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Sliding. I turn the taps and take a seat on the toilet. Flicking through a poetry book by the ‘son’. There’s some good stuff in there. I pull some toilet paper from the roll and blow my nose, it’s red and sore, my nostrils tender to the touch after 24 hours with the flu. The ‘son’ once told me ‘…write something you’re proud of.’ Good advice. He also said: ‘…I have no advise about women. I am so utterly and completely unskilled with women that when I meet one I should just surrender my credit cards and my car keys. It'd be easier that way.’ More good advice. I sink into the hot water of the freshly run bath. Pick up his words and settle back. I need a shave. Badly. I place the book by the bath side and squirt shaving gel onto my fingertips, rub it into my face then take the razor to the lot. It’s a scrappy affair at best. Looking back at me from the mirror positioned on the shelf straddling the bath is a face that shows more age than is required. The eyes are old and the mouth shows no hint of a smile. My neck aches under the tension of a cold. Earlier the good lady returned from the shops with fluids and medicated sweets, tissues and treats. ‘Do you want a beer…’ she asked. I shook my head. ‘Arrh, poorly monkey.’ She replied. ‘What about a stripper?’ She joked. I shook my head again. ‘You are poorly!’ She smiled. She lifted her top and slipped her right breast from her bra. Then rubbed her nipple on my arm. ‘Smile monkey.’ She instructed. I just looked at her like a fool, unable to respond like a human. The bathroom door handle moves, I see it in the mirror on the shelf. ‘Yeh?’ I ask. No answer. I carry on wiping the shaving gel from my face. The handle goes again. ‘Yeh?’ I ask. ‘Can I have the potty?’ My youngest niece asks. ‘OK, hold on.’ I stand naked and glorious in the bath, pull a towel from the radiator then step out and reach for the potty. I wrap the towel around my waist, open the door and pass the potty out. Sitting once more on the toilet seat. Breathing as if it’s the latest most essential thing. The ‘son’s words come back to me. ‘If a guy has something to say - an energy he transfers to paper - he must be careful of the responsibility to continue to have impact on his reader. Fame is not a problem for me. I'm such a fanatic about saying a thing 'right' that the fear of being bad looms as large as the memory of my old man's scowling face.’ He knows the score and so do I. I dry off with a warm towel and spray deodorant and apply post shave moisturiser. I’ve no-one to answer to and no-one to aspire to. I roll with the punches and slip the big shots when possible. My Californian buddy would be proud.
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