Mr Brown

Mr Brown winced a little as he climbed the stairs to the second floor. He had passed wind as well and hoped no-one would come by while the smell persisted.

Why don’t they get a lift in this place?

Two secretaries, young and giggling came bowling down at him and he had to grab the hand rail with two hands, afraid they would take him with them.

The giggling stopped.

Good morning Mr Brown. (The girls in unison before hurrying on their way).

Good morning.

Mr Brown could not remember their names.

He reached his desk and groaned into his chair. I wish I could retire he thought.

In fact Mr Brown could not see this possibility in his future. He used to be an engineer before being retrenched. Now he was little more than a file clerk. Not at all dignified. Not at all where he thought he would end up.

Sometimes he wished his Norma was still alive. Sitting at home at night he missed her almost more than he could bear. But then there were times when he was glad she was gone, would he want her to see what he was reduced to? Old, ailing, lacking all dignity. Calling boy less than half his age ‘sir’.

Mr Brown considered going to make a cup of tea but decided the effort was beyond him for the moment. As he waited for his computer to load, whirring and beeping, he for some reason thought of Trent.

How old must he have been? Twenty? Probably about that. Trent was his best mate.

He was remembering Trent driving to Coffs Harbour. Mr Brown was with them, so was Kelly and that other boys. What was his name? Cant remember but can see his face, He drifted off from the skaters group and ended up dying of a heroin overdose.

They had played Violent Femmes since leaving Wagga. Then as boredom had set in, conversation had stopped. The boy with no name fell asleep and Trent allowed the car to wander a little.

So Mr Brown started tapping out a tune.

Then singing along to it. Nonsense words that came to him on a wave of In The Moment inspiration.

Dead sheep, dead sheep, dead sheep, dead sheep.
Dead sheep, dead sheep on the road.

Dead sheep, dead sheep, dead sheep, dead sheep.
Dead sheep, dead sheep on the road.

This was the chorus.

A fast tapping beat accompanied it. Kelly provided this with an empty plastic drink bottle on the back of the seat.

Then.

We’re driving along, we’re in Trent’s car.
It’s not Trent’s car, it’s Trent’s dads car.

Chorus goes here. Fast and determined.

Then.

Dead kangaroo, maggots out its eyes.
Another black thing, must be a magpie.

Then the chorus again.

Mr Brown was amazed at how well he remembered the words. How could he have been that person? How could he have smoked bongs, skated, listened to the Femmes, drank, thought up such words, been part of such a group?

How could he have laughed so much?

He looked at his desk, his life. His memories seemed so surreal to all this.

He sat musing to himself, smiling.

Conrad, a twenty something soon-to-be partner of the firm, and Tracy, a legal secretary looked across the room at Mr Brown tapping on his desk with a pen, smiling to himself.

They giggled together, leaving off their flirtations to laugh at the stupid old fool who was losing his mind.

Mr Brown

Michael Douglass

Alexandria, Australia

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