June 7

Keif

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‘Stop it. Stop it. Leave Mum alone, you dickhead.’ The back of Keith’s hand squarely finds my nose and lands me flat on my back over the bare floor.

He grins. ‘You want to fight your old man, hey? Think you’re good enough to take me down. Well, come on, you little prick. I’ll show you what it’s all about.’

Mum forces her thin body between us. ‘Leave him! He is only a child,’ She cries.

Blood oozes from my nose to cover my hands.  My mind screams, this is it, you’re going to get it. I leap from the floor headlong at my drunken father. ‘No more, no more,’ I cry.

Thrusting mum against the wall, he looks at me. ‘Nah, he’s a teenager. He can fight for himself now.’

When I come too, mum’s battered face is inches from mine. She snuffles, ‘Are you alright?’ Her hanky in hand. ‘Come on into the bathroom and we’ll get you cleaned up.’

For the next few days Mum keeps me home from school, to allow my swollen black eyes to heal. But I am going to get him. This weekend we’ll see how tough old Keif is. We’ll watch those drunken eyes dim. We’ll see him on the floor. Not my mother, not me, not anymore.

Friday night’s fish and chips is our treat for the week. As usual just the three of us, Mum, my younger sister Meaghan and me. Keif won’t be home until after the pub shuts. Boy, isn’t he in for a surprise tonight? By 9.30 mum turns off the telly and tells us to go to bed. She doesn’t want us to be around when Keif gets in. She doesn’t want us to see him slap her. Kick her. Punch her. But not tonight.

Not tonight. Tonight, I have my mate’s baseball bat. Tonight, he’s going to feel it dead set between his eyes. The sound of mum washing dishes hides the window opening wide. First the bat then me onto the grass next to the garage. In the quiet of the dark, I play it over and over in my head. Never again shall he put a hand on Mum. Never again will he come home drunk and smash the house up. Never again will my little sister and I cower in fear under our beds.

The chill of night makes me shiver. Mum’s bedroom light goes off. Where is that bastard? Where is his bloody Mitsi work ute? Come on, I am ready for you. I’m not going anywhere. I’m here waiting for you, you low life bastard.

I wake shivering from the breeze off the bay. Voices at the front door draw me close. In the bright light from above the stairs two uniformed police have woken mum. ‘Mrs Driscoll? It is about your husband Keith. May we come in?’

Discarding the bat, my eyes squint into the living room and listen at the open door.

‘Mrs Driscoll, we have concerning news. Your husband’s utility fatally met head-on with a semi-trailer about half past ten earlier this evening. He remains at the Redcliffe Hospital. Can we take you there or is there someone who can be with you at this time?’

Mum grabs the policewoman’s shoulders. She crumbles to a chair, her sobs solemn. Not the ones she cries for me or herself. Huge dramatic sobs. Why, why cry for that bastard? Why feel sorry for him? She should be happy he’s gone. It is a day to celebrate. Why is she crying for him?

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash


Tags

Abuse, Domestic violence


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