The energetic young woman addressed Simon from his screen, her eyes wide and blazing.
“Now is not the time for your silence. Too many of you have sat in silence, for too long. When will you speak up? When will you call out these injustices? When, if not now?”
The light from the screen refracted through the tear on Simon’s cheek, as Jenny passed through the lounge to the kitchen.
“Thought they’d never go down! Do you want a brew?”
When Simon didn’t respond, she returned, and sat on the chair arm, to see what held his attention.
“You should watch this”, said Simon quietly.
“I will at some point”, she replied, already moving off. “Just struggling to engage with it at the moment, you know?”
“We’re all struggling”, Simon whispered. “It’s time to start calling this sort of thing out”.
As the evening progressed, his preoccupation grew. “Going out”, he snapped, grabbing his car keys. Jenny, snug on the couch, eyed him as he left, shoulders hunched.
Simon pulled over on the busy road, and examined his destination. Large house, several vehicles on the driveway. Simon hoped it was the right house. His heart was racing, and his skin felt hot, as he turned off the ignition. Abruptly, he fired the car back up again, pulling his car forward, blocking the driveway. Killing the engine, he got out, slamming his car door and striding up the driveway. He banged on the front doorframe.
He stepped back about three metres and waited. There was a ceramic teddy bear, holding an umbrella, sat alone on a shelf, high up in the vestibule, next to the interior door. Simon remained focused on that.
The man emerged from the interior door. He had reddish hair, a dressing gown, and a wary expression. He was taller than Simon, and stockier, but looked out of shape. It was definitely him.
He opened the external door, and stepped out. “Why are you banging my door down?” he asked. His tone was gruff, but calm.
“Think it’s clever to swear at people in front of their kids, do you?”, Simon shouted at the man, his voice squeakingly slightly on ‘do you’.
The man’s bafflement was plain. “Fuck are you on about?”
“All I did was block your driveway, and you come out effing and jeffing at me in front of my kids! See that car, blocking your driveway? Why don’t you ask me to move it now, eh?”
Simon’s voice sounded tight and high to his own ears, like he had inhaled helium. The man smirked at him. “Ok, can you move your car please?”, he asked, all mock politeness.
“Get fucked, you prick!”
The man looked Simon square in the face for a long beat, then rolled his eyes, exhaling loudly. “Listen pal, I’ve no memory of this, but I get a lot of people blocking my driveway. When even was this?”
Simon swallowed hard, and answered, “It would have been about six weeks ago, round the beginning of May”.
“May?!” The smirk was back. “What did I say to you, back in May?”
“I can’t remember the exact words you said!” barked Simon.
The man looked at Simon and began to bray with laughter. He bent over slightly, placing one hand on his knee.
A curious thing was starting to happen to Simon. His pumping heartbeat slowed. He felt himself begin to disassociate with what was taking place. A strange serenity blossomed within him, the dispassionate bystander observing the scene.
With a long theatrical sigh, the man straightened. He shook his head slightly at Simon and said, “Get off my drive, you tosser”.
Simon had planned his moves on the way here. Stepping forward, he thrust his elbow into the man’s nose. The man sat down abruptly, clutching his face in both hands. Blood dribbled from between his fingers, falling in fat round spatters on the block paving between his knees.
A muffled sob alerted Simon to the little girl. She was stood in the vestibule, ginger pigtails and Peppa Pig pyjamas. The heat abruptly drained from Simon’s skin, as both men listened to the little girl quietly crying.
Simon sat in the holding cell. The police had found him sat in his car at the scene, waiting. He had moved the car backwards, out of the way of the driveway.
An officer entered. “Mr Williams has dropped the charges. You’re free to go. Your wife is waiting at reception for you”.
Jenny’s mouth was so tightly compressed her lips had disappeared. “What the fuck, Simon”, she muttered furiously, on the drive home. They pulled up at the lights, next to a dark shiny BMW, hip hop blasting. Simon kept his eyes on the windshield in front of him.