Alan is waiting at the traffic lights. Impatient. It can’t be more than sixty seconds but it feels like an eternity.
He thinks of Linda, struggling to adjust to life without a husband. Trying not to fall apart. Irene was right. It will have done her good to worry. To understand how much she took for granted. She’ll appreciate him all the more.
Perhaps he spoke a bit too harshly on the phone. It’s so easy – perhaps too easy – to be tough from a distance. When you can’t see her face. Still, she bloody asked for it. Accusing him of being boring, unspontaneous. How can anyone be carefree when the mortgage is unpaid and the post is full of threats?
If he’s lucky with the traffic he’ll be back by eight o’clock. In time to watch The Gadget Show. Billy can watch it too. He’ll have to stay up past his bedtime. It’ll be OK just this once. It’s not every day your Dad comes home.
Then again, perhaps he’ll stop for dinner. One final taste of freedom. The Condemned Man’s last meal. It might be best to turn up after Billy’s gone to bed. He and Linda have a lot of catching up to do.
He thinks of Linda, curled up on the sofa. Half watching telly; half listening for his car. Tyres crunching on the gravel; key turning in the lock. He pictures the front door; the living room; the kitchen; the decanter; whiskey; slippers; TV; bed.
He is ready to come home.