There aren’t so many pirates at the pirate party. Mostly, it’s just people at a party. Wayne, though, who I haven’t seen since Tommy, me and him spent that week in Cornwall, is stood at the window, staring at the sea. He has a blackjoke, plastic pirate patch over one eye. It has a skull and crossbones printed on it just incase you didn’t get it.
“Got that when we went to Cornwall, didn’t you?”
“Did I? Wear it all the time,” says Wayne. He flips it up. “It’s a conversation starter.”
So I start in on Cornwall. About how ten years can feel like five or five hundred. About the three of us driving all over that county in his van. Camping under canvas in Carne, in Allet. St. Cleer. The mackerel shoals rising that morning off Looe. The cats waiting for the fishing boats on the harbour at Mousehole. You don’t remember the cats at Mousehole? There was, though, you must remember, that one night on some quiet country lane, heading down to Yeolminster? You and Tommy up front, me between you in the back. Eyes like saucers. The stars, so many stars. The sky more diamond than coal. Unreal. The lane, twisting this way and that. Do you remember? It was so cold, our breath hanging in the silence. We were the only people awake in the whole county. The whole world probably. We were pirates you said. The headlights opening up the trees as they loomed. You must remember the moths? No? Jesus! Suddenly, we burst into and through a ghost cloud of moths. A million blizzard moths. They filled the wild night. The van swallowed up by them. You don’t remember the moths?
But he doesn’t remember the moths or the trees or the cold or the lane. He doesn’t remember the stars or the cats at Mousehole or the mackerel jumping at Looe.
So, finally, I start in on Tommy. Just to say his name out loud. To honour him. To show that I remember him, too. He is, still, unbelievably, dead.
“And that,” says Wayne, flipping the blackjoke patch back over his eye. “Is a conversation killer.”
The things we remember. Things we forget.