Novel Excerpt | A Kick in the Head

Charles headed up the path to his house and, after several failed attempts, finally managed to get his key into the front door lock. Steadying himself against the rough outside wall, he unlocked the door and flung it open. Having now let go of both the wall and the door handle he found himself unbalanced and precariously tipping backwards. Where was that fucking bitch?  he thought, forcing himself upright and propelling himself forward. Stumbling down the passage and into the kitchen, he interrupted a loudly sung rendition of ‘Every little thing she does is magic’ by The Police. Taking one look at him, the singing tapered off, their mother turned pale, and she glanced across at her boys nervously.

“Don’t let me interrupt this pathetic little party!” spat Charles, clearly looking for a fight.

“Enjoying yourself without me, are you? And all the time pretending to be soo fucking hard done by!”

His eyes bulged as he marched across the room, grabbed his wife by the back of the neck and pushed her roughly to the floor; her cheek slapping noisily against the cold terracotta tile. Letting out a cry of pain, she shot a terrified look at Martin, who grabbed Ray and pulled him protectively behind his back. Clenching his hands into shaking fists, Martin took a hesitant step towards his father…

“And what do you think you are going to do, you little shit?” his father bellowed, somewhat amused by his eldest sons advance.

Do I have to tell the story of a thousand rainy days since we first met? It’s a big enough umbrella but it’s always me that ends up getting wet.

Sting continued to sing in the background. The radio was oblivious to what was happening, and only succeeded in heightening the tension in the room.

“Leave her alone you bully”, shouted Martin and in a sudden surge of defiance, he rushed at his father, pummeling his fists against his chest.

“Go to your room Raymond”, screeched their mother as she tried to get up off the floor.

Ray, terrified, couldn’t move. She screeched again “Ray! Go! Now!”

Ray plucked up the courage and ran as fast as he could, his sneakers squeaking across the tiles announcing his movements. Just as he was about to reach the kitchen door, his father shoved Martin off, took a step back and stuck out his foot, tripping Ray mid stride. The boy tumbled headfirst through the doorway and slid across the faded maroon carpet in the hallway, his head narrowly missed the sharp leg of their old wobbly entrance table.  He lay there for a second, heart pounding, then turned back to look at his father who was fast bearing down on him. 

Charles grabbed his youngest by the foot. Dragging him across the hall to the staircase, Rays shirt pulling up and the carpet scraping his lower back and buttocks. Charles yanked open the door of the storage closet under the stairs. Ray’s eyes widened in fear

“No, please Dad, don’t put me in there! Its dark!” he whimpered, tears streaming down his face.

Charles face contorted “You always were afraid! Just a small little pussy! You will never amount to anything worthwhile!”

Laughing and taking a firmer grip on his foot, he lifted Ray up and flung him upside down into the small room. As he slammed the door shut and turned the key, the sound of sobbing arose from inside the closet.

Charles took a moment to steady himself. He was now disorientated and feeling quite nauseous as the alcohol flowed through his system.

Martin, seizing the opportunity, ran again at his father. He could hear his mother shouting to stay back but he paid no attention. His father’s fist, however, came out of nowhere, hard and fast, knocking him off his feet and into the wall behind him with a loud crack. Their smiling holiday framed faces crashed to the floor, the picture frame snapped, and glass shattered.  Martin felt shards puncture his skin as his fathers’ boot slammed into his head again and again and again…

Janine (J9) Nijs

Writing this characters backstory, starkly reminded me of how real this is for many women and children right here in sunny South Africa. A land of blue sky and sunshine, tainted by needless violence. Did you know that 243 children and 855 women were murdered in South Africa between April and June 2022? What a tragic waste of human life! Each of us has an obligation to protect our people. If you see abuse, please please report it!

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