The Heelers Diaries

the fantasy world of ireland's greatest living poet

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Location: Kilcullen (Phone 087 7790766), County Kildare, Ireland

Thursday, November 05, 2009

the nephilim

Lying in bed on the edge of sleep.
A four year old nephew enters the room.
He is bouncing a balloon.
Occasionally he tries to balance it on his nose.
Tiring of this activity, he busies himself rooting through some of my books for a few moments.
"Do you know Ben Foster?" he asks eventually.
"I don't think so."
"You don't know Ben Foster!"
"Is he one of the kids from your school?"
"He's Manchester United's goalie."
"And sometimes the Manchester United goalie is Van Der Schar."
"And sometimes he's Kuschak."
"Ah right."
"But usually he's Ben Foster."
"I didn't know that."
He asks whether I've ever had nightmares.
I tell him I have.
He says he doesn't like sleeping because of nightmares.
I say: "Well it's kind of fun when you overcome the nightmares and start having great dreams. Then sleep is really great."
He picks up a book.
"What's this called?"
I glance owlishly from under the blankets.
"It's called English Diaries Of The Sixteenth, Seventeenth And Eighteenth Century. It's a very old book. Very precious."
The book makes a gentle thud as he tosses it on the carpet.
"Have you ever been to the dentist?" he asks.
"Yes," I tell him.
"I don't like going to the dentist," he elaborates.
"I understand that," I say honestly.
The nephew disappears from view for a while.
Presently something thumps my toes.
"Are those your toes?"
"Yesss, they are."
"Does this hurt?"
Another thump.
"Not really."
"Why doesn't it hurt?"
"Because the blankets are protecting me."
He lifts the blankets and tries again.
"Did that hurt?"
"Mmm, that one hurt a bit alright. We don't need to do that again."
There comes the odd sound of a crowd cheering.
Dimly I realise he's found a worthless and supremely irritating novelty desktop plastic punchbag that my Yogic sister Marie gave me for Christmas one year.
It makes cheering sounds when you punch it.
Like at a boxing match.
Oh Lordy.
The cheering sounds go on for some time.
"Why are you in bed?"
"Ah, er, okay, because I'm meeting someone later today and even though I like sleep, I didn't sleep much last night, so I want to be wide awake for the person I'm meeting later and I'm sleeping now."
"Who is she?"
The nephew busies himself placing jumpers of mine on top of Paddy Pup who is reclining beside the bed.
"He'll be warm now."
"He will."
"Who are those people in the photograph?"
"They are me and my brothers."
"Which is which?"
"Try and guess."
He studies the photograph.
"That one is you."
"How did you know?"
"Because you still have the same jumper."
He really said this.
The photo is of me and my brothers in 1978.
"Who are the others?"
"They're your Uncle Peter and your Uncle Bernard."
"How did you really know which one was me?"
"Because of the hair."
"No, how did you really know?"
"Because of your spots."
"Those are freckles."
"Freggles, ha, ha, ha."
"Okay we don't need to laugh at Uncle James' freggles, I mean freckles."
He turned away and heaped a few more jumpers onto Paddy Pup.
Soon the dog was fully obscured.
The nephew looked around for fresh diversions.
There wasn't much else left to do.
Presently he launched himself onto to the bed and did a bit of bouncing.
"Be careful there."
"I will."
"Try not to hurt any uncles who may be sleeping in the bed at present."
Bounce, bounce, bounce.
He stopped and sat on the bed covers.
"Do you know how to count up to a hundred?" he demanded.
"Maybe. On a good day."
"I know how."
"Do you?"
"That's amazing."
"Do you want to hear me?"
"Er, ehm, ah, no thanks."
"One two three four five six seven eight nine ten..."
He went all the way to a hundred.
Then he stopped.
He said: "I'll let you have a little rest."
He went to the door.
I had my eyes shut.
I heard him say very softly: "You are still my uncle."


Anonymous MissJean said...

Oh, I like the sound of that last thought of his. Is it a curse or a blessing that he claims you? Is it a kid's version of "I know where you live?" or "I still like you, even if you're no fun right now." ;)

3:06 AM  
Blogger heelers said...

MJ, you have to ask! But that's just the way he said it. I was tempted to cut the "still" but then I thought no.
It was a great moment.

4:16 AM  

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