Jan/Feb 2007  •   Fiction  •   Special Feature

Geoff Says Farewell

by Michael J. Hulme

Artwork by Ira Joel Haber

Artwork by Ira Joel Haber

In Croydon, a man called Geoff is about to tell his boy, Tyrone, that he's going.

He's not even sure Tyrone's going to care. His boy has this way of looking at him like he, from head to foot, has been sculpted from turd. Yet, 16 years ago after a couple of glasses of Chardonnay, and to the soundtrack of Michael Nyman, he had laid Tyrone's mother down in this very room and spent six to eight minutes being as close to her as anyone could ever get, and nine months later, Tyrone had come mewling into the world, pink, pure, and fresh smelling.

Now, when Tyrone answers the door, it is with the well-worn "wha'youwan'?" and as Geoff looks at his boy, at the perfect arc of his maroon baseball cap, the levitative powers granted by a pair of puffed-up training shoes and, most of all, as he marvels at the amount of metal it is possible to insert into one's face, he feels a flush of fresh love for this stranger he helped make so many years ago.

"Son," Geoff says. Tyrone grunts.

"Sorry. I mean, Tyrone. Look, we need to talk. Your mother and I—we're not—that is to say, I'm not—"

Where did all these CDs come from? So many shoeboxes lining the wall, and those must be the decks he's always talking about, there in the corner. Different world this, a world stalked by Snoopy Dogg Dogg, Iced Tea, other people with fiascos for names, and yet:

"What I mean is, I'm—look, Tyrone, you know I love you—God, this is difficult—what I want to say is—"

Look at the boy with his arms folded tight. He's been staring at that square of carpet like it's the bloody Turin Shroud.

"Tyrone, I'm leaving. Moving out. Your mother and me, we're splitting up."

Tyrone sits on the edge of the bed, his gaze at least shifted from the floor, now into the middle distance through the window, somewhere beyond the train line and out into the murky high-rises beyond.

"Right," he says finally. "Why?"

"Well." Geoff breathes deeply, looking around at the pile of unwashed clothes and the beer can with a halo of fag ash, careful all the while to remember this is not a time to make a push for the moral high ground. "The thing is, I've met someone else."

Tyrone laughs. It's the first time in months Geoff has heard him laugh, and it doesn't appear to be sarcastic. "What, my dad's a player? Rude, man. Respect."

"A player? What?"

"You been getting busy on the sly. Busting up chicks when you meant to be home with your woman. Out there banging the beaver!"

Geoff isn't sure what's happening here exactly, but Tyrone punches his arm in a playful manner much like the way young men these days behave on the television, and this, for some unknown reason, pleases him. There is an awkward interlude when Geoff goes to hug his son, and Tyrone makes to bang knuckles with Geoff, which leads to Tyrone punching Geoff in the throat, but they both laugh it off and the awkwardness is banished.

Thank God, Geoff thinks, descending the stairs to the lounge-diner where Elizabeth is sitting waiting for him to tell her he's done the deed so they can begin the grim dig through the attic for documents, Cat Stevens records, mortar boards, and faded photograph albums.

Maybe once the move's all over and the decree nisi's framed and hung on the wall, he can hang at Tyrone's crib. Nothing serious, just some pimping between bloods.