Back Alley Kid Two

Two weeks he’s been with me and I wonder if his mother even cares. She knows where he is, I’ve seen her once before today. I can’t say it was the most pleasant of experiences; the dank alcohol smelling house with her rotting in the stench of her own urine and sweat.

Colin and I brave her house one more time. He needs clothes and I am not financially equipped to provide them for him. She’s laid on the sofa smoking a badly rolled cigarette and cursing each time as it goes out when she tries to take a drag from it. I hand her one of mine, not out of kindness, but out of the sheer need for her to stop talking with her voice grating against my nerves until she reaches the last one.

“What are you doing here?” She asks.

“Getting Colin some clothes,” I tell her.

She starts swearing some more; the obligatory list of insults for her son that are so reminiscent of the ones my own mother used for me. I shut off. The peeling green wallpaper in the corner holds my interest better than anything she has to say. Her cruel words mean nothing to me and I don’t wish to listen to them. I wonder if she and my mother were to have met, what a great conversation they would have had. Of course they can’t, my mother is dead. Colin is not that lucky.

I cast my thoughts away from both of them, not wishing to pull down the high I feel riding my spine from the amphetamines I took just a couple of hours before. Neither she nor the memory of my mother will bring me down.

Her slurred words are almost incomprehensible aside from the odd vicious word in her ever so polite way to tell Colin and I to get out of her f*****g house and not come back.

I don’t waste any time when I hear Colin bounding down the stairs with some clothes thrown in bags in a haphazard way. I take them from him and tell him we should go. He glances at his mother and I at him. It’s somewhat similar to watching history before my eyes. I feel the tug in my chest as I see him trying not to show me the tears in his eyes. I see the familiar sadness on his face and I know there is nothing I can do to fix it for him.

We walk down the road. “Want to get some food and play pinball?” I ask him.

He grins and nods his head before running off towards one of the local small stores. Of course, I have no money; the last of it is in my pocket wrapped up in tin foil disguised as my next hit.

Colin knows where we shop in this manner. We don’t use the same store all the time. We wouldn’t want to arouse suspicions. We work them all in turn.

Some part of me wants to feel bad for what I am doing, but my drug induced brain congratulates me for my accomplishments. No one can catch me. I can feel that inside. I can do anything.

I’m only feeding Colin, so we don’t need much. I haven’t eaten in two days, but that doesn’t matter. I’ll eat tomorrow when the drugs wear off and my body realises it’s been running awake with no fuel for three days.

We don’t take anything that can really be described as food. I shove a bottle of cola in my jacket and Colin lifts a selection of crisps and sweets before we make our exit and run. We run so fast towards my flat that I feel like I could run forever. If I was by myself, perhaps I would. To where, I have no idea. Anywhere. Away from life itself, if it was possible.

My whole body feels great and warm inside. There is nothing I can’t do. Nothing hurts and my normal bogged down mind feels weightless and free from the usual chaos. I feel like I could fly. It’s almost euphoric.

We get home and Colin plants himself on the lounge floor with his acquired picnic and I hand him the bottle of cola from inside my jacket. He sets up the Nintendo and someone knocks on the door.

I assume it’s either Joanne, my girlfriend, having forgotten her keys again, or my son being dropped off back home. He’s been with his mother for the weekend. His arrival signals the end to my recreational activities.

It isn’t my son though; it’s Mark, Colin’s older brother. He looks over his shoulder and walks into my flat without waiting for an invite.

“You did it again?” I ask him and he nods.

I wonder what the point is in the open detention centre for minors. The Farms, as it’s known, with open doors and no gates. Only the kid’s moral responsibility to their sentence is supposed to be enough to make them stay and come back. What farce of an agency thought that one up?

Colin hears Mark from the lounge and bounds along my hall to the kitchen. He launches himself at his brother and in a moment, looks childlike. The veneer of an adult has slipped from his face as he grins with a flash of his seven year-old smile, complete with missing teeth. Mark lifts his brother up in such an effortless manner. I look away and try not to intrude on their moment.

Another loud rap at the door startles the three of us and I look at Mark. Our words are unspoken as he sees my displeasure at the police at my door.

“The busies,” Mark whispers and I nod.

Mark puts Colin down runs through my house; I hear the door that leads to the attic open. He’s hidden himself before I even have chance to work out in my mind what I’m going to do. They knock on the door again.

I open it and two policemen stand there.

“We’re looking for Mark Richardson,” one says. “Have you seen him?”

I shake my head. “No, I haven’t,” I lie.

“Do you mind if we come in and take a look?”

My head screams no at me. The thought of Mark hiding upstairs feels like a beacon that will call them and then I’ve had it. Another mark against my name and surely this time would see me inside a cell somewhere myself.

My logical mind argues with me. If I don’t let them in, they will know he is here, and they’ll either watch the flat or get a warrant. Either way, I’m trapped.

I step back and let them in. Colin stares at me. I know what he thinks. I’m giving his brother up.

I have no other choice but to let them in and hope they are blind.

To be continued…..




I read an interesting blog post about this today, from another survivor. I say another survivor which is really a lie. That person is a survivor I am not, I just didn’t die that’s all and there’s the difference.

The blog however was insightful, for the first time I had seen, someone saw it the same as me. She planned her suicide date as her fathers birthday, a bittersweet revenge perhaps? Where as mine would be when my father has not talked to me for a while and I’d hope it took weeks for him to learn of my demise. I’d want him to know that he didn’t have the right to be informed. He wasn’t top of the list and he’ll miss my funeral.

Of course before anyone panics, I’m not going to do it. It’s a mere fantasy. I can thank my children for being here and taking away that option. I’ll admit sometimes I get mad about it. It feels like I’m trapped here when all I want is for it to be over. I come close sometimes, but all I do is imagine their faces. I imagine them alone with no one to be there when things in life get too bad. When they just need their dad.

My father is not taking that from my children. I’ve been there for every moment in their lives and I’m going to keep being there, even when the days are hard, when the pain inside is so bad I’m begging almost for it to be over.

I’ve tried before of course to end it all, clearly with no success. The first time I really recall I was seven. I lay down in the bath and just didn’t move with my head in the water. I think I almost did it too, I floated away inside my mind, the need to breathe had gone, and my saviour, ironically was my father and his belt.

I didn’t really try again until my late teens, but I had no fear of death. I took risks, I didn’t care, if death was going to claim me I was going to tease it. It didn’t work of course. Even when I almost died at sixteen some part of me wanted to live.

I’d got septicaemia. It was a loving parting gift in a way from my fathers actions, that I’d been too ashamed to deal with and I was found with no temperature and hardly a heartbeat, my friend didn’t waste any time in calling an ambulance, he even called my father who refused to show his face, he was simply too busy at work to deal with his son that was being rushed to the emergency room.

I was eighteen the next time I tried. I’d landed myself with my special needs son because his mother couldn’t cope and I’d just lost my second child to the cruel hands of fate. I walked out the hospital completely broken, not hearing anything passed the doctors words that started I’m sorry. I spent two weeks getting drunk until I tried to slit my own wrists. The unfortunate timing of another friends visit soon blew the end to that one, but kicked me onto my downward spiral of illegal drugs.

A year later I tried again to end it. A come down from a concoction of drugs and nothing to live for except a son who I was failing, I necked a bottle of pills. I was sick for days after. Funny really I always thought there was no escape when you tried that way, but seems my body wasn’t playing.

Twenty three was the last time. My life was happy. I’d met a nice girl. My son was doing well. There was a new baby on the way. I’d been clean from drugs. I had a job, was going back to school. I had everything, but the pain inside I’d spent my life running from. That agonising sadness that’s nestled deep within my chest was so consuming that I felt helpless. It was a letter from my daughters mother that stopped me. She didn’t know of my past, but she had read some of my writings and she replied to one. I’m grateful to her, she saved my life in so many ways, she’ll never know.

I haven’t tried for a long time since these. Not even when I lost a second daughter. I think about it. It’s in my mind every day. The sadness is still there, but now it’s nothing more than a pleasant fantasy.

Something I keep on the back burner. It pops into my head at random times. When I’m driving, I think, just a quick flick of the wheel and I’m done, it’s over. When I’m out running, what if I just closed my eyes and ran, would a car hit me? Would it be quick?

Then I think of my children. They are better than any sadness I feel. In selfish ways when it feels too much, I let them make me smile.

Ten Pence to Save a Life

Coal to Cat

It’s an odd story really, how she came about. One I feel maybe I should tell. She was tangled within the world I lived in. Yet, she was a survivor.

I lived in a place that wasn’t so special. It was above an adult shop, to be honest, and a little bit of a dive but, I didn’t care. It was close to my friends, close to my work, but more importantly, it was close to my dealer.

I spent my nights tending the bar in one of the local night spots. I had a cat whose name was Sooty and as his name might suggest, he was all black. He was my pal. He didn’t care who I was or what I did. I’d get home at 4am and he’d greet me each time; this pure black thing pouncing on me in the darkened alleyway as I let myself in. I’d have a coffee and a smoke, and maybe watch some television while he sat on my lap sharing whatever I’d brought home. Pizza or kebab; he wasn’t so fussy.

I felt bad leaving Sooty alone each evening as I went to work or saw my friends and decided to get him a companion. Three weeks old; as black as Sooty, and bright blue eyes, Coal came into our life.

The owner of the store I got her from told me he didn’t think she would live. She was the runt of the litter and when she died I could just return the body and get a refund or a replacement.

She wasn’t going to die. I wasn’t going to let her. I took her home and fed her. I kept her with me while Sooty investigated this strange thing that was in his home. She grew, she thrived, and she lived.

One night when I was off work, my dealer came around.  Of course, I had a little bit of a debt and he was asking when I would pay him. We got in a slight argument about it, but I promised I was working the next night and could pay him after work. He seemed happy with that. The acquaintance that was with him, of course, did not seem happy.

I watched as Sooty climbed across the top of my cabinets and got himself stuck as always. I wasn’t sure what he was going to do. Maybe he was going to jump on my dealer’s friend, or maybe he was just going to sit there, I don’t know. But the acquaintance got hold of Sooty and before I knew what happened, slammed him down on the floor. Sooty ran off and my dealer and his thug left.

I found Sooty struggling to breathe. He tried to cry. He lay in my arms and I ran outside desperate to call someone to help me. I had no money. I ran along the street with Sooty in my arms asking anyone if I could borrow a coin so I could call a vet. People ignored me like I was crazy. It was just ten pence. I didn’t have it.

I ran back home wondering if I could find it lying about, but I knew deep down there wasn’t a penny in my home. There wasn’t even food. All my money went in drugs and cigarettes.

I slid down to the kitchen floor and hugged Sooty to me. I cradled him in my arms and felt as his little life slipped away. Sooty died because I couldn’t afford ten pence.

I buried him the next day.

By then, Coal was a few months old. I didn’t want to lose her too. Not like that. Not another victim of my sorry excuse for a life. I did the best thing I could for her. I gave her to the one person who would care the most.

My father.

For fifteen years she lived with him. He refused to give her back. Maybe it was the best thing. She stayed with him until two days ago, when she passed away too.



Some days, I wish I could confront my father.

Not with the past; even as much as I want to beat him with the question of why until he is down on the floor, and because I want him to be sorry for what he’s done.

What I wish is that I could take hold of him and not say look what you did to me as a child, but rather, look what you’ve done to me in my life now. Today; when everyday is a constant battle. I wish I could give him a day of it.

Most days, I think I have gone somewhere in my mind. Apart from writing, my voice is still missing. I still cannot bear to look in a mirror any more than I have to. I hate the face that stares back at me. It is not mine. I wish I could cut it away.

My father was very nice to me this weekend. He had to have his cat put down. She was actually mine and he came to my house to drop her things off. He was concerned I was okay with her passing.

She had not been my cat for years, but this side of my father is the hard one to deal with. He’s nice and caring and I’m walking over a pit on a broken plank waiting for it to give way.

I have to remind myself of the reason he had my cat. I had to leave everything behind to enable myself to recover from drug abuse, and the reason I was doing that was the because of the life he had given me.

He has thrown me into turmoil once more.