The words from the kitchen were harsh and cruel. On the one hand, my brother’s familiar tones raised in frantic accusation.  On the other, my father’s deep tenor distorted by near obscenities.

How stupid it was, the fragile harmony of the holiday weekend fractured, on the point of ruination, because of that damn’d car key. And there was no reasoning with these two. Egos were bruised, defences were up and battle stations had been assumed.

The friction between father and eldest son, having traveled the 150 miles or so in the family car to visit, was heating up the atmosphere fast!  Now Dad was a lousy driver – a few miles with him at the wheel could be quite terrifying – and Colin possessed all the tact of a rampant, raving rhino.  So when Dad shut off the engine, put the key in his jacket pocket, locked the car doors, neatly folded his jacket and placed it in the trunk, the ugly scene that followed was irrevocably set.

“Only an old fool could, would lock a key in the boot of a car!” yelled my brother.

“And only a rudeword idiot son would forget to bring the spare key with him!” screamed Dad in counterpoint.

The thrust and parry of intelligent and controlled argument was reduced to hack and chop, rip and tear.  No rationality here.

The serviceman glanced at me and, although he spoke no words, his eyes betrayed his understanding. He worked quickly, opening the door of the car.  He then removed the back seat.  Through one of the penetrations through the bulkhead, he reached into the trunk and felt around.  He located the jacket pocket and retrieved the key.

Dad and Colin were still in full song as I triumphantly held the shiny key up in their faces. The yelling stopped.  “How did you get that?”

I explained that all I had done was the obvious and the rational. I had called the Automobile Association.

Silence.  Then sheepish grins.

And then, “Well then, let’s go to the pub for a drink.”

© 1999, 2004 Richard Overall