A Short Story
Monday was her day to relax after the weekend hustle and bustle of family activities. Finally, alone! Before she had taken her first sip of coffee, the shrill ring of the phone pierces the late morning stillness. It was too good to be true. It was her father. “I’m coming over,” he says. She closes her eyes and sinks back into the chair. She didn’t even have time to make her excuses, not that she would have anyway.
“Come in,” she yells over the shrill barking of the rampant pack of hounds, but he is already inside and making his way out back. It reminds her of the time that her father had organised one of his “contacts” to fix her gas heater. They had organised to meet at her house, but her father and the gas guy arrived early so her father decided to break into her house through the roof. Time is money.
“I’m going for a few more tests,” he says. He is always having tests. “I thought I should let you know.” That’s new. He doesn’t normally say that. They sit down. “The doc thinks my heart is failing. He thinks I’ve already had a few heart attacks so I have to have this test.” If you are fat and over 50, let alone over 70, then the docs always think you’re a heart attack waiting to happen.
“I see,” she says. What else can she say? Don’t die on me, you old bastard? He looks serious and vulnerable. He had come over specifically to tell her that his time is nigh. With all his health issues, his time has been nigh for a bloody long time.
“I’m also thinking of updating my will.” Finally! She’s been advising him to do that for years, but he never listens to her. She agrees with him. It totally slips her mind to remind him of the break-in, you know, to guilt the cash out of him. No that guilt is an emotion he would ever feel because, what’s her problem?
The conversation moves on to an interstate trip he wants to take. He’s going to drive. He’s not taking a bloody plane. No way. They pack ’em in like sardines. He doesn’t want to catch coronavirus. It doesn’t occur to him that he might have a heart attack while driving the car. She doesn’t worry about it. Chances are state borders will close again and he won’t be able to travel.
They discuss her upcoming holiday. “You going anywhere?” he asks. “Nope,” she says. “Everyone is on holiday and all the accommodation I can afford is booked out.”
“I hear that all the grey nomads are travelling north,” he says. “They’re all crazy. Going north in bloody cyclone season. Hot, humid, mosquitoes, crocodiles! They should cull those crocs. They’re everywhere and moving further south. When I was young, there weren’t as many. We knew how to keep ’em under control. Shoot the bastards. If we went swimming in the rivers, we made sure we took a couple of dogs with us. The crocs would always go for the dogs first.”
She agrees southerners are crazy to be touring up north now. Definitely the wrong time of year for it. Secretly, she hopes they leave their dogs at home. If they are that crazy ….
She gives her old dad a hug before he leaves.
A month later, the phone rings again. “I’m coming over,” he says. Over coffee he tells her that the test went well. His heart is good. She gives him a bigger hug when he leaves. Those crocs better watch out when the border opens.