Zedlist – Part Nineteen
“That’s exactly what they want you to believe, they’ve brainwashed you, mum.”
“I won’t listen to any more of this nonsense, if you carry on you can go to your room”, Valerie said.
“I’m not a bloody kid any more, mum. You can’t just send me to my room when you don’t want to listen to what I have to say!” Kevin shouted.
Valerie started sobbing again and put her head in her hands. Kevin got up from the sofa and walked over to her, putting a hand on her shoulder.
“Mum, I’m sorry, please don’t cry.” Kevin said softly, “I’ll make us a nice cup of tea and we’ll start over.”
Valerie pulled away from her son.
“If only it was that easy”, she said, “You can’t just go running off like that and expect me not to worry, I was meant to go out this morning, but I sat in all morning worrying about where you were.”
Kevin sat back in his seat and said nothing. He’d heard of this, early onset dementia, he’d read an article about it in the Guardian. Apparently there were more cases of it each generation. Doctors thought it could be due to an increase in stressful lifestyles.
“Mum, I don’t live here anymore, I moved out ten years ago.” Kevin said, after minutes of silence.
With these words Valerie’s crying got even worse. Not knowing what to do, he left his mum sobbing and went to the kitchen to make tea. The experience had shaken him. He had no memory of his mother being like this before. He wasn’t very good at dealing with his own emotions, let alone anyone else’s. Feeling very stupid and British, he made tea while his mother disintegrated in the next room. He came back into the front room with a cup of tea and a coffee for himself. He thought that now might not be the best time to bring up the subject of his mum’s apparent confusion, or to reintroduce the topic of demonic possession, so he tried to keep it light. After an approach that was as tender and as funny as Kevin could achieve, he was able to bring a smile back to her face.
“I miss this Kevin”, Valerie said, “I was starting to wonder where my lovely son had gone. I’m sorry for crying like that.”
“I know mum, It’s okay, I understand. Work’s going well”, Kevin said, trying to change the subject.
She just looked at him again with the same look she had given him at the door, the kind of look that you might give someone if they were to tell you that they’re the next coming of Christ.
“Oh no. The beef.” She exclaimed, scuttling out the room.
Kevin followed her into the kitchen, mug still in hand. As Valerie opened the oven door smoke poured out all at once, she pulled away from the heat instinctively.
“It’s completely ruined”, she said.
“It’s my fault for dropping over unannounced, let me pay for a take away”, Kevin said.
“But you don’t have any money”, Valerie said, as she threw the large tray of roast beef into the sink, running water over the blackened of bovine carcass. Kevin turned the cooker off, and closed the oven door.
“What are you talking about”, he said, “I have more money than I know what to do with, do you know how much I can earn in a day?”
Valerie didn’t even seem to be listening any more, her hands were pressed onto the edge of the side board and her head gently tipped forwards, tea towel in hand. She looked disheveled and browbeaten.
“You haven’t touched your tea.” Kevin remarked, “Please sit down and drink it, there’s not much we can do about the beef now, I think it’s had it.”
“I’ve had it Kevin!” Valerie shrieked, walking back into the front room.
“Can we just start again?” Kevin asked feebly.
“How far back do you want to go Kevin?” She snapped.
Kevin reached for the house phone, putting the other hand in his pocket for his wallet and remembered that he had just changed his trousers. “Mum, where did you put my wallet and my phone?”
“All your things are in your bedroom”, Valerie said.
Kevin went to his old bedroom at the back of the house, it was exactly as he remembered it, but there was more stuff, the closet was full of clothes and the floor was scattered with computer games. The bed covers were unmade as if it had recently been slept in.
“Who the fuck has been sleeping in my room?” By ‘my room’ Kevin was referring to his old bedroom which had proven to be an excellent storage facility for old games, films, Graphic Novels and hundreds of boxed action figures.
“They’ve been in my stuff, you know how much I hate that. Don’t tell me you got a lodger!?”
Valerie didn’t answer. She was holding her mug of tea and staring blankly out of the window. “Have you got a lodger?” Kevin asked again. “If you are short of cash, all you have to do is…”
Suddenly the two dogs came bounding out from the study towards the front door and in came Kevin’s dad Charles. He was wearing a dark grey suit with a pair of trainers and carrying a lightweight rucksack. He ignored Katie and Pongo circling around his feet and entered the front room.
“Oh, thank goodness you are home”, Valerie said.
“What’s wrong Val?” Charles didn’t seem to even register Kevin’s presence.
“Hello Father”, Kevin said.
“Don’t hello father me! What have you done to your mother this time?” Charles’ tone caused both dogs to vacate the room immediately.
Photograph by Jim DiGrits