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Alex Keegan

Hi Mum. It's a shame you're dead. I've just found some stuff out, really cool stuff. You could say it's life-changing. I'd really love to talk to you about it.

I know the story. Yeah, right, you and Dad, arguing over money, he said let's get the kids fish and chips, you said, just chips, he said, Oh come on, and you said, where the hell do you think the money is coming from? That's it right? And then his gambling came up, and you not being good with money, like a tennis match, right? But then he said Fuck Off! And in the morning you said, I'm going to the shops, do you want some fags? And he said, You, last night I said fuck off. So. Fuck. Off.

And you did.

It was a good story, Mum. I don't blame you for telling it. And maybe all those things happened. But, Mam, you'll never guess who I met last week. Wanna guess? Ursula Carpenter!

She still lives in the prefab, number forty-eight, the row behind ours, yours and Dad's. I knocked her door. They're finally knocking the prefabs down, replacing them with bungalows, shipping out OAPs, splatt, then up goes a neat bungalow, all the mod cons, ship the old dears back in. I went to take a photograph. To remember the good times. I mean before you, Dad, and rows over fish and chips. Before you left us.

So his name was Jack Woodward, your lover, your fancy-man? Ursula's father-in-law. You missed that bit out, Mam. Try this: Son, I left you, I let them put you, your sisters, in a home, because I was getting fantastic sex, because I was in love. I ran away.

Try: I'm sorry, son. I was in love.

And Jack dropped you, that's the funniest bit. In the end he wouldn't leave his wife. Ursula says you did think about coming back.

But you were building a new life, even if Jack had stopped coming. Hell, there were Night Clubs, plays in the West End. You went to the first night of The Caretaker, saw the so-young Alan Bates.

And then you met Sam Browne. Oh, he crooned. He could sing the pants of many a woman, including, you, eh? Including my Mam.

Since I've found out, I've been using the web. I have Sam's picture, here, right next to a pile of Alice Munro books. I have a picture of Jack, too. He died in 65, liver cancer, if it matters.

But I have all the music, too. Sam's is still remembered. He looks like a charmer, a smoothie. I have loads of his music. I'm playing some now. Lullaby of Broadway; Angel of the Great White Way; I Got a Note; Dinner at Eight. He had a lovely voice. I've seen the photographs, God you were beautiful. You must have known Ambrose, Elsie Carlisle. Listen to this one: I'm on a See-Saw.


Alex Keegan published 5 mystery novels in the mid 1990s then switched to short literary fiction, winning a number of prizes including two seconds in the UK's prestigious Bridport Prize. US publications include Atlantic Monthly Unbound and Mississippi Review. He is contributing editor to The Internet Writing Journal.

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