Thursday, 2 August 2012
In Cassidy's Care: 15: Last Christmas
Amelia had claimed the boys for the holidays and Cassidy had gone home, alone, for Christmas on the Cape. He and his father sat on the back porch of the beach house, surrounded by potted plants, drinking tar black coffee out of their favourite chipped mugs. His gift to his parents had been a CD player and one CD, to replace the family’s antiquated gramophone. Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ provided a perfect soundtrack to the early evening.
Cassidy loved Beethoven.
“How’s life treating you son? Rolling with the punches?”
Cassidy thought of horseshoes, the kind that you’d put inside a big brown boxing glove. As a boy he’d found a canvas sack full of them in the boathouse and convinced himself that his father was a prizefighter. And then one morning, Harry had slung the sack over his shoulder and taken Cassidy and his two brothers to the beach at Sandy Neck to introduce them to the game of ‘Horseshoes’.
They pitched the heavy iron shoes at a stake in the sand, arguing over ringers and closest to’s.
"Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades”, sang Harry.
They played ‘First to 21’ over and over until their wrists ached, and then took to skimming stones, occasionally scoring sixers and seveners.
Only Harry could get into double figures.
“It’s good to be home Dad; things seem clearer from here, but… life’s complicated.”
Cassidy looked at his father’s weather beaten features. Nearly ninety and in pretty good shape, chipper even. As ever, that faded blue cap sat atop his peeling pate. There were fresh scabs on his forehead; he had always been a practical but clumsy man; too tall for his own body. He’d stopped shaving regularly and the stubble added to an air of rough integrity. Round wire glasses sat square on a bulbous blue veined nose that Cassidy knew he would inherit. Your nose and your eyes keep growing he thought, everything else shrinks. His father’s ears were now huge and hairy, like hirsute plastic comedy ears, although his lobes remained fleshy, perky pink and… chewable. Harry’s hands were huge also, the hands of a boxer, not a poet. I hope to hell I look that that when I’m 86, thought Cassidy.
A faint aroma of baking came from within the house. He pictured his mother peeling apples by the kitchen table, standing barefoot upon her ‘magic carpet’, a woolen Berber rug that Harry had bartered for and bought on their honeymoon in Morocco. It was her most cherished possession “and the only treasure I need”. As a boy he’d lie on the luxuriant pile while Annie cooked and the gramophone crackled, Cassidy pressing his face into the soft wool, conjuring mountains and valleys out of the woven patterns, mapping out his future adventures.