The Boy from Castlebay Down
When all is Text and Done
Leaving my dad on the carpet of the pub I stormed out probably worrying Troy but I had to get home, I had to get home and tell my mum and sister that today was the day he was going. Jerry came running out of the door calling out to me.
"I need to get home Jerry," I replied, not bothering to turn round. As the adrenaline of earlier had built to a crescendo it needed an outlet and I just burst into tears as I walked, my fists clenched.
Jerry caught up with me and placed a hand on my shoulder. "Corbin, wait a sec, don't go in there like that, breathe ok?"
I stopped and wiped my eyes as Troy had now come out and caught up with us too. "It's gonna be ok isn't it, I mean, my mums right, without him we have no business… no money." I Looked at Troy. "We'd have to leave."
Jerry pulled me into a hug. "Son, in Castlebay? When folk need help, folk get help, ok? We'll sort something out. Now, you and me are gonna go see your mum and we're gonna make all this right again?"
I nodded. "Ok."
"Troy, why don't you get off home, son? I'll bring Corbin back with me as soon as we're done. Corbin, dry your tears."
Troy nodded and gave me a sad look before squeezing my shoulder. "My dad's right, Corbin, it will be ok."
I managed a smile and it was enough to reassure him enough to turn and head home. Jerry placed his arm round me and we walked on towards my house.
I placed the key in my door and stepped in. Jerry was behind me and I could hear the TV on in the lounge. I looked up seeing Leah at the top of the stairs, a look of surprise on her face. Then mum came out from the lounge along with my sister.
"Corbin, what's happened, you've been crying?" She looked at Jerry for an answer.
"Hello Mrs Waite, may I come in for a moment?"
Leah came down stairs and tried to put her arms round me as if thinking I'd forgotten about her verbal and physical attack on me. "Get off me," I barked. She stepped back and started crying. "Oh Leah please, I don't need this right now!"
"Perhaps we can all go into the sitting room?" Jerry suggested as we all stood cramped in the thin hallway. Mum nodded and walked back towards the lounge with my sister coming to give me a supportive hug. I stroked her hair before kissing it.
"Is everything ok dear brother?"
"Yeah sis, everything is fine," I replied as we all gathered in the lounge. Mum picked up the remote to the TV and placed it on mute.
"May I?" Jerry asked, gesturing to a chair.
"Yes of course," mum replied and Jerry sat down along with the rest of us apart from Leah who stood in the doorway. "Would you like a cup of tea?"
"No thank you, but thanks for the offer."
"Mum, dad has been-"
"Corbin, let me," Jerry cut in raising his hand, obviously knowing my mind was in a state. "Look, you might be all sitting here thinking why is this guy sitting in my house getting involved with a family dispute, and I get that, but-"
"Is it Don? Has he done something?" Mum cut in herself.
"Mrs Waite, your husband has done a lot of things I am starting to find out, and as a man of conscience I worry for your safety based on what I have witnessed. I understand there was a bad altercation on board his boat with Corbin the other day which I hear could have resulted in your son's death had my son not got there in time."
"Yes, I'm so sorry you had to get involved," mum said, looking embarrassed.
"I'm here because Don and I had a chat tonight and it's clear to me that his relationship with Corbin is… toxic." Jerry suddenly looked at my sister. "Your brother here tells me that he doesn't want to go to the police about what your dad did because if he goes to prison for it you'll not see him for a long time, is that right little one?"
"My father can be a beast Mr Winters, and my heart aches for my brother. I am torn yes, because I love my father and know somewhere inside there is a good man, but I love my brother more than all the gold in the world and wish him to be safe."
Zoe's passionate statement brought another lump to my throat and I called her over for a tight hug.
"Mrs Waite, Can I ask a personal question?"
"Should the children be here while we talk Mr Winters?" mum asked.
"Maybe you're right… Guys, do you mind if I have a discussion with your mum here for a little while?" he asked, turning to look at each of us.
"C'mon Zoe, let's go upstairs… Corbin?" Leah asked, calmly.
"Corbin, I'm just gonna have a chat with your mum to see if we can work something out," Jerry repeated.
I looked at him determined. "I said I'm stayin!"
Zoe got up from sitting with me after Leah called her again. The two girls left the room and closed the door, leaving mum, Jerry and myself remaining.
"I have a proposal to make," Jerry announced. "But it depends on what you intend to do with your husband Mrs Waite."
"Please, call me Karen, and sorry, what do you mean?"
"He's talking about you leaving him mum."
"Well thank you for sharing our family business with the village Corbin!" mum said, not impressed.
"Karen, look, I lost my wife to Cancer and so I know how hard it is facing the prospect of being a single parent but-"
"What exactly have you been told Jerry?"
Jerry looked at me and I looked at my mother. "Mum, I haven't told anyone much but I think most of the village know how out of control dad is and I'm sure they are all asking the question of how and why you stay with him."
"Corbin we've had this conversation and I've told you what I intend to do, it's just been hard that's all."
"Karen listen, we don't know each other very well but-"
"If at all Mr Winters," she interrupted, sounding more formal. Jerry smiled.
"Look, I know this is probably bruising your pride as a wife and mother and I don't want to be rude but that man out there is gonna end up killing someone soon with his temper alone and I think you need to decide on whether you are safe."
"So what's this proposal then?" mum asked making me wonder if it was to change the subject or because she knew deep down she would have to get rid of my dad.
"I know how hard it can be to get a new business off the ground believe me, I've had 2 fail before I got what I have now, and I also see the problems you are having are compounding things. If you want the truth Karen, whether your husband is here or not, this business is going to fail because you can't just be a trawler overnight like your husband seems to think. It takes skill, local knowledge and lots and lots of help to make a life as a fisherman."
"I did say he was a fool just watching videos," mum remarked.
"My proposal is this… and the offer is based on your husband not being in the equation. I propose to go into business with you. I'll supply 2 able bodied trawlers to work your boat. I'll get the vessel repaired back to a good state after its run in with a lamppost and I'll also give you access to all of my dealers so you can have a market for your caught fish. You will need to learn the admin side of things but I can put you in my office with Sandy up on Cliff Road until you have enough knowledge to do it on your own."
Mum looked at me before looking back at Jerry. "What's the catch?"
"For that Karen, I want 50 per cent of your business."
"50 per cent? Are you mad?"
"Mum, listen to Jerry, he's offering you a good deal."
"How do you work that out? Basically I get 2 people to work the boat and free training in an office for half my business."
Jerry shook his head looking mildly exasperated. "Karen, you will also have a business that works… makes money."
"At least we can stay then mum, right?"
"Listen Karen, I understand things are difficult right now, so to start with, say for the first 6 months, I'll own 50 per cent of your business but I'll only take 30 per cent of the profits, how does that sound?."
"Mum, take his offer, it's a no brainer and then you can get rid of that evil bastard."
"Pffft, you really think he's gonna go?" mum asked, staring at me.
Jerry looked at me for a moment, his face suggested he'd just had an idea.
"Karen, If Corbin was to go to the police and press charges your husband would definitely serve time."
"Yes I know this Jerry, Corbin and I have already discussed that part."
"Well if that is the case then I propose you give him a little incentive to leave you and your children in peace."
"Yeah Jerry, mum and me we talked about that. So what you're saying is, tell him to go, force him to hand over the business or I shop him to the police for what he did?"
"Exactly. And you know, I think if I were him, it would not be a difficult choice to make."
"Where is he anyway?" mum asked, looking at us both.
"I asked my guys to keep him at the pub for half an hour while I came back here to speak with you. I need to be honest Karen and tell you that this village… the people? They can be quite uptight when their community is disturbed by such a person like your husband. My fear is that if you stay with him here, people will start turning against you as well because they'll see you as the reason he is here. And believe me, in a little less than two weeks Don has become a very unpopular man indeed."
Mum got up and walked over to the window placing her hand on her mouth. She then dropped it to her side, sighed and then turned around.
"Jerry, I accept your offer."
"YES!" I blurted, feeling suddenly excited. Just then the front door opened and banged against the wall before being slammed again. Moment's later dad walked into the lounge with a fat nose and puffy eyes where Troy and I had hit him.
"Get the fuck out of my house both of you!" Dad seethed. Jerry got up in preparation to defend himself, or us, I presumed. I got up too.
"Don, go pack your things, you need to get out of my house," mum said, almost flooring him with her demand.
"Shut up you stupid woman, who the hell do you think you are? Everything you have, everything you own is because of me, and you ask ME to leave?"
Mum laughed sarcastically. "Don, let's just be clear here, I'm not asking!"
"I think you need to do what she says Don," Jerry said.
"Fuck you! In fact what the fuck are you doing here? Are you screwing my wife or something? Why is it every time I look round you are here, in my face."
Jerry shook his head. "Don, childish comments like that are the reason you are so despised in this community. You value nothing, not even your own wife and children. Even after the talk we had you still can't accept you are in the wrong, and now you accuse me of having an affair with your wife?"
"I don't give a fuck about anything you said, I was just standing there to be polite."
"Don, please just go and don't come back!"
"Karen, I already said, this is my house and if you don't like it then be my guest to get the fuck out of it."
It was time I stepped in I thought, seeing a stalemate beginning.
"Don?" I started. He looked at me. "Yeah, I call you that because you are not my father. So Don, I will shortly be contacting the police to report you for attempted murder."
He laughed. "Attempted… oh you're funny, so big dick, how are you going to prove that?"
"Troy saw everything; I have the marks on my body to prove how violent you were."
"Hmm, I think I remember seeing you abuse your son too Don, if I recall," Jerry said, matter of fact.
"So, I'll be giving them the full report as soon as I have called them. The only thing that will stop me from doing that is if you do what mum says and get the fuck out of her house and never return."
"You little… that's fucking blackmail!"
"No, it's a choice. You should be in prison for what you did to me and the only reason I haven't reported you is because despite what a scum bag you are to me I can't put Zoe through the heart ache of going to see her dad in jail!"
"You can keep the car Don, but I'd like you to go now please. I'll speak to Zoe about coming to visit you once this has all settled down."
"But Karen, we've been married for-"
"Don, our marriage is over, it has been for a long time. I don't love you anymore and after what you did to Corbin I can never forgive you."
"You've wrecked this family you know that?" Dad said, looking at me with hate in his eyes.
"Dad, no one wants you here, even people in the village don't want you here. Are you that desperate and blind to realise you caused all this. You're rotten to the core, you're… you're toxic!"
"Why don't we bring Zoe down here, see what she thinks of me being thrown out." Dad opened the door and took a step back surprised as Zoe walked in.
"I have been listening to all this, and daddy I think you should go. I love you because you are my father but what you have done to my brother is very bad."
"But honey, I…"
Zoe walked out of the room and I heard her go back upstairs. A few moments later her door closed and Dad's face revealed he knew his time was finally up.
"I'll need some money," he said, looking broken.
"I'll be taking on the business. We don t have a lot but you can take what's in the bank. I think it's about £10k. Call it your share," mum said. "We'll get by in the meantime."
He looked up. "Can't we talk about this, I mean really?"
I looked at mum, hoping her resolve stayed. She shook her head. "£10k and the car, just go Don, I'm not gonna go down that road where I watch you tell me how sorry you are or-"
"Sorry? You think I'm gonna tell you I'm sorry? You should be apologising to me, I haven't done anything wrong!"
"You are fucking unliveable," I spat. "Just fuck off will you, go on!"
"I hope we won't need the police called?" Jerry asked calmly, having been quiet while our family fell apart.
"I'm going ok! Just get that money to my account!"
With that he walked out and stomped upstairs.
Jerry, mum and myself all looked at each other and collectively sighed. It was over and in the end It had sort of worked out better than I'd expected.
"I'll hang around until he's gone, but Karen, I'd think about getting the locks changed once he goes."
"Yeah, I will. Listen Jerry. I'm sorry if I was kind of rude to you earlier it's just-"
Jerry waved his hand down. "Hey, forget it. I'd feel the same if I had to wash my laundry in front of a near stranger. I just thought I would be here just in case things went south."
"I'm glad you were."
I left Jerry talking with my mum downstairs and decided to go up and get some clean clothes on. As I entered our bedroom I saw Leah had been crying again. I stopped briefly and looked at her as she lay on our bed. She wiped her eyes and sniffed before sitting up.
"Can we talk?"
"About what?" I replied with an edge.
"About us maybe… Corbin what am I doing here? Am I your girlfriend, because if I am it helps if we are living in the same house."
"You know why I haven't been here and the answer out there," I pointed towards the door. "I can hear him in Zoe's room, spreading more of his poison as he tried to convince her he's a decent person. It makes me sick!"
"I know and I get that you've been under a lot of stress lately, we all have. I hate your dad too, he's the reason we have argued."
"Is he?" I asked, solemnly.
"What do you mean, of course he is? Either that or this village is cursed. Corbin once he's gone it will all be ok right? You'll come back here and we'll start fresh."
"And that guy Troy, when you see him tell him I said thanks, it looks like he's been a good friend to you while all this has been going on. I'm just sorry you didn't feel you could come to me."
"Leah, Troy and me…"
"Yes?" she asked, expectantly.
I bottled it.
"Yeah, you're right, he has been a good friend."
Leah got up from the bed and walked over to me, kissing me on the lips. I responded but was just going through the motions not wanting her to have another go at me for being cold with her.
"Just gonna get changed," I announced, giving her a false smile.
"Where are you going?"
"Well I think I'll stay with Troy tonight, his dad said I can."
"But you don't need to; your dad is going… you can stay here, right?"
"Yeah but I think he was kind of expecting me to stay at his."
"Jesus, who is this guy, your keeper?" she barked. " Corbin, you live here, and you are with me. All I hear lately is Troy this Troy that. You are practically joined at the hip."
"We're not it's just…"
"So let me try and figure this out... there's this guy who you have known just over 2 weeks asking you to stay at his, and I'm your girlfriend of 2 years asking you to stay here with me, and you're telling me you're gonna do what a 2 week old friend asks?"
"Jesus Leah, you make it sound like he's forcing me. I want to stay there ok; I don't wanna be here at the moment."
"Just seems a bit creepy that's all, it's like he has control over you."
"No it's not like that. Fucking hell, one minute you are asking me to thank him for being a good friend and the next he's a control freak who you can't stand, which is it?"
"I never said he was a control freak, I'm just saying you seem to be spending a lot of time with him that's all, and I was assuming once all this with your dad was sorted you would be back here."
"Fine, I'll stay here," I huffed.
"Corbin I'm just saying-"
"No Leah, you're right. I should be here with you shouldn't I, it's all sweetness and light now. Dad's going, life goes back to normal and everything is fine!"
"Why are you being like this? Don't you think it's a reasonable question to ask when your boyfriend would rather be sleeping at a stranger's house than with his girlfriend?
She had me there' I thought.
"I just said I would stay ok, can we drop it now?" I asked, my tone softening somewhat.
"So how do you feel?"
"You know, your dad leaving and stuff."
"Glad, I hope he rots somewhere."
"Zoe told me she heard that Jerry was going into business with your mum, that's good right?"
"Yeah it is… listen I need to go back down stairs and talk to Jerry… you know, let him know I won't be going back with him tonight. I'll be back soon ok?"
"Sure, I might get into bed anyway I feel pretty tired. You can wake me if I happen to fall asleep."
"I won't be sleeping in here Leah if I do stay."
"Huh? Why not?"
"What, after your outburst in the street at me, screaming at me that we're finished if I went. You think that's just forgotten about?"
"I'm sorry, like I said, I was feeling the stress of it all you know? I didn't mean any of it, I was upset."
"So that makes it ok does it? Sorry but I can't just forget a thing like that, so until I can work things out in my head I'm gonna stay in the spare room."
I didn't wait for a response I just left the room and headed back downstairs. Walking into the kitchen I pulled out my cell and closed the door. I dialled Troy's number and waited.
"Corbin? Everything ok?"
"Hey Troy, uh yeah, my dad is leaving, it sort of went ok."
"I'm pleased. Is my dad ok?"
"Yeah he's fine. He's just chatting to my mum while my dad is upstairs talking to my sister. He said he's gonna stay here until my dad leaves and then he'll be coming home."
"Ok great. Hey I got the spare room ready for you, I mean, you're welcome to share my bed but I didn't know how you would feel about that so-"
"Troy, uh listen," I said, cutting him off.
"Sure, what is it?"
"I'm uh, I'm gonna be staying here tonight. Leah is kicking off about me coming back to your place and I don't wanna make matters worse."
There was a silence after I stopped talking that obviously said quite a lot about how that had made Troy feel. Me? I felt awful.
"Uh… ok, well I better go, my dog needs feeding."
"Troy, don't do that, you know how hard this is for me."
"Hey it's fine, I'm fine, really I need to go now Ok?"
It was too late, he'd hung up.
I rolled my eyes before placing the Cell back in my jeans. I walked out of the kitchen and into the lounge where mum and Jerry were still talking.
"You ok Son? What's your dad doing?"
"Talking to Zoe I think, Listen I need to go see Troy, is it ok if I come back in a bit?"
"Troy? What for Corbin, it's getting late."
Jerry said nothing, probably getting the drift that we needed to talk or that something had happened.
"Uh, well I have some stuff at Jerry's and I thought I'd go pick it up and see when I was next going out on the boat with him."
"Can't that wait until tomorrow, why the urgency all of a sudden."
"Yes yes, it can wait, it can all fucking wait until tomorrow when my life turns another shade of brown shit!"
"CORBIN! What's gotten into you? I don't need your attitude right now!"
Jerry looked at me, obviously picking up on my mood all of a sudden. He just smiled as if to tell me whatever it was it would be ok. I wasn't so sure though.
Just then our focus was turned away from me as we heard heavy footsteps coming down the stairs before my ex-father appeared in the lounge doorway with a case clamped in his hand.
"I'll erm… I'll call you to sort out stuff," he said, looking at mum.
"No… no I'll call you." Dad just nodded and began to turn around to head down the hall. "Oh Don?" mum called. He turned back with a blank face. "You need to leave your keys."
Dad reached in to his pocket which jingled with loose change before pulling out a set of 6 keys on a ring. He looked at them for a moment before looking back up at mum.
"You're welcome to them," he said, before tossing them at her. They landed at her feet and she slowly picked them up. As I gazed at her briefly, for a split second she almost looked to have a hint of remorse on her face.
"Hope it all works out Don, get a handle on that temper," Jerry said. I wasn't sure why.
"Pfft, Pal? Go fuck yourself!"
With that comment he turned on his heels and headed off down the hallway and moments later we all heard the front door slam indicating he had finally gone.
Mum stood up straight and dusted herself down as if deliberately trying to prove she was not bothered her husband of 31 years had just left the family home.
"Whiskey Jerry?" she asked, ignoring my question.
"Uh, no, I erm… I better get back to my boy."
"Mum, I said are you ok?"
"I'm fine, everything is fine, why don't you go and talk to Leah, see if you two can't work out your differences, it would be nice to have at least one happy person in this house."
Jerry glanced at me, feeling my pain as I winced at the thought of heading up stairs to 'talk.'
"I'll head off now, leave you guys in peace. Listen Karen, if you need anything, just-"
"Thank you Jerry, I'm sure I can look after my children, I've been doing it pretty much on my own for some time now."
"And you're a good parent, I can see that. Just know that I'm there, it's how we do things here."
"Thank you Jerry, Corbin would you see him out for me please?"
"Uh, yeah su…"
Mum had already headed out to the kitchen leaving me to follow Jerry towards the front door. He opened it and was about to turn around and say goodbye but I nudged him forward and followed him outside.
"What do you think?"
"Yeah… look, can you tell him… uh… erm, can you just say that I… oh fuck this is such a fucking mess! I hissed banging my hand on the wall.
"Hey, calm down, Corbin, what exactly has happened?"
"It's Troy, he went all emo on me because I said I had to stay here tonight. Jesus, these secrets are eating me up! I have to stay here because of the grief I'll get from Lean if I don't!"
"Corbin, let me go talk to him, you just worry about your family in there."
"I've hurt him and I promised you I wouldn't!" I said, tearing up. "All I wanna do is be fucking happy for once in my life and I can't even get that right without upsetting someone else." I kicked the wall with my foot several times until Jerry grabbed me and pulled me into a hug.
"Hey, stop it, this is not your fault, ok?"
He pulled back and put my head in his hands before using his thumbs to wipe the tears out of my eyes. "OK? Are we good?"
I nodded slowly. "Please just tell him I…"
I stopped, not knowing how to complete the sentence. Truth was I didn't know what to say that would make him feel better.
"Just leave Troy to me, ok? Now go on, get back inside, and dry those eyes before you see anyone. You don't want any questions."
"But Corbin, sooner or later…"
"I know, I know, sooner or later I'm gonna have to grow a pair!"
Jerry nodded and squeezed my shoulder before walking away from the house and back towards his own.
Mum didn't seem in the mood for talking as I greeted her in the kitchen so I thought it best to leave her to get a night's sleep before trying to talk about… well anything at all. I wandered off up the stairs and into my room eyeing a drowsy Leah laying on the bed watching TV.
She glanced up at me. "You ok, I heard raised voices outside?"
"Yeah, things are fine, I was just talking to Jerry."
"Sounded like a heated debate… and have you been crying?"
"NO!" I blurted back, defensive.
"Look, its ok to feel a little bit upset, I get it, ok?"
"What do you mean?"
"About your dad going, I mean it must be hard."
I shook my head frustrated. "Leah you are way off the mark ok?!"
"Ok, so tell me what's up then?"
"Nothing Leah, why has something always got to be up… anyway I need a shower, then I'm going to bed."
I started to strip off my jeans and t-shirt and threw them on the bed before pulling a towel from my closet. Now in just my boxers and socks I wandered into the bathroom and turned on the water before clutching the edge of the sink and looking in the mirror.
Shutting off the water, the shower died down to a steady drip and I stepped out starting to dry myself vigorously before wrapping the towel around my waist. I took some tooth paste from the tube and rubbed a circle of steam from the mirror and starting to clean my teeth. I found the act therapeutic, as one hand formed circle motions with the brush, while the other played with my loose nut sack.
Even though I was tired the shower had put some clarity back in my mind and I felt a little better. It was as if the water had cleansed my grubby mood.
Pulling a cup from the holder I rinsed my mouth and placed the brush back in the cabinet before switching off the light and heading back to my room. When I stepped in I found the light off and Leah turned away from the door. I felt relieved knowing that I had escaped another night of her 'wanting to talk!' That was until I saw my phone lying on top of my jeans. I creased my forehead trying to think for a moment whether I had taken it out or if it had fallen out, but somehow I knew it hadn't.
Picking up the cell I lit up the screen seeing I had no messages, and looking over at Leah I tried to silently breathe a sigh of relief. I grabbed my used clothes from the bed and made my way out into the hall before heading into the spare room and closing the door. I hastily made up my makeshift bed without a mattress and got down on to the floor as sleep begged me to come meet it. As I was just about to put the phone down on the floor it vibrated in my hand telling me I had a text.
"Freaky," I mumbled as I squinted at the screen . As expected this time of night it was Troy and I wondered if Jerry had managed to talk with him and explain my predicament. I went in to my messages balancing precariously between the emotions of worry and excitement.
I brought up the text.
Troy W: So ur ignoring me now?
I drew my head back and frowned before typing back.
Troy W: My dad came home and told me to stop being an idiot and said that you had things that would take time to get sorted. Wanted 2 say I was sorry, I'm just feeling insecure right now!
Corbin: So why did you think I was ignoring u?
Troy W: Cos u neva replied 2 my txt!
Corbin: I haven't had a txt from u!!!!
Troy W: I said I was sorry and I missed you!"
Corbin: Wen? I didn't get anyfing!
Troy W: bout 15mins ago, maybe ur phone is broke! Haha!
As I felt the blood drain from my face and my stomach start to spin like a washing machine I saw a hand reach for the switch before the room was thrown into a bright light.
I took my gaze off of Leah's cold stern expression as she stood in the doorway and quickly looked at my phone again.
Troy W: Shit, I was just thinking, if you didn't get the txt, then…
Troy W: FUCK! I'm sorry!
"It's ok, you carry on texting I'll just stand here like an idiot!" Leah barked. I quickly put my phone down and gave her my attention.
"Sorry… uh, everything ok?" I asked, swallowing about a hundred times, probably pale as a ghost.
"It's um… it's not what you think."
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