I remember when I was 4 we moved house. I remember a giant burgundy truck and a trio of burly men to move heavy equipment. I helped by riding a tractor in the front drive way. It was awesome fun. It had a yellow bucket that I could operate with a leaver next to the steering wheel. It was on this first day that I met one of my neighbours. Let’s call him Steve. Steve was about four years older than me, the youngest of three boys and ginger. Although he swore it was strawberry blonde.
We would play in the back garden, make bases, swap Star Wars action figures and build jumps for our BMXs. But there was always something unnatural about the relationship. It was one sided and was always on his terms. I remember waiting in the dinner line at school with all the other infants and passing him, he was in the junior line, and saying hello…He ignored me. He told me later that he couldn’t talk to me at school because the other kids might make fun of him.
It wasn’t until I was about 7 or 8 that things started to turn in to a shit storm. I vividly remember being in his house and his parents had gone out, I forget where, he preceded to lock both the front and back doors, pin my arms to the floor and punch me. In the chest. In the arms and in the legs. On the off chance that I managed to break free from under him and make a break for the either door, my escape attempts were thwarted. By the time I had released the latch on the door he was on top of me, slamming the half opened door and dishing out another dead arm. This game, which I now call ‘Lock a child in a house and punch him ’til he cries’ ( I’m not very good at naming games, especially if I have no desire to actually play them) went on for about 2 or 3 years. I was also introduced to beer, vodka, smoking and pornography…all before my 11th birthday.
I have no idea why I didn’t tell anyone what was going on when I went over to no. 15. Maybe the age old threat of Ifyou tell anyone, I’ll do it twice as hard…etc..or maybe it was because there were times that we actually had fun, we laughed, rode bikes together and I didn’t want to lose a friend. There were no other boys my age living on my road. Besides, it didn’t happen ALL the time…only when he was bored, I guess.
Looking back I can see I was in an abusive relationship. It felt worse than being bullied. There was a betrayal of friendship. I feel a part of my childhood was robbed, instead of playing with kids my own age I was playing with someone 4 years my senior; and at that age 4 years is a lifetime. And nothing robs a child of innocence quicker than a shot of vodka a cigarette and porn.
Another day stands out even more vividly in mymemory…The day my father found out. We were in the kitchen and I was sporting some new bruises on my arms. He asked what had happened and I was able to shrug it off…but he persisted and after a minute or so I told him. Steve was out in his front garden. My father was past me with some determination and out the front door. This was a little bit like the scene in Superman when Lois is hanging out the window of a crashed helicopter that is on top of the Daily Planet. Clark Kent runs across the road, rips open his shirt and turns into Superman. Not only does he save Lois but also catches the falling helicopter.
I remember following my father out the front door and I stood in our drive way as my father hopped over the 3ft brick wall and confronted Steve. I can’t remember what he said, but it contained the words face, burn, bury and cunt. And it worked. If you are a father yourself I’ll let you insert your own dialogue. There was a great relief after that day, I didn’t speak to Steve much, if at all, after that day. I started hanging around with kids my own age, I was now 11, so I didn’t play…I hung out.
I still see him wondering around my old neighbourhood when I visit my parents. When he was in his late teens he developed epilepsy, quite badly. He’s barely recognisable now. The results of multiple blackouts and fits are scarred across his face. He’s missing most of his teeth and his speech and cognitive functions have suffered severely. He’s also an alcoholic. He been banned from all the local pubs and the last I heard he could only get a drink from the off licence. I should feel sorry for him. I do to a certain extent but in truth I’m glad. You fucking deserve it you utter piece of shit!!
If you are in an abusive relationship or are being bullied, then telling someone about it will, I’m almost certain, sort out the problem quicker than you can say ‘red pants go on the outside’