Saturday 24 June 2023

'Melting Ambition' by DLC Hanson

Mum’s ink-smeared biro hovered over the chequebook. 'Can we make it fifty?'  

The checkout woman’s nose wrinkled. 'I’ll have to ask Mr Audley.' It was Jamie-from-judo’s mum. That Jamie who had the proper uniform, the gi. I had to wear my fake Reebok trackie from the market. Still decked him though.

The bloke behind us had a Viennetta and a four-pack of Hofmeister in his basket. He kept twanging ring pulls. He reeked of ciggies.

Mr Audley appeared, wearing coffee-brown cords. Like Dad wore, before he scarpered.

'Madam, can I help?' He’d known Mum yonks but still called her Madam.

'I was just saying to Susan here. Can we make it fifty? Tide us over. Cover the lad’s judo subs and those pyjama things they wear. He’s dead good, our Mikey. Yorkshire trials next month.'

Mr Audley clocked the till’s total: £7.93.

'I’ve got the guarantee card.'

'Okay, Madam.' He nodded and shuffled off.

Mum scribbled 'Fifty Pounds ONLY' and filled the space with lines. The wide-eyed Honey Monster peeped from our sagging plastic bag. Tomorrow’s birthday treat.

'It's the 21st today,' Jamie-from-judo’s mum said.

'Is it?' Mum’d written 31st. Her biro lingered. 'Can we leave it though?'

Jamie-from-judo’s mum blinked tight and hollered 'Mr Audleeeeeey.'

'Fuckin’ ‘ells bells, Vienetta’s melting,' the can-twanging bloke said.

'Oi.' Mum used her scary voice. 'You button it, Danny Saunders. I know your mam.'

He buttoned it.  

Mr Audley reappeared. 'Yes, Susan?'

'She wants to post-date it now. Again.'

I yanked Mum’s hand. She squeezed mine. Stood firm.

Mr Audley eyed my tatty shoes and patched-up knees.

'Okay. Final time though, Madam.' He smiled but looked sad.

'Thank you,' Mum said but made no promises.

Jamie-from-judo’s mum handed over the £42.07.

'Mum, I’ll stop judo,' I said outside.

'You’ll bloody not.'

I stopped though.

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