The Third Half

by Gaston Prereth

I’m sorry to keep you waiting again for the next chapter of ‘The sharp Giants’, I am working on it but was not happy with a large part of it so it is having to be rewritten. So, instead, I bring you a short scene I wrote in an effort to practice realistic dialogue. I’d love to know how you think I did if you would like to comment. Sorry again for the wait, ‘The Sharp Giants’ will definitely return next week. 

‘Seriously?’ Alex stared at his phone, his thumb still pressed against the screen.

‘When do you…’

‘Sorry dad, can you give me a second. I need to sort this out. Just a second.’ Alex tapped at his phone, train times dropping down the screen like rain down a window pane. His face furrowed. ‘Fuck it, I can’t do this right now. Sorry dad what were you saying?’

‘I can’t remember now.’ Said the old man, looking out of the window at the motionless platform. There was nothing but an old fence to look at, but he looked at it anyway.

‘Nor can I.’ Said Alex to his phone, his fingers still dancing over the screen. ‘Why can’t people say what they really mean?’ He added sliding his phone into his suit-jacket pocket.

‘Was that Karla?’

‘It’s all don’t do it if it’ll be too much trouble, or I’m not bothered, get what you want. Then when I get home she’ll have a go for me buying the wrong thing or not going to the right supermarket. Just say what you mean. Is it that hard?’

‘She’s always been like it, even before you had Wayne.’ Said the old man, turning to his son and wriggling back against his seat. As he moved his belly strained still further at his shirt buttons, emphasising a small stain pressed deep into the fabric. ‘Why aren’t we moving?’

‘The train doesn’t leave till ten to. Waiting for another one to pass or something.’ said Alex. He pulled his phone out of his jacket once more, then put it away again without unlocking it. ‘She never tells me what she really wants and then blames me for not listening. Everytime I try to do something nice she complains about it, and then wonders why I go out down the pub in the evenings.’

‘Do you know what I think the problem is? You’re still in the same job, alright with a bit more money, but you’re still doing the same stuff and your life at home hasn’t changed much. When Karla was pregnant you were always talking about how different it was going to be when the kid arrived, how much richer your life would be. In reality, it hasn’t changed much.’

‘Nah, it ain’t that. It’s her. I don’t want to go out drinking. I really don’t, but I just get wound up so much.’

‘Like the other night?’ Said the old man, scratching at his cheek with a long, nicotine smeared finger.

‘That was different. I had a pint, and the game was on. So I just had a drink and enjoyed watching the match.’

‘You’ve got to have time to relax.’ Agreed the old man with a sniff. Alex glanced at him then looked away, staring down the gangway of the train. His eyes were unfocused but his brow remained furrowed with frustration.

‘Exactly. So I had a pint and watched the game.’ He glanced at his dad, then looked away again, his left knee jiggling up and down as if his son were sat upon it going for a ‘horsey-ride’.

‘Was it any good? It was two nil in the end wasn’t it?

‘I can’t really remember. You know what it’s like, once you’ve had one pint.” he sighed and stared at his dad, who looked back at him with passive eyes. “I was in a bad mood too, because she’d been having a go again, so I downed the first pint and had a second quickly.’

‘I don’t know a bloke who can turn down a second drink. Every man, when he’s out with friends, always has another drink. Someone always offers.’

‘I can say no when I don’t want one. I don’t have to have a drink.’

‘I know. I know. I’m just saying it’s the same for everyone. Every bloke always has another drink when someone offers. That’s normal. It’s how men are. There’s nothing wrong with it.”

‘I don’t want to be like every other bloke though. I’m different, but Karla just keeps forcing me to go down the pub. She never says what she means, and then its always my fault for not listening.’

‘Welcome to married life son. That’s women for you. So, when do you want me to pick Wayne up on Saturday?’ A young woman, dressed in a flowery summer skirt got onto the train. Her heels clipped down the gangway as both men’s eyes followed her legs until they were obscured by her seat.

‘Whatever time, in the afternoon or something.’ Alex said in half a mumble, then continued in his normal voice. ‘We won’t be leaving till nine, but he needs to be in bed before then.’

‘I finish my round of golf at three, so I could go home and then come later or I could come straight round to yours.’

‘Whatever is easier for you dad, it doesn’t matter.’

‘Well there’s not much point in me driving home. By the time I get back it’ll be time for me to go to yours. So is it okay if I come round straight away? I can keep Wayne occupied while you and Karla pack.’

‘I think she’s done all that already, but yes, come round whatever time you want. It’ll be good for you to have some time with Wayne before he needs to go to bed.’

‘Could you leave some of his favourite dvd’s or tv shows out on the top for me to take? I don’t want him getting bored at ours.’

‘We’ll be back in the morning.’

‘I know, but I don’t have any toys for him or anything. He might get bored at ours in the evening.’

‘By the time we leave he’ll be ready for bed. Just give him some fish fingers or something, pop him his ritalin and then he’ll be straight off to sleep. You don’t need to worry.’

‘Could you just leave some dvd’s out just in case.’

‘Honestly dad, it’s not needed. Just come round tomorrow after your golf game. We’ll probably be packed by then or at least they’ll only be a bit left for Karla to do. She’ll be able to quieten Wayne down a bit before you take him home.’

‘Probably best we keep out of her way then.’ Said Alex’s father, scratching the inside of one of his nostrils then wiping his finger against the side of his shirt. The train doors beeped and slid closed. The distant purr of the engine began to grumble as the driver got ready to pull out of the station. ‘Karla won’t want us about the house, making a nuisance of ourselves. Your mother never used to like me around while she was packing.’

‘Yeah. We can go down the King’s arms or something, get out from under her feet.’

‘Sounds like a good idea. We could pop in for one on our way past the supermarket now.’

‘I don’t know dad, we’re already running a bit late. She sounded pretty annoyed on the phone.’ Alex pulled out his phone again, looking at the unlit screen. He bit his lip and then looked out at the window as the train started to shudder. The fence slunk past the window, revealing a patchwork view of terraced houses and their gardens. Some of the gardens had miniature football nets or trampolines in, others were strapped together by washing lines full of clothes. ‘We’ll just have one.’ he said, sliding his phone back into his pocket and leaning back in his seat. ‘Just one and a swift half for the road.’

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