The Boy from Castlebay Down
Heaven To Hell
Down in the lower deck of Jerry's boat Troy and I were talking about where I was going to go after the events of the trip out with my dad. I knew I couldn't go home, at least not to live. I'd felt tearful at times thinking about my family which would probably be in ruins after my dad's intentions were made public. Troy was very keen for me to say something and I knew he was right but I was scared of revealing what had happened knowing pretty clear cut what would be the outcome.
"He deserves to be in prison, don't you think?" Troy asked as I tried to justify keeping all this a secret. "Corbin he tried to murder you… his own son!"
"I know, I know! I just… well I dunno, I mean maybe it was just stress… he's been under a lot of stress lately."
"How long Corbin… how long are you going to let him, or rather your mum use that excuse to justify his behaviour. No son or daughter should have to fear the world they live in full stop, let alone when that fear is because of their father, it's sick. Your dad is supposed to be the one who protects you from the very violence that he committed."
"Troy, I may act like I am blind and dismissive of all this but believe me, I know how this is, I've been going through it for years. Yeah I should call the police but what happens if he wriggles out of it… what happens if I don't have enough evidence?"
Troy sighed. "I guess you are in your right to say this is none of my business, after all, I haven't known you long."
I gave him a reassuring smile. "You're a decent guy who cares about people Troy, I appreciate it."
"I care about you, Corbin, not all people get this treatment."
"So why me?" I asked, feeling the need to put his hand back in mine. He looked down at it and smiled.
Troy shrugged. "I dunno, you're cute perhaps?"
I sniggered. "Me, cute? Wow, even Leah has never called me cute. Besides, ain't cute people supposed to be short?"
Troy got up putting his hands behind his head in a kind of stress position and paced the deck a few times.
"Just when I think the world really is perfect I suddenly realise you have a girlfriend waiting for you at home."
I chuckled. "Jealous already?"
"I have no right to be, all we've done is hold hands, nothing deeper than that, but yeah, I am."
"Oh, shit really?" I asked, more serious.
"I need to grow up on that matter and accept that's who you are. I have no right to disrupt your relationship nor have any intention. You've been with Leah for 2 years and I need to give the right and mature response which is that I hope you are with her for many years to come, she obviously makes you happy otherwise you wouldn't be with her."
He continued to pace.
"It's good that you have her you know, she's obviously helped a lot with your dad and stuff."
"I mean, I wish I had someone who was that committed to me, she sounds like a real gem."
He stopped pacing and looked over at me. "Yeah?"
"Shut the fuck up!" I said, smirking. "And since we are playing the honesty game right now, the answer is no, OK?"
"No what?" he asked wearing a confused expression.
"Like, no I am not happy, haven't been for a while… maybe a long time."
I sat up and winced as my head suddenly throbbed. "That my friend is the sixty four million dollar question."
"You mean you're not happy with your girlfriend but you don't know why, and still after all this time?"
"Well today… this… us? Let's just say I feel it goes some way to explaining why I have been feeling like I do towards her.
Troy's eyes went wide. "You mean you're gay?"
"Pfft, if only I could nail it as clear cut as you're asking. I dunno Troy; I just don't feel any emotional attachment to her and yet after a few days of knowing you… you holding my hand like you did? I felt more emotionally then than I did in ages being with Leah."
Troy came and sat down on the bed opposite. "Does she know how you feel?"
I sighed. "Troy, she knows as much as I know myself. She's asked me loads of times… what's up what's wrong, don't you love me, why are you so off, why wont you hold me like you used to…why don't we have sex, bla bla bla. It drives me insane." I reeled off in a voice imitating my girlfriend.
"Insane because of her nagging?"
"Because I have no answers, Troy. Think of it as a patient who's been admitted to hospital with some mysterious disease. The patient is slowly dying and the doctor is trying all different techniques to try and cure the person but no matter how hard he tries he just can't find the answers he needs to save them. That's what it was like with me. I kept asking myself why I felt like I did, but never found the answer."
"And you have now?" he asked.
"Yeah… yeah I think I have and you know what?"
"Finding out should naturally freak me out because of the reason, but actually it is the biggest relief I have felt in my entire life."
"You mean discovering you're gay." Troy asked, raising a brow.
"I refuse to label it… and I don't think I am gay because I didn't find my friend Mark or my friend Danny sexually attractive at school… nor anyone male come to think of it."
"You?" I asked, presuming that was what he was getting at. "Dunno, with you it feels deeper and don't fucking ask me to explain that because I don't have a clue what that means."
"Do you find me attractive?" Troy asked, his expression inquisitive.
"I find you more attractive than me which is the only person I have to compare you to in that emotional sense."
Troy looked confused. "What about Leah then, perhaps that might help me understand."
"Yeah, like when you look at us both, do you find her or me more attractive?"
"That's an impossible question to answer," I said, laughing. "You're male and she's female…she is also the gender I thought I was supposed to feel turned on by."
"Maybe another person in your life attempted to hardwire you into thinking anything other than female attraction was impossible, but as your mind has matured the feeling has grown, essentially letting the genie from the bottle."
"You mean my dad?" I asked, perplexed.
Troy shrugged. "Makes sense… Corbin you can't just decide one day that you like guys instead of girls, it don't work like that, unless it's a phase of course, but something tells me this goes deeper than a phase."
"Going back to your question you asked earlier… about whom I find more attractive?"
"You excite my senses more. Looking back now, even when you almost ran my sister over the night we first met? When you took your helmet off there was something there, something mildly distracting that I didn't even think much of at the time."
"I don't know how to feel about that." Troy replied, smirking.
"Meh, take it as a compliment, sometimes I think I must be dead inside!"
Troy laughed but soon stopped after looking at my face which must have turned serious all of a sudden as a revelation revealed itself.
"What's up?" he asked.
I scoffed. "I was just thinking that's all."
"I was just thinking to myself that despite how fucked up my life has been… and the realisation of how much worse it's going to get, I think this is the happiest I have been for a long time, you know, down here… just talking to you."
Troy stretched his arms out and smirked. "I'd have to say that you have a pretty fucked up view of happiness then… anyway I gotta move this boat, can you feel us starting to rock?"
I shrugged. "Hadn't paid that much attention really."
"Well going into a storm to lose your dad is one thing, but doing it just so we can continue a conversation is another. By the way, while I'm up there, if you go to that small cupboard above the table you'll find a spare set of clothes I keep down here for emergencies. They're gonna be way too small for you but it's better than being naked in a blanket."
"Pffft, why didn't you tell me this earlier, I feel pretty exposed like this in front of you."
"Meh, I was enjoying the view, nice torso by the way… if I'm allowed to give you compliments like that."
"Just go drive the boat… oh, and where are we going?"
"I think it will be safer to just go back and dock at the boat yard. That way we can assess what to do next."
"We? Troy this is my problem, I don't want you involved."
"I am involved Corbin, I got involved when I held a flare gun to your dad's chest."
I laughed. "I bet he was shit scared when you did that, it was nice to imagine."
Troy smiled. "I hope he was, the thing was empty."
"Wow that bluff took some balls Tro-"
I was stopped mid-sentence and thrown into a state of panic as Troy's lips touched mine. As soon as they connected it was already over and he was climbing up the ladder, disappearing from site leaving me to drown in my thoughts.
'Fuck!' I thought, wondering how I was feeling. How was I supposed to feel? Holding a hand was one thing but did he just come onto me? I shook my head a few times trying to get myself to focus on whether I found the experience weird or wonderful. He was a very good looking boy, but he was male… he was a he, and I was with a she, and I thought I liked shes. Grrrr, my mind screamed as I wrestled with what had happened. In some ways I felt a little angry, angry because I was weak and wondered if Troy had taken advantage of that. 'No, that can't be right' I thought, 'he's too much of a decent guy to use me'. Then there was the thought of whether I let it happen BECAUSE of the way I felt. Perhaps if everything in my life had been hunky dory then Troy kissing me would have definitely been a non-starter. Then again, it's not like I had chance to stop it… it was so quick, so sudden.
My brain churned that little two second encounter over and over until I finally decided I had better put some clothes on and think about more pressing matters like the bastard that was my father.
As I got to the top of the ladder I felt like I was wearing a life sized condom such was the tightness of Troy's clothes he so graciously allowed me to wear. As I tried to walk around I really started to sympathise with how fat women felt - trying to get into a pair of jeans they bought 20 years go constantly trying to convince themselves if they breathe in enough they'll get that last button done up. That last button I'd had to leave after well and truly exhausting myself with the effort.
As I watched Troy at the wheel both of our cell phones beeped with the signal obviously coming back into range. I saw Troy pull his from the coat he was wearing while mine was in my hand.
"Hey," he said softly keeping his eye on the water ahead.
"Hey," I replied, feeling a little awkward.
"I'm surprised that thing still works after all that water it was in," he remarked while bringing up his messages and missed calls.
Good! He was not going to bring up the damn kiss!
"It's a Sony, its water proof, not that my dad would give a shit." I said, trying to sound normal.
"Hmm, my dad says there has been some commotion outside your house… argh shit!"
"What, what is it?" I asked, impatiently.
"You really wanna know?" he asked, a sad look forming on his face.
"Yes, I wanna know."
"My dad says in his text that the fire brigade had to be called after your dad apparently threw a load of stuff into the road and started pouring petrol on it."
"What?!" I asked, in disbelief.
"Hang on there is more."
"Argh, fucking hell." Troy winced as he read.
"Just tell me Troy!"
"Your mum was outside screaming at him but he managed to set it alight."
"Does he say what it was?"
"No sorry. Hang on to something."
Troy immediately threw the leaver on the boat into full power and the meaty engine roared into a new pitch as we started to speed up.
I started to pace the boat. "He's fucking lost it, he has FUCKING lost it!" I shouted, screaming inside. Troy was obviously doing his best to get us back as fast as he could but the weather was closing in making high speed feel like an accident waiting to happen. He calmed the engine down a little.
"Sorry, I can't go any faster; if we hit a wave and land wrong we might capsize."
I felt defeated. "Don't worry; by the sounds of it, whatever he's done, he's done it already. Getting back any faster won't change things; I just hope my family are ok."
"Look, about earlier, I…"
"Yeah, it was just the heat of the moment, I get it, no big deal, we're cool right?" I said, probably too quickly and sounding like a nervous idiot.
"Yeah of course we're cool, but I wanted to say that I like you and-"
"Troy, no offense, and I don't mean this coldly but I probably haven't been thinking straight lately and right now I really have more important stuff occupying my mind, so can we just move on from this?"
I was lying of course having firmly put the attempt on my life from daddy dearest into second place behind that damn kiss from Troy! Grrr!
Troy looked sad. "Sure we can but what does that mean?"
"It means we move on from it, my head is screwed up ok?"
Troy turned away from me and went back to steering the boat again, while I wandered out towards the back to be alone for a bit.
Troy slowed the trawler to walking speed as we came up along the back of the boat yard. Briefly looking out to sea it looked like we had just kept ahead of the storm. I saw jerry run out on to the small pier that connected to the workshop and Troy threw him a rope.
"Is everything ok dad?" Troy asked as Jerry pulled tightly mooring the trawler to the side.
"Not really… Corbin, your dad has been arrested, I think you should get home as soon as possible," Jerry replied. I felt the engine die and Troy got over the side onto the wooden jetty.
I looked up at the sky and closed my eyes tightly before breathing out sharply.
"Is my mum ok?" I asked. "And my sister and Leah?" I got off the boat trying not to stretch too much fearing I might split Troy's jeans.
"I think so son, just go home and if you need anything then just come back here ok?"
"Thanks Jerry, you don't have to do that, I really don't want to be a problem to you."
"It's fine, just be safe yeah?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine. Look, I'm really sorry my dad has fucked up this village with the things he's done, I promise you, the rest of my family are good people."
"Corbin, we'll talk later, but for the record, I and other folk are well aware of the difference and no one holds your mum sister and fiancé responsible for the trouble."
I put on a false smile and walked into the workshop with Troy before heading out the front.
"Corbin?" Troy called as I was heading off. "If anything goes south you come back to us here right?"
I nodded and then took off for home in a tight sprint.
As I approached my house all I could see in the road is a roundish black scorch mark that had discoloured the old cobblestones. More revealing was the partially burnt items that had been stacked up against our house as there probably wasn't anywhere else to put them.
I ran over to the charred stuff and even before I had started inspecting what they were I could already make out 3 items which brought an instant sick feeling to the pit of my stomach.
I wiped a tear from my eye. "He burnt my big pictures, he burnt my pictures, he burnt my fucking pictures," I said over and over.
As if hearing me the front door opened and mum came running out and pulled me into a hug. She knew straight away that I had seen all that I needed to see. She slowly ushered me into the house and through to the lounge where my sister and girlfriend were, their faces wet from obvious tears.
Leah came over and hugged me tightly, shortly followed my Zoe. "I'm so sorry, we tried so hard to make him stop but he just pushed us out of the way. Even Zoe couldn't reason with him." Mum said, standing with us as we cuddled.
I sniffed. "As long as you are all safe, that's the most important thing."
"What on earth went on out on that boat? He just came in and went ballistic!"
"You mean he didn't tell you? Mum, he tried to kill me."
"Did he cause that cut on your head?"
"Yes, but that's not all of it, he actually tried to kill me… I know he did, he was kicking me and punching me, I almost lost consciousness."
"But why?" Mum asked, starting to sob again. "My god what is happening to this family? I can't take this anymore."
"Because I made a remark that he was treating me like a slave and he wasn't doing anything just expecting me to do it all. Oh and not to mention the fact he almost got me drowned because he couldn't be bothered to unlatch the boat from the trailer, so I did it and it dragged me under. Mum it was a living nightmare being out there with him today, he's totally lost it." I said, trying to get everything out quickly.
"Oh brother, my heart aches for you, our father has been so cruel, so very cruel indeed!"
I wiped my eyes and stroked my sister's hair. "It's ok, we're all gonna be ok. Jerry says he was arrested, is that right?"
Leah sniffed and wiped her tears away with her fingers as we broke our hugs. "They took him away about an hour ago, I tried to contact you but it just went through to your voicemail, where were you?"
Visions of Troy and I holding hands came right to the very front of my mind as she asked that question, not to mention that damn kiss! "Uh, well I was with Troy. He'd been watching in the distance with a pair of binoculars and could see what was going on. I guess you could say he rescued me."
"So where have you been all this time, you've been gone ages?" mum asked.
I cleared my throat. "Well we had to get away from dad because he was acting like a psychopath. He tried to chase down Troy's boat, God knows what would have happened if he had caught up. Then we had to take it back slow because of the weather," I declared, pointing out of the window at the rain that had arrived just in time to make my story seen genuine. Well actually my story was genuine apart from the fact Troy and I had been below deck talking and… holding hands.
"Oh this is all such a mess, I wonder why we ever came here, it's been nothing but bad luck for us. I dread to think what people think of us after all the commotion."
"No mum, dad has caused this, please don't think of it any other way. Everything that has happened he has been responsible for."
"Well I have been speaking to Leah and your sister and I have realised a few things… a few truths if you like."
"Please tell me one of them is that you are going to divorce that asshole!"
Mum frowned. "I might, but I admit I have been kidding myself that this place is going to work with the way your father is."
"I feel like an announcement is coming," I said, sitting down.
Mum took a deep breath and tried to steady her shaky voice. "So, depending what happens to him I plan to sell the boat and propose we all move back to our old town. I know this is what you want more than your sister and Leah Corbin, but your happiness is important and I know you never wanted to come here and maybe that was a sign from somewhere that this was a bad idea.
Mum's revelation and proposal made me reel backwards in shock. I couldn't leave now, not after everything, not after getting a job, not after TROY!"
"Uh, well, mum, erm… well let's not be too hasty, I mean we have to give it time right?"
"Corbin your father has been arrested for arson, not to mention our family is probably the talk of the town after all what's happened. In 3 days we have had the police here and the fire service in full view of the locals. Right now your father is a loose cannon and looks to be having some kind of break down and without him running this business we have no income."
"So you just wanna move back, just like that?" I asked, irritated all of a sudden.
"Corbin, you have spent every waking hour telling me and your mum how much you hate this place, what's changed?" Leah asked.
"Nothing has changed, what do you mean by that?" I asked defensively.
"Who's clothes are they?" Leah asked, totally changing the subject and taking me by surprise.
"Erm, they're Troy's, he lent me them after dad got me-"
"You're wearing Troy's clothes?" she asked, looking me up and down.
"Dad got me wet, it's cold out there Leah, I had nothing else."
"You've been out on a boat, and you've managed to change your clothes?" she asked, persisting with her inquisition.
"He keeps a spare pair on his boat… fuck it Leah, what's with the questions? Shouldn't you be more concerned that dad tried to fucking kill me rather than what clothes I am wearing." I snapped feeling backed into a corner.
"Corbin please don't swear, I have enough of it with your father."
"Then you should be used to it, shouldn't you!" I shot back. Mum's face contorted before she slapped me across the cheek.
"How dare you, do you think I like living like this?" she barked. "I stayed with that man so you kids had a roof over your head and food on the table. We are all about to lose that, how do you think that makes me feel? I get used to things because I have to Corbin, so don't you dare lecture me!"
"Lecture you, what about you lecturing me about how I should try and make it work with him. The geezer tried to kill me, and next time he'll probably succeed. I will tell them everything you know, I am going to tell the police every last detail and so help me god you all better back me up. This abuse… his abuse stops now!"
"Corbin, you'll ruin us! If he gets locked up we have no business, no money, no home!" mum screamed, looking hysterical.
"Ma'ma, please, I really think we have had enough shouting in this homestead. Let us be calm." Zoe said getting between us.
"I'd rather be homeless than live in fear of my life!"
"Corbin, why don't we go upstairs? You getting annoyed with your mum because of your dad won't help anything. C'mon." Leah suggested. Giving mum a dirty look and stormed off upstairs. I slammed the door and threw myself on my bed noticing several objects missing from my room. Moments later Leah came in and gently sat down.
"It's not her fault, you know that right?"
"She should have got rid of him years ago!"
"That may be the case but she feels like you're blaming her and right now she needs your support. No matter what you think of your dad it must be hard for her to see her husband be taken away by the police."
"Yeah ok enough of the lectures Leah, I know my mother OK?"
Lean looked around the room before returning her gaze to me. "You haven't painted lately."
"Hardly had the chance have I?" I said, huffing.
Leah sighed. "Still, at least we might have a chance to go back to our old town, which will be nice right?"
I looked at her with scorn. "Yeah, it's that easy, just pack up and leave."
"Corbin, why are you so angry all the time lately."
"Why am I so… are you fucking kidding me Leah? My father tried to KILL me today, don't you understand that?"
"Ok, ok, I get it… no need to shout at me."
"Well! Why is everyone so fucking concerned about what happens to that fat fucker. I hope he dies in his police cell. I hope he gets raped!"
"Corbin, I know you don't-"
"You know what happened? Do you know what really happened? He asked me to unlatch the brackets on the boat, which I did. His fucking boat dragged me under water and I was trapped on the propeller. I couldn't breathe Leah, I almost drowned. And do you know what he was doing when I managed somehow to get myself free?"
"I know, it must have been awful!"
"He was laughing at me. I almost drown and he stands there laughing at me."
"Don't think about it, Corbin."
"That's all I thought about… oh, that and being punched, head-butted and kicked by him… my own father."
Leah shuffled up to me and put an arm over my chest before stroking my hair. "You look exhausted, why don't you try and get a couple of hours sleep?"
"And then what?"
"Then things might seem a little clearer." She replied kissing me on the lips. She was right; I did feel tired, maybe a couple of hours would bring a more stable mind when I awoke.
Then again, maybe it would just be the same shit just two hours older!
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]