Saturday, December 03, 2011


Red Zodiac

Tommy gradually began to realise that an X-ray and an extraction were not the same thing. An X-ray involved no taking out and was painless, whereas an extraction….The one good thing about the extraction was that Uncle Gerry was coming to take him there in the red Zodiac. There were Consuls on the estate, a grey Triumph and an ageing MG but certainly no Zodiacs. That was going to turn a few heads. The other good thing was that he was going to get an extra 1s pocket money on Saturday, which he calculated would make 2s .. 6d as opposed to the usual 1s .. 6d. When you added this to the 5s .. 6d he had already saved , it came to 8s which was one penny more than the price of the model Lysander aeroplane he was saving to buy. It was still there, in the window of the Ipswich Sports & Toyshop… Yet when Tommy awoke on the day, he felt a mounting sickness together with dreadful images of torture. His mother cooked him breakfast. Toast was not enough, she explained. He would get a headache on just toast. Tommy tried yet couldn’t eat a thing. Uncle Gerry laughed and even scoffed some of the egg while she was out of the room. He winked and wiped his moustache, knowing that if all the egg disappeared his older sister would be onto him.

Some time after the injection, which was a quick stab of pain, there was a crunch, a wrenching and a sound like a pencil being snapped. After the tooth was out, his mouth felt funny, trying to talk made him laugh, and his knees started to shake. On the motorway the speedo needle of the Zodiac went from 75 to 85 and touched 90. Tommy was forgetting about his tooth. They were off to see Haley in her caravan. She never made him eat anything, and she was often dressed in her costume, which was like a silvery glittering kind of swimsuit or bra. Still feeling drowsy from the injection, Tommy lay back on the comfy trim of the Zodiac’s front bench seat. His uncle was saying something about horse power, synchromesh and overhead cams. Tommy did not have much idea about what these were, just that they sounded good. When they got to the circus compound, Haley’s caravan door was open. She’d got him ice cream cake and cherry aid. Haley said the cake would be OK because it wasn’t hot.

After he’d eaten some of the cake and drunk all the cherry aid, it was time to watch Haley and Tearaway rehearsing. Tommy loved the sound of the big hooves careering round the sawdust ring. Suddenly Haley was up on Tearaway’s back whispering into the two pointed ears as they spun past. Steadily, she began to raise first one leg and then the other onto the horse’s brown back. A second later she was standing up and spreading out her arms for balance. Uncle Gerry’s moustache and his lower lip had parted company. Tommy, in his unmathematical way, wondered why the tent was getting smaller, and he watched as the performer effortlessly shifted her weight until, standing on one leg, she became a perfectly streamlined shape.


Lucy said...

How did I miss this before? It's wonderful!

Lucas said...

This comment is much appreciated.