The actor's son.
I bought a Martini with my dead father's money.
This, I thought, was fitting. He had died of a cerebral aneurysm at sixty two, brought on by a lifetime of heavy drinking and smoking. He had been formly wealthy, but was half sober enough to retain some investments; he was an actor. He had worked in Hollywood when I was in in single digit years; but in my teenage years he had receded, with little dignity, into the world of irregular TV soap performances and audio books. However, the work he'd done in his earlier years occasionally brought a cheque in. At the advice of his agent, he'd written an autobiography in the peak of his career which kept the family going, and would allow him the odd indulgence, when a fan, always of his own age, would ask him to sign their faded copy.
In his will, he left me £1000 exactly. There was more money, I don't know how much, but I do know that he was burried in a 'copper deluxe coffin'. His un-generosity was not much of a surprise, as he had always warned me that he wouldn't leave me his remaining wealth - just a thousand pounds. He told me this when I was seventeen; a thousand pounds seemed incredible back then - all the booze, cigarettes, games and CD's I could buy. A thousand pounds now seems about as exciting as a testicular self examination. Anyway, a thousand pounds was my luxury, and now I have it. I'm drinking my cloudy Vodka martini. A slice of lemon floats with ease, as if caught in a spider's web. I take a sip and the liquid thrashes my throat, a cool breeze. I feel it set up camp in my belly, a warm cuddle. I love drinking.
I sit with my drink. I have nine hundred and eighty five pounds. Did you really think I'd order a cheapjack lukewarm martini with a chunk of dried lemon in? I think of the number, nine hundred and eighty five. It could be the name of a single from a new boy-band. Or the name of a vintage clothes shop. It's just money. But money smiles when it can be spent.
I wonder what my ol dad would think of this scene. His son, twenty one, in a bar, spending useful money on a cold martini, and, in all likelihood, he will soon order a second. He would not laugh, smile, frown, or cry. We did not have a great relationship. We played house for my mother and two sisters, who wanted happy families. But in reality, we had no alliance or affection. He tolerated me and I accepted his tolerance with indifference. He resented that I too was artistic, and my ambitions seemed a threat to his own. I have no validation for this, but it was conveyed to me very sharply. I'm a writer; I published a novel last year: 'We Love Life' about my time at university. It wasn't exactly a huge triumph. But I sold eight thousand copies within the first year. To date, I'm now in the region of twelve thousand. It terrified my father, that I, like him, would be an artist. That I could supercede his own success. That's the way I view it, he was very indifferent to my writing. He claimed to have read my novel, in the same vain that I claim to have slept with more than ten women. Some people are accidental births, I was an accidental son, my father was better with female company, both in and outside of the family.
I drain my martini, it has taken me three minutes to drink it. The bar man is impressed, he leans across.
'Mate, I've never seen anyone drink a martini that fast'.
The drink makes me nod with pride; a macho fulfillment.
'Tell you what, I'll make you one on the house for that effort'.
I smile and nod a thanks. I have nine hundred and eighty five on my card, with a free drink coming because I can knock it back.
I never needed my father.