Danny: Part Twenty-Five

This is the twenty-fifth part of a fiction serial, in 795 words.

Life continued to calm down, and I carried on doing well at school. On my sixteenth birthday, Uncle Brian bought me a fancy watch with a metal bracelet. He told me it was the one James Bond wore.

Like I believed that for a second.

He was still being bullied at work, both mentally and physically. I suggested that he change jobs. For one thing, the local bus companies were looking for drivers, and the pay wasn’t far removed from what he was earning. I was surprised by his response.

“I won’t let those bastards beat me, Daniel. They can push me around, steal my food, refuse to answer me when I talk to them. But I am what I am, and it’s too late to change that now. If I stick it out, they will eventually get tired of it”. I was impressed by his optimistic outlook, but thought he had really missed the point.

They would never give up. It wasn’t going to go away.

I had whittled down my female visitors to two regulars by then, including Sandy. With eighty pounds a week coming in from their visits, I now had well over two grand, even allowing for treating myself to a new X-Box, and some nice clothes. I only had two years to wait, and then everything would get so much better.

Then we got a new Games teacher.

Mr McCarthy replaced the much younger Mr Addison. He had got married, and was moving to New Zealand, so the rumour had it. McCarthy was a very different animal. Late forties, ex-drill instructor in the army, and in every way possible, a complete bastard.

Yes, he was hard on us in Football and Rugby. As for P.E., he would run you ragged until you collapsed. But that was only the half of it. When it came to shower time, he was there. Perving over the naked boys as they showered, then turning to watch them as they got dressed by the lockers next door. He showed undue interest in a couple of us, including me.

Uncle Brian had told me enough about the signs and indications over the years, so I immediately realised his intentions. Dominic was a quiet boy, studious, and no trouble. McCarthy would pick on him during class in the gym, and whatever we were doing, Dom was never good enough at it. But when he received no reciprocal signals from Dominic, he transferred his affections to me. I knew all about signals from Brian, so it was easy to lead McCarthy on.

His time in this life was limited from the first time he winked at me.

Managing to divert his attention from Dominic, I soon had the horrible man on the hook. Like a lot of them, he was married, and even had a daughter at university. And also like a lot of them, he led a double life of abusing teenage boys, I instinctively knew that. At the age of sixteen, strictly speaking we were legal. But that didn’t apply to teachers, who had a duty of care to their pupils.

Not only would they lose their jobs, they would almost certainly get a custodial sentence in prison.

But that was never going to be enough for my liking. Not for McCarthy.

He managed to instigate first contact by stopping his car to offer me a lift into school one day. I later found out he lived in the opposite direction, so had clearly looked up my address and cruised around until he spotted me. McCarthy wasn’t very original, pulling the seat belt across me after I got in, to get as close as possible, then allowing his hand to brush my leg every time he changed gear.

“You got a girlfriend at school, Daniel? A good-looking boy like you must have your pick of the girls”. I told him I didn’t have a girlfriend, then for good measure I added that I found girls a bit silly, and not that interesting to be around. He told me that his wife was boring, and he had been pleased to see his daughter leave to go to university as she was lazy and argumentative.

“I would have preferred a son. Someone like you would have been good, Daniel”.

When he dropped me off, I asked him if he wanted to give me a lift home later, and I would meet him at the back of the school grounds so nobody would see me getting in his car. I told him my uncle was at work until at least ten, and he could stay for a cup of tea if he wanted.

He could hardly speak with excitement, and his throat sounded dry.

“That would be lovely. Thank you”.

Danny: Part Twenty-Four

This is the twenty-fourth part of a fiction serial, in 726 words.

Shaking Uncle Brian out of his doldrums wasn’t easy. I had to resort to threatening to report him to the police in the end. I was bluffing of course, as that would likely have seen me end up in a children’s home, with my dad not offering to house me, and me not wanting to live with him anyway.

But it worked. Brian came off the tablets, and started to do his share around the house. He would cook meals before leaving for work, and I could hot them up when I was hungry at dinnertime.

To cheer himself up, Brian took a week’s holiday and went off to visit Amsterdam, telling me he had never been there. I wasn’t invited, which was just as well, as I wouldn’t have gone with him. To be honest, I didn’t actually believe he was going to Holland. More likely meeting some other men with similar sexual proclivities nearer to home.

The weekend when he was away, I took the opportunity to search the house properly. I knew he would have incriminating stuff hidden away, and by the time it got dark that Saturday, I had found most of it. He did hide it quite well, but chose places that I had seen used on many crime shows or films. Large envelopes taped to the underside of drawers in the bedroom, others placed behind the desk he used in the tiny spare room not much larger than a cupboard.

Most of what I found was as expected. CD-roms and home-burned DVDs containing thousands of indecent photos of young boys. Memory sticks with video clips of boys engaging in sex with older men. Including Brian, who could clearly be identified in at least a dozen clips. I replaced them all very carefully, exactly as I found them. They could wait until the time came.

Then leafing through a tattered box file that was in plain sight on top of a bookshelf, I found something that I really hadn’t expected. It was my paternal grandmother’s will, signed and witnessed on a date I recognised. My fifth birthday. It came with an accompanying letter from one of the more reputable solicitors in the town, and the contents of the will itself were very short.

She had left everything to me, her only grandson. I could claim my inheritance, which consisted of the house and contents, on my eighteenth birthday.

Nobody had ever mentioned that.

Not willing to take a chance that those papers could be destroyed, I removed them from the box file, and took them up into the loft, wrapped in tinfoil. At the back of the loft where nothing was stored, I lifted the fibreglass insulation, and slipped my little parcel under it. Even if Brian noticed they were missing, which seemed unlikely as the box file was covered in thick dust, I doubted he would ever mention it to me.

If he did, he might have to tell me what was on the paperwork.

Finding the will changed everything. I had a goal now, and a fixed date to look forward to. In less than four years, I would inherit the house. Once I had been to see the solicitor, I would give Uncle Brian the bad news. He would be out on his ear.

That gave me something I wasn’t used to, peace of mind. I became a nicer person, more content, more forgiving.

When Sandy arrived early on Monday evening as arranged, she had someone with her, a mousey-looking, quiet woman who looked to be about ten years younger than Sandy. I was a little confused at first, and asked if they wanted to both go upstairs with me at the same time. Sandy laughed so hard, she almost choked.

“Nah, nuffink like that, darlin’. Rachel’s me younger sister, ain’t she? Got the train all the way up from London just for today. She’s got the money, forty as usual”. I was in such a good mood after discovering the will, I told her that Rachel could have a freebie.

That good mood continued for the rest of the year. I did well at school, remained pleasant to Brian, and soon had almost fourteen hundred stashed. I had to use two pairs of shoes to hide it by then.

And since Maria, I hadn’t killed anyone.

Honest truth.

Danny: Part Twenty-Three

This is the twenty-third part of a fiction serial, in 785 words.

No chance of getting much sleep that night. When Uncle Brian got home, he was chattering about the event that was a big deal on the estate.

“Gas explosion, they reckon. It was on the news in the car radio. Two dead, one critical”. After the sirens of the emergency vehicles stopped, there was a helicopter flying around, shining a big beam of light to aid the rescuers.

I was watching it from the front room window, when I suddenly realised what Brian had said. I asked him to repeat it.

“The news said one house was almost demolished. There was one dead inside, and one taken to hospital. Then in the house next door, someone was killed when a wall collapsed on her”.

I had to wait for the early news to find out more. I got Brian to ring the school and say I was sick. I felt too tired to spend the day concentrating on lessons. By the time of the third bulletin on the local news, the full extent of what had happened was known.

It was being treated as a domestic gas explosion. The gas company and Fire Brigade investigators were examining the scene, and the street was cordoned off. But according to the policeman being interviewed, there was no further danger to the public, and it was regarded as non-suspicious. The person found dead was described as a woman in her forties, and a teenage boy was in intensive care with life-changing injuries. A seventy-eight year-old woman in the adjoining house had been removed from the rubble, and pronounced dead on scene.

On the six o’clock news, they were named. With the additional information that Liam had died of his injuries and burns just after four that afternoon.

Following that explosion, much of my life changed. Not all for the better.

There was a tearful phone call from Toni. She suggested that her mum had got drunk, then lit a cigarette as soon as she woke up. I agreed that sounded likely, especially as it was the part of my plan that I had been counting on. Between the tears, and blowing her nose, Toni had more news.

“The bodies are being brought back to Ireland for burial, Danny. They won’t let my dad out of prison to attend the funeral in case he tries to escape. The thing is, I have nowhere to live now, so have to stay here in Ireland, and live with my auntie. I hope you can come and visit me soon, perhaps your uncle will give you the money to fly over?” I told her I would ask him, and that I was going to be very sad that she couldn’t come home. Which was true.

But I never saw her again.

Brian was delighted at the news, and told me he was going to change back to day shifts. But when he went into work, they refused to let him change, and the men on his team who didn’t like him warned him he was still being watched. One even suggested that he might have been responsible, seeking revenge on the Malones. Now he was even more scared than he had been before.

The Friday afternoon after the explosion, someone came to the door not long after I got in from school. It was Sandy. She smiled as I opened it. “Got a spare hour, love? I’ve got forty quid for you, and now you can keep all the money”. I let her in. Might as well make some money out of it, now I wasn’t giving most of it to Maria.

Though when fat Kerry turned up the following week pushing her toddler in the buggy, I told her in no uncertain terms that she should never call at the house again.

Now I got to choose.

By the time I turned fourteen, I had six hundred pounds saved up, stashed in an old pair of school shoes in my wardrobe. My regular women callers had spread the word around their friends, and I kept a diary using initial letters and times to indicate when to expect them. I limited it to three times a week though, so as not to let my studies suffer.

For Uncle Brian, they were bad times. The silence at work had turned to outright bullying, and he was too scared to mention it to his bosses. More and more, he relied on his anti-depressant tablets, and he let the housework go until the place started to look like a tip. I was fed up doing all the chores, and eating crap because he couldn’t be bothered to cook.

Time to have a serious word with him.

Danny: Part Twenty-Two

This is the twenty-second part of a fiction serial, in 798 words.

The day before Toni flew out to Ireland, I gave Uncle Brian some money and asked him to buy me a bottle of Bushmills when he went shopping. I told him the truth, that it was a Christmas gift for Maria, to keep her sweet.

It was never going to be wrapped and go under a tree though.

My uncle was taking Vallium now, after telling his doctor that he was very stressed at work. I had already stolen a few of his tablets from the bottle in the bathroom cabinet, and when he gave me the whisky, I crushed three of them into a fine powder, before adding it to the Bushmills and giving it a good shake.

Since the visit of the kinky lawyer, and before Toni flew out of the country, Maria had sent two more women to my house in the late afternoon. One of them had cried after, and said she felt ashamed. The other one wanted me to tie her hands to the headboard with some cord she had brought along, then swear at her while we did it.

I guessed that most were wives of prisoners doing time, or contacts like the lawyer, and I was beginning to wonder just how many women Maria knew who were willing to pay for sex so their husbands never found out they were being unfathful.

As well as the money, their meetings with me gave Maria a huge hold over all of them. One anonymous word from her to the police, and they would be arrested.

The arrangement to see Maria was on the first Monday of the school holidays. It was cold and bright, and she told me to come to her house just after three. To hide the fact that the Bushmills had already been opened, I kept my hand around the top as I showed it to her, then pretended to crack the cap as she went to get her tumbler. I knew it was her favourite tipple, and she needed no second bidding to pour a large slug.

Once that had been gulped down, she smiled at me as she refilled her glass. “We’ll have to do it down here, so we will. My Liam’s in bed upstairs with the flu. He’s taken some medicine, and he’s fast asleep. So keep the noise down”. I wondered why she said that, as I never made any noise.

When the second drink was almost gone, she struggled out of her skinny-fit jeans and panties then sprawled out on the sofa in her version of a seductive pose. I did some of my best acting, pretending to be excited by her, and saying lots of things that she loved hearing. When it was over she was beginning to look very tired, and filled her glass again after lighting a cigarette. “Did you bring the money from the last one? Did she ask you to tie her up? She said she might”.

I handed over the sixty pounds, and she gave me back thirty. “You’re a good boy. Here, take half”.

Lying back on the sofa with her jeans still crumpled on the floor in front of her, she took another big swallow of the whisky, then yawned noisily. “Jeezus, Mary, and Joseph, I feel bloody tired. Must have had too much of the old Black Bush without eating”. Her eyelids were flapping, and I could see her screwing up her eyes, trying to focus on me from across the room.

Moments later, the tumbler fell out of her hand, and her head tipped back onto the cushion. She was out cold.

In her kitchen, I carefully tipped the vintage gas cooker forward until the safety chain stopped it falling. The racks inside made a scraping sound, but it wasn’t too loud. I could see the rubber gas pipe connecting from the wall into the cooker, and I used a tea towel wrapped around the connection to loosen it. It was harder than I expected, but the rubber was old and greasy, and eventually shifted.

The tiny hiss I could hear as the gas began to escape was all I would need. As it was so cold, every window in the house was closed, and with the living room next door, the gas would soon find a level. Easing the cooker back into place, I left the house quietly, hearing Maria snoring as I closed the door with an almost inaudible click.

Lying on my bed writing an essay for homework, I checked the time on my digital alarm clock. It was just after seven, and I was starting to feel hungry.

As I got up to go downstairs and make something for dinner, the explosion from three streets away rattled our windows, and made my ears pop.

Danny: Part Twenty-One

This is the twenty-first part of a fiction serial, in 725 words.

The weekend gave me some relief from the unwanted callers, and I got to take Toni out for a burger and milkshake, followed by sitting under a shelter in the park because it was raining. She didn’t stop talking about how much her mum liked me.

“Oh, she thinks you’re great, Danny. Says I should stick with you because you are solid and loyal. She actually said I would never find anyone better than you, if I live to be a hundred”.

If only she had known the truth.

When I walked her home and said goodnight, I hadn’t got far before Maria caught me up. She was holding a shop-bought fruit cake, her excuse to come out and talk to me. As I took the cake, she grinned. “I will be around for the money on Monday. That fat bitch Kerry hasn’t paid up, so you can kiss goodbye to your share. Still, I have some better-off women lined up for you, so I do”. I wanted to punch her in the face, but just smiled.

Uncle Brian was walking on eggshells around me. But he cooked a great Sunday dinner the next day, a half-leg of lamb with all the trimmings. The unwanted contact with the Malone family had really shaken him up, and he hated having to work the two to ten shift because nobody on that shift line spoke to him. He was starting to see what the life of a known sex abuser was like, out in the real world.

Maria turned up just after six on that Monday. “So Sandy gave you forty, right? You can keep fifteen, and give me the rest. As for Kerry, when she pays up I will be keeping it all. I don’t like having to wait for me money. Someone else is coming round after seven. Look after her, she’s a lawyer, and a good friend to my family. She will give you a hundred, and I will be back for my share tomorrow. Have yerself a nice bath first, and make sure yer bed has clean sheets”.

I nodded, and handed over the twenty-five pounds.

When the lawyer turned up, I was at a loss as to why she felt the need to pay for sex. She was forty-something, smartly dressed, surprisingly curvy, and very good looking. She was also wearing a wedding ring, and an expensive-looking diamond engagement ring. To tell the truth, I really fancied her. She was businesslike, producing five twenties as soon as she walked through the door, and not telling me her name.

As soon as we got into the bedroom, I discovered why she had to pay for the sex she wanted. She had a serious kink.

“Okay, you call me mummy while I’m here. Just go along with whatever I say or do, and we will both have a nice time”.

She was well-spoken, and wearing expensive underwear. Obviously used to taking charge of the situation, she chatted to me as if I was her son, and then did things mums and sons rarely do. At least in my experience. Even though I did have a nice time, as she said I would, the strange scenario she stage-managed was very off-putting. When she left, I was hoping she never came back.

The next day after school, Maria showed up as she had said she would. “Well, you did very well with the lawyer. I got a bonus for that, so you can keep sixty”.

Having Maria alone for a while as I went to get the forty pounds, I started to implement my plan. Hard as it was to carry off, I told her I missed her, and while it was all very nice that she was sending her friends and contacts around to have sex with me, it was her I really wanted. The flattery worked, and she said I could go to her house once Toni was not in the country.

“She’s off to see family in Ireland in December. You can come round one day then, so you can”. She was stroking my face and smiling at me as she stuffed the money into the pocket of her jeans with the other hand.

Vanity was going to be her downfall, and I didn’t have too long to wait until the Christmas holidays.

Danny: Part Twenty

This is the twentieth part of a fiction serial, in 795 words.

The Friday after I had entertained the fat woman earlier in the week, I got home from school to find someone parked outside in a beaten-up old car. The exhaust was tied on with string, and the driver’s door was a different colour to the others. As I walked up the short path to the front door, someone called out. “You Danny, love?” I turned to see a woman opening the odd-coloured door, and calling to me through the gap. I nodded.

She got out and slammed the door, walking toward me without bothering to lock it. Not that anyone in their right mind would steal the thing.

Unlike her overweight predecessor, she was of average size. She was also older. Much, much older. If prompted to guess, I would have said she was at least sixty-five, and that would have been a kindly estimate. Getting closer, she smiled, and her face collapsed into dozens of wrinkles that ran around under her ears.

“Maria said I should come about this time. Is it convenient, love?” I opened the door without answering, and she followed me in. Her first action was to open the large fake leather handbag and produce four ten pound notes. “Shall we get that out of the way first? Maria said that was enough”. I put the money into my trouser pocket, and took off my school blazer and tie before asking if she would like a drink.

Although I had meant tea or coffee, she misread my offer. “I could do with a brandy, I’m really nervous, to be honest. Never done anyfing like this before”. Her accent was coarse London, but I didn’t imagine for a moment she had driven all that way. I found a bottle of Three Barrels at the back of Brian’s drinks cabinet, and poured her a large measure. As I handed it to her, she was looking around the room as if to make sure we were alone.

“Thanks, love. Okay if I smoke? I’ve got the jitters you see”. I nodded, and went to fetch an ashtray. At least she was polite, and she was well-dressed too. She was also keen to talk. “Fing is, me old man’s been inside for longer than we was together. I moved up here to live with me old auntie years ago, then she died last year, so I stayed on. Me old man knows Maria’s bloke in the nick, so we sort-of become friends like”.

Her London accent and grammar became thicker as the brandy and cigarette calmed her down.

“I’m Sandra, but everyone has always called me Sandy. Well, they do don’t they? ‘Cept my Derek of course, always calls me Sarn. I wouldn’t never do anyfink like this normally, but Maria says you can be trusted. Gawd knows what my old man would do if he ever found out”. She swallowed the rest of the brandy, and I picked her glass up and refilled it.

“I’m relying on you to tell me the drill. Do we go upstairs and get stripped off, or what? Maybe we do it here on the sofa? I’m sorry, but I’m nervous, love”. She did seem to be nervous, and very awkward about the situation. Not that I had any sympathy for her, as she was prepared to pay an underage boy for sex, and not enough money for what was on offer either.

The second large brandy relaxed her. “You are cute though, Maria was right about that. Cor, I don’t half fancy you, love”. I thought it best to get it all over with sooner rather than later, so reached down to take her hand, and led her upstairs to the bedroom.

She was actually very affectionate, and very grateful. When it was all over and she was geting dressed, she turned and smiled at me. “You oughta charge more, love. That certainly cleared me sinuses, if you get what I mean”.

I got what she meant.

When I showed her out, she actually leaned forward and kissed me goodbye. Just like we were on a real date.

As I waited for a pizza to cook later, I knew full well that those two women would not be the last. The fat one had mentioned seeing me again soon, so as well as anyone else Maria had lined up, there was going to be repeat business, undoubtedly.

My plan for Maria was already at an advanced stage, but I needed Toni to be out of the way when I implemented it. That meant waiting until the Christmas holidays, when I was certain Maria would send Toni to Ireland again, to get her out of the way. If her brother Liam was around, that didn’t matter.

He could go too.

Danny: Part Nineteen

This is the nineteenth part of a fiction serial, in 822 words.

Less than a week after Toni got back from Ireland, Maria was standing outside my house when I got home from school. I presumed she wanted more of what she had enjoyed in her bedroom, but I was wrong.

“I’m coming in to wait to see your uncle when he gets home from work”. I opened the door, and she sat on the sofa. “Got anything decent to drink, Danny?”

Uncle Brian’s drinks cupboard was reasonably well-stocked, and she pointed at a bottle of Haig Whiskey. “It’s no Busmills so it isn’t, but I’ll have a large one of those”. I poured it until it filled half a large tumbler, and she lit a cigarette after sipping it. I had to go and find her an ashtray, one of the ones my gran used to use.

“Will he be long, darlin’?” I told her he might not be home for well over an hour, but that didn’t put her off. “Ah, then put the telly on, so. I’ll watch any crap, so I will”.

Looking back now, I was actually disapointed that she didn’t suggest whiling away that hour by going upstairs. By the time my uncle’s key turned in the door, the bottle of Haig was half-empty, and Maria’s speech was starting to slur. He turned white when he saw her sitting there. She ignored him at first, lighting another cigarette, and turning to me.

“Why don’t you go up to your room and make yourself scarce, darlin’.”

Less than thirty minutes later, I heard the front door close with a bang, and went back down into the living room. Brian was drinking the whisky this time, gulping it down from a porcelain tea mug. He looked up at me, and carried on gulping. Then he wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.

“Christ on a bike, Daniel. That woman’s a bloody psycho! Do you know what she’s done? She got me changed onto late shift at work. Twenty years I have managed to stay on eight ’til fours, and now I have been moved onto the two to ten line. She knows people at my work, the bitch. And I don’t know what you have been saying to her, but she says that if I ever touch you again, I will end up in a cement overcoat at the bottom of the Irish Sea”.

Managing not to laugh, I promised him I had said nothing. In fact that was true. It was just that most people in the town had always had their suspicions about my uncle. And they had all been right of course.

He was too upset to do any cooking, so he phoned up for a Chinese later.

Maria had given me my freedom, although I would have to learn to cook my own meals during weekdays, or live on snacks. Brian was far too scared of her to go against anything she said, even behind the closed doors of our own house. Besides, I might tell on him now, and he could visualise the murky depths of that turbulent sea.

Of course, Maria’s good deed came with a high price, as I soon found out.

With my uncle out of the house until almost eleven every night, my evenings were free. Maria had told Toni she could see me at weekends, but the rest of the time she had to do her studies, and help around the house. She had also not mentioned to me what was about to happen.

The next afternoon as I walked up to the house, I was surprised to see a woman standing there. She wasn’t that old, and she had a toddler in a buggy in front of her. She was also very fat. There was a beer-belly hanging over the waistband of her leggings, and pulling the stained tee shirt above out to maximum stretch. The insides of the thighs of the leggings were threadbare, because her huge legs rubbed together as she walked. She turned and smiled at me, revealing a lurid tattoo on the side of her neck.

“You Danny, yeah? Maria said I could come today. Can we go inside and get on with it? I have to be home to cook my son’s tea when he gets in from college”. I was just about to ask her what she was talking about, when the penny dropped. Once inside, she wheeled the buggy in front of the television, and switched it on. Then she turned back to me, casually pulling off her leggings before removing the tee shirt to reveal more tattoos, and no bra.

“We will have to do it down here, I can’t leave my little girl on her own. Oh, and Maria said thirty quid, but you tell her I have to wait for my benefits, so I will drop it around hers next week”.

Maria was selling me far too cheaply.

Danny: Part Eighteen

This is the eighteenth part of a fiction serial, in 712 words.

It would be easy enought to sit here now and write that Maria abused me, and I hated every minute of the four hours I was in her bedroom. But that would be a lie.

They say you never forget your first time. Or in my case my first five times.

Naturally, the first go was over in seconds. Maria was very understanding. “No bother, Danny love. You’ll be ready to go again in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Leave it to me.”

Never was a truer word spoken.

As well as what Maria described as ‘straight sex’, there were other delights in her repertoire that are probably best not to go into detail about. Like the old saying goes, I walked into her bedroom a boy, and left it as a man. During the ‘downtime’, Maria went and got us more drinks, smoked an amazing amount of cigarettes, and constantly threatened me not to never tell anyone.

Especially her daughter, Toni.

I knew nothing then about female sexual appetites, but with the benefit of later experience, I can confidently say that hers were ravenous. At no time she did she comment on my age, but she did allow herself to give me a lot of compliments on my looks and general behaviour. At one stage, she came out with a very strange justification of her actions.

“The thing is, boys like you are going to need sex eventually. And with my Antonia being completely mad for you, chances are she would give in and let you do the deed. I can’t have that, Danny. She’s too young, and the chance of getting her with child is too risky. So the best thing for both of us is to give you what you need, and to get some benefit for myself while doing so”.

Like that would ever stand up in court.

When it came time to leave, she surprised me again by coming over all tender and romantic.

“I think you’re a special boy, and I want you to come round while Antonia is over in Dublin. At least during weekdays, so you can do your school work and be with your uncle at weekends. Besides, my Liam is around most weekends, so nothing could ever happen then, so it couldn’t. I want you to be happy with the arrangement, but remember it is not negotiable. I need what I need, and I have chosen you to provide it. Okay then?”

My agreement was immediate, and my nodding in that agreement was frantic.

Though I did wonder what would happen once Toni came home. So I decided to ask her.

“Well I am going to have to come round to your place. I will have a word with your uncle. Everyone around here knows he’s a nonce, and I very much doubt he will raise any objections to me spending time in your room. If he does, he’s a fool. And I don’t think he’s a fool, Danny. He will make himself scarce, believe me”.

She called me Danny from the start. Maximum brownie points.

Maria came with a huge bonus that went further than the unexpected sex. Uncle Brian was terrified of her and her husband, so once I told him he had to clear off out of the house so I could have sex with Toni’s mum, he would have to leave me alone. Or have the Malones to deal with. In many ways, Maria choosing me freed me from his clutches, and provided something I could use to keep him away from for good.

He knew only too well that if I told all to Maria, his time in this life would be short-lived. I had a lot to thank her for, undeniably. As well as providing me with a teenage boy’s dream experience, she could free me from the clutches of a predatory paedophile.

Even though she replaced those clutches with her own, at least she was female.

By the time Toni came back from Ireland, and we had our reunion, I had more sexual experience than most men three times my age.

At that stage, I had little idea that Maria would soon be farming me out to her friends.

Maria would have to go.

Danny: Part Seventeen

This is the seventeenth part of a fiction serial, in 752 words.

Toni told me that she was going to Ireland to visit her auntie and her young cousins for the last ten days of the summer break from school. I presumed her mum was going too, but she was travelling alone. Flying to Dublin airport, where her aunt and uncle would collect her. “It’s not like mum, she always loves to go and see her younger sister. She said I should go though, as the kids won’t see me again until next year”.

The day after she left, I was sitting at home reading a school book. I had left the summer homework until the last minute as always, and when someone knocked on the door, I presumed it would either be the postman, or someone selling something. But it was a surprise to see Maria Malone standing there, smiling.

“Are you any good with a lawnmower? It’s electric, and my boy Liam usually does it. But he has started his apprenticeship now, and the grass is getting long where he doesn’t bother. I don’t want to keep nagging him, so I thought with Toni away you could walk round and help me out?” She carried on smiling as I agreed to come to her house in an hour’s time. When she left, I felt embarrassed that I had forgotten to be polite and ask her in.

Call me naive, but I honestly thought it was a good thing back then. To get in her mum’s good books, help out when I could, and secure my relationship with Toni.

Despite what she had said, the grass wasn’t that long. And the lawn wasn’t that big either, as a concrete patio took up more than half of the medium-sized scruffy garden. The mower was easy to use, and I didn’t have to clear up the cuttings, as it was a hover type that just chopped them up really small. Maria sat on a folding chair watching me, smoking constantly, and drinking what looked like a gin and tonic. When I had finished, she brought me out a can of coke. “It’s warm day, and you did well, young Danny. I’ll make you something to eat now”.

It was tempting to decline her offer of food, and make the excuse of my school work. But I was still wary of upsetting Maria, and in turn affecting Toni in some way.

For some reason, I was shocked to see her turn up in the garden with a delicious bacon and brie panini for me, perfectly cooked. Befitting her painfully thin appearance, she didn’t eat anything, settling on another G&T, accompanied by at least four more cigarettes. I realised I was being snobbish, expecting her to offer some thin tasteless ham, on the cheapest sliced bread. Maria had more class than I had given her credit for.

When I had finished eating, she sat back in her chair and launched into a speech that sounded well-rehearsed. To say it raised my eyebrows is an understatement.

“So, it’s like this. Me and you are going to go upstairs to my bedroom now. My man has been inside for seven years, and I am gagging for sex. I can’t trust anyone I know to provide that for me without my man finding out. So I have chosen you, because my Antonia thinks you’re the bees knees, and I don’t think you would ever tell anyone what happens here. At least if you know what’s good for you. Because after my man had got someone to deal with me, you would be next, so you would”.

The first thing I thought of was that I was now beginning to understand her accent a lot better than the first time I met her.

The second thing I thought of was that my experience with Uncle Brian would not exactly stand me in good stead with women.

The third thing I thought of was that I had little or no chance of satisfying her needs.

The fourth thing I thought of was that she was very skinny, and not remotely attractive.

I told her I had no experience, hoping that would suffice. After all, she knew I was the same age as her daughter, and unlikely to be worldly. Her response was to light another cigarette, and stare at me until I felt very uncomfortable. I sat like that until she had smoked her cigarette, and then she stood up and held out a bony hand.

“Come on now. It wasn’t a request”.

Danny: Part Sixteen

This is the sixteenth part of a fiction serial, in 748 words.

As I suspected, the drop didn’t kill Sophie outright. But I wasn’t prepared for how long it took for her to be strangled by the nylon line. There was a lot of swinging around too, and the bark on the branch was rubbed away where I had fastened the line at the top.

Watching her clawing at the noose, her knees drawn up as if that would somehow help her, I had to remember to use my vantage point to look around and make sure nobody was nearby. Fortunately, it was a little early for afternoon strollers. They were probably still finishing their traditionally heavy Sunday lunches before deciding to walk off the stupor in the fresh air.

When she finally stopped moving, arms limp at her sides, I carefully climbed down, making sure not to scuff my shoes or catch my clothing. I knew enough about fibres and forensics to realise clues are microscopic.

The long way home was the best option, as I was less likely to encounter anyone making for the famous tree on the main path. It wouldn’t be long before someone found the girl hanging, and it would be better if they didn’t remember a blonde-haired boy walking past them carrying a blue duffel bag.

By the time I got home, Uncle Brian had started cooking the evening meal, ready to warm it up later. He didn’t ask me where I had been, and he knew nothing at all about Sophie. I suspected he thought I had been seeing Toni, but my absence never came up in conversation. He turned and smiled. “Chilli Con Carne tonight, blondie. One of your favourites”. He had called me blondie on and off for years, but only when my parents were not in earshot.

That was going to have to stop.

Watching the news later, they mentioned that ‘the body of a young woman’ had been found in the woods, and that an investigation was ‘ongoing’. There was the usual appeal for witnesses, and a freephone number to call. It wasn’t until her parents reported her missing when it got dark that they found out who she was.

The next day at school, everyone was talking about it. The girls in tears, mostly crocodile tears, I was sure. There was a special assembly, and the headmaster told us in solemn tones that Sophie had been found dead in the woods. I looked suitably sad, and Toni genuinely cried for her one-time friend. At break time, it was Toni who told me the rumour that was spreading like wildfire.

“She hung herself, you know. Went into the woods, climbed that big old tree, and hung herself from a washing line that she took from home. They reckon it’s because she had arguments with her parents about how she dressed, and that she spent too much money. She used to complain to me about her dad all the time”.

One good thing about those green nylon washing lines, everyone had one at one time. They mostly came from the same shop too. One day, Sophie’s dad would find their old washing line still in the shed, or wherever. Then he might wonder where Sophie got her washing line from.

Two days later, it was all but forgotten, and there was no mention of any suspicious circumstances. Everyone, especially her parents, just accepted that Sophie had hung herself in a fit of temper after a couple of years of arguments at home. I was amazed that anyone would believe that of such an egotistical girl who would never dream of killing herself.

Then again, maybe I was the only one who knew what she was really like.

Things got a lot better after that. There was no Sophie to call the shots, so Toni got back in with the girls who had been blanking her. We started to be known as an item, with everyone accepting that Toni was my girlfriend. That made her happy. “Oh, Danny. They are genuinely jealous, because you are so good-looking”. It had never occured to me before that girls might find me attractive.

Uncle Brian did of course, but that was something very different.

When we both turned thirteen, Maria Malone was inviting me in, introducing me to Toni’s older brother, and telling anyone who would listen that I was a ‘really nice boy”.

Then late that summer, during the school holidays, something changed.

Maria took an interest in me. A very personal interest.