‘Consistency. That’s what I was telling her Mart. You don’t need to have everything, you don’t even need to know all that much-’
‘Why are you telling our daughter this Ray?’
‘I’ve never been honest with that kid Mart. All through school, telling her she was never as good as she was. She must have taken me for an idiot. I know that teacher did. Hearing me talk like that.’
He lies on his side, facing the wall now. He used to sleep on his back, but he snored. Nothing worked. Pills, less beer, water before bed, even a small ball of cotton wool on his tongue. Ray was a snorer.
‘Paul wants to meet you, Dad. I know you don’t have time this weekend but…’
She pulled that old check cardigan around her, pushing her fingers on the steel table. The sun had gone in and the waiter stood beneath the awning, hands laced behind him.
‘We can meet. I’d like to see the boy.’ He dips his head a bit, flashes that grin Mart loved on the bleachers with those other boys in roll-up t-shirts. ‘See if he’s up to Jessica’s standard.’
‘I’m right here. We don’t need a third person in this.’ She leaned back and dug her hands in her pockets. Stalemate, all for a 1970s hotel and dog-eared magazines in racks next to your knees.
‘Did you meet Paul?’
He rolled onto his back. ‘No,’ he said finally. It came out like the last apple in a wet sack found at the bottom of the shed. ‘She said we’d meet next time I was in town.’
‘She said that last time too Ray.’
‘I know Mart.’ Crooked his hands behind his head, looked at the ceiling.
Why couldn’t he stop snoring?