A Moment of Ecstasy
I was seven when Dad died. I didn’t really know him well. He was in the Army and always away on some adventure or other. After a long tour in Afghanistan, he came home for good. I was a shy boy. Dad was built like a barn door. A fraught combination. Not long after coming home he took me to my first football match. The local derby at Anfield.
I remember standing on The Kop in-between his legs, hands like shovels holding my shoulders firmly as the raucous throng swayed and sung. It felt as if the humongous heaving body was going to swallow me. I looked up anxiously, tugging on the bottom of his jacket. He registered the fear in my eyes. I expected him to scoff at my cowardice.
Instead, he grinned. ‘C’mon lad, climb up here.’
He swung me up onto his wide shoulders. Cupping my hands under his chin, I could feel the scratchy stubble on his jaw, the beat of the pulse in his neck and the weight of those giant hands holding my skinny knees. Behind us, someone threw a plastic cup full of urine across the crowd. The golden liquid arced through the air, dispersing into a drizzle of dozens of drops that showered the unsuspecting audience below.
A chant from the crowd spontaneously rose, ‘You dirty bastards.’
Dad looked up at me. I could see droplets marking a trail down his temple. We both started to laugh. We laughed and laughed, tears mingling with the precipitation present.
The next morning Dad was found dead in the front seat of our Toyota Rav4. He had chosen to leave me by hooking up a hose to the exhaust. The doctor said it was Post Traumatic Stress. Mum said he was a selfish sod. I didn’t believe that because he had taped a note to the garage door.
DO NOT ENTER. CALL POLICE.
Now, when I think of him, I mostly just remember sitting on his mighty shoulders, both of us laughing hysterically, his life blood pulsing under my fingertips. It was a moment of ecstasy, and it tasted of piss.