the grape, the grate, and me
Me and the grape appear to have come to a parting of the ways. Whether we are finished, or whether he is merely on holiday, is cause for some debate. A sobering thought. Either way, our rules of engagement – the gushing over that till death do us part – are on ice. I was turning the bacon. Musing on the convoluted paths we\’ve trod. We used to get on together so famously, stopping some way short of setting the house on fire, but lately things have turned a little sour. Routinely I might wake in the morning, sharing the outline of a long-running joke into the pillow, only to find he\’d fled. Closing the door mid conversation with a whisper. Bedroom. Kitchen. The parlour with its shades of the morning after partly drawn. Of course. Many sip their share of one-night-stands. Illicit slumberings between the decades. The grape slowly maturing. We took comfort in each other\’s arms, certainly, neither one of us giving the advantage. Shook hands quite amicably in a gentleman\’s agreement; while the hands simply shook in the morning. The times we had. I remember when we both fell out with cousin jack – sometimes \’Jack\’, more often \’Mr. Walker\’; what\’s in a name ? – his humour ran a little dry. Shallow as a snorting drain. \”What\’s that all about ?\” me and the grape exclaimed, in unison, when jack fell heavy on a curse. And did not make it up off the floor again. Well. We gave that bum his marching orders. Sent him to Coventry before the quarter broke out in flames. Again. Let\’s not split hairs; we met up occasionally from time to time, Mr. Walker turning up unannounced in that awful raincoat peppered with holes – bowed over with heartburn and remorse – but things seldom flowed quite the same. Too dark and unsavoury by far, for my liking. Blood in the urine. Staining the bowl. Me and the grape frequently argued about it. The easy option, to forgive, forget. This was something which was spoken about at length. Never resolved. And, too, there was that small matter of walker\’s continuing peccadillos behind our backs. Nothing wholly outrageous, true, but a source of irritation nonetheless. Extramarital affairs. Innuendo. It did not sit well. Untidy as the wrong bottle cap screwed down at sixes and sevens, a dribbling tap which could not be turned off. No matter how determinedly one went at it. He never could exert one ounce of self-control. That is not to say we did not miss him. I did not miss him. We exchanged letters all through that winter he was in stir, but I refused to visit in person. And let\’s not forget to consider how we were always moving in opposing directions. All the way back to god knows where. In the rain. The snow. Throughout it all, me and the grape remained tight. Thick as thieves. If jack fell asleep at the wheel of the getaway car, we two were never at fault. Of that I am more than certain. He ought never to have fallen in with us in the first instance. We ought to have been more careful. Of course, it\’s easier to read the bluff when the cards are finally laid out for all to see. Palms up, hands raised. Hindsight is a peculiar thing. Like taking aim through the back end of a telescopic sight, tracking a bead straight along the barrel to where the eye yawns huge; unblinking. I think on this as I ladle the bacon over on itself, the pools of crackling fat. It has been some time now, but I cannot say I miss the grape. Not really. Sometimes – fixing breakfast, for example – I wonder if the grape and jack might not have been in cahoots all along. Conspiring against me. Enjoying a laugh at my expense. That is the problem with people like that. One might spend all one\’s years in and out their company, for better and worse, but one never knows for sure. Oh, we were tight alright. You can\’t take that away. But how well does one ever know what makes another person tick ? Especially in a bind. For all I know, the grape and jack are living it up with ginnie, mary – the hired help – while I am alone here in the kitchen. Pouring over a mess of scorched flesh. Eggs breaking wind. When all\’s said and done, people like that are no end of trouble. Jack shit. The grape included. And you know how much I loved him. Come here a moment. Listen. Did I ever tell you all about that one time me and the grape and mean jack black got ourselves in the most ridiculous scrape ?