This is the sixteenth part of a fiction serial, in 728 words.
Two trips were needed to get the three boxes into my flat. I took the two lighter ones together, then went back for the heavier one. Before I opened any of them, I decided to make a detailed note of the contents on the record I was keeping on my laptop. So I fired that up, and got it ready.
*Box One. The lightest.
One England Football Shirt. Size medium.
One pair of matching football shorts. Size medium.
One pair of football socks. Unwashed.
One yellow leather football. Partially deflated.
One Timex watch. Glass broken, not working.
One pair of football boots. Size eight. Muddy.
*Box Two. Next lightest.
Assorted newspapers in plastic covers. Thirty in total.
Assorted photos, three in frames. Perhaps fifty in total.
Four very large fishing reels, line still attached.
Two boxes of large fishing hooks, assorted sizes.
One pair of heavy leather gloves. Well worn. Size large.
Two Post-Mortem reports, in plastic wallets.
A report from a Private Detective, in a blue folder.
*Box Three. The heaviest.
One VHS camcorder, large shoulder-mounted variety.
Four spare batteries for the camcorder.
One dedicated charger for the batteries.
Leads and plugs to connect it to the mains, and to a TV.
Six VHS tapes. TDK 30-minute chrome type.
Four more much bigger fishing reels, line still attached.
Six spare fishing lines. New in packets.
Four football achievement medals.
Two small trophy cups for football achievement.
Two small trophy cups for fishing.
I made the presumption that the football kit was my brother Terry’s. That was confirmed by finding his name on the cups. And the fishing trophies bore the engraving ‘Brian Cook’, meaning that the fishing stuff was to do with my dad. But it was the VHS camcorder and tapes that I went to first. They had to hold a clue, or so I thought. The camera battery was flat of course, but easily remedied by just plugging the huge camcorder directly into the mains.
Before I even put in a tape, I knew the bouncing ball noise and the way it had hit me in bed was something to do with Terry, and the whirring fishing line related to the dad I had never met either. But I wasn’t remotely scared, just interested. And I already knew enough not to mention anything to Sylvia Townsend next Friday.
I didn’t have a VHS player. Nobody had one of those anymore. But that didn’t matter, as the camera had a flip-out screen, and controls built into the body. I was thinking about how much my dad must have paid for this, back in the day. A substantial investment at the time. My mouth had gone dry, so I went into the kitchen to get a Diet Coke. Then I sat on the floor, wondering which tape to insert into the machine. There was no writing on the sides of the boxes, or on the actual tapes. So I just picked the first one off the pile. slid it into the camera, and pressed ‘Play’ on the side panel.
There he was. The brother I had never met. Not so much as seen a photo of him. He was in the garden, at least that was familiar to me. Kicking a football around with obvious skill, and running down in the direction of a small goal, which had been placed against the back fence. He was wearing the same football kit that was in Box One, and he looked nothing like me at all.
My dad appeared in shot, urging Terry on. Was my mum holding the camera now? I could never ask her. I had promised. In my family, a promise was a big deal. Brian looked much more like me. Tall, thick dark brown hair, and the same slightly crooked bump on his nose. That made me feel really weird, watching the dad I had never known, and him looking like a slightly older version of me. I stopped the tape, and ejected it.
I needed a drink. A real drink.
In the absence of beer, I searched out what was left of some Jack Daniels remaining from last Christmas.
Swallowing a whole glass of the JD, I reached for another tape.
It was going to be a long night, and I already knew I would be ringing in sick tomorrow.