‘Mackers’ or Mackintosh for the pedantic was one of those fellows who “Packed it in:” four marriages, three of them producing a single child which Mackers called “Spreading the load:” more jobs and ‘vocations’ than you could cram into a career guidance manual and a couple of bankruptcies. “Other than that,” as he used to say, “It’s been pretty quiet”
All that being said, for the last fifteen of his seventy five years on this earth he had been married to Janice, and would often be seen walking with her down to the shops or quaffing ” a glass or two of something soothing” at some welcoming hostelry. Like a volcano once famed for the fury and unpredictability of its eruptions, people now looked at him and the increasingly benign landscape of his life and thought, “We might make plans” or even more unnerving, “Is Mackers becoming predictable in his old age”
Mackers was the master of the ambiguous phrase, touched by humour and a whiff of profundity pitched at greeting card level. “Today’s sorrow is at the heart of tomorrow’s celebration,” “There’s always an encore” and other gentle asides let you know that Mackers was “In the game,” although on what side remained in doubt,till now that is.
Floss, some late retiree, who’d run a gallery in the city and recently moved to this gentle sea side resort joined our chum one day, while he was out enjoying his routine morning coffee. Always the conversationalist, she had asked him, “What brings you here?” and he had replied, “We are still finding out” which had amused her. A powerful flirt of disruptive determination she flashed him ‘ the eye’ and Macker’s long dormant taste for the reckless rose to accept the bait.
“Have you ever had an affair” she asked him some days later, noting the wedding ring, and he replied, “Only in secret” and she had smiled again. So it was that, within days, morning coffee stretched into a sea-side walk which did not involve much walking.
Janice, whose quiet acceptance of life’s vagaries made her a popular member of any clique where secrets and embarrassment were likely, or that is any grouping involving a significant number of the over fifties, soon picked up a new vigour in his stride
There was an honesty about Mackers dishonesty. A predictability around his recklessness, and Janice had seen every shade of his colourful character in all it’s glory and shame. Long before they wed, they had been childhood chums then friends and only the death of her beloved husband had freed her up to make something of the man who had injected drama into her life and been strangely faithful in an unpredictable way. To his small band of honorary ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’, not all of them now living, he had always been curiously loyal, and it was on this basis, and because he was crying and bruised from some fresh disaster at the time, that she had wed him and kept him safely from himself.
“Quiet is not a word you understand” said Janice when she confronted him: her look was not forgiving. Life, it seemed had granted ‘Mackers’ everything but common sense. “It was never a wife you wanted, more a mother,” then added with a twist of bitterness, “ You’ve destroyed so many lives: look at yourself” and he replied, “ Starting with my own. “ Perhaps the wisest comment he’d ever made!