He was fine before the vodka......
Everyone on the street ran out to see. It was true. He was leaning against the neighbor’s front fence with his todger in his hand, peeing onto the pavement. Facing the road, with the girls’ school on the other side.
‘Uncle Tom’s on one!’ little seven year old Hailey screamed, jumping up and down. ‘Mummy-mummy-look, Uncle Tom’s gone on one!’
It was quarter past three in the afternoon. The road was so busy with school-runners, traffic was almost at a standstill. A lollipop lady was staring, flabbergasted. A coach driver and his passengers gawped from behind their shaded windows.
Helena, Hailey’s mother, reached for her daughter to drag her indoors, but Hailey skipped away, clapping her hands, pink belled-ribbons in her ponytails jingling all about. The girl was hyperactive from a bottle of extra sweet fizz-bomb cola and a tongue-staining sour sherbet gobstopper.
‘On one!’ she repeated to herself, stepping around the puddle of pee.
A passing voluntary police officer on a bicycle tried to act the hero, but Hailey’s Uncle Tom resisted arrest by braining the copper with an empty vodka bottle and making cheeky his escape on the bicycle, waving to his beloved niece as he so did. Half an hour later he was live on the evening news in most of the homes in the nation, perched on the edge of the main transporter bridge with his pants around his ankles and his socks on his hands, the buttons on his shirt undone and his drawers on his head, strumming an imaginary guitar.
Traffic had been stopped either side of the bridge with tailbacks for three miles either way. Two media helicopters hovered overhead. Marksmen stood by. A negotiator spoke into a loudspeaker.
Hailey’s Uncle Tom wasn’t listening. He was focusing on the carpet underbelly of a cloud where rays of sunlight forked through like torch beams. He was focusing on singing some of the lyrics to his favourite song: You and me baby ain’t nothing but mammals, let’s do it like they do on the discovery channel.
‘Turn the telly off Hailey!’ Mummy shouted up the stairs, shrugging her jacket over her shoulders, on her way to the bridge. ‘We’ve got to go out and save your Uncle Tom!’
But in her pink bedroom, Hailey only turned up her stereo, which just so happened to be playing Uncle Tom’s favourite song, the only CD she owned, smothering the volume of the TV, which was currently zoomed in on Uncle Tom’s precarious position hundreds of feet above certain concrete splatter.
‘We do not know if this desperate lunatic is drunk or drugged or what,’ she would have heard a reporter saying. ‘He’s got his cotton socks on his hands like a pair of gloves and his jockies on his head like a wooly hat.’
Bridge suicide, tomorrow’s headline would read. There would be no mention of any uncharacteristic stunts or peculiar behavior. They would simply describe the man as mentally unwell.
‘Yeees!’ Hailey cheered as her uncle jumped, biting her nails and giggling uncontrollably. ‘Go Uncle Tommy go-go-go!'
The fall seemed to take forever, spinning and tumbling like a frog in a washing machine. He looked like a kitchen chef, with his headwear and those socks which looked like oven gloves. His open shirt flapped like a superhero’s cloak.
‘Oops,’ she said as he hit. Then: ‘I love you, Uncle Tom.’
And climbed up onto her window on the second floor, imitating her role model……and jumped out......
......onto the trampoline in the garden. One out of five homes has one. A trampoline, that is, not an Uncle Tom.
home family has an Uncle Tom.
© Cam Lee 2010