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Prologue 

Ireland 1979

The boy walked towards the isolated dwelling house hoping to see his mother first. His feet were sore. He saw the cottage, dwarfed by the trees, the plume of smoke rising shadow-like from the chimney. There was a coldness visible. His breath was a steamy pale cloud that dissipated as though it fled from the late evening crispness. He had spent the whole day directing cars; helping people to park in spaces: standing around, looking for his next client, running to their assistance in the city of car fumes and cool rain. Those who were having a good day, who liked his smile or his tousled fair hair, had given him money. He wanted to get in and relax now. His mother would help him to wash with hot water in front of the fire and take nearly all of the money from him. She might try to put some aside. His father would take what he could get. His mother was the one to placate his father, to explain that to feed and clothe them, she needed to buy things, whatever she could find that was cheap. As he neared the cottage, he heard his father’s voice bleating. He hadn’t seen him for some days, maybe even a week. Even though that usually meant he was inebriated and dangerous somewhere, there had been a peacefulness in the boy’s life that he relished. The absence of his father was great. The atmosphere in the small house had been harmonious. Now he could hear his mother pleading and he thought of the money he had earned. If he gave his father money, he would leave, go to buy more drink. At least that would keep them safe for now. He was eleven and he understood the ways to handle his father’s uncontrollable desires, his ruthless quest to achieve  his most immediate needs. The boy trembled as he neared the door. His exhaustion was replaced with shivering anxiety as he quietly entered the cottage. His father turned on hearing the latch of the door and glared at him. He left his wife and grasped the boy’s shoulder.

“Money,” he said, “give me the money.” His father was used to his son having money, although he had no idea where it came from. He often swept or washed the outside terraces of a café in the city centre. He occasionally put cardboard in a skip at the brewery. There were chores to be done that he relished, knowing the money he earned bestowed upon him the power to create a more comfortable niche in the world. He knew who was likely to pay him for these chores and he always paid attention to the details. The child slid his hand into his pocket. He moved his hand around and terror swept his whole body. Where was the money? He found a large hole in the furthest corner of his pocket, his long shorts underneath damp from the rain that had seeped through the fabric. He paled. He felt the lurching sensation of sheer panic. Looking at his stricken face, the man slowly realised there was no money. He pushed him hard at the wall. He slumped when he fell on the floor, his lean frame unable to function with such a violent blow. His father bellowed incoherently at him as he removed his belt. The full ferocity as the belt whipped into his body, his head, face, arms marked, searing flesh. His mother hurled herself at this brutal mindless assailant. His father brawled with her as the belt intermittently whipped at his hands and feet, his head feeling light. His father turned suddenly on his mother. He dropped the belt. She had gotten up, to protect her youngest child, and he watched in terror. As the man pushed her down, he scraped her face, gashes appearing in her wrinkled cheek. The boy sat clutching his shins. He flinched. He wished there was someone to take his father away but there was no one. He mumbled about how useless the boy was as he continued the attack.

Suddenly, with a surreal feeling that God was on his side, the boy took a hold of the belt, and climbed up on a wooden chair. The chair back was between them. He reached over and looped it around his father’s neck. His arms were strong from scurrying about, his daily struggle to get by in life. His father was drunk enough to be unsteady and he clutched the belt, trying to loosen it to let him breathe. The boy pulled it upwards as hard as he could and watched his father gradually fall down onto the floor. Then he noticed the taste of blood in his mouth: his lip was bleeding when he touched it and he didn’t know if his cheek was ruptured a little on the inside. He would never fear him again and his mother would never again have to face this volatile, vicious man. He walked down the track away from the house to dig a deep grave among the huge trees, the darkness was everywhere now. His mother wept uncontrollably, her breathing laboured, her head bloody, but he would nurse her black to health now that they were safe. Later, his father gone forever, he realised how important it was to be strong. Deliverance had come in the form of his father being asphyxiated with his own belt. He said little about it, but the boy was liberated. 

Download the full 37 page sample, or you can buy the book, to read more... we move forward in time to 2013 and the story moves forward apace.