Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Potato, beer and lamb

The stench of beer and potato that permeates his skin and breath turns my stomach. Watching him there, slumped ridiculously over his ancient meal, I feel nothing more than disgust and loathing. Saliva drips from his half open mouth and onto the cold plate.

He brought a dead lamb home for our son to play with tonight – how adorable! Oh I know he didn’t mean to kill it. He found it on the side of the road, abandoned. He probably did mean it as a gift for Alex but, in his drunken state, lurching and staggering along the cold road home, he squeezed the life from it. Either that or the poor thing died of shock.

Sweet Alex, he has sat in front of that fire, petting the dead lamb for three hours now. He thinks it is tired and cold. When he finally sobs himself into exhaustion I will tiptoe outside and bury the unfortunate creature. Painful explanations can wait ‘til the morning. His father, one can be sure, will remember nothing. At least, usually he would remember nothing.

Damien, of course, remains silently huddled in the corner, his usual position of retreat. His dark 10 year old eyes betray the pain and resignation of an old soldier who has witnessed many battles without honour or fairness. He will not move from beside the stove until his father has been snoring for at least an hour. He likes to be sure the beast will not stir again this night.

Anger seethes beneath those smooth, hairless features. Tonight he took to his father with the old wooden chair. As the ‘big man’s’ hand came down to meet my jaw, Damien was between us, the chair his only weapon. He must despise me too. Mother love, his protector. How uncourageous and weak I have been. Small boys, mere babes, deserve better and they will be protected.

The brick by my bed is left over from the building of the laundry outside, the one that remains unfinished. It is wrapped in Aunt Phoebe’s old lace nightgown. After all, this is a somewhat special occasion.

I will follow our nightmarish routine tonight. The boys and I will go to sleep. As the cock crows the monster will stir, head and bones aching. Scratching and farting, he will cringe at the dawn and stumble to our bed, our marital coffin. As he pulls down the cover he will mumble, “Had a good drink last night love”, then dissolve into snoring and stinking.

Poor, simple, obnoxious fool; the man I once so readily cosseted and adored. Poor fallen, pot bellied, drunken idol; the man who sucks the gaiety and innocence from my children. As sleep engulfs him the brick will end him. It’s just the stains I’m worried about. Still I’m sure it’s nothing hot soapy water and baking soda cannot fix.
Author: Me