Chapter Thirteen of "Things that go bump in the Night," a Baker Street Adventure starring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson is now posted.
Things that go bump in the Night
by John Pirillo
Even when he was a child of only seven, he stood out from the other kids. His face was never quite normal. Something was always off. Kids called him snake-eyes and pimply pudding, and other horrid things. He had been called worse things over time, but he got hardened to it. His father was a jailor at the Bristol Prison and would come home, tired and weary from his work. He would pull up a tankard of mead to drink that his mother would pour for him every night at exactly the same time.
His father was no acceptor of differences. He believed everything had to be run by the clock. Eating, sleeping, working. His life was simple. His judgements were simple
"Son, you get out of line. I beat you. Understand?"
"Yes, father." He had answered, knowing if he said anything else he would get...beaten.
"Son, you say the wrong thing to some one. You get beaten. Understand?"
"Yes, father." He went on, being the good kid his father wanted. A mechanical being with no thought of its own.
"Son, you disobey me and..."
"I get beaten." He had answered, thinking it would please his father to complete the sentence.
His father had put his tankard down, rolled up his dirty prison guard sleeves, picked up the leather strap he always left hanging on the wall by the stove, snapped it a couple of times, while he had climbed dutifully over the lap of a kitchen chair and pulled his pants down.
He had been beaten.
So from that time forward he swore to himself that he would never, ever let anyone know what he thought or felt. His withdrawal as a result of the latest beating had caused his mother to confront his father. Somehow, she had found the courage to speak up.
She was a slight woman, but could be quite intimidating when given the opportunity, as he had witnessed when they shopped, and the local grocer tried to rip her off. She had tongue lashed him so hard that his face had turned beat red and all the other customers had laughed at him. He never tried that trick again. On her. On anyone else.
She had a sloppy hair do, because of the lack of money to maintain her appearance and because his father wanted her to look like a Midnight Angel as he called the mysterious women that he heard about, but never had seen. She had acquiesed. Everyone acquiested to his father. He was huge, he was heavy, he was strong and he was brutal.
She stood only slightly over four and a half feet next to his six feet of muscle and bones. Her hair was a prematurely graying black and his a stiff red, with burrs of whisker always stubbled on his chin and cheeks. He didn't do the more stylish muttons that most other me of his time did, preferring the more basic look. He called it the foundation look. It gave him a fierce look and anything that gave him power, he took and adhered to.
Her gray eyes were filled with anger when she looked into his bloodshot brown ones. He yawned, as he tossed his strap aside to glance at his bare and bleeding bottom. "Get yer pants up and get the bollocks out of here." He had told him.
He had done so quickly, or else he would be beaten again.
She tore into him, no longer afraid, no longer willing to put up with his shameful and violent behavior.
He had heard them fighting louder and louder from his tiny closet. The only space they had for him besides the bedroom they slept in. It wasn't big, but it was enough for him to throw down some straw and a pillow and covers to sleep with.
He had huddled there in terror for what seemed like hours, then the sound of fighting had stopped. He had finally fallen asleep, hoping that the worst was over.
It wasn't. He had awoken the next morning, freezing cold. He never did so. Then he realized he had no blankets over him. They were missing.
He got up and threw open his closet door to peek into the bedroom. His parents were gone so were most of the furniture. He rushed into the kitchen. It was bare except for a forlorn figure laying in a pool of blood on the floor. Her horrible hair do now messed further with pieces of scalp and blood matting it.
He had not been able to cry. He should have been able to, but his father had beaten him so many times for crying that he could no longer allow those feelings to surface. Instead, he lay down beside her and went to sleep, his arms about her, hurting in his chest.
It must have been a week later when someone from the prison had finally discovered him laying beside her. At first they had thought him dead, but when they discovered a pulse, the Sergeant, who had come to see what had happened to his father, cried out for help.
Two weeks later he had awoken in a Children's Home, in a tiny bed in rows of a dozen other tiny beds on two sides of a room. When he awoke a rough old woman with a scar on her right cheek and angry eyes had shoved a bowl of foul smelling cereal into his hands. "Eat!"
And so he spent the next five years of his life being beaten by a woman who had no remorse and no love for children, and yet ran an orphanage for the disadvantaged and homeless.
His bad luck had sunk even further.
As he counted the hours, days and nights of his capture, as he saw it, he managed to hear about where his mother was buried. He managed to sneak out one night to visit the cemetary. They found him there the next morning, sleeping and beat him further. Then took him back to the orphanage.
Then the nights and days turned into weeks, the weeks into months, and then years. When he reached his sixteenth birthday they threw him out onto the streets with two pounds to his name, a ragged pair of pants, shirt and shoes and wished him well, then slammed the door in his face.
He was a mere lad at the time, slight of frame, far more marked than a young boy should be by the fortunes of life, but not someone to let that stop him from his goals. As he had festered away in the orphanage, wrestling with why the God who ruled everything had submitted him to so much darkness, the answer head come to him in the middle of a dark, dark night.
He had a habit of climbing to the attic of the orphanage when everyone was asleep and reading through the secret library that the Old Hag, as everyone called her, stored there for her edification during those moments she stole for herself, which appeared to be almost all the time, as the only time he or anyone else of the unlucky lads saw her was when she had a hardship for them, a new torture devised. But he took the strokes of the whip, the hot charcoal turner, the back of the broom and all the various instruments of deliverance as she called them in stride, meanwhile completing the education he needed to become the chapion of his world, and no longer the victim.
It was during his third year of reading in the dark observatory of the attic that he found the secret opening. It was quite by accident. An accident that changed absolutely everything. Everything he was, had been, or could ever become!