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Safe in the Garden

Page 6

Darryl Emmerson

It’s hard to know what was going through his mind, but little by little things began to slide. He’d always arrive on time, but now and again he’d suggest having a beer or two on the way, or if not that, then a pub session afterwards, before the drive home. Once or twice, early on, I did have a beer with him, and that appeared to satisfy him, at first, and no harm done. But he seemed to exert a constant pressure to have more than that, as well as a really protracted session later on, before we drove home. And that drive home began to be pretty dangerous. He’d take the corners pretty recklessly, even tailgate the few cars you met on that road, then abuse the hell out of them, before speeding off. Indeed the game itself looked more and more like a cover, a pretext for the drinking. I foresaw that, in one way or another, the trips would stop, with me involved, anyway. There were now feelings of dread about the nice Friday nights.

Things came to a head one summer evening, about three months after the idea commenced. It was quite evident that Peter had had a few before we met. My parents saw nothing; now comfortable with the arrangement, they no longer came to the door when he arrived, but expected me just to wave a farewell and go.

The sun was slowly setting, its lower rays cut off by the tall windbreaks to the west, when we came to the corner I mentioned before. Peter was getting pretty heavy about me joining him in the drink, but I’d been adamant. Open warfare broke out.

“Well, if you’re not gonna fuckin’ drink with me, you’re not coming with me!” he shouted loudly. “You can make your own way there!”

“All right” I yelled back, “just let me out, and I’ll get a lift with someone else”. This was a foolish remark, the kind of thing you say when you’re confused, and was fairly unlikely to happen. Anyway, if I was picked up by a neighbour, I didn’t want to have to answer too many questions.


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