Joe recalls his demons, recalls the hatred of his father, the terror he and his mum lived through and how he tried to avenge his mums suicide
My heart pounded like a beating drum, full of guilt and hatred. A violent rage flowed through me. Picking up plates from the sink, smashing them to the floor, punching holes in the walls, howling like a wounded animal. Launching the side table, crashing it through the living-room window over the top of Mam’scorpse, plummeting it to the ground from the top floor flat.
I had to find him. Knowing he would be hovering around his second home, The Fountain, guilt free, supping from his nip glass full of whisky, tin of export beer by his side. I legged it out the door, sprinting the distance to the local.
Usually a fifteen-minute walk, it only took me two minutes to get there. Boiling with fury, picturing decapitating my Father, drove me there in a hurry. I wanted to grip my hands around his throat and squeeze until he begged, squeeze until life left him.
I burst through the double doors. A half dozen men sitting and standing around the bar with a couple playing pool. The jukebox blasting out Bob Segar, ‘Old Time Rock and Roll.’
Each breath one of rage, saliva spluttering out, eyes spread wide, staring at my soon to be dead Father. Standing at the bar with his back to me, in between two men seated on stools either side of him.
Barging past the pool player in mid-shot. He swore at me, shouted at me, he was ignored. By the time I got arm’s length with Dad, he turned, his huge frame fight-ready, drunk and oblivious to what he’d done.
“Aye, can I help you boy?”
Unwilling to answer with words. I clenched my fingers together as tight as possible. Visualising him dead on the ground in a sea of red gore. My jaw compressed, body tightening. I threw the most violent right-hook with enough force to flatten a rhino. Landing perfectly across his left jaw, his head flinching to the side, followed by his body weight. It didn't have the desired effect.
As his head turned slowly round, he locked eyes on mine with a murderous look. “You’ve fucking done it now boy.”
Lifting his right hand, spreading his fingers wide, grasping my throat, his trademark, but my hatred for him consumed me. Swiping his hand away, snarling, unleashing another right-hook, knocking over his two pals, while Dad staggered to his left. Left, right, left-hook, kicking him behind his knee, him falling to the beer-stained floor. Leaping on top of him, losing all control. He begged for mercy.
“Stop, boy.” The first time I’d had ever seen a hint of weakness in his eye.
“Fuckin’ stop?” I growled.
Without one ounce of remorse, I drove my fist downward into his face, intending to finish him while he was weakened, while he was there for the taking.
Face cut open and badly beaten, I could have killed him. Psychotically blanking out, I couldn't see his two pals come to his aid, dragged me off, gripping a hold of me under my arms and pinning me to the ground. Using their weight to keep me there. I wriggled and struggled, screaming at them to let me go before Dadstood, knowing he surely would.
Rolling onto his side he started to rise, first to his knee, taking a moment, gazing at the floor. Gradually lifting his head, discovering me pinned on the ground by his two pals. I stopped struggling. Paused, Dad looked at me. Cheek burst open and eyes badly bruised. He was contemplating my punishment, thinking about the pain he’d inflict.
“Let me go.” I softly told the two men to let me go. I had no other choice but to face my fate.
Dad cocked his head at both men, signalling to let go. They released their grip and I stood, petrified, holding his eye contact. The most intimidating sight I’d ever seen.
The man had hands the size of slabs of steaks, built like a lumberjack, dripping in blood, desperate to kill me. The Devil himself. This could be the end of me.
No words, no sounds, he stepped forward.
Frozen with fear, I could see it all happen in front of me, but helpless to stop it. The fear grounding me to the spot. Dad threw a couple punches, left-jab then right hand, standard. Both making contact, square in the face.
Partially unconsciousness, I hit the deck. His massive foot booting me in the ribs, taking my breath away. Laying there on The Fountain floor struggling for air, coughing and spluttering, spitting out blood, in terrible agony.
I had that feeling of helplessness Dad had embedded in me over the years with his violence. In that position, there’s nothing you can do but ride it out, senses gone, replaced with overcoming your pain, survival.
Dad mumbled something, standing tall over my body. Unable to hear what he was saying. His bear-hug, gripping my waist, lifting me from the floor. Screaming like a complete psycho, crashing me onto the slot-machine, shattering my back, glass falling to the floor. Releasing his grip, I hit the floor, landing on shards of glass. He continued his assault, belting my face.
“See, you’re still not man enough yet. Boy.” A cocky wink and a cheeky smile, proud of his achievement in thrashing his own son.
I tried over the years to stand up to him, but every time, I failed and failed again. “You don’t know what you’ve done, do you?” I spat out, lying on the ground.
“What the fuck you on about?”
“Mam, you fuck! She’s dead.” I’m dizzy, head spinning.
“Don’t talk shit, you lying, weak bastard.”
“Go home, you’ll see. She’s dead, she killed herself.”
Looking down, a long pause, then realisation. Fixated, looking straight into his reflection in a mirror. He knew that something like this might happen one day. You couldn’t treat somebody with such disrespect for so many years, and not have it affect them on an emotional level. He was far from a stupid man.
Turning his head round to meet the whole bar gawking at him, not in fear this time, but in disgust. His Goliath frame stood over me, then gazed down, this time with shame, and just like that, he turned and left.
I struggled to stand and go after him, but I could hardly move. The only place I was headed was into the back of an ambulance. I’d been badly battered. Little did I know, it would be the last time I would be in my dad's company.