- Go ahead, son. Burn.
Those were his last words to me, his dying words. I couldn’t believe it. Typical of my dad; to be a complete cunt on his death bed. I sat back in my chair. Couldn’t get over it. I turned to the nurse.
- Did you hear what he said? I asked but she was crying.
- Arah, fuck this for a game of soldiers. I grabbed my coat and left.
Outside the hospital it was raining. I knew there was someone I should call but who – a priest? Or an undertaker? Or a carpenter? I stood looking at my phone. There was a world of responsibility waiting for me but I wasn’t willing to make that call. So I made up my mind not to make up my mind, put my phone in my pocket and went for a walk. Didn’t care where.
Usually when I walk in the rain, I keep my head down and scrunch my shoulders up. I try not to get wet. The tension in my neck and shoulders adds to the misery of it all. And it’s a futile exercise; you’ll get a soaking anyway.
So this time I held my head up straight and walked through the rain. The discomfort didn’t last long and I began to enjoy the sensation of the water on my bare head and down my back. I started to grin.
- Go ahead, son. Burn.
Well fuck you so.
Without meaning to, I ended up at the college. I checked my watch and laughed; just in time. I raced through the rain (it was a downpour now) to the Aula Maxima. Went straight to the hall. They were closing the doors.
- Hang on, I shouted.
- You’re cutting it close, laughed the doorman. I took out my wallet, showed him my student ID and he let me in. I had to ask the woman with the sing-on list for the loan of a pen. The look she gave me was brilliant. Grabbed a seat. The study junkies were all staring at me; dripping wet and grinning. Some of them probably even knew about the old man being on the way out. I knew what they were thinking; he’s never in, never hands up any work, didn’t sit the Christmas exam and then his father gets sick – what a bollix. Me the bollix that is.
The whole time the Arch Invigilator was giving his cheaters-will-be-taken-out-and-shot-against-a-wall routine, I was pissing myself laughing. Laughing at the lot of them and the nurse too. When Invigilator #1 finished up I let out a cheer and applauded him. Study Junky #1 – Anne Tight-Arse – gave me a look of pure poison. I licked my lips at her.
The paper came around.
School of Business & Inhumanities
Marketing Year 4
Q 1 (a) State the 7 principles of Market Research.
I opened my answer book, wrote Q1 (a) in the margin and began.
Shit. Jesus. I couldn’t remember the lecturer’s name. It was probably on the exam paper but to hell with it.
"Ms. Marketing Lecturer. How are you? The principles of market research, you ask. Well, that’s a good question and to be honest I haven’t got a clue of the answer. But I can tell you what I think of marketing. It’s the worst waste of time and money known to man, woman or child. Marketing is a fine example of putting the trailer in front of the Massey Ferguson. Used to be, you’d build something and then you’d tell people about it so they could buy it."
I was delighted that my ferocious scribbling was dropping jaws among my course mates. Tight-Arse was probably crying – don’t let him pass.
"But now, now you ask the public what the want and then you try and give it to them. Never, ever give people what they want. Don’t you know that’s how the gods punish us? They answer our prayers.
Marketers are responsible for how shite the Windows operating system is, for how "
My phone rang out. I sat stock still. Was that my phone? It rang again. I took it out and looked at it as it rang and rang. It was her.
- Who’s phone is that? roared Arch Duke Invigilator. I answered the call.
- Oh God, she was crying, - I’m at the hospital.
- He’s gone, Tom, I’m sorry.
- I know.
Even longer pause.
- Get out of this exam hall, went Herr Exams.
- Where are you? She wasn’t crying now.
- I’m trying to sit my final year exams if you must know.
- Fuck’s sakes, Tom, what?
- Turn off that phone!
- I’ll call you back. I hung up. Sligo’s Invigilator of the Year Ten Years Running came sprinting down the desks at me.
- You are out of here, he began but I jumped out of my seat just as he got to me.
- Fuck the fuck off you hairy invigilating fuck! I roared in his face. He staggered back and knocked over someone else’s desk. His look of utter shock cracked me up. Tight-Arse was actually standing up, looking at me. What was she going to do? Help him through me out? I grabbed my answer paper, scrunched it up into a ball. I wanted to stuff it down the invigilator’s shirt. Instead, I dropped kicked it across the hall and headed for the door. I stopped at Tight-Arse.
- Tight-Arse, I’ll miss you the most. Be strong.
Nearer the door, I took my phone out to call Lisa back but I remembered something. I turned and raced back to my desk. Invigilating You backed away. I grabbed the pen. The phone rang. Lisa again.
- Just stay where you are are, I said, heading for the door again, - I’m on my way.
Passing the woman, I gave her back her pen.
- Thanks for the loan.
Burn, son. Burn.
© John Rogers 2006