This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 824 words.
Spending time with my new girlfriend was very relaxing, so I started to work longer shifts during weekdays, and stopped driving as a cab on Friday and Saturday nights so I could see her at weekends. It wasn’t too hard to make sure I didn’t take any work that got me back closer to South London, and my mood soon improved.
But I became less aware of what was happening at home. One evening, my mum stayed up late to tell me that my dad was moving out over the weekend. She suggested it might be an idea for me to make myself scarce, to avoid any arguments that I might either start, or become involved in. According to him, he was going to share a house with a male colleague in the Croydon area, saying he felt stifled in the marriage, and needed time to ‘think’.
We both knew that was unlikely to be true, as my dad never did any housework, and nothing remotely domestic. He had also never been without female company since returning from WW2 in 1946. That he had been having an affair and was moving in with his female lover was beyond doubt. But despite mum tackling him on the subject, she received flat denials every time.
At the start of October, the family home was up for sale, and dad was talking about a divorce. That made for a miserable Autumn, and a gloomy Christmas. Mum had decided she would use her share of the money to buy a shop with accommodation above, and she asked me to stay with her and help her achieve that. My girlfriend was very sympathetic, stating that if we managed to do that, she would move in with me above the shop.
One thing attracted me to the prospect of us becoming shopkeepers, and that was that I could finally say goodbye to being a cabbie, and would have a source of income along with a place to live. We began the new year of seventy-six driving around various areas looking at shops for sale, everything from tobacconist’s to small grocery stores. Our only concern was the accommodation. It had to have enough space for us to live relatively separately. That search took us into Surrey, down into the Kent coast area, and even back into Central London.
Eventually, we found a small shop with extensive accommodation above. Formerly a pub in Victorian Times, it now operated as an off-licence, selling alcoholic drinks to be consumed off the premises, alongside sweets, snacks, and cigarettes. We were unable to buy it outright, as the building was owned by one of the big four breweries, but we took a tenancy agreement with them, on the condition that we only sold their beers and wines. That cost mum almost all of her share of the house sale.
By the time we moved in, my dad’s deception had been unmasked. He had been unable to keep away from friends and relatives, and they soon informed us that he was with another woman, and had said his intention was to move away to Northampton, of all places. Surprisingly, she was not young and attractive, as we had suspected. She was a divorced woman the same age as my father, with a son the same age as me, still living at home. He had swapped one family for an identical one, for reasons that we never discovered.
We never saw him again.
My girlfriend made good on her promise, and moved in to share my top-floor rooms, with mum living on the floor beneath. She went to work each day, and mum and I ran the shop during its long opening times until eleven at night. It was in Clapham, South West London, an area unfamiliar to us, but well-known to my girlfriend.
And despite being only seven miles west of Bermondsey, it might as well have been in a different part of England. I would have no reason to ever go back to the areas where I had spent so many anxious months the previous year. Nobody from the old days knew where I was, and they didn’t know our new phone number. If I had emigrated to Australia, I could not have been any further from their influence.
A few weeks after taking over the shop, I traded in the Hillman Hunter for a Volvo saloon car. New home, new area, new job, and now a new car.
I would never be just the driver again, for as long as I lived.
But it did occur to me that this might make an interesting story, perhaps even the plot for a television series. So that is why I am sending you this outline.
(This is the end of the serial, but there will be an epilogue tomorrow. Look out for that, with an explanation of what actually happened, and more detail about the characters.)