There was no sleep,
There was no peace,
There was no life,
You locked me out
Left me no choice
Will I be missed?
It’s something I doubt.
No Choices M.S. 1989
I never went into my father’s shrine with the incorrect name again, once was enough. I didn’t need to see photographs of Herod dressed in his church clothes. I didn’t need to see his school reports glorified with in frames and I definitely didn’t need to see that wooden sign with my name carved into it sitting pride of place in front of my brother’s picture.
Whether my father ever knew I’d seen the room I don’t know, but it made little difference because he punished me like I had been in there and burnt the place down on more than a few occasions over the following three months.
School work no longer seemed important and I got punished for not doing my homework. When I did do homework I got punished for not doing enough. I got punished when the dishes were not done to his satisfaction. I got punished when I was a minute late home from school. It seemed like I was getting punished for everything other than breathing.
The punishments varied in severity, a swift smack on the arse with a bare hand, a hit with the wooden spoon or steel spatula, random items thrown at me across the room, even a full on thrashing with his leather belt, buckle end of course. The one thing that remained constant was that he never left a visible mark on me, I did have to wear long pants to cover what shorts wouldn’t have but the weather was barely warm enough for shorts anyway. The only good thing to come out of the thrashings and the bruises was that my mother wrote a note for school excusing me from sport related activities that may have required me to get changed in the same changing room as other boys who might have seen my father’s damage.
With my bed in the dinning room I was a prime target for each and every rage my father had and the only time he didn’t seem to be in a foul mood was when he was locked in his shrine. What he actually did in there I had no idea, but the hours he spent in there after dinner was also the only time my mother actually spoke to me. The rest of the time she ignored me, almost as if she was embarrassed to face me because of what she knew was going on but wouldn’t stop it.
At the same time my father was spending his hours in his shrine to Herod my mother changed as well. It was a subtle change at first and I don’t think my father noticed it but I did because less than a week after Herod’s funeral I caught her in the pantry with the bottle of vodka tipped up draining the dregs into her mouth. Even after that first week when the change in her became more dramatic and obvious I don’t think my father noticed that she had become unkempt, frumpy and cared very little about her appearance.
Over the next month, maybe six weeks, some things did get easier. I still missed Herod terribly, every minute of the day. I missed his company, I missed his smile, I missed my guide, but most all I missed my friend. But all that aside some things did get easier and walking to school was one of those things. I think the main reason walking to school became easier was because the fence and the house on Berry Street were repaired. At first it felt like they were erasing my last thoughts of Herod, but as the rebuilding progressed and the house once again became a home for someone else I realised that my thoughts of Herod were locked in my head, not in a damaged house.
Another thing that became easier was that my father stopped forcing me to church on a Sunday morning. I still had to read his damn scriptures and texts from his bible when he requested it, but I was no longer required to be in the presence of his god. Whether he thought it meant his god was going to stop looking over me if I didn’t pray to him every Sunday I don’t know, but it didn’t worry me in the least, especially since I knew his god had given up on me long before my absence from his little weekend home.
A week before the Christmas on my fifteen year, two months before my sixteenth birthday things finally came to a head in the Wentworth household. I can’t say I was particularly looking forward to Christmas that year and to be honest I really don’t think my mother was doing anything more than simply going through the motions of the season. Her drinking had also increased, she wasn’t drunk, in fact I don’t think I even saw her stagger, but the number of empty bottles in the bin each week had increased steadily over the months. How she hid it from my father I don’t know, in fact I don’t know that she did, but I never saw her punished for it.
I don’t really know what snapped on that day of the 18th of December 1985, although it was a Wednesday and even in my short life of nearly sixteen years Wednesday’s had not been the most favourable of days for me. I suppose it had something to do with it being the week that my father learnt to used a hammer and a phone book as his method of punishment. The phone book wasn’t to protect me, it was used purely to stop bruises from forming under the force of the hammer because with summer coming on it was inevitable that someone would eventually see the bruises of the summer.
The snap didn’t come in the form of me retaliating or screaming for him to stop, it came is a much more savage form, one that neither my mother or father saw coming.