Another excerpt from my new story:
The tidal flat stunk to high heaven or low hell at low tide, which was right around now. It would be some years before they filled that in. The broad tidal flat lay off to my left from the stone seawall out to about two hundred yards. The flat meandered to the left and right as the tide line went in and out as far as you could see from my vantage point. Almost all the way along the train tracks to Long Woods and beyond, possibly all the way up to Totnes. The tideline was broken by the creek to the east, which seemed to be but a trickle to the Dart’s tidal flat at low tide only to be replenished again and again at the high water mark. As I walked along the high street. I could see a few souls out there working on their banked boats, caulking or cleaning or scraping the unwanted smelly sea growth. They could only do one side at a time, only changing the hulls aspect as the next tide came in to refloat the boats. This part of town was of great fascination to me.
Kingswear was not immune to the war. German warplanes bombed the Phillip and Noss shipyard 18 September 1942. Over 17 men were killed, 40 wounded and yet, to the credit of the old English “do no less, stiff upper lip” spirit, the shipyard never lost its beat remaining operational throughout the raid. There were other bombings on Kingswear and Dartmouth including the Royal Navy’s Britannia and the Naval College. But none were as catastrophic as the shipyard.
I found the local grocer, went in and purchased a few item for my father. The grocer lady always had a smile for me and gave me a few sweets. I think she felt sorry for me as she would shake her head in a solemn way as I exited her shop. Then on to the Inn to buy some scotch eggs, some cheeze and some cold mutton. For me, I would wait and grab a fish and chips from the fish monger later in the day.
I hurried home. I could sense trouble inside by the noise coming from the drawing room, the larder and the pantry: glass smashing, and the accompanying thud, thud thump of furniture falling. I opened the door and snuck into the drawing room, then the pantry. Just then I could feel my father’s cold calloused hand grace my neck from the collar of my duffel jacket. He turned me around sharply to face him. His breathing was heavy. His breath was laced with spittle and drool…and alcohol.
“Do you think you are better than me Nigel? Hmmm? Well do you?
I could only shake my head…no., no I thought to myself.
He stumbled around. His dirty grey flannel pants were coming down at the back as he tried to maintain some semblance of balance. His dirty white and yellow stained undershirt – a wife beater – as they called those things – hung loosely. It was dirty and stained in yellowish orange tobacco hues.
He lunged at me. I stepped out of his way. He lunged again. He missed and almost fell. He was inebriated and violent.
“Where are my foods you little blimey turd?”
I ran into the larder and grabbed the scotch eggs and placed them on the table to his left. He saw them, picked one up and took a bite. Without swallowing the portion it he spit it out, as the juices from the egg spilled down his jowls and on to his stained undershirt.
“You little piece of fucking shit tard,” with that he threw the egg hard against the wall, where it splattered and stained the plaster with the sound of a splat. He grabbed the other one that I brought for him and threw it at me. It just missed my face. I was terrified but I couldn’t get out of the pantry. I shriveled in the corner of the room and held my hands up to cover my face. I was shaking uncontrollably. I was terrified.
“Why, oh why, did my sweet, sweet Jenny have to die. Why couldn’t it have been you? You…you useless, mindless urchin of a boy?” He yelled at the ceiling…at the walls…then grabbed his bottle and took a swig, or a swirl as half of it spilled all over his red blushed face. He then turned toward me, snarled at what he saw…
“Please daddy, please don’t hurt me.” I cried.
He came closer. I could smell his breath, decayed from alcohol.
No daddy, please no…” and he whacked me with the back of my hand. It stung, physically and emotionally. I began to wail.
“Cry…cry…cry my little shyte boy Nigel. Cry…cry…cry you little fuckin retard shit of a boy.” He hit me again, and again. It was only the duffel coat and his wavering balance that softened the blows.
Finally he fell and passed out. I snuck out and ran up into my room. I locked my door, undressed and found solace comfort and safety beneath the sheet, all but darkened from the cruel existence of my home.
“MOMMY!” I cried out…over and over again. “Mommy” and I cried myself to sleep.
I awoke a few hours later. It was late afternoon. I wiped the dry tears from my eyes. Not a sound was forthcoming from the drawing room. The rays of an unexpected late afternoon sun graced and warmed my room. I got up, shook the sleep from my being, grabbed my things and quietly left my room. Slowly I went downstairs, trying not to make a sound. Luckily for me I could see the legs of my father sprawled out and lifeless from the pantry. I took a glance. He was comatose from the liquor. He was lying belly down. Fortunately for him, unfortunately for me, he had not choked on the vomit that lay in a yellowish brown paste beside him. I grabbed my coat and left.
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