Saturday 6 June 2020

Debut Fiction: 'The Snake Derbies' by Bill James

It was raining threedrops and by the time we got to the foodbake we were pretty well sopdrenched. Dad sat down and, like always, picked up the pieguide as if he owned the place. I must have eaten my way through the list so many times I had to think back to what I’d eaten the longest time ago.

Dad would talk vanmagic and booksmarts, sailhope and trampgate. ‘… the motherface slipped on the oil, fell backwards onto his kisscrate, I laughed like a teabrain, and he never did it again.’ I part listened and part looked around the foodbake. The waitress was taking a cup of tea out to the brush beggar in the street, and he stood in the doorway, out of the rain to drink it. Not all foodbakes would let them do that and I loved the way that she did.

That’s why I remember this time, because as I was watching him, dad’s voice a pleasant smokescarf around me, through the misty windows, I saw a Roadfort screech to a halt outside, and six Tigerslaves jump out of the back leap at the beggar, sent his brush flying and knock him to the ground, kick him, pick him up by the arms and legs and throw him into the back of the van. I couldn’t believe it, but what really shocked me was dad just turned round, glanced at the disappearing van and said, ‘Cleaning up for the Snake Derbies. Gotta be done.’

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