My friend’s grandad was a funny old man. He never spoke unless he was complaining about something or someone; my mum said he wasn’t always like that. He practically lived in the bookies. While his wife Brenda was at work, he spent his days running from the bookies to their house around the corner to catch the horse-racing. My friend Dougie and I would be in the house watching cartoons when his granddad would barge in, jump over us and change the channel.
Standing with his fist clenching the betting slip, he would shout at the horse he had bet on to “move his backside”. Dougie and I would laugh at his animated face with the sweat beads rolling down his temple. He would then vigorously rub, then slap his head in frustration. He would suck his teeth while ripping up the betting slip, and mumbling some profanities under his breath. We used to call him Goofy, because he didn’t know what was going on around him unless it involved gambling. If he wasn’t in the betting shop, he was at home doing ‘the pools’ or playing ‘spot the ball’, which he got Dougie to do. Once Dougie almost won so Goofy had him doing ‘spot the ball’ on a regular, which Dougie hated.
Dougie’s grandma was nice, she seemed to work all the time and not go anywhere else except shopping. After work she would come home, hand-wash some clothes, cook a huge meal and still have time to bake cakes for us. She was always making us laugh by pulling faces behind Goofy, although it was dangerous, because everyone knew he was violent and controlling towards her. But nobody knew why because she was a sweet woman who took care of him and the home.
I went over to Dougie’s grandparents home one Saturday. His grandma was at work and his granddad was around the corner at the bookies; as usual. We were in the house playing ‘hide and seek’. Dougie always found me when we played and I was determined to stay hidden. I quietly went upstairs to hide in the room where Dougie stayed, but changed my mind the last minute; going into his grandparent’s room. I quietly closed the door behind and looked around for somewhere to hide. The room was very clean and everything had its place, which reminded myself of the end of lease clean in Adelaide contract we’d taken. I heard Dougie coming up the stairs, I was so distracted by the shinny huge machete beside the bed; I panicked and put my foot in a plastic bowl of liquid on the floor. I was ‘pissed’; I had placed my right foot in a basin of urine, no pun intended. I shouted to Dougie, he ran in shouting “get out of my granddads room, you’re not allowed in here”.
“I know Dougie” I responded, but what the hell man, I’ve got a pissy foot”. Dougie laughed as he dragged me out of the room and closed the door behind us. We went into the bathroom to wash my shoe and sock. Dougie told me his granddad doesn’t spend all his time in the bookies; he spends his time following his wife around – making sure she goes straight to work or comes straight home from shopping. He’s paranoid; he’s so paranoid he makes her pee in the plastic bowl in their bedroom so she doesn’t have to leave the room to go to the toilet. I asked Dougie why he was so Para but Dougie didn’t know.
It wasn’t till four years later when goofy died, that everyone including his wife found out Goofy wasn’t so goofy after all. Goofy had been using a dead man’s identity. So who the hell was goofy?