A Leisurely Breakfast
by Simon Evans
“Eggs done to perfection again Mrs Dartford,” called Dr Vale from his chair on the wooden veranda. The good doctor was sat in the morning sun, holding his yolky teaspoon, wearing his burgundy dressing gown, which was embroidered by intricate, creeping green vines. He smiled and shook his head as he recalled that Mrs Dartford had popped into Morton to run some errands, she couldn’t possibly have heard him! He delivered another scoop of delicious boiled egg into his mouth and glowed with pleasure as he devoured the warm, yellow, comforting goodness. He gazed contentedly out to sea. Sail boats bobbed among the sparkles.
Dr Vale inspected the toast rack in order to check that Mrs Dartford had been as scrupulous as ever. And indeed! The toast rack included 3 pieces cut on the diagonal and 3 cut on the good old horizontal. He knew this meant that two halves were missing but he was a generous man and didn’t begrudge loyal Mrs Dartford the occasional sneaky bit of toast.
As he spread the butter in thick waves over the golden toasty surface a very brief thought flickered through Dr Vale’s mind. He thought – ever so, ever so briefly – about his wife. His dead wife. His wife who died after a long, awful, smelly, degrading, horrifyingly unspeakable illness.
But this was just a flicker. If you had one of David Attenborough’s special cameras attached to a fly hovering in front of Dr Vale’s face as he buttered his toast you might, if you had the eyes of a robotic eagle, see the split second of utter sadness and regret that eclipsed the good doctor’s face.
As he reclined in his easy chair, munching warm buttery toast and sipping sweet fine coffee, Dr Vale might have briefly allowed a thought of poor Mrs Dr Vale into the exclusive club of his cultured mind. But he definitely didn’t think of his son, Thomas. Definitely, definitely, categorically not. Not Thomas. No. Not a single thought considered getting out of bed to go to work in Dr Vale’s mind on this topic. No way. Not about Thomas.
The warmth of the morning sun shifted up a notch and a gull swooped overhead and called an exultant morning call. Dr Vale considered the muffins with marmalade. Perhaps he would ask Mrs Dartford to put them in a covered dish and he would have them with a pitcher of ice cold milk at 11. Or perhaps with a chilled lime cordial at 3:30.
Despite these plans of delaying said muffins Dr Vale soon found himself with a mouthful of delicious muffin and marmalade, definitely not thinking about Thomas. Thomas screaming in a coal sack. Thomas screaming as good Dr Vale kicked him. Screaming as the learned doctor kicked the boy in the sack off the edge. Off the edge into the quarry. The quarry that sat deep and foreboding in the black heart of the dark forest. No. He didn’t think about this. Not one little bit.
Dr Vale shaded his eyes against the beaming, hot sun and plinked another lump of sugar into his Arabica coffee. His brain surely couldn’t have chosen to take the path signed ‘Thomas’? No way. Not the route that leads to the thought about how buck toothed Thomas behaved like a spoilt terror after dear Mrs Dr Vale passed on? Not a chance. The thoughts of how snotty lipped Thomas scribbled on the photograph, that special photograph of Mrs Dr Vale smiling sweetly in the garden? Pah. Not a hope my friend.
Dr Vale picked up an ebony handled fruit paring knife and peeled long, crisp strands from a juicy cox. Any thoughts of spiteful Thomas kicking his shins and spitting on his waistcoat were as absent as they could be as the coil of peel entered the sensual glory hole of the good doctor’s patiently waiting mouth.
The sack clinging like a mole to the edge, tenacious little hands desperately trying to hang on. Good Dr Vale screaming soundlessly as he stamped on the sack to loosen the grip and then booting the wriggling, screaming sack off the edge. This train of thought didn’t even leave the station. No sir. No momma.
Dr Vale shifted his weight in his chair and reached for his pipe. He stood and lit the tobacco in the bowl of the pipe as he leaned against the veranda and gazed contentedly at signs of life appearing in the village beneath him. The fisherman displayed his morning’s catch in large wicker baskets on the quayside, cigarette hanging precariously from his mouth. The paper boy pedalled his bicycle furiously down the hill on his way home.
A warm sea breeze swept gradually across the bay as Dr Vale considered going back to bed after he finished his pipe. He felt a little fatigued. Perhaps another coffee, a fig roll and then back to bed. Perfect! Then he would awaken before elevenses and sit in the drawing room with his newspaper and a small bowl of butterscotch delights.
Twenty minutes later Dr Vale hung his gown on the hook on his bedroom door and climbed back into his bed. Any thoughts of pushing his son’s head into a sack and tying it with twine were a million miles away, to be sure.
As Dr Vale slipped gradually to sleep his smile disappeared, revealing a blank, worn face.