You were a mighty man of valour, when I think of you, I see you in full battle gear like a knight of the round table. A huge sword that can only be lifted because of your extruded arm muscles, chain mail covering every part of you except the face. And the face, covered in a red plumed helmet. The only inches available to be seen are your eyes.
What colour were your eyes, I can’t remember? Did I ever know? When you held me so tightly did I look into your eyes? Those windows to your soul?
I was thinking of you today because I met a man who reminded me of you. He was a large man, like you, pumped up and preened, just like you. His hair was shorn, the stubble salt and pepper again just like you. His accent was that singy songy accent that can only come from your birthplace.
He came into the room backwards, bringing in a table, talking to the other guy carrying the table. I dropped the beakers of tea. He was a ghost to me, a ghoul from Christmases past. A childhood memory of baubles and pine needles and crushed presents under the tree.
The poor man, I was barely coherent. The guys were so attentive, trying to understand, trying to help. They couldn’t help. The guilt and shame came back to me, the anger and frustration; the teenage hormones ran flagrantly through my system, thirty years too late.
My heart missed a few beats today, as this man entered my world. He reminded me of you and I missed you. Not in the way my mum misses my dad and cries into her pillow every now and then. Not in the way my children miss “Doctor Who” when the series ends. Not in the way I miss friends gone to other places. No I miss you like you miss a coldsore, I miss you like an itch that needs to be scratched but in the scratching the itching gets worse.
I still have the hammer; it still has matter on it. Nobody missed you. Nobody misses you. I miss the person I could have been if you had not been in my life. Pinning me down in the pine needles. The reek of single malt on your breath. Only revenge in my heart kept me from six to sixteen.
Now I function, I wish I could say that because of you I overcame it all and lived an extraordinary life, inventing something, making a difference. I can’t, I live scared of my own shadow, scared of being caught, scared of trusting. Scared to change, scared to stay the same.
I think of that day, Christmas 1981, you soaking up the whisky like the old sot you were. Dad watching you benevolently, you thrived on that didn’t you. People thinking you were harmless, when you were the most dangerous of creatures.
Mum was in the kitchen singing her Christmas songs and my sweet little sister playing dolls at your feet. You stroked her hair; you stroked my beautiful little sister’s hair and looked at me.
Black, black, black
Your eyes were as black as coal, as dark as the sods of turf in the grate. Ha, see, I am not afraid of you any more. My therapist says you can see eyes when there is no fear. Oh Uncle Billy you really had no idea of the power that was unleashed in me, just by the stroking of a few strands of hair. Mum and dad went for a walk with Gillian, their late arrival, their precious gift.
My precious Christmas gift to her, your skull mashed, your body thrown into the lime pit in the farm at the back. Never to be seen again. Gillie has no idea of the gift she was given that year. You didn’t get to do the things I endured for years, to her. You had that look of surprise on your face when I hit you the first time.
Was it surprise? Was it fright? Was it regret? Or were you looking to your future, or lack of it. Proper dead dying you did that day. Gillie looks at me with compassion in her eyes, she sees a broken doll, she has no idea what I did to become that broken. You made me cross the line and I too will face proper dead dying, murderers don’t get heaven.