The writer imagines an encounter with a man involved in an incident that had a huge impact on his life.
One day I got a phone call from a friend. He was going out for a drink with another friends of his in a local club. Tim was a member of an Edinburgh club. It was a ‘member’s only’ club but I was allowed in because I was with Tim and he wanted me to meet one of his friends for the first time. When I got there we all started talking, as you do. Tim said, “This is my friend Brian and you can sit with him”.
I was a bit unsure as to what to say. I got talking with Brian and told him about my father who was killed by a train when he worked for what was then known as British Rail in 1965. Brian also was a little uneasy but asked me when it had happened.
Everyone had drinks but I only drank coke. Brian was suddenly feeling all shaken up and looked as white as a ghost. I asked him “What’s wrong Brian?” Suddenly, in the chattering that was going on a silence fell. With a stutter in his voice, Brian told me he that he was the driver that drove the train that killed my father back in 1965. He was unsure as to what my reaction would be. He was faced by the son of the man he had killed all those years ago and didn’t know how to feel but I wanted to hear what he had to say. I was nervous. He started saying how sorry he was.
We talked more about it. I remembered how I felt when I was told. I had always thought that Frank was my father until one day before school my mother told me he wasn’t and I must stop calling him dad. After school I asked what she meant and then she told me what had happened to my father. All my life I had regretted not having a father. For most of my life I had had a mixture of hatred and anger towards this man. Only in the last few years had I begun to see it from another angle. I said to Brian “Its okay. It was only an accident. It would not do me any good to hold bad feelings”. We smiled at each other and then we started talking. As we talked more we both began to feel better about things.
As we were leaving we hugged each other and shook hands. I said I would like us to get to know each other more and maybe become friends. Brian smiled with surprise and relief and said “Yes, why not? Let’s keep in touch”.
By Graham Forrester