A Wartime Evacuee

by Andrew Passey

Part 4

Life continued in a fog of exhaustion and nerves. It had been a few days since my last beating but I knew it wouldn't last. It didn't. I stupidly forgot to say "Sir" in an answer to a question from Mr Arse. It came after a long tiring day working outdoors and my brain had just stopped functioning. A very minor transgression that could happen to anyone. However as usual Mr Arse would accept no excuses so it led to me being violently beaten with the broom handle again. This time I had to bend over with my pants down and let him whack me eight times. It seemed random how he came up with how many it was. Just all part of his sadistic violent streak I guess.

"I take no pleasure in this boy. One day I'll beat this lesson into you!" He'd said. I didn't believe him. Violence was a way of life for him and he clearly did enjoy it. As for me I was beginning to get broken down by all this abuse. I was in agony that evening and as I lay in bed fidgeting from the pain I started to really think about my predicament and how I could escape.

The idea of escaping was obviously incredibly appealing but it was usually prefaced with the sensible questions I asked myself. When would I escape? But most importantly where would I go? I didn't know anyone outside London. I couldn't get back there and who knows if my Mum was still around. Even if she was, did I even want to see her again? I didn't know where other people locally lived. I didn't know anyone within a couple of hundred miles. Ultimately I didn't really know anything or anyone that could help me. I was alone and I just didn't see a way out of there that didn't involve me leaving in a coffin.

It wasn't like I was watched all the time but I pretty much was for most of it. Mr Arse occasionally went off on his own to do who knows what and sometimes his wife would go with him and collect the rations from the shop. That was the only time I was ever left on my own though. They weren't usually gone for long and if I'd tried to escape they'd probably pick me up before I'd even left the property. Even if I got out of there I guessed there was a good chance that whoever i bumped into would deliver me promptly back to the house of pain.

As well as them not leaving their home very often, visitors to see Mr Arse were also very rare. In fact I didn't remember seeing anyone visit since I'd arrived. It was like they lived in their own bubble where no one came in or out. This is why it was a surprise the day after my latest beating to hear an unfamiliar voice. I was bent over weeding as usual, the job that never seemed to end.

"Well who have we got here?" I heard a voice say. I stood up to see a middle aged man looking at me with an expression I didn't like the look of. There was something I don't know, maybe predatory about it. The sort of look a fox would give a chicken, or a wolf a sheep. I knew I didn't like that look.

"I've been watching you bent over like that for a while, it's quite a view! So what's yer name?" The man asked, smiling at me but it wasn't a smile you'd want someone to give you. Still, I could be polite at times and I didn't want to upset Mr Arse so I thought I better reply.

"Um my name is Tom. I live here now, I help out by doing jobs and that sort of thing." I'd kept it simple and didn't want to reveal any more information than I had to.

"Really? He's kept that quiet hasn't he! Where is he by the way?" The man said. I assumed by "he" he meant Mr Arse so I said he was inside.

"Well I better go and see him. I'm Wilfred by the way. It's lovely to meet you. You're doing a great job weeding and I have lots of things I could find for a boy with your talents to do. We could have some fun together. I really do hope we'll see more of each other soon!" He said with that smile that just turned me cold. He'd looked me up and down like I was a piece of meat and I wasn't buying his fake charm. He was someone I felt had to be avoided. How I did that was out of my hands but he'd only visited once so hopefully he wouldn't be a regular visitor.

As he walked away I had a pang of recognition at his name and vaguely remembered Mr Arse had mentioned a man called Wilfred at some point. I was pretty sure it wasn't in a positive way and I kept an eye on him until he went inside the cottage. Sometimes you just get a bad feeling about someone and while I might be doing Wilfred a disservice I knew that my gut told me he was bad news.

How bad news suddenly became apparent that evening. I'd discovered a couple of nights before that if I got on the floor and put my head in the corner of the room where there was a hole in the floorboards I could just about see and hear what was going on downstairs. I'd accidentally discovered it when rummaging for a sock and I'd found a bit of paper blocking the light from coming in. Once I removed that I could hear what they were saying. Most of the time there wasn't anything useful to eavesdrop on but I hoped it would at least let me know things I needed to be aware of. On this occasion I was definitely right.

Up to then the talk had just been emotional abuse of his wife by Mr Arse and him being mean about me. Given I worked my arse off all day it used to really piss me off that he'd call me lazy and refer to me as "the boy." I did have a name after all! However there was no point getting too annoyed. I wanted information. I was particularly keen to find out if Wilfred and his visit were being discussed. Wilfred had a clear interest in me and I suspected it would come up in discussion. After some borderline abusive conversations Mr Arse turned the conversation around to Wilfred which definitely piqued my interest.

"So Wilfred came over today when you were at the shop. He's very impressed by the boy. Very impressed if you get my meaning. He's expressed an interest in having the boy move in with him for a few days. He's got lots of jobs for him to do around the house and his lands. It would get the boy out of our hair and teach him some more respect!" Mr Arse said.

"Oh no we can't do that! You can't send him to Wilfred. You know what the rumours say about what he does to boys? I won't allow it, Thomas deserves better!" Mrs Arch was clearly sticking up for me which made me feel briefly happy but then I realised if she was taking as big a risk as that then Wilfred clearly was bad news. I was concerned about the "rumours" about what he did to boys. What did he do? Surely it couldn't be any worse than what Mr Arse did to me.

"Remember who is in charge here! Do NOT disrespect me. I will let it go this time with a warning as I can see the boy has somehow wheedled his way into your soft heart. Anyway, Wilfred has said he will pay very well. We DESERVE better than having to look after some snivelling lazy London arsehole. So what if Wilfred likes to play around with boys? The boy's arse is so black and blue at the moment he might like Wilfred kissing it better. Anyway it'll teach the boy how good he has it here! After all it's not like we molest him is it! Anyway I've made my decision. I'll negotiate a price with Wilfred and I'll drop the boy over there next time I'm heading out."

I audibly gasped but luckily they didn't hear. I suddenly realised that what Wilfred liked to do with boys was likely sexual in nature and I was shitting myself. There was no fucking way I was going to let some dirty old man molest me. I knew I had to get out of there and then. I didn't know where I could go or how far I could get. However suddenly it was crystal clear that anything would be better than this predicament. I was already being physically and emotionally abused. I had no desire to add sexual abuse to that as well.

I took a deep breath and took stock of the situation. It wasn't like I had many belongings so I could easily pack what I could in my bag. I was running away so I might as well raid the larder on my way out. After all, running away was crossing a line that there was no coming back from. If I got caught then I fully expected to be buried alive in the field I'd been weeding. Stealing some food from the larder would be small fry compared to the act of running away.

I started planning it all in my head. I tried to keep calm and I feigned sleep not that they ever checked on me anyway. I just had to wait until the two of them went to bed. I waited until I heard the bedroom door shut and then I waited for a while afterwards. The house was deathly quiet and I got dressed as quickly as I could. I picked my bag up and I sneaked out of my room. As it was dark I hoped I could pretend I was going to the toilet if they heard me. I needn't have worried though. From the snoring reverberating around the landing it was clear they were both asleep.

I sneaked downstairs into the kitchen. I couldn't see much but picked up some food from the larder and put it in my bag. It was now or never. I gently eased the back door open which was always unlocked in case I needed the toilet in the night. One benefit of Mr Arse not letting me use the indoor toilet was that I had this escape route. I closed the door gently behind me and left the house of pain for hopefully the last time. Now I was on a new journey and I hoped whatever happened I would end up in a better place. Wherever I was going it had to be better than what I'd left behind.

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