Alan was in trouble again. No matter how bad it was, his little brother, Ian, always looked up to him. Their Dad, Anthony was standing at the bottom of the staircase waiting for Alan to emerge from his bedroom. Ian sat at the dinner table with his Mum, Shirley placing the dishes and cutlery on the table, watching as Alan slowly descended the stairs. He saw Anthony tapping his foot, he knew what was coming. He didn’t know why his Dad was angry at him, it’s not just one time. His Dad was angry all the time. Alan braced himself for his Dad’s wrath. He finally hit the bottom step and rolled his eyes when his Dad stopped him.
“Alan Reed, didn’t I tell you to help Mrs. Hammerly with her garden next door after college today?” His voice was surprisingly calm. “What was so important that you didn’t turn up? You didn’t even let her know, she was upset when she came to me!”
“I’m sorry, I won’t do it again,” Alan replied.
“What was more important?” Anthony studied him. His Dad never understood what Alan was going through, he never cared about his son. He always cared about himself.
“That’s none of your business.” Alan shrugged his shoulders and then crossed his arms over his chest.
“Anthony, please just leave it. The dinner will get cold.” Shirley said as she sat at the dinner table. Alan glanced over at them and Ian signalled him to sit next to him.
“We will carry this on later,” Anthony said as he moved to the spot next to Ian and sat down. He glanced down at his younger son and ruffled his hair, but Ian watched Alan as he sauntered to the seat opposite his Mum. Alan glanced and winked at his little brother as they started to tuck into their food. Ian beamed as he shoved his first spoonful of dinner into his mouth. There were exchanged glances but nothing else was said.
Shirley was in the kitchen washing the dishes after everyone had demolished their food. Alan locked himself in his bedroom trying to avoid his Dad. There was a soft knock on the door, he was expecting it to be him, but it wasn’t. He opened the door to find Ian standing there.
“What’s wrong Ian?”
“I’m curious, what was more important?” Ian smiled. Alan glanced up and down the hallway, making sure his parents weren’t hovering around. He grabbed Ian by the collar of his shirt and dragged him into the bedroom.
“That’s got nothing to do with you,” Alan said.
“I just wanted to know what was more important than listening to Dad.”
“I found something out… about him…” There was another knock on the door and this time he was sure that would be his Dad. “Hide in there, I want you to witness this.” Alan ushered Ian into the wardrobe and closed the door.
“What do you want?” Alan asked. He moved away from the wardrobe before his Dad entered, and quickly sat on his bed reading a magazine. Anthony walked into the room clearing his throat. Alan watched his Dad examine the contents of his bedroom. He pretended to ignore him and carried on reading his magazine, but, watched him out of the corner of his eye. He observed his Dad looking at his cricket helmet and his trophies. His Dad moved onto Alan’s bookshelf, touching each book with his fingertips, and lastly, he stopped to look at Alan’s ACDC poster on the wall above his bed.
“What do you want Dad?” Alan finally put his magazine down on the bed.
“I want to know your reason for not turning up at Mrs. Hammerly’s.”
“I want to know where you were last night when it was Mum’s birthday,” Alan remarked. He saw his Dad’s face turn red, clenching his fists but no words came out. Alan stood up from his bed folding his arms over his chest, he was slightly taller than his Dad. He couldn’t help but have a grin on his face showing he knew about his Dad’s secret.
“How did you…”
“How did I find out?” Alan raised his eyebrows as he finished his Dad’s question. “Mum said you were working late last night, I came by your office and you were certainly working late.” Alan mocked. Anthony stood in an awkward silence. “What? Did I say something wrong?” Alan carried on. Anthony turned towards the door, but Alan burst into laughter.
His Dad turned beet red. Alan had never outright challenged his Dad before, so he was treading on new territory. “Why you little...how dare you spy on me.”
“How dare I? How dare you. I should run downstairs and tell Mum everything.”
“You will do no bloody such thing.”
“And why not?”
“Your history isn’t too good lad, you’re all mouth and no trousers.”
Alan turned back to his bed and pulled out a cassette player from under his pillow. He lifted it and presented it to his Dad whose eyes took on orbs. The red record button was mashed and the spindles on the tape were rotating. “You see, I’ll have you bang to rights.”
“Give that to me.” Anthony lunged at the recorder in his son’s hand, foam forming in the corners of his mouth.
Alan jumped back, holding the cassette player behind his back. “So, help me I’ll scream, and Mum will come running, I’ll spill my guts”
Anthony stood up, sniffed and began smoothing his tie out with his hand. “What do you want?”
“I’ll let you know.” Alan chuffed as the corners of his lips curled upward.
“You won’t get away with this,” his Dad’s index finger quivering inches from Alan’s face, “You’ll get what’s coming.”
Alan snickered, pushing aside his Dad’s hand, “Go back downstairs and be nice to Mum before I decide to blow the whole affair and your marriage goes tits-up.” Alan said, “You know, Mum will be heartbroken if she found out that you are having an affair. So, you better stop the affair, or I will tell her myself.” Alan finally said it.
Anthony spun to face the door, his hands balled into clenched fists as he stormed out of Alan’s room and down the stairs.
“He’s gone.” Alan called. Ian slowly appeared from the wardrobe looking at his brother.
“Are you really going to tell Mum?” Ian asked. Alan shook his head and moved towards him, putting a comforting arm around his little brothers’ shoulders.
“Nope, I’m going to use it against him to get whatever I want. Come on, it’s movie time.” Alan grinned. The boys went back downstairs to see that their Mum and Dad were hugging together on the sofa getting ready for the film to start.
“Come on boys,” Shirley tapped the sofa beside her, and they all sat together. Alan glared at Anthony, arching an eyebrow and mouthing ‘fake’ to him. Shirley glanced up at Anthony and gave him a soft smile. He quickly pecked her on the lips and looked back at Alan.