Mr Nobody

It was a pretty ordinary sort of upbringing. Pretty straightforward things of no real interest happened to him every day. Or at least that’s the way he told it. Nobody knew for sure. His boyhood was a mystery. No-one had ever met a relative of his and nor could anyone find a record of his parents or ancestors. As a matter of fact, hardly anyone seemed to be called by his surname, in the city he grew up anyway. The only members of that family seemed to live in Perth, which wasn’t right at all. But we didn’t ask questions. He told us not to so we didn’t. We didn’t burden him with questions anyway. He couldn’t prevent us thinking certain thoughts, much as he would have liked to have that level of control. He certainly liked to control everything else. Having come from nowhere and being related to no-one he joined the army, as we all did, and went overseas when we all went, and the least said about all of that the better. It’s painful still, which really means that none of us wants to talk about it. Most of us would rather not remember all of those times, where life was hard and you just wanted it all to be over. And he did something tremendously brave. Absurdly, almost suicidally brave, and the rest of us really did wonder if he was trying to get himself killed, although we never told him that. He wouldn’t have allowed it. After that there were medals, many of them, for him, and he ended up in the prison camp, as we all did, and life wasn’t bad at all there, with relatively good food and a commandant who treated us pretty well, all things considered. But you had to escape, or try to. It was your duty. And he was active in our planning and in the dangerous work we did. He must have thought he’d be leading us out of the camp one night while the commandant was sleeping soundly. He was the obvious choice. But he injured himself, just a sprained ankle, but it was too close to the day of the escape and he couldn’t go. Our commanding officer wouldn’t let him. So he stayed behind while all those boys were machine gunned in the tunnel and after the war wrote books about it and about all the heroic things he knew about. People loved his books and he made a lot of money and had everything he could want. He had big homes in London and the South of France and a place here, of course, and he got married three times and divorced three times, and ended up with the woman who did his typing for him. But he was never happy and it was never happy to be around him. And when he finally died, a death brought forward by the effects of too much of a good time, which never made his life more satisfying, he was bitter about the whole lot of it.

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Published in: on August 8, 2016 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

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