image of stars

“What’s between the stars?”

The night sky in the back yard was silent and the stars wheeled round, waiting for an answer. My ten year old nephew looked up at me and frowned. The frown said it all, this, to him, was a serious question.

“Space,” I said. “Space is between the stars.”

“Like the space between my dad’s ears?”

“What do you mean,” I asked, smiling at the term his mother used to describe her layabout husband.

“Mom says my dad’s useless, there’s just space between his ears and that he’s a waste of space.” He looked up at the stars and then to me. “I don’t understand how you can waste space.”

To a degree it was true, my brother was feckless and couldn’t hold down a job. But useless? Surely everyone has a use.

“She says he won’t work and spends all day gambling and drinking. Does that make him useless, uncle John?”

“Could be, Cameron, could be. If he doesn’t contribute to society and doesn’t feed and support his family, than maybe he is a waste of space.”

“Certainly is,” Becks’ voice said from the darkened back door. “Your dad can’t hold down a job, has no means of supporting us and is therefore a waste of space.”

The Saturday afternoon BBQ had ended, as usual, in an argument between my brother and his wife with Cameron caught in the cross-fire between the two. The end result was my drunken brother storming off in the darkening evening.

Cameron thought this over and sighed. “Would a hundred-million dollars be a waste of space?”

“It would be useful,” Beck’s said, “and we could pay bills with it. Even have a better life. Why?”

Cameron sighed again. “Dad told me he won the state lottery.”

I heard Becks’ sharp intake of breath and could almost hear the wheels of her mind in motion. The state lottery had just announced one ticket had won over a hundred million dollars. Was Cameron’s dad that winner?

“Your… dad… won…” Becks’ voice was trembling.

“Then he said he would rip the ticket up because you called him a ‘waste of space’ and he wanted to prove he wasn’t.”

“He ripped it up,” I blurted out. “He ripped up a winning ticket? He threw away over a hundred million bucks?”

“He didn’t know it was a winning ticket when he said that,” Cameron said, a sad undertone in his voice.

“What a waste of space that man is,” Becks shouted as the back door slammed shut.

“He said you would say that,” Cameron said in a small voice.

I was dazed but Becks was obviously well passed dazed, judging by the sound of breaking crockery and screams coming from the kitchen.

I walked past Cameron, who was still staring at the stars. As I opened the back door to Becks’ house, I heard Cameron sigh.

“Good job he gave me the ticket.”

Tom Kane (c) 2014

The Brittle Sea
The #Titanic disaster is the catalyst that sparks a bloody feud between two families in early 20th century America.

As a English expat author living in Cyprus, you may think my life revolves around cocktails by the pool. You would be wrong. In ten years on the island I’ve had my fair share of adventures and interesting experiences.

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