He scans the streetscape looking for the young ones letting off jumping jacks in the night. Hooligans! Wild things! Dangerous! And oh how he roars when he catches us in the shadows. His eyes flicker like a deep bright fire. We catch the heat of it all and flee for our parents, the remaining firecrackers packed away into the bag he carries.
Even night seems afraid to make a noise. Our thumping hearts can’t be heard above the firm sounds of his footsteps coming into the house. Perched ridiculously on my mothers shrinking knees I yearn to be a lot smaller than I am. Across the room my cousin is trying to convince my uncle that we weren’t doing any harm and his sister is hiding in my Aunts arms.
The door opens and he walks in and seems to tell the bag of fireworks to sit up straight on the loungeroom table. The coloured paper rockets and cones point out at us accusingly.
“Children you must be more careful” he says so solidly, his words sink to the bottom of my soul.
No-one says anything, everything seems so perfectly clear.
“Oh don’t be such an old fuddy duddy” my Nanna bustles into the room caramelising the crystal silence with her warmness.
“Like you didn’t run around wild as a kid and let off bangers in garbage bins along your street. I remember and you’ve probably forgotten, cos your head isn’t what it used to be but I remember those days and your father well he gave you a great wolloping behind your ears for setting fire to Bill Ryans shed. And you thought it was really funny. So don’t you be saying anything to these kids who weren’t doing any harm with some little crackers and its cracker night so they should be out playing. If anything you should help them out but you probably can’t even get down on your knees anymore to light them blasted things. So leave them alone and who wants a cuppa then? I’ve got a nice pot of tea and I’ve got some biscuits, some choccie ones too or some plain ones I picked up at Woolies or I’ve got some crackers. Would you like crackers? No, well I’ve got some apples. Doesn’t anyone want an apple? I’d give them to Poppy here but he likes his biscuits and can’t you tell? Too many biscuits for old Pop I think.”
He folds slowly down into the chair by the tv. There is nothing on there that sparks his interest but no-one can see that. He bows his head and turns off his hearing aid.