Wednesday, 22 October 2008

SHOT NO 19, by Anthony Sides

Mr Grafton marched out of his premises when he heard the thin bright wire of the scream climb in to the autumn sky. The tram scraped screeching and stopped. The horses stood, ears flicked, heads bobbed, the long reins pulled tight.

Shied when a straw bonnet with a ribbon on it blew past their hocks and hoofs. There was blood on the brim. The people on the street were silent with a sick feeling, and then whispers.

Practical grey-handlebar-moustached Mr Grafton marched forward to take charge. His bowler hat was straight and he was wearing a starched shirt and black cravat and the trousers and waist coat of his grey 3-piece suit, having left his jacket in the office in his haste taking his bowler from the peg.

Clearly there had been a frightful accident. Terrible business. Mr Grafton knew he must take charge. He stopped by the front of the tram in the middle of the cobbled street and nodded gruffly to the fish-belly-white-faced driver who looked down at him appalled, giant eyes, squid eyes. Mr Grafton bent to look under the tram to be certain the poor party was in fact deceased and would not be further injured if he directed the tram to back up to free the body.

It was 1928. Younger rusty-handlebar-moustached Mr Grafton saved Mark Addy from drowning in the Irwell though it was a misunderstanding, and owned a bicycle shop and then the 1st Ford motor car show room in the south eastern district of the Manchester conurbation. The good son was killed at Ypres. The younger son helped his father with the business, was schizophrenic, shot himself in an unsuccessful suicide attempt. Mr Grafton shut down. Continued to attend church. Felt angry all the time without knowing. Survived his wife. Married a young girl. Survived her when she and her straw bonnet were crushed by a horse-drawn tram.



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