A.N: Thank you for your review(s) they've been very much appreciated and have further spurred me on in writing this fiction. I've been swamped with exams at the moment so this update was a little delayed.
None the less, I hope you're still keen to read and enjoy the latest chapter.
Chapter 2 – Crashing Lightning
It really hurt.
Jake walked with his hand cupped over his right eye, cussing to himself. His ribs were aching and he could have sworn that one or two were a little more than bruised. His lips was cut open, his nose trickling with a little blood – and yet still – he was moving as if nothing had happened. Even despite the fact that his watch had broken yet again in the fight, he knew that he was overtime and that his dad was going to be in a right state.
He felt like crying though. He'd spent his pay-plus-some to get himself a new watch; to satisfy his dad. Yet again, it was shattered straight through. The glass casing over the watch face was no longer existent and the band was scratched, chipped and broken all the way around.
And all that happened without him swinging one punch to defend himself. He just took the beating. He was used to it. Dad let him have it so what was the difference between anyone and everyone else in Homely Peak laying into him.
Not one God damn thing.
Creeping up to his front door, Jake noted the front lights flashing on in his good eye. He froze in place and stared, petrified, as the door opened up and his father stood menacingly in his singlet and football shorts.
'The fuck've you been?'
'I was…. I was getting the watch, dad. I swear – that's it.' Jake's jaw was jittering as he hoped for the best possible result.
Henry stepped out onto the footpath leading out of the house and he narrowed his eyes at Jake, assessing him.
'Step into the light.' He spoke.
Jake didn't move.
He felt the need to etch backwards rather than forwards but before he could Mr. McDermott spoke much more firmly.
'Step. Into. The Light.' It was slow and assessed, the words plotted with preciseness.
This time, Jake moved. He stepped instantly into the light and held his hand over his eye much firmer now. He knew his lips were showing and his blood nose, but nothing had anything on the blackness of his eye after the fierce punch he'd received from Caleb.
Henry stepped forward a little more, stopped and his mouth looked as though it might've dropped open for just a second. Then it tightened back up.
'You been fighting?'
'Nup.' Jake bit his lip, only then realizing how much it ached from being pummelled. 'I didn't throw any punches, dad.'
'So someone jumped ya'? Someone laid into ya'?' he took a look down at the watch, grabbed Jake's wrist and looked to his side, scrunching his face and trying to hide the complete anger fuelling within.
'Who was it?' he spoke finally, his anguish filled eyes refusing to rest on his son.
'The Peak Boys.' Jake didn't even try to lie. His dad knew him too well for that.
'The Peak Boys? You mean those three fucking hoodlums that think they own this town.' He spat on the ground. 'I'll set them right in their fucking place!' he shoved past Jake but the teenager lurched forward and grabbed his dad by the forearm.
'Dad it's fine. Just leave it!'
'No it's not fine, Jakey! Your bleeding, your bruised, your fucking battered to all hell and you don't want me to do shit about it?' Henry threw his arm up and freed himself of his sons grip.
'If you just let people walk all over ya', they're gonna' keep doing it mate. You can't let 'em, yeah? You've gotta' man up and show 'em who's boss.'
There went the hypocritical nature of people again.
Out of all the people to deliver this spiel, it was the one person who trudged over Jake like he was nothing more than a dead carcass.
'It'll be the death of you, Jakey. They'll beat ya' and throw you down until you've got nothing left to lose and then some.'
Then he saw it. Jake looked into his dad's eyes and saw something. A flicker of worry, some undeniable concern. For the first time in his life, Jake was certain that his dad cared about him and he felt his heart burn with hope. His eyes began to sweat as a result of that inner warmth and before he knew it, tears were tracking down his cheeks.
Henry moved back, his hand pulling over his moustache and he cast a glance down at the ground as if considering himself. He stood there for just a moment – thinking.
Then he looked up, unhitched his arms from his waist and opened up to embrace his son. Jake fell into his fathers arms and grappled him with an unbreakable hold.
'I'm sorry, mate.' Henry spoke with effort.
He loved his son. He did. He swore he did. He just never knew how to show it.
And while the abuse might've been killing Jake, Henry was aching with so much emotional trauma from his own actions that he could never quite comprehend or explain how much it was shaping his life.
Amidst her worries and urgent thinking, Massey had finally been able to fall asleep. By the time she'd woken it was already bright and sunny outside and at least ten o'clock in the morning.
She rubbed her eyes with her hands and squinted at the light that crept through the part in her blinds.
She cussed non-verbally to herself and just for a moment, that protruding light ahead seemed like her biggest worry. There was no school today with the weekend upon them and so naturally, a student had no worries. No worries at all.
She sat up in her bed and she felt around the floor for her thongs. Eventually she found them. Massey tried to find the strap with her toes, but when she did, she felt suddenly much more awake.
Her thongs were broken.
From top to bottom, they were split, cracked and destroyed.
It immediately reminded the dazed girl of her friend.
'Jake!' she called out to herself and sprung to her feet. She raced to grab some clothes and threw them on, bounding out the door and nearly nudging her mother over as she went. The pretty, petite, blonde woman looked at her daughter dumbfounded.
'Sorry mum!' Massey called back as she was half way out the door.
There was an audible call from within the house, but Massey wasn't exactly sure what her mother was saying. She was, after all, already down the street and turning right onto the road.
It only took a dozen or so minutes to reach the McDermott's.
Looking at the house from outside, Massey couldn't help but feel nervous. She tucked her hands into her pockets and as she did, beginning to advance to the walkway up to the front door, felt the sweat trickling down her forehead. She looked like she'd been spending her time in the vastest hot terrain in the world; like Africa or something. Yet, it was that impending fear of what waited behind the door ahead of her which was truly making her heart race and her hairline to drip with uncompromising fear.
As she reached the door, Massey paused. She looked down at her bare feet, up at her partially dirty pants and then down at her unbuttoned shirt – her bra showing. She quickly fastened them so that she was covered and looked presentable and then gave two firm taps on the door in front of her.
No sound from within.
No one walking up the hallway to receive her.
A deathly silence; so cold that Massey actually felt as if she were cooling down.
She turned on her heel and patted down the walkway, ready to head back home. Her eyes were following her footsteps, making sure she wasn't going to step on anything which would have her cussing every time she stepped thereafter.
Then a mousey voice came from her right. A voice from the McDermott's front garden.
'Massey?' it was Mrs. McDermott. She had large gardening gloves on and her brownish-red curls glowed like the sun. She was always a shy woman. She was a victim of the domestic abuse of her husband as well, just like Jake was. Jake always said how she did her best to support him but just didn't know how to break free of Henry's overbearing controlling nature. Not to mention, even despite his reluctance to show affection for her, Mrs. Mary McDermott loved Henry McDermott like nothing else.
She was just bound to him.
And socially awkward because of it. When your husband doesn't even want to talk to or acknowledge you, naturally, you don't consider yourself worthy of any social interaction or attention.
'Hey.' Massey felt herself say. 'Jake home?' she didn't care to ask any other questions or insinuate a reason as to why he mightn't be.
Mrs. McDermott shook her head.
'He went out with his dad. They went fishing at Walkshire Pier.'
Massey jolted in place like she'd just been hit by a fist.
'Huh?' she didn't meant to let her reaction sound so surprised, but it came out in such a way.
'Mhm.' Mrs. McDermott smiled. 'They're having a father & son bonding session.' She clapped a little bit, seeming far more positive than Massey had ever seen her.
Massey struggled to smile back with the same enthusiasm, but with enough effort and determination – she managed something that looked at least partially believable.
'Okay, Mrs. McDermott. Thanks.' Her words held no emotion as she uttered them, stepping back on her heel and turning to make for the gate.
Walkshire Pier was busy today – busier than Massey had ever seen it. At least two dozen people were crowded around the corners of the boardwalk, eager to get the best spot to catch the biggest fish. Walkshire was notorious for its large snapper and people flocked from far and wide to try their luck in Homely Peak.
Her hands pocketed and her hair tucked behind her ears, Massey looked through the all-shorts wearing fisherman frenzy. Amidst it all she caught a glance of Jake and she smiled broadly. The very feeling of knowing he was safe was almost too much to bear in itself. She began on her way along the boardwalk but she felt like she hit an invisible wall when she saw it.
Mc. McDermott smiled at Jake. He smiled and then he laughed and then he wrapped his arm around his son, pulled him close and gave him a loving, fatherly kiss on the forehead. Even without hearing the words, she could see what he was saying from afar.
'I love you, mate.'
Standing in place for just a short moment, Massey went to take a step forward but stopped herself. She couldn't spoil this moment. Not now. Not when it was everything that Jake had wanted and more from his dad.
And so she didn't. She turned around, cast one last look over her shoulder and savoured the beautiful image and began on her way back home.
'Muuuuuuuuuuummmm….. what's for dinneeeeeerrrr?' Massey drawled out from her room, her stomach rumbling like a thunderous storm.
'Fish and chips. Your dads on his way back from his work trip out of town, Maze.' Mrs. Hynes called back.
Massey dropped her head back against the wall, her body resting on her bed and her feet kicking at the blankets that she had over herself. Today had been one heck of a boring day. She'd been able to see Jake properly because he was having a deep and meaningful with his dad and everyone else around town was either rooting on the beach or smoking a joint in the McPherson Bell Tower – or as the townsfolk likes to call it – "The Giant Bong".
'Is he anywhere nearby? I'm really hungry, mum?'
'And I'm really old, but time's not stopping.' Mrs Hynes replied with a chuckle.
She was a skilled one, mum. Always on top of the witty remarks when she needed them. And Massey knew well enough not to challenge her on them.
'Are you sure he's coming back tonight?' Massey asked with honest curiosity. 'There've been times before where he's said he's gonna' be home but doesn't make it.'
'Positive, Maze.' Her mother replied with a sigh. 'Would an ounce of patience kill you?'
Massey rolled her eyes to herself and whispered at a barely audible tone, 'It might.'
The wait for Mr. Hynes to get home seemed unbelievably long and Massey was banging her head against the wall in protest. No less, he arrived with exactly what he'd said he would; fish and chips wrapped in newspaper. The food was tossed onto the dinner table and Massey flocked to it like a seagull, barely even giving her dad a passing glance.
Mark and Mindy Hynes on the other hand had some tender loving and care to make up for. The passionate, long kiss that Mark delivered to Mindy was more than enough to emphasize just how much he'd missed her in his absence.
Regardless of the intimacy of the moment and the beauty of how much her parents truly loved one another – it was a sight that was enough to make Massey feel sick. So, with little delay, she grabbed herself a plate and shovelled some of the food onto it. A piece of battered fish, some chips and a couple of dim-sims to go with it.
Within a heartbeat the plate was clean and Massey was licking her fingers of all the salt and oil, her tummy no longer rumbling; satisfied.
As if on cue, her father poked his head through the crack between the door and grinned, winking.
'How're ya' youngster?' he asked. 'Barely got to see you out there. You got the flake and chips and bailed on me!' he nudged the door open with that, moved towards the bed and took a seat on the side, taking his daughter under his arm and giving her a warm embrace.
'I'm good dad.' She conceded. 'Great now that you're back.' She was hardly lying. She really did miss him when he was travelling and selling the very things that brought in their major income.
'Yeah baby girl, I know.' He gave her a squeeze. 'I'll try and be home a lil' more, okay?'
He'd always been trying. For years now. But just like the last time he'd said it, in three or four days he'd be off again for another few weeks. Mum would be back on the grog, quietly scared that he was going to cheat on her – even though she knew how much he loved her. Paranoid woman that one. Beautiful, kind and loving – but paranoid as anything.
'How's Jacob?' the mention of her best friend made Massey hold her breath for a moment, the images of the night before flashing into her mind.
'Good.' She breathed out, remembering she'd seen that he was fine.
'Just good?' her father was friends with Henry McDermott, but even in being friends with the guy, he didn't ever pride the way he raised Jacob. He knew all too well how brutal Henry could be – but in this day and age – you didn't step into family affairs if you knew what was good for you.
'Yeah.' It was code for "things are still the same".
Her father pouted. 'Well…. Say "hi" to him next you see him, okay?'
'I will dad.' Massey promised, leaning up and giving her dad a kiss on the cheek.
'Alright. Well, I'm off to bed. Wrecked as anythin'.' Mark chuckled, leaning out of the bed and getting to his feet. 'You have a good night, Massey.' And he left.
Massey'd never really given much thought to how much she looked like her dad. The golden hair, the smoothness of it and the way his features were shaped and weaved. She really had got a lot of her looks from the Hynes side and not her mothers side; the Parkston side.
She'd only just closed her eyes when the phone rung. Springing out of board and looking at her wristwatch that was set on her bedside table, she was certain that given the late hour it had to be for her. Pulling her door open and charging into the hallway, Massey unhooked the phone and pressed it to her ear.
'Massey speaking.' She chimed through.
There was the sound of smashing glass on the other side, a brief silence and then Jake's voice.
'Dad's gone crazy! I don't know what to do, Massey! He came home from the pub and he's…. he's hitting mum!'
The boy sounded panicked and Massey felt her knees weaken underneath her. She dropped her body weight against the hallway wall and breathed.
'Call the cops.' She spoke finally back.
'No. Dad'll get in shit. Can you send your dad over? At least he can-….' The phone line went dead and Massey stood still in silence. She held the phone to her ear, knowing that no one would speak into the other end – but frozen with fright.
Finally, she acted. Dialling triple-zero as fast as she could, Massey offered Sergeant Carlson everything he needed to know.
What was going on, where and who was involved.
After that she placed the phone back on the hook and rocked on her heels, her head aching with the pressure that Jake had given her; the responsibility that had been forced down her throat. She felt like she was overflowing; full of too much responsibility – petrified for her best friends' life and sanity.
Sergeant Barry Carlson pulled up in his marked police vehicle, his oversized stomach hanging over his high belted pants and his grey hair short and neat barely blowing in the brief win. His friendly features were full of concern as he approached the home, pushing the gate open. Stopping at the front door, Carlson knocked with a firm hand on the entrance to the McDermott residence and his voice boomed.
'This is the police! Open up!'
Mrs. McDermott screamed from within and the sound of more smashing glass and chaos echoed out from within.
'I'm coming in!' Sergeant Carlson gripped the door handle and turned. The door was open and he let himself in, moving carefully through the home, his hand rested on the grip of his sidearm. Passing through the hallway, the officer took note of Jacob who was curled up just before the door that led to the lounge, his head cupped in his hands and brief whimpers escaping from his lips.
The Sergeant gave the boy a gentle touch on the shoulder and moved passed, his eyes locking on Mr. McDermott and Mrs. McDermott.
They were mere inches from one another. Henry had a gash across the right side of his face and Mrs. McDermott was holding her cheek as if she'd just been struck.
There was a tense pause.
The McDermott's looked at the Sergeant and it was Henry that broke the silence. A large smile crossed his lips – fake and unhinging. He approached the officer with his right hand extended.
'G'day, Barry.' He greeted.
The Sergeant didn't extend his hand, instead, he held his pistol firmer than he'd been doing so before; the weapon still holstered.
'Keep your distance, Henry.'
'What's got ya' on edge, mate?'
'We got a call.'
Henry's smile broke away and his lips pulled into a tight line.
'Yeah.' The Sergeant remarked back.
'Nothing's goin' on here, mate. Mary gave me a clip upside the face with a bottle whilst we were havin' a few drinks. No biggy, pal.'
'So why's the boy fretting?' Barry arched his head back, referring to Jacob in the hallway. 'The kid looks traumatized.'
'Just broke up with the girlfriend.' Henry spoke back.
'That right?' Barry's eyes moved to Mary and then to Jacob for confirmation. Both greeted him with unconvincing nods.
But there was nothing 'legally' that Barry could do. A defeated sigh escaped his lips and the idea of walking away from this haunted him completely. He knew that there was something wrong. He knew that there was domestic abuse occurring in this house - but at the very same time, he had no proof – and the only proof he could muster refused to speak out against her husband, and the other, against his father.
Removing his hand from his sidearm, Barry held a hand to his jaw line and bit down – his teeth gritting.
'Okay.' He lipped. 'If you need anything, let me know.' Barry's words were aimed more so at Mary and Jacob but he was greeted with a nod and a smile from Henry.
It took everything in his body not to step forward and punch the smug look right off the assholes face.
But he held strong.
Justice would play its part.