sure of it. She’d left them when Kevin was eight, having reached the end of the road. The Jackass-Gene she called it; a family trait, present to some degree within every Jackson male. In the case of Kevin, his uncle Ben and his grandfather Derek, the Jackass-Gene was prevalent and worn upon the sleeve.
Fashioned by genetics, driven by unfettered teenage aspirations; Kev was the cliché of capitalism; craving fast food, a fast fortune, fast cars and faster women. He idolised the brashest of celebrity football players and lusted after the brassiest of their wives.
Some said that Kev was an exuberant teenager riding a testosterone-fuelled rocket towards manhood…when he fell off.
The Police said that he was thrashing a low powered two-stroke petrol fuelled motorcycle way beyond its capacity, and his riding ability.
The falling off was not disputed.
He loved the bike, the freedom and independence that it delivered. He hated the bike, the tiny cubic-capacity of its engine, the low top speed and learner-plate, all betraying his image by immediately divulging his lack of age and experience.
Kevin rode the bike mercilessly on that afternoon. He zipped through the city taking liberties and risks wherever they appeared. He twisted the throttle hard round against the stop, and when required, applied the brakes with brutal force.
Abused, without a modicum of sympathy, the little engine screamed an agonised wail that drowned the shouts of protesting pedestrians and near-miss motorists left shaken in his wake. Every time Kev slung the bike into - or out of, a tricky situation, the grin broadened and his confidence grew.
Mavis Drew, seventy-nine and ‘very good for her age!’ (They all said so); was looking forward to nice cup of tea.
Driving was becoming a bit of a problem for Mavis recently. ‘Everything happens so quickly nowadays. Too much traffic, going much too fast!’ It made her nervous and ‘she became a little flustered.’
Mavis missed her afternoon tea with Mr and Mrs Ingram, but scored a cup later that evening from a friendly Irish nurse before they took the x-ray. She got another after they had set her arm in a plaster cast and a third whilst she talked to the Policeman.
Mavis began to worry. The nurse had left her alone in a wheelchair and disappeared to arrange a bed for the night. ‘Just for observation’ She’d said in a comforting Irish brouge, ‘after all she’d had a nasty shock’.
‘A nasty shock?’ Thought Mavis ‘I should bloody well say so!’ She craved a lie down, but felt insecure without the comfort her own toiletries and dressing gown. A sensation of vulnerability crept upon her and she clamped her good left arm tightly across her handbag… she’d heard about these places. ‘Where the hell was David?’ She knew they had called him, and he should be here with her things by now… ‘He should be here!’
Mavis thought about the accident and realised that she’d completely missed the intersection. The Policeman said that she’d failed to stop and give way; and that she’d overshot the junction, emerging into the path of the speeding motorcycle. She just nodded in agreement by way of a statement, having decided against explaining that she simply hadn’t noticed the junction. ‘Better, not give the Policeman any grounds to think that she might be a bit silly; after all, he was writing everything down.’
Irish returned in a hurry, the complicated bustling noise signifying far too much synthetic material within the unflattering uniform. Mavis caught herself thinking about linen. Cool starched, plain white linen. “Why didn’t they use linen anymore?” She remembered the accident, looked up at Irish, asking in a feeble voice
“Is he dead? The young man in the crash, did he die?”
“Yes, once or twice… I believe” The nurse replied ‘
“…but he’s back with us now apparently.”
“That’s good” warbled Mavis, a little strength returning to her voice,
“Maybe… maybe not, I’ve got a feeling that the young fella might come around to wishing that he’d stayed where he was.” As the nurse replied, she placed a huge clammy pink hand on Mavis’s shoulder.
“Anyway, there are enough people worrying about him, so you don’t have to… Let’s get you onto the ward and tucked up”
* * * * * * * * *
Mavis died herself, just the once, three months later. ‘Natural causes due to old-age’ that’s what her GP penned on the Death-Certificate. After all, she’d made eighty, the old dear.
Mavis Drew’s funeral occurred two weeks before she was due to attend Magistrates Court upon a charge of Dangerous Driving, and one month before Kevin emerged from the coma.
A total of three mourners attended the service, as the chaplain droned though the ‘common short service’. There was no compassion on display as Hamish McBride, the funeral director studied the trio; an elderly couple, the Ingram’s; who seemed to have come along motivated by nothing more than a sense of duty, and the son, David Drew.
Mr Drew looked just as impassive as the Ingrams, but appeared uncomfortable and impatient with it. ‘Shifty’, thought the undertaker, Hamish’s opinion of Drew was already low, knowing that Drew had ignored his mothers express wish for burial.
“The dead get what they are given McBride, you should know that better than most” David Drew had said, between short breaths as he’d asked Hamish for the cremation service.
The solemn faced undertaker had nodded reverently and was inwardly appalled by the son’s scant respect and disloyalty. Hamish accepted a scruffy wad of banknotes thrust at him by the contemptible little man. Cash being an uncommon method of payment nowadays, there was an uncomfortable moment as Hamish counted the notes and searched for the obviously expected small change. He excused himself for a moment, disappearing into the back office to raid the secretary’s purse for some copper.
As Tom waited for the amused secretary to retrieve the required money, he considered the man on the other side of the frosted glass door. Drew was supposedly, a dignitary, holding a position of high public office, yet here he was reeking of whiskey and cigarettes, impatient to incinerate his mother against her wishes. He pays for the service with a pile of dilapidated pound notes and waits adamantly for a couple of small coin in change. Hamish felt heat flush his body and ran a finger around the inside of his tight collar. He was tired of putting good people into the ground and leaving bastards standing.
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