Amazing Tales

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An Incredible Journey

Ever since I can remember my father was something of mysterious man. My mother regaled me many a time about how at times my father would just disappear. He would simply put on his jacket and vanish into thin air. Nobody knew where he went or what he got up to. Then suddenly out of the blue he would re-appear as if nothing had happened. He would take off his jacket and hang it in the wardrobe before popping back downstairs for a cup of earl grey tea. He never spoke about where he had been nor who he had been with. My mother knew better than to ask him questions. She was just happy to see him safely return none the worse for his disappearance.

I sat on the edge of my mother and father’s bed looking into the old oak wardrobe that had once seen much better days. It had been over a week since we celebrated my mother’s funeral. It was quite a modest affair with very few attendees. This was mostly due to my mother living to a grand old age. Most of those who she knew throughout her life had long since gone before her. There was virtually nobody left. My mother used to say how the worst part of getting old was the feeling of being invisible. Nobody saw her, nobody asked her opinion about anything. It was as if she simply didn’t count, she didn’t exist.

An old war jacket of my father’s caught my eye as it hung limply from the steel bar inside the wardrobe. It was an old leather flying jacket which was faded and cracked for the want of a little beeswax. There weren’t any badges to indicate my father’s war service except for one intriguing roundel with what looked like a flash of lightning or electricity from the bottom left of the circle to the top right, up into the sky. I often wondered what it was supposed to symbolise. Perhaps it was the power of god reaching down from the heavens to create mortal man here on earth. However, I suppose it means whatever you want it to mean, meaning is in the mind of the beholder of the thought.

I stood up and for some inexplicable reason I reached into the wardrobe and took the jacket off its hanger and put it on. I turned to the left through ninety degrees to see myself in the almost full length mirror on the inside surface of the wardrobe door. I looked like a younger version of my father, except I was quite a bit taller than my father. My height was all in my spindly legs. From the waist up my father and I were the same build and dimensions. We also shared the same facial looks with a small cleft in our chins. We could have easily been taken for identical twins had we lived at the same time.

I was gently rubbing the well worn collar which I slowly pulled around my neck, when suddenly I heard footsteps coming upstairs. At the same time I heard the light patter of rain and an air-raid siren go off somewhere in the distance. I also heard the fast footfall of people in the street, as if they were running to take cover somewhere before the bombs rained down on them. Then I heard my mother’s all too familiar voice call out as she came upstairs.

“Is that you Jack? Are you back again? I didn’t hear you come in darling?”

Not wishing to offend my mother, I quickly took the jacket off and put it back on its hanger in the wardrobe. The bedroom door flew open and I was shocked to see my mother, not as the old woman I had last spoken to shortly before she passed away two weeks before, but as a very beautiful younger version of herself. My mother stood in the doorway and looked straight through me as if I didn’t exist.

“Oh, you’ve gone again. Whatever am I going to do about all this coming and going, Jack? It’s a sign of the times I suppose, I’ll just have to get used to it I guess.”

And with that my mother turned and left the room closing the door behind her. I stood totally perplexed by what had happened. Suddenly I realised that the patter of rain had stopped and when I went to the bedroom window it was only to see the usual passers by going about their usual business.

I went to the landing at the top the stairs and stopped. After a few seconds I called out.

“Mother? Is that you?Are you there?” There was no reply.

I tentatively went down stairs fully expecting to see my mother at the kitchen sink washing some pots and pans. There was nobody there. I sat down at the old formica topped table to wonder about what had happened. Was it my imagination? Wishful thinking perhaps? Or could it be.....I began to think about the unthinkable.

I went back upstairs and looked a little fearfully at the leather jacket inside the wardrobe, exactly as I had left it. I slowly moved towards the wardrobe and began to finger the soft leather of the jacket. It felt good to the touch and I felt that somehow it allowed me to connect with my father. I brazened myself for what I was about to do, expecting almost anything to happen.

I slipped the jacket off its hanger once more and again put it on. I waited a few moments half expecting to hear my mother’s footsteps on the stairs. There was nothing of the sort. This time I decided to go back downstairs wearing the jacket to see if anything transpired.

I sat at the kitchen table staring off into space thinking that what had happened when I first tried on the jacket had after all been the result of a grieving, over longing imagination. Suddenly that all changed.

My mother came down stairs and this time seemed to see me as clear as daylight. However, my mother seemed to be under the impression that I was my father.

“Oh Jack, you were here all along. I thought it was you. I went upstairs to look for you, but you’d simply vanished into thin air. I don’t know how on earth you got past me on the stairs. I must have had my mind on this awful war.“”

My mother gave me a kiss on the cheek and said “Let me make you a cup of your favourite tea Jack. I know how much you love your Earl Grey, no milk nor sugar. I’ll put the pot on now. Then if you want we can go back upstairs and have some horizontal fun as you like to call it.”

My mother was radiant in her casual clothes and well home-coiffured hair. She never wore any makeup and had a lovely soft complexion. And she smelled of her favourite scent, ‘Lilly of the Valley.’

Then the thought suddenly entered my head that what my mother was referring to when she said horizontal fun was in fact sex! My mother wanted to be intimate with my father and quite frankly the prospect of having sex with my own mother appalled me.

Within two minutes my mother placed a hot cup of Earl Grey tea and a small plate of digestive biscuits on the table. The she turned away and said that she was going to go upstairs to make the bed. She gave me another kiss on the cheek and turned to go upstairs. As she rose up the stairs she called back to me.”

“Don’t you go disappearing on me again any time soon Jack. We have a lot of catching up to do young man.” And with that she was gone.

I quickly stood up and tore off my father’s old leather jacket and hung it over the back of a chair. With a bit of luck that would be an end to this incredibly strange experience. Thankfully my mother didn’t re-appear and I began to relax. Disaster averted. The bizaar idea that having sex with my mother might result in me making my own mother pregnant with me as her first born, of me being my own biological father, almost melted my brain. That was just too, too close a call and one I did well to bring to an end. I picked up the still hot cup of Earl Grey and it tasted delicious. At least that much was real. As for the rest, who knew what that was all about.

Eventually I got up and made my way upstairs with the leather jacket draped over my arm. As soon as I entered the bedroom I went straight to the wardrobe and hung the jacket in its usual place. Then once again I sat down on the edge of my parents bed. Suddenly I came over all tired and kicked off my shoes and lay back on the bed. I must have dozed off an hour or so because through the window I could see the old clock tower was about to strike midday. When I was drinking that Earl Grey earlier I remember seeing the kitchen clock at ten thirty. I sat up and thought that perhaps it had all been a dream or a figment of my own imagination. Then I had an idea.

I got off the bed and sat once again facing the open wardrobe. What if....I thought.....I tried some other items of my father’s old but well preserved clothing? Would I experience a similar effect? There was only one way to find out.

I stood up and reached into the wardrobe and gently ran my hand across all of my father’s hanging clothes. My hand stopped at an old pin striped suit, lovingly preserved by my mother ever since my father had passed away some forty years earlier. It was a very nice suit.

Ever so respectfully I put the suit on not sure what, if anything, was going to happen. I soon found out. From downstairs I could hear one or two familiar voices, old aunties and uncles. Then one voice, which I immediately recognised as being that of my father’s elder brother, sang up the stair well...

“Are you ready yet Jack? Margaret is already at the church waiting for you. They are driving around in circles until you arrive. She can’t go in until you are there waiting for her. You can’t keep a good woman waiting Jack. Come on man, let’s go.”

I suddenly realised that I had donned my father’s wedding suit. The prospect of being dragged off to marry my own mother did not exactly fill me with glee. Hearing the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs I hurredly took the suit back off before uncle Tony could come crashing in to manhandle me to the local church. Just in the nick of time I managed to divest myself of the suit.

Again I sat back on my parents’ bed. My mind was now fully alive with all sorts of possibilities. Like what if I should happen to bump into my father himself? Having got past a quick double take, what would my father think of me? More to the point, what would he think of a stranger who looked like his identical twin wearing his clothes?

Eventually I wondered if I could do something meaningful for my parents, something to ensure that they had a better life than they had had. My father was a gambling addict, always putting his spare cash on the next horse that for sure was going to make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. My father was always chasing the ace.

Somebody once told me that the reason my father was a gambler was because at one time in the past he had had a bit of a winner. And that tap that he had opened had therefore shown the potential to give again, to give more, if only.....

What on earth could I do about this? Try to find out when he had that initial winner and scupper the race? No, it was never going to work, my father would simply have another bet on another race anyway, just in case.There had to be something else I could do. Eventually I formed a plan that just might work.

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