Crankwood Chapter 13 The Father

Laughter.

Passing strange, this, considering the circumstances. There is, of course no humour in the laughter, no jollity. Why should there be? This is the laughter of hysteria.

“You bloody little liar!”

Bastard!

Observe, look particularly at the faces. We are later in Ashes bedroom.

Ashes Father, round, ruddy, inflamed, passionate. Drunk, his instinct is to beat, maim, cause pain. This is hereditary speaking. This is the incompetent result of historical incompetence. Passed down and down, a flame of sick thwarted passion.

“Come here you little buggar!”

Is our hero a smooth faced innocent? Is he? Both protagonists are equals in this. An uninterrupted line, shining through the years. Intending to continue, to breed on itself. A hydra. Not that it can be rationalised to any real extent. After following orders to go to his room Ashes stands at bay. His eyes bright, a mixture of something, not of fear, but something very close. Not the fear he felt earlier, not the awe and displaced courage he felt whilst standing in front of a dead man

A hatred of course. A passion that keeps him there with his drunken lout of a Father, in thrall, taking this. Must be very similar to the inner voice that keeps battered wife chained to alcoholic spouse. But laughter? Where did laughter come from?

He could run, again. Could allow this drunken spasm to run its course in snoring, stinking oblivion once his Father had retired to bed. At least until the deadline for waking, when the whole process would always start again.

It began with over love. It began with slobbering and guilt and pinched face and a painful rubbing of stubble against the aforementioned smoothness.

He has run many times in the past. Out of the back door of the pub, over the pit yard and across the fields. Past the bakery, through the clayfield, onto the river bank and into fresher air, freedom.

The weekends, these were the worst times when Father could not be avoided. When Mother had escaped to one sister or another somewhere in the village.

This debate could be of some interest. Why does he not run? Now when he knows he is to be beaten. Escape would seem to be a solution of a kind and for a time at least. Run into your beloved fields and hedgerows. Into the darkness. The cool anonymous dark Look for your ghosts. Out there, find what you can find. Run you stupid… are you not as bad as he?

What could be saved, this is what he may turn into, as he perceives his Father standing in the bedroom. A line uninterrupted. Violence down through the years, Father to son. When will it change? Will it change with you? Go and go now! Leave him to rot in his own alcoholic stew.

Father will die of course. Sooner or later his heart will issue its final weightless warning. They will bring him upstairs, from the bar, as they did last time. Bleeding from eyes. Blood vessel burst from coughing in turn came from laughing, doubtless from some inane crudity. They will bring him, these so called friends and leave him, fallen over a door. Shirt front bloody, eyes unseeing, black with blood. A small shy boy to watch and wonder after they left. A line about to continue, shining.

So he runs, when he can, out across the fields. To farms, both normal and sewage. He runs as a beast runs, a beast at bay, a beast to its den. He runs by instinct. He goes to where no one will find him. He runs to hide in his favourite places. Except now these places are polluted, inhabited by other ghosts, other victims, invaded. Strangely at this time he thinks about the egg.

The father had two heart attacks. On both occasions the boy was the only one there to help. On both occasions the father recovered. A lesson was not learned. The line continued.

A moon rises now.

Ashes stands at bay in his bedroom, dark.

I suppose it is getting late, he thinks sullenly. He watches the shadow standing in the doorway

The times his Mother would shout, into this room – sleep – knowing he was still awake, reading.

Always reading, anything he could get his hands on. That is what his Father does not understand. Will never understand. That is why he stands lit by the light from the open door as it leaks around him.

He reads late at night with a frisson of fear. A dirty yellow paperback, tales of ultimate horror, the colour of old urine. A bet with another boy. An enemy bully. The one he had stolen the book from.

Waking later and shouting.

Back to sleep, in that bed. He always hated the dark. Always the same sheets, pink and blue candy stripe, always the same candlewick bedspread.

A mattress that sagged towards the middle.

Was this Grandads bed? he asked his Nan. The only one he could really talk to. Was this where he died? Did he cut his wrists with me in this room? Honestly?

All the smallnesses are now gone. Precious books on three shelves. The notebooks and the drawings on the wall. All these burned gloriously on the highest slagheap he could find In heathen temper after a severe beating from his Father.

“He will stand for hours at that window, he loves his birds” , said his Mother to his Nan.

He would be looking across the to the lake below Leeshi. The sanctuary they called it. As it had signs that proclaimed ‘Any person caught with dog or gun on this land will be prosecuted’ The farmhouse on the far side of the lake was built in 1610 and had a moat. This was called Leeshi and had once been the manor for the village

“That stupid looking, at birds he doesn’t get from your side, that’s me straight through.” Said Father to Mother, wrongly.

In present time his Father pronounced “Come here, you little bugger, I’ll wring your bloody neck for you. I’ll swing for you yet”.

“Come here you little sod! I’ll teach you to grin at me!” Knowing that punishment must be meted out before Nan came. And the boy must be punished. For laughing if nothing else.

In the past the boy always grinned in fear.. The psychology of this could never be understood. It always made a bad situation infinetly worse. But no grinning now, why?

“Christ, when I’ve finished wi thee” Broad accent punctuated with hated spittle.

When calmly drunk Father would say “You always got a good hiding when you were bad and it never did you any harm, did it?

No Dad.

“Did you hate me? He would say.

No Dad.

“Do you love me, I know I’m an ugly bugger?”

All this would be in later conscience. He would ‘donkey rub’ unshaven chin against a child’s softness. Or he would rub both ears until they burned. .

“There is nowt, yer Father can’t do” with an emphasis in true village style on the ‘a’ in Father. Flattening all vowels.

“Oh he’s a good lad, never says owt to anybody. Allus got ‘is head buried in some bloody book. Or ees walking cross those bloody fields. Ee knows round here like back of his bloody hand. Ee goes ower to yon mon at farm oe’er theer, o’er Leeshi. Or else ee’s at that bloody Sewage works. I’ll go with thi some day lad; tha can show me what tha finds to look at. Beats me what ee finds so interesting. When I was on t’village council, they asked me if they could go oe’er theer wi’t nets and suchlike, ringin’ them birds. So ah said aye if yon mon could go wi them. Nair ee’s never away. Its wonderful what this owd Dad can do for thee, in’t it?”

All this with pint in hand to his cronies at the Brittania.

Now however his Father advanced into the room.

Crankwood Chapter 13 The Father

Kenart

Joined January 2008

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