"I remember your mother and I were sitting in a restaurant one evening when we first started dating," Dad told my brother, Master21 and myself as we chatted over a drink on the balcony, "and there were these guys sitting a couple of tables over. A bloke pulled out a gun, pointed at their heads and blew them away."
We sat staring at dad. I suspect the ten odd seconds pause Dad's statement gave the conversation was each of us trying to work out if this was one of those times we he was fluffing out a story to make it more interesting, although exaggerating to the point where someone dies seems a little excessive.
Family get togethers are fun, especially all the family folk lore which are dusted off and trotted out like prize bulls at the local show. Over the years the stories have been evolving and gathering nuances and details and becoming even funnier. Dad has a saying, 'never let the truth get in the way of a good story' and he's been true to this motto his whole life.Tracey says it's a universal male trait in the Devereaux clan.
This year, however, Mum seems to be heading in the opposite direction - instead of adding to the stories, she's starting to take stuff away. My mum's been losing bits of her past for years. Me too, for that matter, which is why we keep such an extensive collection of photos and why I love writing stuff down. Recently, though, it does seem to be reaching critical velocity.
Over the break I overhead Grandma telling Master21 how much fun they used to have when he'd come and stay with her and Grandad at Bradman Ave, opposite the boat ramp.
"That was me, Mum," I hurried to correct her. We lived there. When I was about seven, I might add.
She paused. "Are you sure?"
"Very sure," I assured her. The house is gone now, replaced by the entrance to a caravan park, but I still point it out to the kids when we pass the spot.
"Damn," Mum muttered, and stumbled off in her own thoughts, no doubt trying to sort her memories into some sort of order given this new information.
I have bits of my life I wouldn't mind forgetting, like my attempt at playing football at school and the time Tracey learned how petrified of heights I am by watching me crawl up to the entrance to a waterslide because my legs had given way, but unfortunately age doesn't let you chose.
Meanwhile, my dad was still insisting they'd witnessed a hit.
"Yep. Killed them right there in front of us."
I was shaking my head incredulously, but not at my parents having seen someone shot. I wanted to know why I hadn't heard this story before now.
"Seriously? I've heard the story about your fascinating hemorrhoid operation maybe thirty times but this is the first time you're telling me this?"
I looked at my brother. The doubt on his face mimicked my own. Master21 was deep in thought at the end of the table. "I'll be right back," I told them all and walked into the kitchen. "Hey, Mum? Remember that time those guys were shot in front of you and Dad while you were in a restaurant?"
She scoffed and rolled her eyes at my father's story but suddenly her face mimicked mine too. I guess she was remembering the Bradman Ave incident.
I went back out to where my brother was waiting. "Mum says she's pretty sure she'd remember something like someone being killed in front of her. That and the police investigation and the court case might have caught her attention." I shrugged. "But given her memory lately she's not prepared to commit either way."
"I got it!" said Master21 from the end of the table. "Grandad, remember we saw The Godfather a few years ago?" My dad acknowledged he did. "Because I think that's a scene from the movie."
You know, when I start to add scenes from movies into my past I really hope I collect scenes from Batman and Xmen - that'll spice things up. I might actually be Batman or Wolverine. Or maybe a little something from 9 ½ Weeks, although with my luck I'd be cast in a minor role.
For now, though, I guess I better go kiss my father's ring and check my bed for horses' heads.
parents at the far end of the restaurant enjoying their meal.
(warning: graphic violence)
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