The Bourne’s kitchen had been too small when all the older brothers had been home. Now it was down to just five people, it was finally manageable. Dennis peeled potatoes into the sink and listened to his younger siblings argue. It wasn’t exactly sparkling wit on display.
‘You suck,’ Joe said.
‘You’re a complete retard,’ Minnie said back.
Dennis let the potato drop and turned around with the knife in his hand. ‘Hey. Mum’s resting.’
Joe kicked at Minnie’s feet until Dennis pushed him away. Restrained, he folded his arms. ‘That sucks. She’s always resting.’
’she needs her rest, Joe. Don’t be a bastard.’
‘Bastard,’ Minnie said over his shoulder. Dennis turned around and loomed over her. She wilted.
‘Clown,’ Den said, poking her in the ribs.
The kids settled down, leaving each other alone and watching TV. Dennis went back to the potatoes, got them all in the pot as the water heated, then dug some crumbed fish fillets out of the freezer. They went into the oven as his father came past the kitchen window.
The back door swung open. ‘Hello!’ Mr Bourne said to the room. ‘How are we all?’
Joe and Minnie shouted hellos back but stayed but near the TV. Mr Bourne poured a glass of water and looked around the kitchen. ‘All under control then Dennis? I thought you had your basketball tonight.’
‘Nope. Tuesdays and Thursdays.’
‘And games will be on Fridays. Got it. How is that all going, then?’
‘With Richard playing it must be all right. He’s always had you playing basketball, hasn’t he. All very exciting when he was the boy from overseas I suppose. Now finally you get to play it properly.’
‘Good on you. He’s a good chap, that Richard. Leadership material. You picked up on that faster than anyone, of course.’ Mr Bourne refilled the glass and drained it again. ‘Ahhh! Adam’s ale. Lovely.’
’dad, can I get some money for shoes?’
‘Why do you need shoes?’
‘For basketball. I don’t have anything decent.’
Mr Bourne’s moustache shifted. ‘I’m sure we can sort something out. How’s your mother today?’
He nodded. ‘Very well. Thanks for this all, once again.’
‘I’ll get out of the uniform then.’
Dennis was left alone in the kitchen. He could hear the television and Joe laughing at something or other.
Leadership material. For fuck’s sake.