Something Might Happen
milk without investigating it
     for lumps. Rosa even asks for seconds. She squeezes ketchup all over what’s left on her plate and mixes it in till the sauce
     turns a glossy pink.
    She’s playing with her food, Nat points out, tipping back on his chair.
    Nat darling, I say, let it go.
    Yes, but—
    Nat, says Mick. And Nat sighs and kicks at the table leg.
    We decide to leave them thinking Lennie was killed with a gun because it’s somehow cleaner. Guns leave small neat holes in
     people—or that’s the impression kids get off the TV. People with guns do it from a safe distance. They don’t come after you
     as you lie in a car park bleeding to death. They don’t rip your heart out.
    Later I hear Jordan kicking a beat-up tennis ball around the empty dining room with Fletcher. It’s the dog’s favourite game
     and one which makes him go absolutely, religiously still. The way they do it is, Jordan kicks the ball across the room till
     it hits the skirting board and bounces off—andthat’s the dog’s cue to move, to dart for it and grab it before Jordan can.
    Jordan and the dog have a collection of these tennis balls—balding and dirty and bit right open some of them, by Fletcher’s
     sharp teeth. We are always finding them—stuck behind radiators, in the clean-laundry basket, in the tangle of wires behind
     the TV.
    Which would you rather, Jordan mutters to the dog as he drops the ball, be shot by a gun or chased by a shark until you wet
     your pants with fear?
    At ten the kids are finally in bed. We are still sitting there in the room that’s gone cold and dark and quiet. And at last
     there it is, the sound of him at our back door.
    Al!
    I jump up from my chair.
    We never bother locking our door, not until we go to bed, and even then just with the one turn of the key. He knows this and
     comes straight in. Behind him, the man I met at his house, the family liaison man.
    Well? Someone says, but it’s not Mick and I don’t think it’s Al either because he just stands there and says nothing.
    I put my hands to my face. I’m shaking all over and I feel sick. Seeing him makes it real, brings home to me what has really
     happened. And her absence. Normally if something had happened, Lennie would be here by now. We’d all be here together.
    But Mick knows what to do. He goes right over andclasps him around the shoulders, pulling him in—at the same time nodding to the other guy who hangs back in the shadows. Maybe
     he introduces himself to Mick, but I’m not sure.
    Alex looks worn out. When Mick lets go and steps back, he moves across the room to me and puts out his arms and holds my head
     tight against him.
    Don’t, he says. Don’t speak.
    His fingers are on my face. And I don’t know what to do, though I smell him—his exhaustion and confusion and grief and the
     breath that hasn’t eaten anything in a long time.
    The boys? Mick says then. Where are the boys?
    Still at Patsy’s, Al says. I took them back there. It’s OK. They’re—I mean, I’ve—been with them.
    You told them?
    Al shuts his eyes for a quick second.
    Mick pulls out a bottle of whisky.
    OK, he says, a drink.
    Lacey refuses but Alex sits down and has a glass just like it’s any other day. At our kitchen table. Keeping his coat on—the
     coat that sits on him like a husk.
    He looks at his drink but doesn’t drink it.
    Con was sick, he says. Everywhere. All over Patsy’s fucking sofa.
    I take a breath.
    I suppose that’s to be expected, Mick says.
    Yes, says Lacey in a low, quick voice. It’s the first time he’s spoken and we all look at him. He looks down, as if he’d
     prefer not to have the attention on him.
    I mean, he says, all kinds of reactions are normal, especially with young kids and—
    He doesn’t finish.
    This is Ted, by the way, Al says, as if he’s suddenly remembered his manners. He’s been so great—you wouldn’t believe it,
     how he’s looked after me today.
    Lacey gives a weak smile.
    He’s done all

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