Kim Farleigh: “Make Believe”

Make Believe

We were driving down the city’s main road, my father’s cheeks twitching, a stress rash reddening his face. Short-lived supernovae, flashing upon approaching windscreens, gleamed like “brilliant” ideas.

“They’re jealous,” my father said, “about me having Western Australia.”

Silence normally reigned when he drove. 

A hovering magpie forced a kid up against a tree trunk, how to escape current circumstances a common dilemma. 

“Jealousy towards a big fish in a small pond,” my father said.

I didn’t know what he meant. His green eyes’ intensity highlighted their smallness. Green parrots, a local species, dotted the street’s powerlines. They faced sudden death. We faced slow deterioration.  

A bus flashed past a bus stop. Ignorant it was an express, a man waved an angry arm. Deeper inaccuracies affected my father.

“Yesterday,” he said, “I made some guys walk back to the Highway Hotel, where we’d been drinking, from that street there.”

The Highway Hotel was a mile away. The area’s houses, behind high walls, exuded emboldening intimacy. Outside that intimacy, anonymity disappeared, enhancing failure’s embarrassments. 

“They didn’t believe it when I said I’d bought a property here,” he said. “We got into my car at the pub and drove to the property. I had the title deeds in my glovebox.”

Where else are title deeds kept? 

I battled our mutual inadequacy. Someone I had known years before, whom I had recently run into, had asked: “Are you still full of bullshit?”

“They said,” my father continued, eyes like green fires of dismay, “that I couldn’t have bought it. Showing them the title deeds shut them up. I said I didn’t buy it, I snared it. The previous owner had inherited it. She needed cash fast, so she made a quick sale. When they tried getting into the car to go back to the pub, I told them to walk back.”

His satisfaction’s brittleness opposed success’s solidity. Power creates reality, influence and cunning needed for that.       

An ambulance, desperate for arrival, shot by, its red lights flashing like my father’s green eyes. 

Years later, I realised he had been sacked for dispensing with potential clients. He had once said: “I dispense with small-order time wasters.”

But small expands. 

His first date with the property owner’s simple, but sympathetic, daughter, just before the Title Deed Incident, had flung his imagination over the precipice of exaggeration, stimulating another of his creations of success. 

Only my brothers and the property owner’s family went to his funeral. 

Kim Farleigh has worked for NGOs in Greece, Kosovo, Iraq, Palestine, and Macedonia. He likes painting, art, bullfighting, photography and architecture, which might explain why this Australian lives in Madrid. 188 of his stories have been accepted by 109 different magazines.


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