Three days later he arrived home by taxi. He limped through the door in one crutch, one arm in plaster, and one leg the same, struggled himself into a chair, and calmly asked if Simon would please bring him a cup of tea.
After a few cautious weeks around each other, as the wounds healed and the plaster casts were removed, they began to settle into a routine of sorts. Simon sensed the balance of power had shifted and he was now the Alpha male in the house. His uncle seemed to accept this fact and perhaps even welcomed it. Still always on the alert though, Simon kept up with school, and did his share of the chores in the house. Occasionally Shamus would engage him in conversation, but even before the baseball bat incident, they had rarely conversed in any meaningful manner. Shamus still went out and got drunk most nights, but never raised his voice or threatened violence again.
One particular night, he had lain awake, heard his uncle come home with one of the many prostitutes he regularly used. He heard the headboard in the next room banging for a bit and must have fallen asleep. He woke at a tapping of the door to his room. Immediately he felt for the bat under the duvet which he always slept with now, but the tap wasn't the tap of his uncle, it was a soft tap of a female, he heard the voice.
'Simon,' it said quietly, insistent, 'are you awake?'
The door opened and she entered, she was still in a state of undress, one of the younger ones his uncle used, perhaps still under twenty, he must have had a win on the horses. She saw he was awake and came over to stand at the edge of the bed. A street lamp outside threw enough light through the curtained window to empathise her womanly curves. She reached behind her back, undid the bra clasp and let the flimsy fall to the floor, her breasts were small and delicate, in this light her face was angelic, more the beauty of innocence, than the stain of whoredom, about her aspect. He was still a virgin, but he wasn't afraid, he swung aside the duvet as an invitation and she slowly slid down her pants. She slid in beside him.
The front door had been painted over since the last time he had visited, almost a year back. The lime green shade was sickly to look at, and could've done with another coat or two to fully cover the previous charcoal grey. He was still hesitant, it was not too late to about turn and leave, but he pressed on the door buzzer and heard some commotion from inside. Perhaps Shamus had one of his whores back and was taking his time to finish off before he answered. He still had a key, but it seemed disrespectful to just let himself in unannounced, so he waited, getting more impatient and edgy by the minute.
Finally, the hall light came on and footsteps approached.
'Who's there?' called Uncle Shamus.
'It's me,' said Simon. 'Hurry up and let me in.'
The door opened a notch and Simon saw from the look on the face of his uncle that he had seen the news this evening.
'What do you want?' asked Shamus, but patience had run out, Simon shoved at the door and slid through the gap before his uncle could stop him. Once inside, he slammed the door behind him.
'You're on the telly,' said Shamus, 'the police...'
'I know,' snapped Simon. 'Got anything to drink?' he asked. 'I need a drink.'
Shamus was looking shifty. He still wasn't sure if he had disturbed him in flagrante delicto, or if it was because of his recent infamy in the media.
'You can't stay here,' Shamus said.
'I don't want to stay here, just a visit,' he said.
'I don't want any trouble.'
'There won't be, I'll be off in a bit,' he urged his uncle along the hall. 'That drink?'
Shamus moved from the hall to the living room, Simon followed. He noticed a suspicious glance to the bedroom door as he passed.
The door was slightly ajar, but the room was in darkness, he saw nothing on the way by.
'Are you alone?' he asked.
'Aye,' said Shamus, 'don't get many visitors now. Need to get up early though, can't give you long.'
What he means, thought Simon, was that the money tap of living off the allowance he got from the social to bring me up has well and truly stopped. The whores have become a luxury now. Even the diseased junkie middle-aged pros must be an extravagance. Shamus was desperate to get rid of him though, he detected that alright.
'What are you doing mugging oldies?' Shamus asked. He was pouring some whisky into a couple of glasses. He'd cleaned the glasses with the hem of his shirt, noticed Simon. Cheap own brand crap, he took the proffered glass.
'It wasn't a mugging,' said Simon, 'more of an incident that got out of hand.'
'Still, thought you were ok if you were on the meds?'
Simon resented his medication, his either taking it or not, or its effectiveness or not, being brought up as the usual excuse for any apparent aberrant behaviour by him.
'That's not the point,' he said.
'No!' Shamus snarled. 'The point is some pensioner with a dodgy ticker is in intensive care.'
'Look,' said Simon. He was now realising this was all a mistake coming here. What the fuck could Uncle Shamus offer in the way of sensible advice?
After the beating he had given his uncle with the baseball bat, a kind of mutual mistrust and respect formed between them. Simon was under no illusions though, as soon as he was sixteen years old, he would be shown the door. It was a given. Uncle Shamus knew it, and he also knew that Simon knew it, so it was how to pass the time until then as mutually beneficial to both as possible. The less friction, the better. Shamus would occasionally send in his whores for Simon after first dibs, would feed him and clothe him, even took him for a drink a few times to a quiet pub where the eighteen rule was not an issue.
Simon did his bit so everything ran smoothly, and although at times he despised his uncle so much he would quite happily take the bat to him again and finish the job this time, he knew he had to be patient, let time pass by, when he was sixteen he would be free, and this was all the more important and essential in his life because that is what Tennyson dictated.
'Look,' said Simon again, then folded in a chair, 'I'm not sure why I came...'
'Just go and own up,' said Shamus. 'You've the best excuse in the world, you're nuts.'
Simon scowled up at him. He had too much else on his plate at the moment with the job. Aliens were roaming the streets. He couldn't afford to get locked up, even for a short while.
He rued the day the school doctor had sent him for an assessment to a councillor. The councillor turned out to be a shrink. The shrink said he had issues, and he had been back several times a year ever since, given new and stronger medication he was told he must take after every visit. Simon had to agree, he was under no illusions, this psychiatrist would have him sectioned at a moments notice if he did not comply.
This only happened because Tennyson disturbed him one day at school, distracting him during an exam. It wasn't even Tennyson's poem he was analysing. He had told Tennyson to 'fuck off', and the English teacher overseeing the exam, Miss McNeil, thought this as aimed at her. First, he was sent to the Head, then the doctor, and finally to the councillor, come shrink. If only he had just omitted the bit about Tennyson, and taken the wrap for swearing at the teacher.
'Say you got confused, forgot to take your medication,' said Shamus emphatically. 'They probably won't even charge you. Case dropped. Feed the oldie some care in the community crap and get him to feel sorry for you. These are fucking officials, all they want is a 'case closed' stamp on the file and they're over the fucking moon, another target reached, pub time, let's celebrate.'
Shamus kept looking at his watch. Shamus didn't know the truth though, he thought this was just a plain old mugging.
There was a quiet cough. It came through the open living room door. The bastard did have a prosie in the bedroom. She must be charging by the minute the way he's clock watching.
Julie was the name of the first one his uncle had sent to his room, almost seven years ago now. Julie. Julie was special. He had money in his pocket.
'Is it Julie?' he asked.
'Eh?' said Shamus.
'In the room, is it Julie?' he asked again.
Despite some of the speculation in the press about the disappearance of Suzi, he wasn't a sex maniac, or a rapist. He would eventually have sex with Suzi, but not until she was fully animated and obliging. It would be mutual consent. Sex with Julie was mutual consent. He desperately wanted sex right now.
Shamus had gone quiet. He had quickly poured himself another drink, omitting the offer to him. There wasn't another sound in the house at that moment but the splashing of fluid into glass. No more quiet coughs.
'Well, is it one I know?' asked Simon.
'Look,' Shamus shrugged, 'you'd better go.'
'I'll pay,' said Simon, and got out his wallet. 'Send her in here when you're finished.'
'No chance,' Shamus cried. The venom in his voice was piercing. 'You're in enough trouble, and I don't want any trouble here.'
'Fucksake,' he said. The look on his uncle's face was uncompromising though. It was a bad idea coming here in the first place. He stood up to leave.
'Look,' said Shamus, now polite and a little subservient, but still hand on back ushering him towards the front door. 'Just call before hand, next time, you know?'
Shamus squeezed by him in the hallway to open the front door and hurry his exit. Simon heard the sound of sobbing coming from the bedroom, but it was a quiet resigned sobbing, almost inaudible, the sobbing of a child. He pushed open the door. The room was in darkness, he reached for the light switch. Surprise, shock, and horror, hit him around the same time as the crack on the back of the head from behind. He was thrown forward into the room with the force of the blow, but the baseball cap and hood had dampened it enough to lessen the injury he may have suffered if whatever cosh his uncle had used had connected with bare skull.
He turned as he fell, saw the murderous look on the face of Shamus, the hand swinging back with the baseball bat that he had bought to inflict the kind of pain on his uncle that his uncle had now decided was fit for him. He leapt to the side as the arm was swung. The bat missed and hit the leg of the girl tied to the bed. Her agony through the loose gag she wore shivered him, the fragile shin of her leg cracked like a lightening strike. Frantically he looked about for ammunition, or something to fight back with. Shamus swung again, he felt the air pushed aside as the bat swept past him. Again he darted to the side. It was only a matter of time, he was tiring he knew. He did the only thing he could think of. When the bat passed, he charged forward into his uncle. He caught him full on the chest, the bat hand was outstretched. He forced him back and battered him into the doorway. He relaxed, and battered forward again, then grappled for the hand holding the bat. He was fitter, stronger, not a young boy anymore. Shamus was older, frailer, he struggled for the bat, the defeat beginning to dawn on his uncle's eyes urged him on. He wrestled for the bat. It fell from his uncle's grasp and clattered on the wooden floor. He ignored it and turned his attention full on Shamus, grabbed at the side of his head with both hands and forced his head downwards, springing up his right knee at the same time. Through his knee he felt nose bone crush, he heard a gargled shriek of pain as Shamus tried to get upright again. He held on to the head feeling the ears flop and fold under the pressure of his hands, he dragged the head down again, right knee up again, crack of bone once more, fluid, blood and tears, through the cloth of his knee, and he felt the resistance collapse under his hands, he let go of Shamus and watched him fall to the floor, breathing irregular, moaning, crying.
His own breath was ragged, he gulped down air, checked himself over for damage. He was mostly unscathed, he had been lucky. He reached for the bat where it had fallen.
'Don't fucking move a muscle,' he ordered his uncle. Then he turned to the bed to view the girl. Lucky if she was ten, he thought. She was tied to the bed with lengths of rope. She was partially gagged with gaffer tape, hurriedly applied when he had knocked on the door, he surmised. She was dressed, but barely decent. He pulled her skirt to cover her, and peeled off the gag. She didn't say a word, just sobbed and shuddered, still terrified. He put down the bat on the edge of the bed to try and loosen the ropes, but the knots were too tightly done, he would have to get a knife.
Behind him he heard his uncle lift himself from the floor, he grabbed the bat and turned just as Shamus was about to dart through the door, he swung the bat and just caught him enough on the back to drive him into the hallway wall. Before he could recover again, he swung the bat once more, this time full on the back of the head. The skull cracked under the bat, blood splattered left and right mottling the wall. He knew the brains inside the head were a mass of pulp before Shamus slid down the wall to the floor, his eyes affirmation, when he rolled him over, that the bat had dealt a lethal blow. Shamus was dead.
He dropped the bat and listened for a minute while he got his breath back. No sound, but the gentle sobbing from the bed. No sirens, no neighbours banging the wall, the whole world seemed quiet and dead.
No need to panic, he thought, and went to the kitchen to get a knife.
Next instalment coming soon...
Copyright © Stevie Mach 2012 All rights reserved