In bloom, p.1
In Bloom, p.1Edgar Million
Copyright 2014 Edgar Million
Dedicated to all those I have lost who live on in my heart.
“It is now my duty to completely drain you.” - Nirvana.
The little boy looked upon his big brother with the sort of awe often found in younger siblings. Johnny, substantially older than Kim, was the epitome of cool, with Kurt Cobain grunge hair, a guitar pinned to the wall, and a black Nirvana t-shirt under a scruffy leather jacket and a variety of ripped jeans and tatty DMs.
Most weekends the band would practice in the garage and Kim would lounge about in front, pressed hard against the garage door to listen to blazing axe sounds which to his tender ears sounded full and accomplished, although their the neighbours were less keen.
Johnny Cutbush was the lead singer and guitarist, and might have chased him off if he had known he was there, but Kim kept quiet and listened to the rough guitar sounds and coarse words used by the fifteen year old Johnny and his friends.
Kim practised the sound of the some of the words quietly when he was on his own, words he could tell were forbidden by the weight and vigour with which Johnny and his friends hefted them, but the nine year-old enjoyed the taste of them on his tongue, although he understood little of their origin or their meaning, and wouldn’t have dared use them in front of his parents.
On the whole the elder sibling treated the younger with the sort of kindness often missing from brotherly relationships, because the sizeable gap in their years meant that they weren’t really competing for attention or space. Certainly he was treated with greater respect by Johnny than he himself bestowed upon his younger sibling, Alice. A mere two years Kim’s junior and frankly stupid and pointless in so many ways he wondered how she could get out of bed in the morning.
He wasn’t allowed to sit in the garage and be with the group as they rehearsed, that would have been taking things too far, but his brother always had a friendly word for him, or a tousle of his hair, and had given him his own Nirvana T-Shirt, an old one of Kim’s, shrunk slightly in the wash.
The white garment with the crooked smiley face was Kim’s most precious possession and every day he dashed to throw off his bottle green school t-shirt to be replace with the oversized shirt, with its askew smiling face adorning the front.
The songs sounded fantastic to Kim.
Mostly Nirvana covers, and sometimes a ballad-y thing that he’d been told was by someone called Neil Young, which shook the corrugated metal door as he leant against it; his body thrilled with the vibrations.
Occasionally another sound seeped in; the noise of Mrs Hitchcock penetrating the waves of noise, with a swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, as she swept her drive, patio and pathways, head-scarf wrapped tight around her head and chin, with massive sunglasses obscuring much of her face as she swept and swept and swept the same stretch of path repeatedly. She did this every day, almost every hour, to the extent that Kim sometimes wondered if she was trying to dig or erode her way through.
She hovered, permanently watching for stray leaves landing on the grass or the pathway. Kim had no idea why it bothered her so much and he wasn't about to ask her.
Or talked her. She scared him.
But he watched her, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh along the path, spying through a crack in the fence, listening now to her as she made her other favourite sound, tutting.
Kim knew from experience that the tutting was probably a reaction to blasting guitar and drumming, and figured it would only be a matter of time before she would be heading up the path to hammer on the door and berate Johnny for his terrible behaviour, or possibly his Mum or Dad, for their lack of guidance in ensuring that the boy was suitably considerate and respectful. And quiet. All children appeared to be too noisy for Mrs Hitchcock.
He would edge closer to the fence behind the hydrangea plant if he heard her approach, because whilst his older brother had regularly proved his lack of fear of her, retrieving Kim's over-hit football’s and numerous other spherical objects from her garden, he had seen something of her to know she was not to be crossed.
He’d known from the first she was to be feared when Old Man Rab disappeared.
Old Man Rab had been the elderly gentleman who had lived at Number 18 before she moved in.
Kim had often chatted to Rab, who would call over the fence to him to discuss the various games and imagined adventures Kim was having in the garden.
Sometimes Rab would tell him stories about his life, about his long-gone wife Sandra, and Rab’s own, very real adventures when he’d been in the war, back in the olden days; when he'd dropped bombs out of darkened skies before falling out of one himself in flames minus most of his leg.
Always with a lollipop or some other confectionery in hand, Old Man Rab had been ever-present in Kim's life until one day, around a year ago he was no more.
The presence of Old Man Rab, dispenser of candy and war stories, replaced by Mrs Hitchcock, although he didn’t know her name yet, sweeping the path as though she was furious with the leaves for landing on it.
“Mum,” he called, coming in from the garden with holding a dirty green toy stegosaurus that he had just found wedged into a flower bed and pointing it towards the unknown woman, “Mum, who’s that lady?”
“I don’t know dear, maybe she’s just moved in,” his Mum peered out at the woman in the garden. “About time too. The house was falling to rack and ruin empty.”
Kim stared at her. Rab's house had always been lovely. His pride and joy. His Mum knew that. She always went on about how lovely it was.
“But what about Rab?”
“Old Man Rab? Next door? What about him?”
His mother was now peering down at him curiously.
“Are you okay darling? You look a little, peaky. Your allergies aren't playing up?”
Kim was allergic to tons of stuff, tomatoes, cheese, dust and a whole range of household goods and foods. He was okay with sweets, thank God, and meats and potatoes and rice, but most other edible things would bring him out in an itchy rash.
He was fine with dirt, with mud, and was regularly caked with the stuff from his adventures in the garden. His dad always said that he thought that playing in all the muck and bacteria might help build his resistance to the other nasties, but it never had, and he regularly spent days having antihistamines poured down his neck to reduce various swelling and rashes.
“I’m fine Mum, I just want to know where Old Man…”
“Next door has been empty for years darling,” in an absent, moving onto other things, tone of voice.
She had cut him off, interrupting him in a way that he knew he would never have been allowed to do to her, but knew not to comment on this.
“No it hasn’t,” he told her, “Old Man Rab lives there.”
Kim now found that he had his mum’s attention intensely, and later he would overhear her asking Dad whether he thought the boy was okay.
"I've no idea who you're talking about," placing a hand on his forehead to check his temperature, "are you sure you're okay dear?"
"He's always been there," Kim told her stubbornly, "I see him every day."
In Bloom by Edgar Million / Fantasy have rating 3.2 out of 5 / Based on32 votes