Dale’s jobless condition was to him like being in hell. He would allow a sledge hammer to crash upon misery which lack of a job had brought him, if it were a fly. He was home at his London residence which had a living room that could not be said to be well furnished. Dale was not in the best of moods. Depression had encased him completely. It had taken the role of the General as far as the confines of the world of Dale’s mind were concerned. It yielded nothing else to Dale but frustration. He had to be in constant war. He could not just help but fight back the way he deemed fit. A way he thought was most effective. So he would drown away his frustrations in his man-made sea of alcoholic drinks, or whatever that would bring in the much-needed temporary relief and transition to an elusive world without his worries. An escape world, no more than a fad, which would vaporise as soon as alcoholic intoxication was no longer there. So empty bottles and cans of beer were not strangers on Dale’s table. And also brandy, of course.
Dale sat with a glass of brandy in his right hand. He took a sip and kept the glass on a table in front of him. And it was not a surprise at all to hear bottles fall off whenever he did this, as the glass would not find a space on the table without knocking off a bottle or two. Dale scratched his head hard all of a sudden and sprang up. He began to saunter, hands akimbo, shaking his head out of sorrow.
“What is this?” Dale yelled when he stopped sauntering. His Irish accent was so thick that one could lean on it without falling, when he spoke again. “Now when would it be that I will be able to ’ave another life?” He yelled. Dale decided to get back where his seat was. This time he toddled, and would quite readily remind one of a toddler that just started learning to walk. He was now in full control by the brandy he began to drink at the break of dawn, his breath also stinking of it. Dale began to stare at the glass on top of the table as if it was the brain behind his misery. It was not difficult to see that the glass was about to bear the brunt of it all.
“You bastard!” Dale screamed at the glass. “You expect me to fill you up and lift you up into my mouth each time I wish to drink. You bastard and good for nothing glass! Is it not time you learned how to fill yourself up and pour some brandy into my mouth all by yourself? Come on! Become useful for once!” The moment the last word had left Dale’s mouth also marked the beginning of another stare at the glass. There was complete silence, as if time had stood still. Dale nailed the glass with a ferocious stabbing glare that led to him suddenly grabbing it and smashing it on the floor in the twinkle of an eye, leaving its broken pieces distributed around.
“That is just a warning for you bastard! I will be tougher next time, until you learn your lessons,” Dale railed. He belched as well, before sitting down. “You can now rest in perfect peace,” he said to the shattered glass. Silence then came on, a very brief silence that got eliminated by thunderous snores, which rented the entire atmosphere with repulsive stench of brandy.
Dale’s thunderous snoring suddenly faded for an incoming voice. It was that of Dale’s wife, Nancy. She was laughing because she was excited, and was revealed seated in the same living room where Dale had dealt with the glass. But Dale had vanished for now in this surreal world. Nancy’s thunderous laughter rented the air again as she looked up from the picture album she was carrying with so much care, as if it were a fragile egg . She soon stopped laughing and got busy with admiring pictures in the album, this time with a broad smile on her face, flipping from page to page.
“It is so amazing to see how certain times, periods and moments of our lives are captured in pictures,” she uttered, raising her head slowly and looking up in delight, being taken down memory lane. Nancy smiled again. Then she threw glances at the pictures once more.
“Interesting,” she said, with delight. “Pictures really say a lot of words;” she went on to say, before roaring into a peal of laughter. “Oh! Look at Dale and I. See how young we were then.” Nancy laughed again. But the laughter was brief this time. It actually gave way for a warm wide grin, as she continued to be enthralled by the pictures the album contained. “Oh! That is Rooney, my son, right in the hands of that nice Nanny we used to have. What is her name again?” Nancy thought a bit. “Yes!” She screamed as she remembered. “Katy. Oh...Katy. She has since moved on. I also learnt she paid her way through the university. The University of East London if I’m not making a mistake.” Nancy smiled. “Look at Rooney at one, relaxed in her arms and sucking from his feeding bottle. Oh..... dear.”
Nancy’s soliloquy was stopped by Rooney’s entry. He distracted his mother who looked and saw him bouncing a football on the ground, as he got closer. Nancy was not impressed by what she saw, and was also not going to keep mute.
“Rooney,” she called on her son in a tone that made sure her growing displeasure was quite evident. A frown was already on her face. “This is not a football pitch!”
“I know that,” Rooney responded, grabbed the ball and held it by his side. His response was quick, spoke only one word, which was remorse. And it didn’t take much time for Nancy to be pacified. A smile sneaked into her face at the speed of light, and lit it up.
“I can see you are going out to practise. Following your dream, isn’t it?” Nancy said before letting out a gentle laughter. Rooney smiled.
“You are right, Mummy,” he began. “I have skills to develop. Our coach said I could be great. He said I could even play for my country.”
“And you really want to do that?”
“Sure!” Rooney responded. A surge of enthusiasm had streamed through him, which triggered the nature of his response, which was spontaneous. Nancy was absolutely delighted with her son’s positive response.
“Now give me the names of three great players you know that have played for our country.”
Rooney smiled. His smile showed how easy a question it was for him. “That is easy,” he chipped in, and laughed before mentioning Sir Bobby Charlton, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney. Nancy nodded in the affirmative “So, Mummy, you know them too?” He uttered in excitement.
“Why shouldn’t I? These are famous people. Go ahead, Rooney, and work to become like any of them. That will gladden my heart. Good luck, my boy.”
“Thanks, Mummy,” said Rooney who then observed that his mother’s attention was quickly drawn to the album in her hands. Curiosity captured Rooney at once, compelled him to want to ask why his mother was flipping through the album with a lot of interest “What are you looking at?” He asked, while going closer to his mother. Nancy laughed.
“Come on, Rooney, you need to see this. Do you remember Katy, the Nanny that took good care of you when you were much younger?” Rooney was by now beside Nancy, and was staring at the album with interest.
“Yes. I haven’t seen her in years.” There was a lot of enthusiasm in Rooney’s response that showed he would love to set his eyes on Katy again. “You know where she lives?”
“I do. She is still here in London.” The reply got Rooney excited, which his quick smile revealed at once. He was so thrilled that he could not help but ask his mother if he could get in touch with Katy.
“Of course,” Nancy responded. She laughed as well. “I will give you directions anytime you are ready to get in touch. And I will need you to help me extend my regards to her.” Rooney’s excitement grew as he began to go away from where his mother sat.
“I will. But I’m about to be late for practise,” he said.
“You had better hurry,” Nancy said to Rooney who had already walked away. When Nancy’s words met with no reply, she gathered her attention and heaped them once more on the album, smiling and relishing long-faded memories that kept coming through. But it was not to last because Dale stormed in furious and screaming.
“When will I be hired? What sort of treatment is this that life hands to me? Others go out there and get lucky. I go out, and the whole of London is against me.” Nancy was moved to speak at once.
“That is what you think, and I must let you know you are wrong,” she countered.
“What sort of bad luck is this?” Dale yelled in response as if he was about to vent his frustration and anger on Nancy. “Look, Nancy, I am sick and tired of my condition!” A very brief silence elapsed before Nancy’s response came, which was direct.
“That is the reason why you don’t have to give up the search,” she said. “Quitters don’t ever get to succeed! Dale, my husband, you are not a quitter. Don’t ever let your story be told as someone who gave up when the going got so tough!”
“They say talk is cheap, Nancy! This is too much for me. He who feels it truly knows it.”
“Rest assured you will soon be hired!”
“When no employer even likes my face? Impossible! Oh... Oh... Oh.... This life..... Poor me..! No one is hiring,” Dale uttered, and collapsed on the floor.
“Dale, you are not about to die,” Nancy screamed.