GEORGE THE BOOZER
When I got back to Boston Street, it was about midnight. I didn't need the key mi mother had given me because the lights were still on. As soon as I touched the doorknob the door came open and mi mothers' sour face was looking at me.
"What are you doing still up? It's just after 12, ya should be in bed. Where's Jim?"
"He's in bed. He was tired."
"So why didn't ya go with him?"
"I can't sleep knowing your out of a night time. Ya want a cuppa' tea?"
"No thanks Mum, it's a bit late for tea."
"I suppose you've had too much beer with ya father?"
"Listen Mum, it doesn't have to be like this. I'm 21 now. I've been away for 6 years."
"I'y. I wish you'd stayed away now."
"What do ya mean by that?"
"Well, what I don't know doesn't hurt me, does it? I thought you were going to come home as a real nice boy but you're nothin' but a boozer like ya father!"
"It's how I live my life mother. I don't tell you how to live your life, do I?"
"Ya don't have to, 'cause I don't drink."
"Everyone I know drinks beer. It's only a way of socializing."
"I don't have to drink beer to socialize."
"No, maybe your friends don't drink beer, so I guess you don't."
"Well, I don't like it Richard and I don't know how long I can put up with your drinking, lad."
"I've only been home 2 days and 1 night, Mother. What are you talking about?"
"Well, you could have taken me out to dinner tonight somewhere. Instead you prefer to go out boozing with your father."
"All right, I'll take you out somewhere tomorrow night."
"Ya can't. Ya boozing pals are coming for ya tomorrow night."
"OK then, we'll go out the following night."
"Don't bother Richard. I'd hate to put you to any trouble."
"Listen Mother, I don't know what's wrong with you, but you can't blame your state of mind on my behavior. I thought you were happy since you got married to Jim?"
"I've got no complaints with Jim, it's just that you've been away for so long."
"Had you not have left mi Dad and not got married to another bloke, it would have been my duty to look after you when I left school and that I would have gladly done , but you chose to marry another man, which I don't mind, that's your business. But once you did that, don't expect to put the guilts on me that I left home when you needed me!"
"What else could I do? I had to marry someone else or we wouldn't have been able to live on one wage."
"Other women did. Not every woman with kids gets married again, especially if she's got 3 older kids."
"Then what kind of a life would that have been for us?"
"Maybe a better one than I lived, once we left mi Dads."
"How can you say that when Jim was good to you?"
"Yeah, sure Mum. You've got a very short memory when it suits ya!"
"What do you mean by that Richard?"
"Did you forget about the 'stiff arms' he gave me and mi sisters? And what about the times he made us stay home, night after night? Also when he pushed me down the stairs!"
"But he brought ya all those clothes and gave ya money so you could go to Australia."
"Yeah, that's true. I wonder why?"
"How can you insinuate that Richard? Jim loved you like his own."
"He never had any kids of his own to my knowledge, so where do ya get the comparison from?"
"You know what I mean Richard. Don't be smart."
"Listen Mother and listen very carefully. You left my Dad to get married to another man and you expected the 3 of us to call him dad. Well, he isn't my Dad. I'm not complaining and I don't feel angry or guilty about anything 'cause it's all over. You got what you wanted out of life. My life was ruined, so don't tell me how to live my life anymore. If you're happy with Jim then what are you doing up at this time of night?"
"I told you, I couldn't sleep."
"Well, you'll get a chance now 'cause I'm going to bed. There's nothing more to say. You live your life and let me live mine. Good night, see you in the morning."
That evening, as I laid in my old room, I felt really fuckng angry now and I refused to have mi Mother dump her guilt on me 'cause I could tell she wasn't happy. Jim Bailey was a decent bloke for marrying her but she knew and I knew that he couldn't hold a bloody candle up to George. He isn't half the man that George is and never will be.
I look like my father and I drink beer like he does so I guess that I remind her of things that she'd sooner forget. I thought that things would be different if I came home for a holiday but It looks like I was wrong. So all I could do now was to continue to be myself and see what happens.
The next morning the household was pretty tense. Sandra said to me,
"Ya fancy a walk Richard?"
"What a good idea Sandra. I'll grab mi coat and I'll be with you in a couple of shakes."