The Boy from Castlebay Down
Brrr brrr, brrr brrr
"Mum, it's me, where's dad?"
"He's gone to the warehouse to take the boat out. Are you still at Troy's?"
"Yeah… well actually I'm out in the road, Troy has gone to see his dad to help bring a catch in."
"Are you coming home?"
"Do I have a home?"
There was a pause in our conversation which gave me my answer.
"Come home now and we'll talk. Your father will be out until eight tonight then he said he was going to the pub to apologise to a few of the locals."
"That's big of him… sounds like he's just getting on with stuff as if nothing has happened."
"Just come home Corbin, I don't want to speak about this on the phone."
I sighed. "Ok, fine I'm on my way!"
I hung up my cell and slid it back into my pocket. Troy had left me a few minutes earlier after I said I was going to take a walk. It wasn't a lie, not really, but as he left I felt I should check in with mum knowing she would be worried. Leah? Meh, well I would deal with that later.
I placed my key in to the door and walked down to the kitchen where mum was sitting at the table. I noticed a cup of hot tea sitting where I would normally plonk myself down most days.
"That for me?" I asked, sitting opposite her. She just nodded, looking pale.
"I have spoken with your father and were are going to separate," she said, as if it was an everyday occurrence. I leaned back in my chair surprised.
"Wow, uh ok. And when did you decide this?"
"Honestly? About 2 years ago," she revealed, taking a sip of her tea looking at me.
"Why didn't I then?" She shrugged. "I was scared… scared of the unknown, but now I see how unhappy he makes everyone… how unhappy he makes me. And what he did to you? If it's as you said it was then how can I be with a brutal man like that?"
"It's the truth mum, he tried to kill me that day."
"I believe you Corbin, you don't have to worry about that. Lately I've seen how he is with you and how enraged he gets for no reason. I know if I don't do something one day he will…"
"Yeah, he will. So uh… have you told Zoe?"
"Not yet, she went out early this morning to see Diamond and took Leah… I hear you two had a row yesterday?"
"Yeah, probably a fatal one, but I'll deal with that later, tell me more about you and dad, how did it go?"
"When I told him?"
She sniggered, probably falsely. "He actually said I was just like you."
"I almost took it as a compliment."
"But he's accepted it right; I mean he'll give you the divorce?"
"I wanted him to be upset or angry," she said dreamily. "But he just looked at me and said, Karen, our marriage has been dead for years."
I bit my bottom lip. "And has it?"
"I guess there wasn't much love there if I'm honest. After Zoe was born there was a period where he felt pushed out. Then things got really good again and it was like the old days when you were a toddler. Then he seemed to change for the worse when you were in your mid-teens. I think that's when I knew."
"That we wouldn't be together forever like I had long imagined we would. When I married your dad he was a slim handsome man, much like you are and I was so in love… not just with his body but with his personality as well. We were both young high flyers in the City. Life was fast but we always found time to be a couple, do those soppy things couples do," mum said, reminiscing as she stared out of the window into space.
I took a sip of my tea and placed the cup back down again. "So what happens now?"
She scoffed. "Funny, we didn't get that far. He just walked out in the end and said he was going to the warehouse and would be late back."
"Well what would you like to happen?"
Mum sighed and got up, placing her empty cup in the sink. "For this all to be a bad dream Corbin. But, it's not so I must start thinking about you children and what life is going to be like for me."
"I'm here mum, I'll be here for you, and Zoe will too."
"Yes Zoe, what to do about her, that's another worry."
"What do you mean?"
"Well your relationship with your dad I understand… you hate him. But Zoe? She loves her father and I fear she'll see me as the enemy when I tell her I am leaving him."
"Mum, give her some credit, she might think a lot of him but she is well aware of what a bastard he is. Just because he is all sweetness and cotton wool to her doesn't change who he is in reality, and Zoe knows that."
"I hope so."
"So what about the business, the boat, warehouse etc."
"We'll sell up of course. We may have to rent for a while until I can find another job but at least when I do we'll have enough money from our old house and this one to put a decent deposit down even after your dad takes his share."
"Erm, you mean leave here?"
Mum chuckled. "Well what did you think we were going to do? You really think I'm going to pull on a pair of wellies and go catch some fish? Corbin, it's a man's industry, you know how hard they work out on those boats, it's not something I could do, more to the point, I don't think I'd want to."
"No, we need to leave, get back to a normal town. We can't stay here, not if I need a job that I can do. And anyway I thought you'd be pleased?"
"Well yeah, I mean I guess I am," I replied, totally lying.
"So what are you going to do?" mum asked, looking at me as she played with her nails.
"Well since it's just the both of us here then yeah I was talking about you."
"Oh Ha ha mum!" I sighed. "If you mean Leah, then I dunno, I think we're finished too mum."
"I was talking about your living arrangements."
"Oh, right… erm, well Troy and his dad have said I can stay with them for a few days."
"Hmm, you and this Troy seemed to have hit it off quite well."
"What do you mean?" I asked, defensive.
"Whoa, calm down… I just meant that he has been looking out for you quite a lot. We've only been here a week or so, I know from past times you have found it quite hard to make friends so…"
"He's a nice guy and I dunno, maybe its how people are in small villages like this. Troy said that people look out for each other here; I guess that includes me… I dunno!"
"Well it's fortunate that he is under the circumstances. I was going to suggest you perhaps travel back to our old town and stay with Mark or Danny's mum until I have sorted things out here."
"You want me to go?"
"Oh honey of course I don't but I don't trust your father and if anything happened to you I'd never forgive myself. Look, I know me suggesting you don't stay here sounds wrong, and I get that, but I'm just being realistic."
"Mum I need to ask you something," I said, about to change the subject slightly.
"Troy says that I should be pressing charges against dad, you know, for what he did to me. At first I dismissed it as I always have done when dad hit me. But this time was different as I've explained."
Mum pursed her lips. "Every bone in my body says yes you should. Why? Because it's right that he knows he can't treat people like that, especially his own son."
"But?" I asked, knowing there was one coming.
"Your sister! Corbin, you have a choice. Once me and your father go our separate ways you need never see him again you know that right?"
"So if that's the case then as hard as it is to swallow you have that choice, to try and put this behind you and just not see him again. With that choice you will also allow Zoe to still have her dad in her life."
"And my other choices?"
"Just one more, and that's to go to the police and press your charges. But let me say this. Attempted murder is a serious offense Corbin, it could mean your dad will go to prison for quite a long time if convicted."
"So!" I said, bitter that she was suggesting I be bothered about that… or was she?
"I agree, but just think carefully before you make that choice."
"You make it sound like I shouldn't be."
"Not at all, you do what you must and I'll support you, but think about Zoe in all of this. Seeing her Daddy go to prison will devastate her."
I got up and paced the kitchen wondering what to do. "I must say mum you seem to be very calm about all this."
"If you look in the bin Corbin, you'll see I was anything but calm earlier."
I glanced into the waste bin seeing several broken pieces of crockery lying at the bottom.
"As you can see, I had my tantrum earlier, but now I am thinking clearly… more clearly than I have in a long time in respect of your dad."
"Do… do you still love him?"
"Of course, he is the father of my children and we've been together for thirty one years. But regardless, I can't escape the fact he tried to murder one of our children and is an abusive violent man. I hate him for that and wish I was still with the man I married, but I'm not, that's clear now."
"Mum, I don't think you are dealing with things very well, you just seem… I dunno, too chilled and matter of fact. Don't you wanna scream or have meltdown?I know I do!"
"I'm fine," she said, before starting to wash the cups up.
There was something about mum that was definitely not fine. Her behaviour reminded me of the time when Nanna Violet passed who was my mum's mum. There was this period between her dying and the funeral where mum went into this kinda numb quiet phase. For the first few days it wasn't that noticeable, I mean sure, the house was super clean where she would spend hours scrubbing things and then re-scrubbing them but then she just became this robot where she wouldn't speak unless spoken to. She would be doing something one minute and then just walk off to do something else the next. The part that really disturbed me about seeing her that way was her reaction to big things. It was like nothing mattered… like everything was just black and white.
Fast forward to now and I was seeing the same pattern of behaviour. She had just admitted she wanted to leave her husband of over thirty years and she hardly batted and eye lid. She then tells me I might have to stay somewhere away from home for a few days and it was like that was normal to her. Sure, I mean, it made sense, but to say it so calmly? Something was just plain wrong in her, like she was some ticking time bomb that sat quietly counting down until it exploded.
"Mum, listen I'm gonna go down to the boat yard and see Jerry, I think it's about time I had a chat with him."
"Ok dear, uh, what do you want me to say to Leah?"
"Tell her I'll call her later. Actually I might go pack a few things before dad gets home, is that ok?"
"Sure." She replied, busying herself with some washing.
I walked through the gates of the boat yard and inside to the workshop. Wandering past the employees I kept my eyes to the floor slightly embarrassed that they might know something about my family's recent episodes. In my hand was a duffle bag containing clothes and some toiletries.
Approaching the office I saw Troy helping one of the guys hoist out an engine. He caught me with his eye and looked over. He then looked at the bag in my hand and smiled. I smiled back before knocking on the office door.
I walked in seeing Jerry writing out what looked like pay cheques. "Hey Jerry."
"Corbin, what a pleasant surprise, how are we today, able to walk?" he asked, grinning.
I scratched the back of my neck nervously. "Yeah, uh about that, I erm… I'm having a few issues at home right now with my dad and-"
"Come, sit down… and close the door."
I quickly did as he asked pushing the door shut and sitting down on a wheeled office chair.
"Sorry about everything Jerry, you must think I'm a right waster."
"Corbin, when a kid's life at home is not in harmony, nor is that kid's mind. I get it, your dad's an asshole, and it's right you wanna rebel against his assholeness. But, drinking ain't the answer son and nor is giving up on life."
"I know, I just feel so hopeless right now."
"And you will, but it does get better. Corbin my dad used to strike me several times a week and nine times out of ten it was because he could rather than because I deserved it. I know what it's like to live with abuse but the secret is to stay focused on the fact you are a good person and that abuse stems from your father's own weaknesses as a man."
"I have never hit Troy… in fact if I did now he would probably put me on my ass," Jerry chuckled. "My point is I never hit him because I know I am better than my father. And so you must be better than yours. I'm not gonna tell you his abuse is something you just take and not think about because it's not. If you're like me those memories stay with you forever, but what they also did is make me a stronger person and a person who respected myself."
"It's just sad because I remember him before he was like that."
"You had that luxury, my dad was always a fucker, so take those memories and cherish them. Right now you need to think of your safety and accept the fact you and your dad do not get on. Troy tells me you may not press charges against him, is that true?"
I sighed. "I dunno, I mean I was actually going to, I had my mind made up but I've recently spoken with my mum and she's announced she is leaving him."
"Does it make a difference whether she is or isn't."
"No I guess not but she said once she leaves him I won't have to see him again. The truth is Jerry, my mum is worried about my sister if my dad goes to prison, and honestly, I am too."
"Granted, there is that. But you must do what your heart tells you, and if it is that heart saying you need justice then you know what to do."
"Can I ask… what did you do?"
"You mean did I go to the police?"
"No, but then things were different in my day. A father spanking his child was not seen the same as it is today. We've become a very politically correct nation. I'm not saying it was just a spanking because on some days my dad would make me bleed or bruise me, but it was generally accepted I was a rouge kid anyway."
"What did your mum think?"
"Well I was brought up not to tell tales so being young and stupid I put the abuse from my dad in the same context and kept quiet about it. When my mum asked about my bruises I told her that I got them at school while fighting with the other kids."
"Did she believe you?"
"Back then I thought so, but now? How could she? She lived with the man too and she was no fool. But again wives back then in America were kinda silent on certain matters. I guess if I tried to get inside her mind now, she was of the opinion that if it was that bad I would have gone to her. Truth was, it was that bad but I never went to her."
"Wow Jerry, I'm sorry to hear you went through that."
"And I you! So, you have a bag with you?"
"Yeah uh Troy sort of said that you would be, uh…"
"You wanna stay with us for a few days?"
"Well uh… yeah I mean if it's too much trouble I can find somewh-"
"Nonsense, you 're very welcome, but before I welcome you with open arms I need to discuss something with you."
"Oh right, is it my job here because I'm really sorry for running out like that I mean I just had so much going on at the time and-"
"No Corbin, not the job," Jerry cut me off. "Something more important."
"Corbin, my boy out there? I love him very much, he is my gold, my treasure and his happiness is very important to me. You'll rarely find me without a smile on my face unless I feel something… or someone is hurting my son."
I swallowed hard. "Ok, erm…"
"Troy seems to have taken a liking to you I see," Jerry said. I wondered if it was a statement or a question. I took it as a question.
"He has yes!"
Not a question then, I thought.
"Well Yeah I guess he has."
"Corbin, I need to know what your intentions are with him."
I coughed. "Uh, I'm sorry what do you mean?"
"Let me be blunt here Corbin, it makes things easier if we are just up straight with each other. I get the feeling you are having issues with your sexuality, seeing as you have a girlfriend of two years living with you and yet, you seem to be allowing my son to get attached to you. I get that some guys can forge a close bond with each other, but I have a hunch that you just give him a little more than what I'd expect the average guy to."
"How much has he told you… and what makes you think I am having issues with what way I swing"
"With Troy it's what he doesn't say that reveals more. I can see he is infatuated with you just by the fact he is willing to move heaven and earth to see you are safe and happy. Like I say Corbin, guys get close, but there is close like my workers out in that shop and there is close, like you and my boy. I see the difference."
I got up and walked a few steps putting my hands on my hips and blowing air through my lips. "He's a great guy, and yeah I like him. I like him a lot."
"But?" Jerry asked. I turned round to face him.
"Isn't it obvious? You've basically outlined my problem. I have a girl at home who I've been with for 2 years. Troy is unique Jerry. No other male in the history of my life has ever made me question who I am. You know I had this friend… best friend called Danny, he was killed by a drunk driver."
"I'm sorry, carry on."
"Yeah so, he was my best friend and we used to do sleep overs at each other's house. We slept in the same bed and all that, but I didn't feel anything, not one iota of attraction. So when I look at Troy I wonder why this is happening to me. I mean my friend Danny was a good looking guy, had a great personality and was a real nice boy but if he didn't turn me, then how has Troy?"
Jerry laughed. "You think my son has turned you? Corbin I think it's a lot more complicated than that. A LOT more."
"I know it is, but that's how it feels in my head ok?" I said, slight irritation in my tone. "Look, I don't know what my intentions are and that's the truth, all I know is that I like him and more than I understand."
"And he likes you, but let me be clear, you need to figure out quickly what he means to you because as each day goes by he is becoming more attached to you and I'm scared he'll get hurt if you suddenly decide you wanna pork the canoe after all."
I coughed at his comment feeling it didn't seem right coming out of his mouth. "I know Jerry, I just don't know what to do, or how to feel."
"You will, just remember not to fight it when you do. That statement I say for the benefit of you rather than him. As for Troy, we have no secrets but about six months ago something hurt him that I never got to the bottom of and I never want to see him sad like that again."
"What was it?"
"I don't know, like I said, he normally tells me everything but with this he never did. I have a feeling he got involved with someone and it went sour. I've never pressed the subject because he gets upset. My point is I don't want to see that happen again."
"What makes you think he was involved with someone?"
"Because he came out to me at the tail end of a meltdown he had and that's when I knew something or rather someone had made him suffer."
As Jerry finished talking straight away I had a feeling I knew who that someone might have been and made a mental note to ask Troy about Billy Saunders when we were next alone.
"Listen, about the job, is it still on offer?"
"Corbin, as far as I'm concerned you already started and have just taken some compassionate leave. Think nothing of it and start when you're ready."
"Sure thing. Look, why don't you tell Troy to take the rest of the day off and get him to take you back to our house. I'm pretty sure you both need to talk, right?"
"Yeah you're probably right. And listen, thanks for the chat, it helped.
"Corbin, I'm a father, but I've also been a son. Like I said, I get it ok?"
I nodded and walked over to the door before stepping outside. It was time for more talking I thought as I waved Troy over to me.
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