On a moist autumn day, long before the nicotine dressed his lungs in black for his funeral, my father severed the line with his pocketknife, set down his rod, and lit another cigarette. Mayfair from the newsagent: he had always been a man of quantity over quality. I traced the castoff line, limp in the water, back to the tree that had claimed it. Neither of us could fish, but fishing, maybe for reasons of primal origin, was seen to be one of those father-son bonding experiences. Well done, kid, you killed something. High five.
Certain stories are supposed to have certain endings. The die is cast. The storyline is set in stone. To not follow the plotline could almost be viewed as a sin, and to go off script oftentimes invites disaster. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow, and sometimes the flow can cause you to drown.
The day after Luke died, there was a puppy roaming in the driveway, maybe eight weeks old, but probably closer to six and just on the edge of being appropriately weaned. She was cute, as all puppies are, but there was a sadness about her. She had obviously been dumped upon us by someone who just didn’t want to be bothered anymore. Judging by how skinny she was, they most likely didn’t spend any money on dog food. I could envision her masters ripping apart the litter, separating the young and innocent from their mother as soon as possible, and putting their concerns behind them as they dumped their problems on to someone else.
April 8th, 1974. I’m setting this down on paper and placing it in a tin that I’ll be burying under one of the gooseberry bushes. If things don’t work out, I’d like there to be a proper record of what happened…
Strangely, the root cause of the fatality can be traced back to the fact that, back in the 1950s, there were two Rodger Ackroyds in Chapel Street Primary School. There was me, generally known as ‘Rodge.’ And there was him, generally known as ‘Big Ackie,’ a nasty piece of work, even when he was an eight year-old. Ackroyd isn’t an uncommon a name in the town – I remember another Rodger Ackroyd used to be the Clydesdale Bank manager in Sadlergate. But the teachers used to make lame, irritating jokes about us, and I expect that’s why Big Ackie took a particular dislike to me. All kids hate being singled (doubled in this case) out for attention, and Ackie mysteriously decided it was all my fault.