Jack had a mind that was a mess. It sees the memory of a girl he fell for, all those years ago, and not the tragedy that lives now.
Contrary to the Metallica tune playing on some big shots DAB radio show in the workshop, Jack didn’t build houses. He fixed cars. Vans too, in fact if it had an engine Jack Draycott of Draycott’s Autos was your man. Or at least one of his four mechanics might be if the boss himself was already greased up and cursing under his breath.
Bloody fool driver shagging the guts off this piece of engineering.
Paid the bills although he preferred proper breakdowns. Wear and tear parts and restoration of old beasts that, but for proper TLC, would be down the scrap yard and crushed into a box of metal by years end.
Ran a line in crash repairs too. Terry, his brother in law owned a body shop on the same industrial estate which made life a whole heap easier for paint. Jack did engines, not paint. Terry painted and fettled, didn’t do engines. Worked just fine and kept family matters on a good footing. A mutual interest in restoring vintage bangers amidst the day jobs turned the in-law obligation into a rock solid friendship with sound appreciation of the skills of the other.
Underneath all this Jack had a problem. It came in a bottle. Mostly in the evenings with an excuse to close his brain down at the end of a hard days fixing things. His wife Jennifer, God bless her, was in a nursing home drifting between lucid and not so lucid.
Some days she almost knew who he was. Suffered a stroke two months back, but unlike the adverts on TV, time wasn’t there to catch it quick. He found her on the floor by chance, after forgetting his pack up lunch. By the time the paramedics arrived and stabilised the patient, her brain was some ways off optimal. It became clear real quick that her mental capacity was severely compromised.
Following the stint in hospital Jennifer was placed in a temporary home with after care until Jacks house was assessed and modifications made to allow her back safely. Options sat between rock and hard place. Have her home or spend everything he’d built up over the years on care home costs. Means testing was a bitch. Bleed you dry until you were skint enough to claim costs.
There was the rub. By then she would, on probabilities way better than winning the two o’clock at Aintree, be dead and where would that leave him?
Fucked was the word that sprang to mind.
It wasn’t like she was really his wife anymore either. He’d done his mourning when it became apparent there was no way her eyes said “Hey, Jackie babes, I’m still in here.”
She couldn’t string two words together never mind a sentence and a life sentence was exactly what Jack saw. The ultimate zombie living at home under constant care, wiping her arse and changing her clothes. Not even aware he existed never mind until death do us part. Death came and left the shell behind. If that was a faller at the races the vet would be in, shake his head and that would be that. Not people though. Jack didn’t have a drink problem back then, but he sure knew what was coming down the trail. If you asked him what that was he’d tell you straight.
© G Jefferies and Fictionisfood, 2016. All rights reserved.