Memorial in Mud


(Matt Gibson [CC / Flickr])

The only time I ever heard him raise his voice was when I tried to clean his boots. It was a few days after he’d come home, still wearing his fatigues. The only clean things he owned were the bandages swaddling his arm. I tried to be gentle when I helped him into his own clothes but we both needed to learn how to be careful with his injuries. He didn’t say a word, even when I pulled his sleeve too hard and made him bite his lip while beads of sweat ran down his forehead.

Having him back in his chair made our home feel complete again. I kept looking at him dozing as I washed his fatigues. I felt as if he might vanish at any moment while my back was turned, back to wherever it was they’d sent him while I was left here in half a home, waiting for news while my mind mixed hope and dread like my hands were mixing the grime from his trousers with soapy water.

I woke him by getting the boot brush from the cupboard under the stairs. He sat up sharply – it would be months before he would wake without a start – and stifled a moan of pain. I saw it on his face and went to him until he was sure he was safe at home. I made him a cup of tea and went back to the work surface to pick up the brush.

“What the hell d’you think you’re doing?”

His shout spun me round in time to se him slosh hot tea over his good hand. He dropped the cup, which shattered at his feet.

I gaped at him, too stunned to move, while he looked back at me with more pain on his face than a bucket of scalding tea could have caused him.

“I’m sorry.” His hand covered his mouth. “I don’t know what… how…”

His voice failed him, but his eyes carried more remorse than he could ever have spoken.

I looked back at the mud caking his boots. The mud of wherever they’d sent the man I married. The mud of wherever they’d brought back a man I wasn’t sure I knew from.

But they had brought him back.

“I will never clean these boots,” I said.

He nodded his thanks to me, still unable to speak.

I sat with him until he fell asleep again.

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle

Chance of a Ship


(Neil Moralee [CC / Flickr])

Every day I wonder how my life would have been if I’d got on the ship.

I’d still be old now, but maybe I’d have had a chance to be young. I’d have exchanged this solid, predictable ground that’s been beneath my feet my entire life for the feel of my own weight ebbing and flowing as I left this ground far behind. Instead of looking up to see the grizzled sky that snarls above us, I’d have looked forward to see a strange sun glinting on the edge of a strange land.

I’d never have spent all these decades spending half my day doing the same task so I could take my wage to a home that’s seemed to shrink with every passing year.

It’s true that I might not have had those decades at all. Who knows what sharp edges and dull fevers might haunt a strange land? I might not have survived beyond an hour of setting foot on it.

But I might have done.

And now, my son, you’ve been offered the same choice I was offered once – and only once. It’s not for me to say whether you should seize that chance as I did not. But if you make the same choice I made, pledging yourself to this ground beneath us, the day will come when you find yourself speaking to your own son as I speak to you now.

All I ask is this: that you take a moment to consider my words. Look at my face to see how deep they run in me. And now, in this moment, make your choice.

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle

Icarus of Marylebone Road


(Simon Ishmael Cliff [CC / Flickr])

You want to know about Nigel? Well, I’ll tell you what I can. I sat next to him in the office, but I guess you’re asking me because you already know that. It didn’t make me his best mate. It made me the one who got smacked in the face when he leapt to his feet and threw his arms out at the end of Friday’s trading.

Not that I blame him. He’d won, hadn’t he?

We have a little contest to see who can make the most profit each week. He’s been there for five years and it’s the first time he’d won it. That’s why he was stoked.

Mind? Course not. He didn’t mean to smack me, and it wasn’t that hard. I could see why he was so happy. He was the only one of us who’d never won. He always said it was a lottery where his number never came up. Some got lucky and some didn’t. Me, I think he preferred to think of himself as having a five-year run of bad luck than to wonder if he only kept his job because his uncle runs the firm.

Am I making him sound like a bit of a pillock? I don’t mean to. It’s just the way he was.

Most weeks he counted himself lucky to break even, so he was turning somersaults now he’d finally had a good week. Well, he tried one and did a faceplant into the lino. More into burgers and chips than gymnastics, Nigel was.

He bounced up quickly enough to come to the Slug and Lettuce, where we usually go on a Friday after work. Nigel wouldn’t let anyone else get a round in. Must’ve dropped a grand before we even got to the Spearmint Rhino.

Now I’m not saying he dropped anything else in there and I’m not saying he didn’t but if he’d been flying when we left the office, he was dancing with the Sun at two in the morning. You know the Sun? It’s what they call Sunny, though god knows what her real name is. Tall blonde stripper with a big smile. Best dancer in the place.

All right, he was trying to dance with her for all of thirty seconds. She wasn’t having any of it and then the bouncers turned up and threw him out. Most of the lads stayed but I went out to see he was all right. I did feel a bit bad for him, finishing his big night on his arse.

He didn’t care. Just told me he was on top of the world and off he went. He seemed fine. Honestly, I thought he was going to call an Uber. If I’d known he was going to drive home, I wouldn’t have gone back in. If I’d known he was going to do the ton up Marylebone Road…

But he did, so I guess ‘top of the world’ was the last thing he said to anyone. And he had to choose me to say it to, just to make sure I’ll never get him out of my mind. Thanks for that, Nige.

Like I said, he always was a pillock.

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle



(Sangudo [CC / Flickr])

They’d told Damian he should rest. Fat chance. It was when he caught himself trying to remember the last time he’d rested for a full day that he knew he couldn’t sit in his dad’s armchair for a moment longer. He levered himself upright using one of his crutches and managed to limp to the door of his parents’ house using only one of them, so he left the other one behind.

The plastic shoe – the orthosis, they’d called it – that the accident and emergency nurses had strapped around his foot and ankle took most of the strain. It hurt as he crutched up the street, but so what? He’d made friends with pain a long time ago. An broken ankle didn’t hurt as much as a lot of his training sessions. Pushing through pain was the choice he’d made since the day his coach had told him he had all the talent in the world, but all the talent in the world never got anyone anywhere on its own. That was where the hard work and pain came in.

After years of hard work and pain, crutching along a pavement wasn’t too hard. Turning left to the high street was tricky, but it was a trick Damian was going to have to learn some time. He couldn’t keep going in a straight line until the orthosis came off.

It didn’t hurt as much as throwing away his xbox when he got home after that talk from his coach. He’d made his choice: he could spend his time playing xbox and hanging out with his friends or he could be a heptathlete.

One or the other.

No middle ground.

Damian crossed the road where the high street merged with the sea front. The tap of the orthosis on the pavement beat time against the susurration of waves on the beach. He paused by the concrete steps, looking down them as if facing a hurdle track that had trebled in length overnight.

He’d been running up and down these steps for years. He could do this. Getting down might be difficult and painful, but Damian was fine with difficult and painful.

Damian edged his way down, clinging to the steel handrail. It took an absurd amount of time and his ankle was on fire by the time he reached the botDamian, but he made it on his feet. He turned toward the sea and leaned on the crutch.

The crutch sank into the beach and pitched him on to his face. His ankle sent a spasm of pain up his leg that drew tears from his eyes. It didn’t crunch like it had yesterday, or leave him shivering and fighting down nausea until his coach was standing over him, telling him he’d just made his personal best in the long jump.

Damian got a knee under him and crawled back to the concrete steps. He walked his hands up them until he could pull himself to his knees, get his good leg under him and stand. He half hopped, half limped back to where the crutch had fallen and supported his weight on his good leg while he bent down to pick it up. He found he could lean on it as long as he kept his weight bearing directly downward.

His breath pounded in his ears, much as it had yesterday, while he leaned on his coach and hobbled away to the sidelines. Neither of them had realised his ankle was broken then. That’s why his coach had been saying it’s all right Damian, that was the last event. You’ve qualified. I’ll get you an ice pack and you’ll be right as rain.

Damian lifted the crutch out of the sand and hobbled toward the sea without leaning on it. Each step was like jumping a hurdle. The trick was to get a rhythm going and to stop for a rest, leaning on the crutch, every sixty metres. That was the length of a hurdle track. Damian would always know exactly what sixty metres felt like.

The tang of ozone piqued his nostrils as the waves grew louder. Sweat ran down his face. He wouldn’t have minded the ice pack his coach pressed to his ankle right now. Much good it had done then, as his coach muttered his usual pep talk about all the things you could have done better if you’d concentrate a bit more, Damian, but you’ll get the chance now you’ve qualified.

Qualified for whatever it was that last jump had qualified him for. If it left him leaning on a crutch, heaving for breath, after three lots of sixty which was a hundred and eighty metres, it had definitely not qualified him as a heptathlete.

Holding his weight over his good leg, he scratched out his favourite word on the sand.

He turned, limped back a third of sixty metres which was twenty metres and read the word aloud to himself: ‘Olympian’.

Damian leaned on the crutch and watched the word until the incoming tide threw a wave over it and dragged it out into the ocean.

He pivoted around to face the way he’d come and limped back up the beach and home to rest.

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle



(Michael Semensohn [CC / Flickr])

Hi Fred,

I am writing to respond to your email that put an end to my life. Maybe you genuinely meant to send it to Naomi, but you didn’t. Instead of sending it to my wife, you sent it to me.

I’ll admit I’m sometimes slow on the uptake. When I was reading about where you were imagining your tongue was at the moment you left-clicked the button with the envelope on it, I almost typed out a reply to say that I haven’t got one of those for a tongue to go in.

Fortunately the penny dropped before I did that, so I remain devastated, humiliated and bereft but at least I didn’t make a complete numpty out of myself by explaining my lack of female anatomy to you.

It was an easy enough mistake to make, given that we share a surname so we’re next to each other on the company email list. But you know that – you’ve evidently spent enough time in close proximity to Naomi to notice her wedding ring – and you’re not careless in your work.

Did you deliberately send it to me so you’d end our marriage and you could have Naomi to yourself?

That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. One should never ask a genuine question unless one is sure one will believe whatever answer is forthcoming and when one has just found out that the strongest certainty in one’s life is a lie, one may never believe a thing one is told again.

Confused one may be, but certain of one thing: I will be fired for gross misconduct within the next ten minutes. It will take me one of those minutes to finish this mail, three to draft an email to HR, asking whether I will be required to work a notice period or not, and one to walk from my cubicle to yours.

Don’t misunderstand me: I don’t expect beating you to a bloody pulp to solve anything. In ten minutes, I’ll still be devastated, humiliated and bereft, and also unemployed. But between now and then, you owe me five minutes of pure self indulgence.

See you in four minutes



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Forgiveness Afloat


(diamond geezer [CC / Flickr])

The ferry was almost empty so Alison found a seat where she had several rows to herself. She tweeted that Ryde was even duller than usual today and set to liking her way through her friend’s feeds while she waited for her own likes to roll in.

She didn’t pay any attention to the man who sat down at the end of the same row. There were still several seats between them, and she’d just found a selfie of Carol with a new baby that warranted a ‘luv u girl’ as well as a like.

The man slid two seats closer to her. Alison darted a look in his direction, being careful not to make eye contact. The problem with the Isle of Wight was that if you didn’t quite know everyone, you’d probably met them at some time or other but another glance confirmed that nothing about his long coat or hipster beard looked familiar.

He sidled two more seats toward her. There was only one seat between her now, and no one else closer than the café bar at the other end of the deck. Now he was closer, she could see he was sweating, even though the air conditioning was, as usual, turned up so high that she sometimes wondered if Wightlink was trying to refrigerate its customers.

She gathered up her bag and was about to head over to the bar when the man spoke.

“I’m sorry. Aren’t you Alison McTiernan?”

“Yes.” Alison tried to imagine the man without the beard but either her imagination or her memory were failing her, or she really didn’t know this man.

“I’m Damien Jones.” The man was looking past her but his tone of voice suggested he expected the name to mean something to her.

It didn’t. “Do I know you?”

“Yes, you must remember. I’m… I used to, well, to make fun of you. When we were kids. Ventnor Primary.”

“We were at school together?” The name rang a bell somewhere in Alison’s mind, but she still couldn’t attach it to any particular memory.

“You must remember,” said the man. “I was the obnoxious little… the bully. I’ve wanted to say I’m sorry for… well, for years now.”

“Right,” said Alison. “I’m sorry, I’m trying to remember you, but…”

“No, please, don’t be sorry. I was a little… I was awful. Your parents moved across the island to get you away from me.”

Alison frowned. “I don’t know where you got that idea from. We moved to Newport because my dad got a job there.”

“Oh.” The man’s mouth hung open in surprise.

“You can’t have been that bad if I don’t remember it. Perhaps you should forget about it too.”

The man closed his mouth but still couldn’t look at Alison’s face. “And after I’ve tried so hard to find you. To apologise.”

“Oh well, don’t worry about -” Alison stopped talking as his last words sank in. “What do you mean, you tried so hard to find me? I thought you just happened to run into me?”

“No, no, I wouldn’t have recognized you. It was years ago and you’ve got so much… I mean, you’ve put on some…” The man called Damien Jones waved a hand in a way that suggested the outline of something round. “Anyway, it wasn’t by chance.”

Alison renewed her grip on her bag. “How did you find me?”

“On Twitter.”

“I don’t let Twitter track my location,” said Alison.

“I know you don’t, but you tweet about Ryde and Portsmouth on the first Sunday morning of every month. There’s only one ferry every half hour. This is only my third try to find you. I just… I’ve been carrying this, this guilt all my life.”

Alison became aware that she was as far from the man as she could be without sliding into the next seat. She allowed her body to do what it seems to want to do and put another seat between them. “Have you been stalking me?”

“No!’ The man cringed his way to the seat next to the one she’d just vacated. “Not stalking you. Not exactly. I’ve been looking for forgiveness. Doesn’t everyone want forgiveness?”

“I don’t know what you think you’ve done,” said Alison, “but if you ever talk to me again, I’ll call the police. Leave me alone.”

“Please.” The man made it into the seat next to Alison and grabbed her hand with a speed that startled her. “I need forgiveness.”

Alison leapt to her feet, snatching one hand away from the man and scooping up her handbag with the other. She backed her way down the row of seats, not taking her eyes off the man called Damien Jones, who didn’t move but watched her go with beseeching eyes. Alison wished she could think of one last thing to say to him, but the only words she spoke between standing up and arriving in Portsmouth were to order a gin and tonic at the bar.


(diamond geezer [CC / Flickr])

Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle

The best cigarette of her day


(Sakuto [CC / Flickr])

The best moment of her day was the first draw on the first cigarette in her favourite seat with a full cocktail glass on her favourite table. She closed her eyes to savour it. She blew out the smoke slowly, letting the tobacco mould her to the contours of the chair.

“I own this bar,” she said to the next table. “I come in from time to time to make sure the staff are serving my customers correctly.”

She took another draw on her cigarette and tipped her head until it rested on the back of the chair she knew so well. She blew smoke at the ceiling, watching it fog the softly lit air between her and the plaster.

She frowned at some black dots she saw.

“I must have blown so much smoke at that little bit of ceiling that it’s starting to show.” She smiled at the next table. “Mea culpa. I’ll have to get it repainted. No, I’ll call a tradesman to replaster the whole ceiling. Nothing but the best for my valued customers.”

She raised the cocktail glass to her lips, but froze when she took a sip. She replaced it on the table.

“It is not as it should be.” She spoke under her breath, not wanting her words to carry to the next table. “Could the waiters be watering down the spirits?”

Another draw on her cigrarette.

“It’s impossible to find trustworthy staff these days. You can’t turn your back for a moment without them robbing you blind.”

Her cigarette was more than half finished now. She regarded the glowing tip for some minutes.

“I like to anticipate the last draw,” she said. “It adds a certain poignancy. There should always be poignancy when a light goes out, don’t you think?”

No one answered.

She placed the cigarette between her lips and burned it down to her fingertips.


She threw the butt on the floor. The sound of her heel crushing it echoed around the blackened walls.

She threw the contents of the cocktail glass on top of it, pushed herself to a feet with a hand on the table and took the glass to the charred remains of the bar. She left it there and picked up the bottle of tap water she’d filled it from without looking at it.

Rather than walking straight to the door, she paused to touch her finger to the board over the window. The line of sunlight between the edge of the board and the window frame sliced her face in two. She spun on her heel and faced the bar with a broad smile.

“Until tomorrow, my friends.”

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle

Big Desk Gratitude


(Daniel X. O’Neil [CC / Flickr])

The CEO sat at his desk. A suited man came in and handed him a folder.

“The report on the possible merger,” said the man.

“Thank you.” The CEO did not look up.

The suited man left, making sure he closed the door quietly.

The CEO hefted the report on the palm of his hand. He frowned at the weight. He flicked through to the page titled ‘Recommendations’ and picked up his phone.

“Hold the merger,” he said. “We’re not going ahead with it.”

He listened for a moment. His eyelids drooped.

“Thank you,” he said while the other person was still speaking, and hung up.

A knock on his door.

“Come in.”

A woman in a trouser suit walked to his desk holding a four-page printout. “Your speech.”

“My speech?”

“To the Rotary Club.”

“Ah, yes. On being a self-made businessman. You did proof read it after you finished writing it?”

“Yes sir.” She put the printout on his desk.

“Thank you.”

He waited until she had left before picking up the printout. He smiled as he read it. He would be a most eloquent keynote speaker.

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle

Non-fiction Review: What’s Your Type by Merve Emre

CoverWhen Merve Emre asked for Isabel Briggs-Myers’s papers held by the University of Florida, a ‘gentle and apologetic’ librarian told her she would never be allowed to see them. It makes for an intriguing opening as, like Emre herself, I was forced to wonder what secrets those papers might hold. Isabel had never been a politician or a spy and her one invention – or rather co-invention – is so widely known that it’s the opposite of secret. Everyone’s heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

Most of What’s Your Type (titled The Personality Brokers in the USA) is a biography of the mother and daughter who came up with the test that has become beloved of management consultants and pub psychologists around the world.  It wouldn’t be quite true to say that they collaborated; Katharine Cook Briggs started the work on the test and her daughter Isabel later picked up where she left off later on.

As to whether it has any real value, Emre states her scepticism from the start. This is the story of a pseudoscientific rather than a scientific revolution.

The story starts with the frustrations of Isabel’s mother, Katharine Briggs, who consistently came top of her agricultural college class but knew the lot of a late 19th century American woman was to become a wife and mother rather than to use the degree she’d earned with such distinction. She formulated a set of criteria for parenting that look as if they owe their origins to a class on crop husbandry, which made her name – or at least her penname – famous through a series of articles on parenting in general and the progress of her own daughter in particular.

Quite what Isabel, the carefully cultivated daughter, made of it is less than clear but as soon as she was old enough, she wasted no time in moving away to her own college and falling in love with a man who was less interested in Katharine’s Christian principles than in the blasphemies of socialism. Socialism didn’t stop him and Isabel taking the conventional route of getting married and going to work while Isabel took on the role of housewife.

Isabel proved a difficult character to keep down, though how much that had to do with her carefully planned upbringing is a point that Emre leaves to conjecture. She achieved some success as an author of detective fiction before the Wall Street Crash devastated the publishing industry and put an end to her writing career.

Meanwhile, Katharine was developing an infatuation with the writings of Carl Jung. She refined his theories into a system of rigid types that she believed everyone fell into. If each person’s type could be identified, she reasoned, then each person could find a place in the world that would leave them happy and fulfilled. This was during the inter-war period when the theory of eugenics was widely accepted. Katharine’s deterministic interpretation of Jung was a logical extension of the biologically deterministic principles that held sway among those who did not put them to the test.

Katharine’s interest in Jung’s writings became an obsession with Jung himself. Not content with breathlessly reading his books to Isabel whenever she had the opportunity, she exchanged letters with Jung for years. When Jung visited America, she composed paeans of praise to the great man to the tune of songs from musicals and followed him from city to city until she had the chance to meet him.

It was when Katharine’s eccentricity slipped into full senility that Isabel started to take an interest in her mother’s work on psychological types. Isabel refined it into the categorisations of what became the MBTI while she was working in a management position that wouldn’t have been available to a woman had the Second World War not been raging at the time.

Psychological testing was nothing new, though many tests had agendas that were less than obvious from their terminology. Emre quotes one indicator sold to management to categorise their workforce, in which ‘manic depressive’ actually meant ‘union member’. Isabel’s test was different in that, at least ostensibly, it made no judgement as to the value of the people it tested but simply aimed to match them to their niche within an organisation.

It quickly spread from the corporate world to attract the attention of academic psychologists, and from there to a far murkier world: the recently established Office of Strategic Services (OSS) used it as part of the process they used to select people for training as spies.

The fact that a test that still appears in everything from dating profiles to annual appraisals was invented by a pair of amateurs with no psychological training might seem extraordinary today, but what is even more extraordinary is that so many people credit it with so much authority when it isn’t backed up by a shred of experimental evidence. The central premise of the MBTI is that an individual’s type is fixed from an early age. Emre had to chant ‘type doesn’t change’ as part of a training course she was encouraged to take part in to get hold of Isabel’s papers.

Yet Isabel herself described cases where the same individual was typed differently when they repeated the test. Rather than wonder if it might be measuring what mood someone was in rather than an inflexible type, she rationalised away the problem by concluding that carrying out the first test had released those individuals’ true types, which had been picked up on the subsequent test. All was well with the MBTI and management consultants need not lose any sleep over it.

In fairness to both Katharine and Isabel, they developed the test before psychological research had embraced the scientific method. Like Jung himself, most psychologists simply tried things on their patients to see what would happen and formulated theories that had as much to do with preconception as observation. Katharine and Isabel were probably as well qualified to produce valid as the professional psychologists they worked alongside, and occasionally against.

My main criticism of the book would be that other than Isabel’s fudged results, it doesn’t really deliver on the promise set up by the opening of the restricted papers. The main point of concealing them seems to be that the MBTI doesn’t offer much more of an insight into someone’s character than one of those Facebook quizzes asking whether you’d be an elf, a dwarf or a troll if you found yourself in Middle Earth, but that’s hardly earth-shattering news.

Another minor niggle is that in a few places, Emre does seem to assume her reader is familiar with the MBTI. I’ve never taken the test and I don’t know my INFJ from my ESTP and though I didn’t feel I missed much, a little more explanation might have helped.

Neither of those points detract from an engaging story of how the rather unprepossessing birth of a sliver of pseudoscience led to it infiltrating the world. Emre never states it as explicitly as that, although her scepticism is impossible to miss and equally impossible to take issue with. We are no longer in the mid-20th century. Psychologists no longer throw amphetamines at their patients and call it a panacea, and eugenic determinism has long been debunked. Surely it’s time we left the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator into the same category of medical history where it belongs.

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Posted in Book review: non-fiction

Jeff Comes Home


(z287marc [CC / Flickr])

Zack left his flat and went down the stairs to find a stranger trying keys in the door below his.

“Hey,” said Zack, “Are you moving in?”

The man turned to him with a smile. “Yes, as soon as I can find the key. I’m Jeff.”

“Zack.” They shook hands.

“Where are you from?” asked Zack.

Jeff waved at a pile of boxes in the corridor. “In there, I guess.”

Zack frowned. “I don’t get that. How can you be from inside a box?”

“I’m not from anywhere else.” Jeff shrugged. “Or maybe I’m from a lot of places but nowhere in particular.”

It didn’t help Zack to make sense of the situation.

“How about you?” asked Jeff.

“I guess I’m from up there.” Zack gestured up the stairs toward his flat. “Been in that flat for as long as I can remember. Proper local, me.”

“Then you’ll know all the best spots. Care to share them with a vagrant?”

“Vagrant?” That didn’t sound good to Zack. “You are renting that place, aren’t you? Legit, I mean?”

Jeff laughed. “Sure I am. Figure of speech, that’s all.”

“Like saying you’re from a pile of boxes?”

“Well, no. I meant that a little more literally.”

Zack stifled a groan. Whenever things started to make sense, they always stopped.

“What I mean,” said Jeff, “is that everything about me that isn’t me that matters is in those boxes. They’ve been following me around rentals and short-term contracts for, for, I don’t know. A long time.”

“The boxes?”

“Well, not exactly the boxes. Boxes fall apart after a while. I mean the stuff in the boxes.”

“So you get new boxes?” That was something that made sense to Zack. “Like, you’re not even from the boxes, really. ‘Cause you have to keep changing them?”

There was something rigid about Jeff’s smile now. “You could put it that way.”

“So where’s home for you?” asked Zack.

“Here.” Jeff tried another key. It fitted this time, and he swung the door open. “Or it will be, as soon as I get the boxes inside.”

“And open them?” asked Zack. “I mean, if it’s the stuff that’s in them that’s where you’re from, you’ll need to unpack to go home, right?”

“Some of them.” Jeff shrugged. “I expect I’ll run out of steam half way through and spend the next year not getting round to unpacking the rest. You know how it is.”

Zack thought about that. “No, I don’t think I do.”

Jeff smiled in a way that Zack didn’t quite understand. “No, I don’t suppose you do. Now I’d better get this little lot out of the corridor before it gets in anyone’s way.”

Jeff hefted a box.

“Welcome home,” said Zack.

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Posted in Saturday Hooptedoodle
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