I intended to be the best father in the world. The love I felt for him the instant he was born was something I had never experienced before . . . and nothing has overwhelmed me to that degree since. Apart from the actual birth, one of my fondest memories of the evening was when Julie, with our baby cuddled in her arms, said to me, “Come and meet your son.”
In my mind’s eye, I can still see his little screwed up face; the sound of his first cries in the world still ring in my eardrums. And once I held him in my arms all that mattered was the love I felt for him, and I vowed in earnest to protect the young beautiful life I'd helped create.
And I failed him.
Aside from going to work, I put absolutely no effort into providing my child, whom we had named James, a loving family environment. In fact, all I managed to contribute was pain and heartache.
While Julie was busy at home looking after baby James, I continued my drunken nights out down the pub, having affairs with young dolly birds, spending what should have been my son’s money on buying them drinks and cigarettes.
The physical abuse towards his mother became more and more horrendous by the day, but I believed it was justified; it was I who was the one being hard done by. When I think of the times I used to slag Julie off to my parents, claiming she wouldn't even bother to cook for me and ranting about her inability to keep a clean house embarrasses me to this day.
I was an evil young man with no feeling for anyone but myself.
One terrible occasion will always stick in my mind. It was a Sunday afternoon, Julie and I had decided to go to the local park where there was a bit of a fete taking place. And so, with James in the pushchair, we walked the short journey to the celebrations. We’d arranged to meet a friend of ours, Laura, at the main entrance, and intended to make a day of it, strolling around the various stalls.
We had not anticipated that there would be a beer tent.
“Look. There’s only a fuckin’ bar.” I exclaimed, already shoving my hand in my pocket, hoping I had enough cash on me.
‘‘D’you have to,” asked Julie, rolling her eyes, “you’ve got plenty of cans back home; we won’t be here that long.”
I glared at her, “Shut the fuck up.” And with that fond farewell, I disappeared into the crowd. Pushing my way to the trestle table, I waved a ten pound note in the air, franticly trying to grab the barman’s attention, as if my very life depended on it.
Getting very impatient, I leaned as far across the makeshift bar as was physically possible and shouted for service; more than a few heads turning in my direction as I did so. The guy behind the table finally looked at me, an expression of total contempt etched on his face, but he served me just the same. After paying for the glass of cloudy beer, I scanned the area to see if I recognised anyone. My body froze, and the glass I was holding threatened to shatter under the pressure. It was Ropeman, fuck me, it was Ropeman!
The first thoughts entering my mind were extremely violent. It would take no effort at all to drive my glass into his throat; to twist and turn it until every last drop of his poisonous blood drained from his lifeless body. I imagined a bloodstained corpse sprawled on the grass; saw myself kicking and punching the putrid remains until the police arrived and arrested me for the cold-blooded murder of a “respected” schoolteacher.
Finding it very difficult to contain myself, I walked towards him, not quite knowing what I intended to do. He began smiling that same old pathetic smile of his, trying to look as if he was happy to see me, but I
saw through him; the look of terror apparent in his
At the last minute, my thoughts reversed. It wasn't fear, far from it; in reality I could easily snap his neck. For whatever reason, it became more important that he see, despite what he’d done, I had survived. Although this was far from being true, outwardly it would appear I was doing well.
“Hello Simon, I don’t believe it. How the devil are you?”
“Yeah, I’m fuckin’ great, you?” I gulped at my drink
“Not too bad, I’m teaching at a different school these days, the pay rise helps too.”
(And how many little boys’ lives have you destroyed since working there?)
It was clear he didn’t want to talk, as his next sentence confirmed, “Anyway, it’s nice to see you, but I must get on. You look after yourself, ok?”
Tilting my glass in his direction, I nodded goodbye and he was gone, leaving me every bit as empty and violated as the last time I'd seen him all those years ago.
I needed another drink.
After downing four or five pints of real ale, I decided to go in search of Julie and Laura; feeling an immediate need to be free of the crowd which was suffocating me from all directions.
And my anger was rising.
I don’t know you,
An’ you don’t know me,
Get out of my way,
Just leave me be.
I’ll tear you apart,
Limb from limb,
An’ all the while,
I’ll imagine you’re him.
Give me an excuse,
An’ I’ll destroy you’re life,
Slash your throat,
Kill your wife
Stamp on your head,
‘Till your skull caves in,
An’ all the while,
I’ll imagine you’re him.
Murder you all,
An’ imagine you’re him.
It wasn’t long before I was pushing through a throng of mums and dads. Everyone busy laughing as their children ran around screaming and shouting with delight at the many sideshows on offer.
And my anger’s still rising.
After completing two circuits of the madness and mayhem surrounding me, I decided to go back to the beer tent; thinking they may have been trying to find me.
And my anger was rising.
“Simon. Over here!” They were sitting on a bench outside the toilets.
“Where the fuck do you think you’ve been?” I bellowed, causing people to look in my direction for the second time that day.
The finale of that terrible afternoon saw me kick my child’s pushchair over, and punch Julie in the side of the head twice; my son was in her arms at the time.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, once I’d returned home, and with my temper still raging, I completely trashed the lounge, destroying everything I could get my hands on, which included James’ toys.
If I’d heard of someone else acting in such a despicable manner, I would have had one simple word befitting such a person; scum. Anyone in their right mind knows behaviour like that is beyond unacceptable, it is the lowest of the low, and there are no excuses to defend such horrific actions.
I’ve not been in James’ life since he was four years old, and it hurts me far more than any of the evil acts I was subjected to. I've missed out on so much; kicking a football in the park, helping him with homework, enjoying the look on his face on Christmas morning . . . so many lost years, times that no amount of wishing can bring back.
Often there are simply no second chances. This is something I've found out the hard way; the way I discover most things, by fucking them up beyond belief.
And in truth, when it comes to James most especially, I'm not deserving of a second chance. What bothers me most is that my son is paying the consequences for my selfish acts. He was the one cheated, and I got exactly what I deserved.
On numerous occasions I’ve taken steps to find my on, but I always seem to come up against a brick wall.
However, if I’m truly honest, I certainly could’ve done more, an awful lot more.
I miss him so terribly much.