The Boy from Castlebay Down

by James Matthews

Chapter 8

My Ship I built to Wreck

Troy had taken me back into the workshop and through to a room off the side of the building which had a square block table in the middle. On top was a huge map with pencil markings all over it. Around the edges lay ropes and nets and an old brown faux leather sofa that had seen better days.

"You look to be about the size of Billy Saunders," Troy remarked, stepping away from the table and wandering over to a line of five grey metal lockers. He proceeded to pull out the loose padlock and flung open the door.

I walked over to him as he unhooked a set of Royal blue water proof clothes and hung them just below my neck. "Yep, looks an ok fit!"

"What's this for?"

"To keep you dry while we are out on the water. If it gets choppy, like today, or it rains, these will keep you warm."

"They stink!"

"Naturally," Troy replied, smirking. "Once you get them on the smell will go as you'll get used to it."

"I don't think it's something I wanna get used to," I retorted, pinching my nose.

"Stop being a girl! So humour me, what did you do before this?"

"This?" I asked, not computing.

"Yeah, before you moved here, did you have a job?"

"Oh, I see… yeah I worked at a diner part time while I was at college."

"Hmm, figures!" He scoffed.

"What, so you think I don't know how to get my hands dirty?"

"I think that question will be answered soon, once I'm through with you."

Troy thrust the waterproofs into my chest playfully and walked back over to the map table. I followed him and lay the clothes down on the leather sofa before standing opposite him.

"So tell me some more about this patch," I said, looking at the map again.

"So these pencil markings show the areas we have been."

"Yeah we did that bit… so what are these coloured circles here?" I asked, pointing at a few.

"If you look behind you you'll see a chart. The different colours represent the success rate, but more importantly the yield. It is actually a system I invented," Troy said proudly.

On the chart there were around five different coloured circles with estimated figures next to them. Just below each circle was the trips made.

"So what does it all mean?"

"If you look on the map here, red circles represent areas of water where we have had good quality and good sized catches. When me and Billy went out we always fished these areas as much as we could. The problem with two of them as you'll see marked, here…" he pointed with his finger, "is that they're tanker lanes and so we have to keep moving out of the way."

"I see," I said, following the lanes which were represented in black dashes.

"Good, so what I would really like to do now since I have you with me, is go exploring."

"Exploring?" I asked, raising a brow.

"Yeah, as you can see, my pencil markings stop here." Troy's finger arced over a large section of the map. "I wanna see how we do in this area as we haven't been there yet."

I bent my bottom lip down and nodded. "Ok, sounds good."

"Glad you approve… so, wanna stop for an early lunch?"

"Argh shit, lunch!" I blurted, slapping my forehead.


"I didn't bring any! That's fine, I can shoot home. How long do you normally have?"

"Dad allows us an hour, but the guys in the workshop usually take just half as they are busy at the moment. As it's your first day, we'll take an hour, how's that?"

"Great, so I'll hop back home then and be back here soon."

"Nice, I'll be waiting… and Corbin?" Troy called as I was heading out the door.

I turned by head back. "Yeah?"

"Really looking forward to spending time with you," he softly said. Strangely the comment made me feel… worthwhile, something that had escaped me for as long as I could remember.

I winked at him. "Thanks, I'll see you soon."

I put the key in my front door and walked in. The house seemed quiet and looked empty. I called just to make sure.

"Mum? Zoe? Leah?"

"I live here too you know! Came dad's voice before appearing from his office.

I stopped just short of the kitchen. "Sorry, I thought you'd be at work or something."

"Like you, you mean. Got a little job have you now? Got some independence have you?" he asked, his tone sickly and sarcastic. I remained calm and polite.

"Yes, Troy's dad Jerry is giving me a very interesting job," I said, knowing he'd have to ask, and being even more certain he'd hate the answer.

"Humph! So what's that then?"

This was my moment!

"Well due to my skills as a painter Jerry has asked if I would be responsible for any artwork his clients request on their boats, such as the name or logo. Some even want exquisite stuff painted on their vessels, isn't that great?" I asked, casually.

His face was contorting. "Artwork on a fucking boat?"

"That's right, apparently his clients pay good money for it."

"You went to get a job in this town and somehow you have managed to get one connected with your pansy paintings?"

"Yep!" I replied, struggling to stay calm at his obvious goading of me.

Dad burst out laughing. "You couldn't fucking make it up could you," he cried, holding his fat gut. "Where the fuck did you come from Corbin, I really wonder sometimes if mum was fucking the milkman 9 months prior to you because you ain't nothing like me," he remarked, shaking his head.

"Well maybe there's a God after all," I said.

"Are you being funny?" he asked, stepping closer to me. I backed away a little.

"No, it was just a figure of speech, now will you let me past so I can get some lunch?"

Dad came right up to me, so close I could smell his vile breath invading my nostrils. "Enjoy your first day at Jerry's fucking art club because tomorrow you will be coming to help me set the nets."

"Sorry I can't, I am trawling tomorrow with Troy!" I stated firmly.

"You are going to help this FAMILY business get off the ground Corbin, I've told you this."

"I am earning my own money like you wanted and like mum wanted, so I need to work or that won't happen!"

"And I also fucking told you that when I needed you, you were to be available, that was non-negotiable, do you understand?"

I tried to ignore him and walk past but he blocked my path, placing his arm across the door frame. "Will you excuse me, I need to get some lunch before returning to work."

"Corbin, DO NOT fucking test my patience… you WILL be there tomorrow and If I find you have left for that place instead of coming with me I will hunt you down and drag you back, understood?"

"Are these the words of a father… hunt me down?"

Dad put his lips close to my ear. "Let me tell you a little secret… you ain't no fucking son of min! You stopped being that when you took your life in the direction you have!"

I chuckled. "Because I paint, the fact makes you despise me that much?"

"You're WEAK Corbin! Look at you, you might have been given the body of a man but you are a weak failure who wastes his life pansying around flicking a brush. Fuck knows why that girl stays with you."

"Don't bring Leah into this!" I spat, barging past him.

I'd heard enough, but he wasn't done. He grabbed me by the back of my jacket collar and threw me up against the wall. As usual I cowered, hating the physical confrontation as the adrenaline started to pump through me. He gripped my neck with his fat hand and squeezed.

"Dad, you're… hurting me!" I strained out.

"Tomorrow boy, or else!" He hissed as I watched saliva splash against his teeth.

With that comment he let go and stormed into his annex room, slamming the door. I fell to the floor breathing hard, clasping my sore neck. I was determined not to get emotional as I angrily wiped a stubborn tear out of my eye and got up.

Quickly heading to the cupboard I got out two slices of bread and buttered them before tossing in some ham from the fridge. Fearing he might come out again I left and headed for my room, closing the door. On Leah's bed side table I found a packet of crisps that were two days out of date and opened them before sitting on the bed and munching down my hastily prepared lunch.

I just wanted to get out of the house as soon as possible!

Brushing the crumbs off our bed onto the floor and stuffing the empty crisp packet into my jeans I headed to the bathroom to take a piss. As I finished I stepped sideways and looked in the mirror above the hand basin. My eyes looked red either from my strangling or because I had welled up. I knew I could blame that on the wind if anyone asked. What was more revealing was the clear finger marks around my neck where my cunting father had applied such immense pressure.

I just stood there staring at the marks as a tear ran down my cheek. I gently moved my own hand up to caress the tender redness wondering if this had all been my fault.

'I did wind him up with my cockily toned responses,' I thought when he had asked about my new job. If I'd just kept my answers short and non-descriptive this would never have happened.

I thought about my past encounters of abuse… did I bring them all on myself?

Turning on the tap I splashed some cold water onto my burning cheeks and rinsed my eyes, hoping the coolness would clear some of the redness. I didn't check to find out as I quickly dried my face with a towel and headed back downstairs. A rush of fear went through me as I heard a door click so I ran to the front door and quickly opened it before setting off again back to the boat yard.

A couple of the guys were standing outside having a lunchtime cigarette as I walked back through the open gates. I briefly greeted them but kept my head down just in case they called me over to chat about being the newbie.

I turned the handle on the side room where Troy and I had been and walked in closing it again. Troy was laying on the leather sofa with his earplugs in doing something on his phone that appeared to be connected to them. I took the moment of him not noticing me to try and calm my shot nerves and clear my body of adrenaline.

Running my hands down my face and performing a few deep breaths, I put on a false smile and wandered into his line of sight.

"Hey!" I said.

"Hey, sorry I didn't hear you come back, just listening to some music here, did you have a nice lunch?"

"Yeah," I responded leaning against the table block. "You?"

"I had some left over stew, it was ok, but not as nice cold."

"I'll bet, so you wanna get back to it?"

Troy was just about to answer when he seemed to look at me strangely. He got up from the chair and approached me before pulling down the zipper on my coat I had purposely done up extra high.

"You didn't have that before," he said, obviously looking at my neck.

"What?" I asked, innocently.

"Corbin, you have a mark on your neck that is a clear outline of a hand, who did this?"

"No one, its fine," I replied, a little embarrassed.

"Has someone attacked you… was it your dad?"

"Troy I said its fine, now leave it!" I spat angrily.

"Ok, sorry, it's just…"

I began to tremble. "Please… please will you not ask," I pleaded as my eyes pissed with water and I started to cry. Troy's natural response it seemed was to quickly grab a hold of me for a hug, but because he moved so fast it reminded me of my dad and I pushed him away scared.

"DON'T fucking… touch…me!" I hissed. Troy reeled back at my anger and sat on the sofa. I was now in free fall emotionally, feeling like a passenger in my trembling emotional body. I couldn't stop, it was a real cry, like the ones kids have, or the ones you see people have when they find out a close friend has been in a fatal car accident. It was overwhelming, debilitating and uncontrollable.

At some point I had slid down the map table and was now resting on my ass. Troy slowly moved off from the sofa to a stop in front of me. He rested his hands on my knees and spoke to me.

"Corbin, whatever's happened, it's gonna be ok yeah?"

I didn't respond. I just looked up at him like he was a stranger and stared at him blankly.

"If your dad did do this to you, you need to report it."

I wiped my nose on my sleeve. "It's my fault, we just don't get on." I sniffed.

"You're talking about your dad right?"

I nodded.

"Corbin, has this happened before?"

His question made me look up at him and I suddenly felt as weak as my dad had said. With that came a stubborn anger that was now starting to simmer.

"Corbin?" He asked again as I hadn't yet responded.

"Why do you care, huh? Why are you down here playing the good Samaritan, sitting with me?" I got up, prompting him to too! "You fucking act like this supporting Duracell bunny that can solve all my problems, but guess what? You can't, so stop acting like the world is such a fucking great place full of excitement and happiness. It's fucking shit, I don't care about you, you shouldn't care about me… we all just survive! We fucking survive this life until it's either ended early or we die old in horrible pain. In fact, I dunno why I am even trying to justify myself to you. Just butt out of my life and stop trying so hard to be best friends because we ain't ok? We're just two people who happen to live in the same small depressing village! I'm sorry, I have to go, just tell your dad I can't do what he wants and tell him he better look for someone else! I have to go, I have to leave, I'm sorry, I have to go!"

I left the room, slamming the door behind me. I noticed Troy's eyes had never left my face throughout my rant. What was more surprising was he'd not said a word or interrupted me.

'Yeah! Probably because he knew I was right!' I stubbornly thought.

It was getting on for 8pm as I looked at my cell phone again having had yet another call from Leah which I'd ignored. There were a total of sixteen missed calls showing on the screen from either mum Leah or Zoe, with each one making me feel more indifferent to their obvious worries about me.

I'd made my way hours earlier to the start of Manners Cliff, but this time instead of heading down on to the stony surface at the bottom, I had found a way to get to the top via a tiny dirt track. There was a primitive 2 wire fence that was there I imagined to keep people away from the edge but feeling pretty numb and low I'd jumped over it and was now sitting right on the edge with my knees drawn up to my chin. My phone was on the grass next to me and I looked down at it as another call was bringing the device to life as my clothes flapped in the wind. I glanced at it, this time seeing my mum's name on the screen again. I ignored it pretty much instantly before holding down the power button until the screen went black confirming it was now off. I turned my attention back out to sea watching a huge tanker floating by in the distance as the light starting to dim.

Eventually I got up now tired and freezing cold. I was dreading going back home, now without a job… possibly even a place to live after my encounter with dad, but I knew I'd have to go soon or expect people to come looking for me as had happened before when I'd done a disappearing act.

I took my sorry state back down the dirt track until I ended back on to the cobble street. The wind had calmed a little as I walked along the wall which was low enough in this segment to see out. My pace was slow and heavy as I contemplated what lay ahead when I walked through my front door.

I wondered if dad had offered an explanation to why I was out so late. Not that I was doing this for attention of course. No this was pure and simple implosion from an event that had pushed me to the edges of madness. I had clarity now and felt more calm, but with that calmness came a horrible realisation of my words to Troy which I very much regretted.

In one fatal blow with my mouth I had managed to alienate Troy and Jerry, lose a job I'd only had for one day and probably made myself homeless. I wondered as I walked how I was supposed to come back from this. I guess there was always the option of just getting on a train and going back to my old town, but where would I go once there? I guess there was always Jean who I knew would be happy for the company, but somehow I felt I would just be placing a burden on her because of the way I felt at this moment in time.

I noted each day that passed my "life cup" was turning from half full to half empty as I battled a demon that stalked me. Dad, moving here, problems with Leah, they all played a part. Startling as it was I felt like I was starting to become a clone of my father which was terrifying. I was angrier now than I'd ever been in my life. More unsettled, more nervous, unforgiving and spiteful. It was like I was picking attributes from his closet and putting them on. I shuddered, almost coming to a stop.

I was now almost about to pass the boat yard, as it sat in darkness. I imagined there had been some comments about my sudden departure. More certain was the fact that Jerry must have asked Troy what had gone on. Being that they were close I was positive that would have now been explained.

Truth was I needed to stop looking into everything so deeply. I'd had a meltdown today, so what? Everyone has them, I thought. But the 'over thinking hypochondria' I had been experiencing today did nothing to help me rationalise my day into something manageable. Yeah I was calm now, but was calm, calm? Or was calm just numb from it all?

As I got closer to my house I thought the nerves would get worse but instead I found myself not caring what happened when I walked in. Sure, I'd done scenarios from Leah and Mum – Oh my God where have you been, we've been so worried. Yeah I knew that speech was coming. More of a mystery was my Dad and Zoe. They could go either way because my sister may feel let down that I didn't confide in her which admittedly I'd been doing less often when it came to small arms fire with Dad. The reason was I just didn't want to burden her with it so much. She was approaching a difficult age herself and somewhere inside I knew that my constant reliance on her must have been having an effect on her mental state. After all, it's hard to stay happy when the person next to you is constantly miserable.

Around the gentle bend the row of simple houses that contained the one I lived in came into view. Outside I could see what looked like a taxi outside as something was on its roof.

Then I got closer!

"Oh you have got to be kidding me!" I said, loudly enough for anyone who happened to be nearby to hear. The taxi was in fact a police car.

I was now in two minds. Go in and face the music while they were there, or wait until they had gone. I mean they had to go right? Either option meant a long slap on the wrist due to them actually being called out. Dad I knew, would go nuts.

I decided on the former option so after a brief stop to gather myself I crossed over and readied my key for the door. I silently placed it in before letting out a huge sigh. Then, no sooner had the door opened the two male police officers that were standing in the kitchen turned round and stared at me.

"Well Mrs Waite, I think we found your son!" One said, not looking impressed.

Mum came running down the hallway along with Leah and Zoe. All three of them seemed to envelop me and I did my best to act normal.

"Where the hell have you been?" Leah asked, sobbing.

"Out, I went for a walk."

"Until almost 9pm… and why didn't you answer your phone?" Mum asked.

"Oh brother, I thought I'd lost you, why didn't you make contact I would have come at a moment's notice?"

"Guys, please, can I have a little space here?"

As they took their grips and released them the two policemen came towards me. "Judging by your family's reaction I can assume you are Corbin Waite?"

"Not all my family, and yes that's right!" I said, not being able to help the little dig at dad, who was mysteriously absent.

"Would you mind telling us where you were tonight?"

"Sure, I was at the boat yard down the road until around 2ish and then I went for a walk to Manners Cliff and sat right on the edge… you know, RIGHT on the edge."

"You were at Manners Cliff for over 6 hours?" the other officer asked.

"That's right? Is there a point to all this questioning?"

"Young man your mother has obviously been worrying about you and felt the need to call us out. I think if you were intending to have a little protest you might think about answering your cell phone instead of having half the village out looking for you."

"Half the… what do you mean."

"We had Jerry and Troy here earlier Corbin, They said you left the yard in a bit of a state, is that right?"

Before I could answer one of the policemen started to speak.

"If you will excuse us we'll be off as your missing son is no longer missing."

"Yes, thank you officer's I'm sorry for calling you out."

One of the policemen pulled on his hat. "Ma'am."

Mum let them out and closed the door again. I just walked off to the lounge and threw myself on the sofa as a plethora of females descended on me all at once.

"So?" Leah asked, her arms folded.

"So what?"

"Don't you think you owe us an explanation? Zoe, your mum and me have been going out of our minds!"

"Where's fat man?"

"Out looking for you!"

"You're joking right, after what he did today… and what he said?"

Mum looked at me blankly. "I thought you were at work today, at the yard."

"I was, but I came home because I didn't take any lunch. You three were out when I got here and as I walked in to the kitchen he came out of his office room thing and laid into me."

"Why?" Mum asked.

"Does there ever have to be a why with him?"

Mum huffed. "You know the rows you and your father have will be the death of me."

"This was not a row… look what he did to my neck," I said, showing her the bruises.

"Did you provoke him?" Leah asked.

For a split second I thought about that answer before responding. "He'll think I did, but I don't think so."

I heard mum sigh. "This needs to stop," she said, but not specifying what.

Before I could ask I heard the front door open and slam again. "Well I can't find the little shit, so I'm going to bed," He called from the hall, as I heard his shoes dropping onto the floor.

"He's back Don," mum called.

I expected him to come storming into the lounge and give me a hiding or at least a mouthful for doing a disappearing act but that fear faded as I heard him walking up the stairs and slamming a door.

"Just so you know Leah, I wanna be alone tonight so I'll be in the spare room!" I announced.

"Any reason?" she asked, not quite as upset as I thought she would be.

"Don't take it personal, I just want to be in a space, on my own to calm down. And everyone, please don't worry, I am fine, I'm home, quite safe and am not about to top myself," I said seeing them all looking at me like I was mad.

I didn't wait for a response. Instead I walked out of the room and up the stairs to assess if the spare room was even habitable. I clicked on the light and saw a load of old sheets and a duvet folded up in the corner. Grabbing everything I made a space, fashioned a bed for myself and got undressed down to my boxers. Then, adjusting my nuts I switched off the light and snuggled into the mound of bedding minus a mattress and lay there with my eyes open in the pitch black, with only the sound of my own breathing and the murmur of the TV downstairs to listen to.

I became aware of the fact I was in the same position I'd gone to bed in and was now having a debate with myself as to whether I had actually been asleep yet. It felt like I hadn't but equally it felt like I'd been laying here for hours awake. Either way I now concluded I was wide awake.

Pulling myself up on to my elbows I reached for my jeans and pulled out my cell to check the time.

"Fuck, 1:20am," I mumbled, wondering where all the time had gone. I lay back down and closed my eyes trying to doze off again, but it was hopeless. The events of the day, and evening weighed too heavy on my mind and at the centre of it all was how badly I now realised I had treated Troy. I knew he was trying to help; I just didn't appreciate it at the time and had been insanely horrible with my choice of words.

It was strange because somewhere buried deep I did feel a kind of affection for him and that to me was odd. It was an affection that wasn't present with my best friend Danny who died or Mark for that matter. Although I loved the former and the latter very much as friends, with Troy there was something else.

As I lay there I tried to put my finger on that feeling. Was it pity? Maybe. Was it equal affection? Perhaps. Or was it closer to a kind of respect for what he'd been through as a kid. Maybe it was the fact we actually had a good deal in common as I thought back to our conversations. So perhaps I was yearning for someone like him to connect to… Someone who might understand what I was actually fucking going through.

'I have been where you are!' I ccould hear his voice say in my mind. Truth was he had. He was a transplant from a world that was probably alien to him when he arrived here from America. And a dead mum too. Fuck, life without a mother, how sad, and God, what an ASSHOLE I was to him!

Still it didn't matter anymore, I'd made my bed and now I had to lie in it, I thought, sighing at how fucked up everything seemed.

"Hmm, I've made my bed… or have I?" I whispered to myself. Almost immediately I had an idea. I grabbed my phone again and went onto Facebook and logged into my account.

"Hmm, now let's see… T R O Y W I N T E R S," I said, as I typed the name into my Facebook search box. One name appeared which seemed logical seeing as Troy was a pretty rare name. Add that together with Winters? Well there can't be that many can there?

I clicked on his profile and got a limited amount of information as per his privacy settings, but it was not information I was looking for as I clicked on the available pictures. I found a public album named Jasper and opened it. There was around 15 photos all of his dog which I now knew to be a Siberian Husky type thing.

As I swiped through I stopped on one particular photo where the dog had his paw resting on a smiling Troy as he lay on a sunbed in what I remembered to be his back yard. I set the picture to full screen and then got out of bed.

Sneaking into my bedroom I grabbed a box of water paints, 4 brushes, an empty glass and my easel which still lay behind my 3 large pictures. As I slid it out from behind I heard Leah stir and quickly shot my head round.

Good, she was still asleep!

Dumping all my equipment into the spare room I went back into the bedroom and pulled out from under our bed a piece of A3 card from my stock and tip-toed back to the room with it. Then with that done I went into the bathroom and filled the glass with cold water before scurrying back to the spare room and closing the door.

I switched the light on, then realised I had to rummage through box after box for a pencil of some kind. Eventually I found a hard tipped HB one and thanked the man above. I placed my easel into a low position before propping the card I'd got on to the ledge.

Picking my phone back up I lit the screen again revealing the picture I'd chosen and studied it for a minute or two. It wasn't ideal as when I copied photo to brush I would normally have an A4 print out, or at the very least a picture on a 22 inch monitor, but I told myself this was all I had to work with and it would have to do.

Zooming in and back out again on a few areas I carefully began to sketch the outline of Troy with his dog Jasper, stopping every now and again to zoom into another part so I got the expression and light right. I mixed up a huge amount of colours on a torn off piece of cardboard making sure it matched roughly what was in the picture and then began the task of bringing the sketch to life with colour.

Hours drifted by as I painted nonstop all the way through until 4am. I'd nodded off at least twice but wanted to get it done in one sitting for this was something I had to do… I had to make this right. By quarter to five I was blowing on the surface to speed up the drying time. I then took yet another look at my phone and then back at the picture I'd painted to reassure myself it was a quality copy.

It was, and I was impressed with what I had done.

5:35am was showing on my cell now and I gently prodded the picture with my index finger and looked at it for traces of paint. There were none telling me it was dry. I twisted around as earlier on I'd seen some old parcel paper and string laying in a box in the corner of the room. I got up and fetched the roll and tore some off. Carefully I took the picture from my stand and lay it down before wrapping it in the brown paper much like a present but using brown paint to act as primitive glue.

With the picture now dry and nicely wrapped I took some string and used my teeth to cut a piece off before delicately tying it round the width and length of the picture. Lastly came my message that had me sitting there for a good five minutes thinking what to put. It had to be something simple and not too grovelling.

'Hmm, what to do,' I thought, pencil in my hand. Then it just came to me and I started to write.

You deserve a friend, just not an asshole like me.

Sorry, I hope you can forgive me


Having written my little message I quickly got dressed and pulled on my coat before heading downstairs with the picture under my arm. I knew I was running out of time before Troy and his father would be up and about getting ready for work so once out of the front door I ran as fast as my legs would take me up the cobble street towards his house.

Panting heavily I stopped short of his house and watched for any signs of activity. His home looked dark inside which gave me hope I'd be able to get up the front lawn to the door without being noticed. I didn't want to give it to him, which would be too embarrassing after how I'd treated him. No, I wanted him to find it… to know I was sorry, which I was.

I made it to the door and carefully placed the picture down on the step before finding a large stone on the ground to keep it in place. Taking one final look at my hidden creation I backed away and scuttled off back down his lawn onto the cobbled road.

Unlike the speed travelled to get to Troy's I felt able to make the journey back at a more casual pace, breathing in the cool sea air as I walked. I thought about a lot of things on the way home but most of all I thought about Troy and realised one huge fact in the short time I'd known him.

The fact that in just a few days he might have already been the best friend I'd ever had!

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