The road was long, at least, that’s how Ephraim remembered it.
On his way home and reaching the bottom of his road where the bucket and slop cloth awaited him the following morning. He let out a sigh.
‘That’s one for Mom none for me. Again. At least, the bricks are red and the bucket black and the slop cloth a nice shade of grey and smells nice. And at least, home is still here, and at least, dinner will be on the table and mom will tell me to take off my shoes and put on my slippers and hang up my coat where it belongs. And in the sky, the clouds will float on by without exploding on a summers day in a blue sky. At least, I know that the red balls shine and drop into the pockets without a sound on the snooker table and I know I will cry myself to sleep tonight.’ thought Ephraim as he took his place at the dinner table.
‘How can you eat that meat?’ asked his sister of Ephraim.
‘I dunno. I just sort of chew and up and down it goes.’ said Ephraim without an ounce of malice towards his vegetarian sister.
A disappointed look passed between sister and nobody else in particular.
‘Here’s your vegetarian gravy,’ ‘Now get started, before it gets cold. Ephraim. Elbows.’
And after the washing up was done Ephraim watched Star Trek and then played a little snooker and then went to his room and listened to his tapes. Then his mother came and told him to get ready for bed. He changed into his pyjamas folding his clothes carefully on the back of his chair and depositing his underwear into the Ali-baba on the top of the stairs. Then he got into bed and his mother came around and turned off the lights wishing him good night and pleasant dreams.
Ephraim turned over in his bed hugging his duvet tight. And then he cried for an hour before going to sleep. Later that night, in his dreams dolphins played violins and a big bear wearing a top hat sang a sad tune. It went something like this.
Why do you misbehave?
Why don’t you do as your mother tells you?
Why do you torment your sister?
Why can’t we trust you?
Ephraim awoke at seven the following morning and was eating his breakfast and looking forward to the afternoon when he would play ball with his neighbour Tom when his mother said to him.
‘Ephraim, those trees need cleaning. I’ll put the kettle on and you get the bucket from outside. MmmK’
‘Mmk, mom.’ said Ephraim looking forward to his afternoon’s playtime.
He went outside and noted the clouds passing by in the otherwise blue sky and thought to himself.’This is a good day, and I’m cleaning now but will be playing this afternoon’
It was at this point that a passing cloud exploded taking out Ephraim his bucket and his house on the street and turning him into ash that fell gently like rain over the big smoking hole that was once his home.
The newspaper reported it as a freak weather cloud pressure abnormality rare and very dangerous. Of course, nobody had mobile phones in the Eighties so the event did not get recorded. Rumours circulated for weeks that Ephraim’s mother had stashed explosives in the outhouse but nobody ever was sure what happened that warm summer day.
Life carried on for everyone else and in naughty children’s dreams the bear still sang and the dolphins played the violin.
Now Ephraim has passed over to our side
And now plays in our band as we go
into the dreams of children everywhere
Where on his banjo he plucks at their heart strings
imploring them to see the other side and to be good.