Authors: J.D. Chase
Tags: #PART TWO OF THE PASSION NOIRE SERIES
‘Have some of my pizza? Veuve can’t eat it because she’s a girl. She can’t eat men’s food.’
He looks at me for a second and then bursts out laughing. Veuve laughs too. This is good. It drowns out the screams until they stop laughing.
I wish I’d brought my iPod and my headphones. They are brilliant at getting rid of it but Veuve didn’t think to grab them from the flat. I’d never heard music before I went to live with her. When Veuve first gave me hers to listen to, it was just like weird noises and voices but it was the quiet songs that got me hooked. They reminded me of my mum singing me to sleep when I was little. It was comforting. But then, I started to like other songs and found that really loud rock songs are good for blocking out the screaming. I wish I’d got it now. My sister doesn’t want to stop screaming.
I start to list the names of all the toppings in a loud voice. Jones is looking at me in that weird way again so I stop. He takes the pizza from me and bites into it. He makes noises like he’s enjoying it as he chews. But, when he takes another bite, he pulls a face.
‘Bloody hell,’ he says loudly. He’s blinking quickly and Veuve laughs when he grabs his drink.
‘Looks like Jones struggles to eat real man’s food too,’ she says and starts laughing again.
That makes me happy. It means I could be more of a man than Jones one day. I join in with a big, loud laugh. Jones joins in, too.
The screams are quieter but I can still hear them when I stop laughing. I need it to go away so I go into the bathroom and flush the toilet. Then I turn on the taps in the hand basin. I don’t know where else to find noise in Jones’ flat. Once the toilet fills, I flush it again.
When I turn the taps off, I can hear voices. I think they’re in my head at first but they’re not. It’s Veuve and Jones talking on the other side of the door.
‘Don’t push him,’ she says. ‘Let me guide you on this. I won’t have him upset any more than he has to be.’
‘I don’t want to upset him,’ he says sounding angry. He’s hissing like his teeth are pressed together. ‘But I know he wants to find his sister. I need to ask him whether Sandy is still there. But to find anybody, he has to talk to me.’
‘I know.’ Veuve sounds pissed off. ‘But you can’t push him. Let me take the lead.’
‘He didn’t want you to know that he wants to find his sister. He asked me to help him. And what if he’s ready to be pushed? He’d still be stuck in your flat every day if it was left to you. He was ready to explore outside but you didn’t think so.’
‘It’s not a fucking competition,’ she growls. ‘He pushes himself so you’ll think of him as a man. Fine for stepping outside but that macho bullshit isn’t going to help him when you start dragging his past into the present. You’re not a fucking psychologist.’
She is really mad now. Why is Jones making her angry?
‘I’ve never claimed to be. But he brought up his past in secret to me. He wants to find his sister desperately. He must know more. And he must know something that proves that Sandy is his mother.’
He’s mad too. Hold on ... what did he just say?
Sandy is my mother?
No, she isn’t. Sandy’s his sister. I can’t remember my mother’s name. She told me but I always called her Mum and everyone else called her ... well, they called her other names but not Sandy.
‘Shush,’ hisses Veuve, making more noise than anybody. ‘It’s gone quiet in there.’
There’s a tap on the door.
‘Kid,’ she calls in a soft voice. ‘Are you okay? You’ve been a while.’
‘Leave him alone,’ Jones mutters. ‘Can’t the poor Kid even take a shit in peace now?’
I grin. I like Jones. He’s good fun. He is macho and he does make me feel like impressing him but I know he likes to impress me too. I think that finding my sister would be a good way to impress me. Maybe I can help him find his sister. That will really impress him. Veuve is good to me but it’s not the same with her. She worries too much about upsetting me.
I flush the toilet and open the bathroom door making them look at me guiltily.
‘Can’t I even take a shit in peace now?’ I say, winking at Jones.
I walk back to the living room but I’ve only taken a couple of steps before I hear him roar with laughter.
Veuve is quiet after and I feel guilty. I make sure I have her on my team when I suggest a game of doubles tennis. Jones has a pretend partner. But I only play for a few minutes before my stomach feels like it’s going to explode. I think eating almost a whole large pizza to myself was a bad idea. I think I’m going to be sick if I try to play tennis. I need to lie down.
‘I’m tired. I think I’ll go to bed now,’ I tell them when I don’t jump to reach the ball that Jones has just smashed over the net.
‘Oh. Okay,’ Veuve says, but her face gives away her worry. ‘Do you have everything you need? I may have some of your things in my case.’
‘You haven’t brought my iPod, have you?’ I ask hopefully.
I see her kick herself. ‘Sorry honey, I didn’t think.’
I shrug. ‘It’s okay. I’m so tired I’ll probably fall straight to sleep anyway.’
‘Oh crap,’ Jones exclaims. ‘I was going to make sure the fire service left your flat secure but with ... well, I forgot. I’ve had a few beers now so I can’t drive.’
‘It’s okay,’ Veuve says. ‘Don’t worry about it. I’m sure my flat’s just fine.’
‘I’ll check it first thing in the morning,’ he tells her before looking at me. ‘I’ll get your iPod while I’m there, Kid.’
I smile but I can’t help but wonder how he’s going to get my iPod from my room when he’s checking the door’s properly locked. Oh, if he’s going to break in again, I want to see how he does it.
‘Can I come with you?’ I ask.
He looks to her and she shrugs.
‘I’ll come too,’ she says. ‘I’m bound to have forgotten something. It will be good to air the flat and get rid of some of that smoky smell. Speaking of which, would it be okay to use your washing machine, Jones? I grabbed us some clothes but they’ll all reek of smoke.’
‘Of course. If you put whatever you want washing in the kitchen, I’ll see to it,’ he replies.
She gives him a look and I’m confused. He’s just agreed to help us out. Why is she giving him a look like that?
‘I’m sure I can manage,’ she says. ‘Women are good at laundry.’
He laughs but I’m not sure she’s joking. I don’t think she wants him touching her ... ah, I get it. I don’t care who washes my undies—just as long as I don’t have to walk around stinking of the fire.
I leave them to sort it out. I just need to sleep.
Hands grab me roughly, dragging me from my sleep. I’m pulled up before I can lash out. I don’t waste my energy screaming, I concentrate on trying to punch the fucker in the face while trying to evade his hands. My fist connects with something but he barely flinches. I’m not fit enough and he knows it. It doesn’t stop him pulling his knee up sharp to crush my bollocks, knocking the breath from my lungs.
I barely feel the sting of the injection in my thigh.
‘Fuck you,’ I grunt but he laughs and spits in my face.
I get manhandled along, every step becoming more difficult as the sedative takes hold.
One of these nights, they’re going to kill me. I’m getting too big to handle so they fill me full of stuff—sedatives and muscle relaxants they call them—just to get me out of this dump. I fight back because it makes me feel better and because I hope they’ll keep giving me more and more of the drugs. Enough to knock me out so I don’t see or feel what happens next would be good. I’d crave even more, enough to put me out of my misery but I can’t leave my mum and my sister here—that’s if my mum’s still here.
As we pass the room where they keep my sister, or at least I think she’s still in there, I call out to let her know I’m still alive. They parted us when she got her first period. They said they were worried that I’d get her pregnant. The sick fucks; she’s my sister.
They’d taken my mother away from us for the same reason a short while before then, but I didn’t understand. If they thought that I was likely to fuck my mother and my sister, why didn’t they take me away and leave them together? I hated the thought of them being thrown back in there after ... with nobody to care for them, to tend to their cuts and bruises.
But then all the others in here had always been on their own. I suppose we were lucky to have had each other at all. Lucky ... I guess even the spawn of the devil deserves some luck from time to time.
Each step is getting more difficult as my muscles stop working properly. It feels as though my feet are stuck in concrete blocks. My feet tangle and I sprawl forwards. I just manage put my hands out in time but the fall carries me forward, smacking my head off the floor.
‘What the fucking hell are you doing, you stupid fuck? Ross will cave your fucking skull in if you put a mark on him.’ The voice sounds odd, like somebody is speaking way too slowly.
‘Fuck off! He fell. I didn’t fucking touch the streak of piss. I wouldn’t want to catch anything.’ For some reason, he finds that funny.
‘That’s your story. You were caught trying to slip it to his whore of a mother. Keep it in the family they say, don’t they? I wouldn’t put it past you to stick something else in him besides that needle, fucking pervert that you are.’
‘I’m not a fucking pervert. I’m not the one who sneaks into their rooms and wanks over their faces when nobody’s about. Yeah, you thought nobody knew about that, didn’t you?’
‘You lying whore-cunt. I’ve got a kid at home. I wouldn’t do that. You’re a sick fuck, do you know that?’
I hear them cursing and jostling as they smack each other. I can see the door. It’s not only unlocked, it’s ajar. I feel like crying. I can’t get to my feet. Freedom is literally right there but I can’t stand. There’s nothing to grab hold of. I pull myself along using the sides of my forearms like I’m crawling. I’m getting closer. Ever closer. I can smell freedom.
Just as I’m close enough to see outside, it falls quiet.
‘What the fucking hell is going on here? Have you fucked him that hard this time that he can’t walk, you deviant fucking maggot?’ It’s Ross.
‘I’ve never touched—’
‘Shut the fuck up. Were you going to just let him escape, you pair of fucking eunuchs? Because if he’d got one inch over that threshold, I’d be removing your balls with a couple of house bricks right about now.’
I’ve just got my fingers around the door frame. I try to pull myself up but my legs are floppy. The stupid twat has given me too much muscle relaxant.
I feel the boot connect with my ribs and all I can do is curl into a ball to prevent any more cracked ribs. I know it leaves my kidneys exposed, something he knows too.
‘Where the fuck do you think you’re going? What’s up, couldn’t wait for tonight’s date? You’ll have that big, black cock in your arse soon enough, there’s no need to go crawling to him.’
The other two are laughing now. Pissing themselves. I hate him with every bone in my body, every fibre of my being.
Out of nowhere, a knife appears in my hand and the strength returns to my legs. I spring up and stab the bastard over and over, a scream bursting from my lungs.
I panic: something’s not right. I don’t know where I am. The light flicks on but I’m already sitting bolt upright, terror racing around my veins. Veuve is here. It’s still wrong, we’re not at home but I know I’m safe with her. She sits next to me and allows me to lean against her when my muscles can relax enough. It’s part of the routine. We’ve done this often. Sometimes, it’s something that’s been read, or said or remembered but other times, it’s just random. She strokes my hair and makes soft calming noises. It makes me feel like a child but it works; it does soothe me.
I see Jones hovering in the hallway outside.
Now he’s going to think I’m a stupid baby.
‘I’m okay,’ I say, pulling away from Veuve.
I see the hurt in her face but she leaves it.
‘Would you like a drink?’ she asks. We’d often sit and sip a cup of milky hot chocolate when I’d woken both of us up with a nightmare.
Before I can reply, she’s looking away. ‘Jones do you have any instant hot chocolate or cocoa powder?’
Now he’s really going to think I’m just a child. But, to my surprise, he nods.
‘Yeah, I do. I often can’t sleep and I used to have a lot of bad dreams ... flashbacks and ... you know. I always keep a jar of instant powder in the cupboard. I could drink one myself, actually,’ he says.
Jones used to have bad dreams too? I feel bad for him but it makes me feel better. He won’t think I’m a baby.
‘Oh, lovely. Could I please join you two fellas?’ she asks, getting a nod from Jones before he wanders off to the kitchen.
I notice they’re still dressed but I don’t know how late it is. Unless I’m in for a really, really bad night, I’ll be fine now. These days, it tends to be just the one nightmare, rather than a string of them.
It’s mostly the same one. The night I almost escaped. The night that ultimately was the trigger for my release—but not at all how Ross had planned it. That night was supposed to be the end of me.
Much as I’d like to stop having the dream, it does serve a purpose. It keeps alive the need to plunge a blade deep into the heart of the man who put me and many other kids through a living fucking hell for years. As far as I know, he’s still doing it. And my sister’s still there.