Crooble by Richard Owain Roberts

I open the envelopes in my mail tray.

I read a letter from a lawyer who says that my child is suing me and wishes to be legally emancipated.

I look at the letter.  The paper quality seems like it would be marketed as ‘prestige business stationary’, and using it would make people feel confident with their lifestyle choices.

I look at my stationary and think: I am not confident with my lifestyle choices.

**

My child is minus three months old and lives inside my wife’s stomach.

I feel happy that he/she has high levels of self-esteem and a go get ‘em attitude.

I feel sad that he/she does not want to pursue an official father-child relationship.

I text my wife and tell her that I plan to countersue our unborn child.

My wife texts back: okay bb but pls keep me out of this love u xxxx.

**

A work colleague called Geoff asks if I would like to join him for lunch.

I tell Geoff that I can’t eat any of the food in the cafeteria.

Geoff tells me that I can bring my own food.

I say, ‘I don’t think so.’

Geoff says he feels bad about my unborn child suing me.

I look at Geoff and all I can see is his tie.  Geoff’s tie is blue and looks delighted to be at work with him.

I don’t wear a tie.  I wear a white shirt (£6, Tesco), jumper (£? 2007 birthday present from parents in law), shoes (£12, Tesco).  My shirt is very thin.  When I stand in front of the mirror in the staff toilet I can see my chest hair and sometimes my nipples.  There are people who spend in excess of £20 on work shirts.  I don’t know if their chest hair and nipples are visible.  I don’t know if their unborn children are suing them.

Geoff says something about German techno.

I look at Geoff and can’t think of anything to say.

I am so confused by Geoff.

**

I pick up my phone and dial the lawyer’s number.

I feel conscious that I am not very good on the phone and the lawyer will struggle to understand me.

I don’t think we’ll have a lot in common, I think the lawyer will be impatient and demanding.  I think the lawyer will want to get down to business very quickly.

‘Yes, that is correct: Crooble expects immediate post-womb emancipation, and a basic salary until he graduates.’

‘He is a he?  If it was a boy, I wanted to call him Stuart.’

‘Crooble does not anticipate any problems with this.’

‘Yes. Okay, bye. I’m challenging this. Bye.’

**

I am very angry with Crooble.

I feel like this situation is absolutely not my fault.

Despite this, I feel like some people will still choose to view this situation as being absolutely my fault.

I don’t think I am ever at fault for anything.

I can’t think of a single example in my life where I have had 100% culpability for a negative situation.

I can think of several examples in my life where I have had 95-99% culpability for a negative situation.

I think: stop beating yourself up, you weren’t entirely to blame in any of those situations.

**

The decision to countersue Crooble, from a financial and emotional standpoint, proves disastrous.

Crooble writes a bestselling book about his childhood.

Crooble is a millionaire.

Crooble buys our family home and demolishes it.

Crooble writes another bestselling book about his childhood.

Crooble is a millionaire ten times over.

Crooble buys my employer’s business and demolishes it.

Crooble writes/directs a screenplay for a hit movie about his childhood.

Crooble is a millionaire twenty times over.

Crooble becomes a financial donor to right wing pressure groups and adds me to their mailing list super-database.

**

My wife dies.

My wife is still beautiful when she dies, but that doesn’t stop her from dying.

Crooble does not attend the funeral because he has already booked his holidays.

My youngest daughter says, ‘screw Crooble!’

The rest of us laugh.

My children and I feel very sad for a long time, but we help each other through by talking regularly on the phone and sharing our everyday stories with each other.

**

I am dying.

Crooble comes to the hospital and brings his wife and four children.

‘This is your grandfather.  Look at him.  He is just about the worst person you could ever meet.  He got a bus driver fired once.’

I am unable to talk because of the magnitude of drugs inside my body and in my brain.

I look at Crooble and think: I hate you, Crooble.

I look at Crooble’s wife and think: I feel indifferent towards you, sorry.

I look at Crooble’s children and think: I feel indifferent towards you, sorry.

I close my eyes and think about my children.

My wife.

The first time I completed a crossword.

My wife.

My wife.

My wife.

Crooble.

My wife.


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