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some old bullshit

Mr Piper

“Are you ashamed of us, is that it?”

“Yeah! I really am. I’m ashamed of you. Especially you!” He smiled. He wasn’t entirely serious.

“Because…  you’re perfect, are you?” Her face and the way some of her fingertips were joined together suggested she was looking at something that wasn’t perfect.

“No, I’m a mess too! That’s why I don’t want to go out. Okay? We’ll stay in. The Great British Menu is on.”

She wasn’t okay, she was pissed. “Just once… we can’t go out as a family even once.” She had coupons for Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut was in town and so were people.

“They call him ‘Alpha’ at work, did you know that? Did I tell you that?”

“What do you mean?” She was listening now, not just arguing.

“Lads at work. They didn’t know I was there but I heard a few guys call him Alpha.”

“I still…”

“Fucking Piper Alpha, because he’s a really big disaster!”

“I don’t…”

“It was an oilrig. Anyway, look, I know I’m his father and I shouldn’t say it but he’s retard.”

“You can’t-”

“He is, though, isn’t he? Full on. Jesus Christ… and he’s the smart one!”

“I don’t know about that.”

“No, he is. Come on, compared to his sister he’s… a… really clever person.”

“I wouldn’t…”

“You know what she’s been doing all day.”

“At the beach, wasn’t she? Was she not at the beach?”

“No, yeah, she was at the beach and you know what she was doing?”

“Sunbathing?”

“Fucking shelling sea sells.”

“What?”

“Selling she. No, Selling. Sea. Shells.”

“She’s sh-”

“Selling. Selling sea shells.”

“At the beach?”

“Well, trying to, yeah, she’s got a stall. It’s fucking… I shouldn’t say it but it’s tragic. Shambolic. I asked her who was actually going to buy shells, you know, at the beach? Because there’s, like, four hundred billion of them, for free, right behind her.”

“It’s her summer holiday. Does she paint them? Put them on string, for jewellery?”

“Nope, just handfuls of shells.”

“Ah it’s…”

“I’d like to see her present that one to The Dragon’s Den.”

“It’s a hobby!”

“They’d shit. All the Dragons. Fuck me… At least Pete has a real job.”

“Oh, a real job!” she snorted.

“I assume it’s a real job, why would anybody make that up?”

“Picking pecks of pickled pepper?”

“That’s what he says.”

“What is a peck of pickled pepper? Have you seen one? I haven’t. Surely things are pickled after they’re picked?”

“I don’t know. I saw his boss and he kinda seems normal, showed me around the packing plant but it wasn’t running. Just finished a batch. The whole thing is weird, he’s probably making crystal meth. Anyway. I don’t want to go out. We’ll just get some wine.”

“Okay. Get three bottles.”