Long Story Short

Long Story Short by Siobhan Parkinson

Book: Long Story Short by Siobhan Parkinson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Siobhan Parkinson
it.
    â€œYour hypothesis is that I’m lying, right? You think she was dead already. That I made the snoring up?”
    â€œMaybe.”
    â€œSo now you want me to call an ambulance for a dead person? Well, you know what, they don’t do resurrection at any hospital around where I live. So why would I call an ambulance if she was dead?”
    Oh, God. I’d walked right into that one. I was arguing the wrong case.
    Now it was Paudge who smirked.
    â€œExactly,” he said. “If I’m right, you didn’t call an ambulance because she was already dead, and you knew it. You just left her there and you scarpered.”
    â€œNo. The reason I didn’t call an ambulance was that I never called an ambulance for her, not once in all the years since Da left, and on every other occasion that I didn’t call an ambulance for her, she woke up the following morning. Or afternoon. If I called an ambulance every time she passed out drunk…”
    â€œExcept that this time,” he said, “(a) she was dead and (b) you left altogether. That’s a bit of a coincidence, isn’t it?”
    â€œNo.”
    â€œIt’s not a coincidence? No, it’s not. You left because you knew she was dead. Right?”
    â€œI mean, yes. It’s a coincidence.”
    â€œWell, which is it? A coincidence or not a coincidence?”
    I was confused. “How was I to know…?”
    â€œYou didn’t think to look in on her in the morning, to see that she was all right?”
    What? My confusion lifted and anger raced through my veins. How come I was supposed to be responsible for her ?
    â€œI never looked in on her in the mornings. I waited for her to surface.”
    What the hell did he know? All the times I’d put her to bed, taken her shoes off, made sure she had a glass of water and a basin for puking into. All the times I’d cleaned up her messes. All the times I’d covered for her. Ringing her up on dole day.
    â€œBitch,” I muttered. (I’m not proud of that. I was under pressure.)
    â€œYou left her to rot ,” he said.
    I gasped. That was carrying literalism a bit too far.
    â€œFor God’s sake, Paudge, ease up,” said Kate. “You’re bullying him.”
    Y ou stupid old wagon, Ma, what did you need to go and die for?
    My chest was heaving with suppressed sobs.
    Paudge said nothing for a while. After a few minutes he said, “Right. We’ll leave it there for now. Would you like something to eat, Jonathan?”
    Food? My stomach was clenching with sobs, but even so, it did a little flip of excitement at the thought of food. Apart from the Penguin bar, I hadn’t eaten for hours.
    I blew my nose.
    â€œNot if it is any relation to the tea I got earlier,” I said. I have some self-respect.
    â€œAlways the bitter word,” Paudge said. “But no. We could go to Max Snacks if you like.”
    He could do bad cop, good cop all by himself, this one.
    â€œYou’re joking!” I said, and suddenly I felt I was going to cry. I’ve never found the thought of hamburgers moving before, but for some reason, at that point it seemed like the kindest treat, and I was overwhelmed by it.
    â€œNo,” he said, hitching up his belt as he stood up from his chair. “I think we can rise to an ol’ hamburger. If you’re interested.”
    That is how I found myself eating a double-decker and chips in a brightly lit yellow-furnished cube of glass with a fat plod and a nice lady with a bad figure, and with unshed tears pricking at my eyelids.
    Christ, it’s a long, long way from there to here.

12
    They’d found a place for me in some kind of home for delinquents, they told me over the Big Burgers. They didn’t use that word, but I knew what they meant. It’s just outside Dublin, lots of fresh air, they said. I was never a big one for the fresh air, and frankly I’d got more than enough of it over

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