So not only was this minor god (who nobody really knows much about) associated with unnatural death – he was also a healer. More specifically, he was the minor god to who people made offerings when people were ill. That was a bit rubbish, if I’m honest. It could mean he was telling me that Lizzie was going to die (as his appearance probably meant before grandma died) or that he was protecting her from something. I know which of those I preferred.
Dad tried to get me to talk about it in the car – I think he suspected something and wanted me to open up. I would have done if mum and Lizzy hadn’t been there. I especially didn’t want to upset Lizzy. I mean, I know we’re the same age and she can handle herself, but I didn’t want to make her think she was going to die or anything.
Dad got his chance to talk to me the next day though. Lizzy went to a friend’s house for Sunday lunch and when mum told dad he could help her with dinner by keeping out of her way, he took that as an opportunity to blow up the football so we could have a kick around at the park. It was early September and the weather was nice; there were lots of people having a kick around.
We just practiced our passing for a while. I’m not a good footballer and never have been, but that’s ok. Dad’s good though. He had a trial for Reading when he was about eleven and made it into their youth team. He also had a trial with Swindon but coming from Oxford, I think his dad would have disowned him if he’d gone there instead. Not that grandad was happy about him signing for The Royals!
After impressing me with some ball control, dad finally asked why I was so interested in the tombstone yesterday and did it have anything to do with the man I said I had seen? There was no point lying so I told him the mysterious god on the stone looked just like The Cold Man.
He pressed me but there was nothing else I could say. Oh I did tell him about the first time I saw The Cold Man on the landing that night. Dad didn’t really say anything; there’s not much he could say but he looked at me thoughtfully as I explained.
We spent about an hour at the park before mum phoned to tell us to come back soon and she promised us jam roly poly for pudding. We set off straight for home, across the park, along the side street and to the main road. It was really busy and the lights seemed not to be working again.
You know how they say mobile phones are a distraction? We found out just how much of a distraction they can be because mum phoned dad then for something and in his absent minded state dad stepped forward into the busy road.
‘Dad no!’ I shouted and reached to pull him back.
There was a squeal of brakes.