Tony looked up, a frown of curiosity crossing his features as he wondered what Martin was up to. He heard what sounded like a clockwork boat; surely not? Then he saw the boat, but not clockwork at all: a little steam toy that Martin had bought at a festival some years before. A fully grown man, in his second childhood evidently, playing with a boat in the bathroom sink of all places!
Martin changed the unspoken subject.
“Could you do me a favour? Would you take the egg boxes back to Sandy?"
Tony picked up the cartons and turned to the door. He paused awhile, and looking back added: “You alright?"
“Oh, no reason."
Closing the door behind him, Tony raised his eyebrows and breathed out. Dad was being dad, he supposed, but still ….
Back at the washbasin, Martin drained the water and cursed the noisy little toy. He wasn't playing, he was just … okay he was playing, but only to see whether the boat actually worked. In the 10 years since he had bought it on a whim, he'd never even tried it out.
“Well," he mused, “at least now I’ve something to write about.”
Egg boxes delivered, and greetings exchanged with his friend’s mum, Tony ran upstairs to resume the previous day’s game.
“Good, yeh: you?”
“Yeh. Zombie Revenge?”
“Nah: World of Fury?”
“Okay. Does your dad ever do strange things?”
“He’s an oldie: everything he does is strange.”
“Yeh, but does he play with toys?”
“No! Does yours?”
“Looked like it just now: weird. First to score 300?”
Martin sat down to type. He still hadn’t settled on a plot, and he didn’t want to turn out a stream-of-consciousness ‘literary’ novel, but he had the bones of a character. ‘Edward’ would be playful, enquiring of mind, handsome – of course. Artistic license, it was called.