Four months to the day after George Harrison died, Ron was barbecuing Cumberland sausages at the back of his new terraced house, wearing nothing but extra-large boxers and his grandmother’s apron. Fat grease shone on his chest hair.
‘Local paparazzi’s been,’ he said, snapping open a can of Fosters.
‘Yeah?’ His daughter pretended not to remember.
‘For an interview.’
‘Took my photo.’ He poured twiglets into a cut glass goblet. ‘I had to look sad.’
‘It’s not my best face and I’ll be on the front cover.’
It had been thirty minutes, but it was no use – she wasn’t going to do it: ‘Go on then, dad. Pass me a can.’
‘Everything in life’s the sum of all that went before it.’
‘You’re saying if it wasn’t for you, the Beatles wouldn’t –’
‘I’m saying George was lucky he was on my street. Harry’s kid needs a guitar, your nan said, and that was it. And I never practised – though I was told I had talent – so George got mine for ten bob.’ He paused to turn a sausage. ‘But I mean what eleven-year-old practises guitar?’
He spun round with his tongs, brown sauce whipping the air like a cable and crooned into them. Happier than he’d been in a long time. Like really happy.
‘Not bad what he achieved though. Son of a bus driver from the backstreets of Liverpool,’ she said, because only yesterday her mum had taken on more hours at Littlewoods because this tightwad wouldn’t cough up child maintenance.
Ron mic-dropped his tongs onto the Realgroove decking. ‘And where did it get him, hey? All that success? Where did it get him?’
She drank deeply. Nothing else to do. Lips round that steel tear-shaped hole in a tin.
‘Where did it get him, dad? You tell me.’
‘George Harrison is dead. John Lennon is dead.’ He reached for a fork. ‘Me? Still here. Still barbecuing.’ Then, with the sound a knee makes when it pops, he pierced the seal of a burger pack, straight through the Past Its Sell-By Date label he’d forgotten to remove.
Kathryn Aldridge-Morris writes flash fiction and CNF. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in ‘And if that Mockingbird Don’t Sing’ (Alternating Current Press, 2022) Sledgehammer Lit, Gastropoda, Overground Underground Mag, Ellipsis Zine, Janus Literary, Lunate, The Phare and elsewhere, and she was recently shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award.