ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Kent lives in Sydney Australia and is
currently writing full‑time. “Hangman On The Wall” is his second
novel. “I love to write, to put into words the images and ideas I have,”
I see writing as a continual learning
experience, and I hope to continually keep improving. Once again I thank
Poseidon Books for giving me the opportunity to have this novel published.
Hopefully the feedback I receive from people will be of benefit.”
boy was sitting up in bed reading his favourite book by Enid Blyton. His
stepfather had sent him to his room and the boy could now hear him arguing with
his mother. A glass of untouched orange cordial lay on the boy’s bedside
table. His stepfather had bought it in just after sending the boy to his room,
with strict orders to drink it before it got warm. The boy knew what this meant.
He had fallen asleep very quickly twice before when he drank the cordial, and he
had since found out that his stepfather had mixed in a sleeping pill (which his
mother used). The boy suspected that the cordial given to him tonight had the
sleeping pill in it; his stepfather had demanded loudly that he drink it.
finished his book and got out of bed. He was reaching for his half-finished
model battleship, which had been a present from his mother for his eighth
birthday, when his stepfather came in. He looked at the untouched cordial and
said angrily, “I told you to drink that cordial!! I’ll be back in two
minutes. If you haven’t drunk it by then, I’ll force it down your throat!!
Now do as I say!!” He stalked out
of the room, yelling to his mother, “I’m gonna kill your little bastard brat
one of these days!!”
boy made a sudden decision. He grabbed the glass, sipped a tiny bit of the
cordial, and then threw the remainder out the window. He hopped into bed and
laid his head on the pillow. Just as he did this, his stepfather came back in.
He glared at the boy, noted the empty glass and a dribble of cordial running
down the boy’s chin. “Lucky for you, boy,” he said as he picked up the
glass, turning out the light as he went out, closing the door behind him. The
boy lay in the darkness listening intently to the sounds coming from the lounge
room. As usual, his mother was arguing with his stepfather, not giving in to his
angry yelling. The boy knew his stepfather had been drinking heavily, and wished
his mother would not argue with him when he was in this condition; his
stepfather was capable of anything, as the bruises on the boy’s body proved.
a while, the yelling stopped. The boy heard the sounds of heavy footsteps and a
door slamming. Maybe his stepfather had gone out…that would be good. He could
hear his mother crying softly in the bathroom, next to his bedroom. After a few
minutes he heard her go to her bedroom, and the house settled into an uneasy
silence. The boy wondered where his stepfather was; he hoped he would not come
back for a while. One good thing about his stepfather was that his job as a
travelling salesman for a drug company meant he was sometimes away for days at a
time, even a week. These were wonderful times for him and his mother; they could
do things together like they used to before his stepfather came into their
boy was thinking of the great times they had when he heard the back door slam.
His stepfather went straight to his mother’s bedroom. The boy knew that the
yelling would probably start again, but he was frightened when he heard his
mother scream out loudly. The boy could hear sounds coming from the
bedroom…things thumping against the walls, and cries of pain. He decided to
get up and see what was happening. He was scared, but the curiosity of any
eight- year old boy compelled him to investigate. He quietly got out of bed and
carefully opened the door. The noises from his mother’s bedroom had stopped,
but he felt that something was wrong. He crept along the short hallway to the
bedroom door, which was opened slightly. He moved slowly forward to peek around
the edge of the hallway’s wall, taking care not to touch the door. What he saw
was something he could not understand, but he instinctively knew there was
something wrong. His mother was lying on the bed face down with her dress pulled
up over her head. The boy could just see a bit of her face; there was a piece of
cloth stuffed into her mouth. His stepfather was wearing only a blue singlet. He
was kneeling on the bed behind his mother. The boy saw that he was holding his
mother’s hips tightly with his hands, and his legs were interlocked with hers.
He was making grunting noises and moving his legs and hips in a strange way,
like a series of jerks. The boy stared at this scene for what seemed to him a
long time. Suddenly his stepfather let out a loud growl and stopped his jerky
motions. He let go of the boy’s mother and got up off the bed. The boy saw his
mother collapse onto the bed, quiet moans coming from her. She tried to pull her
dress down but his stepfather hit her and she stopped.
boy hurried back to his bedroom. He knew his mother was hurt in some way, but he
didn’t know what to do. He climbed into bed, and it was lucky that he did
because his stepfather came into his room, switching on the light and coming
over to his bed. The boy pretended to be fast asleep; he hoped his stepfather
would not touch him. After a few seconds he heard his stepfather go out,
switching off the light. The boy lay on his bed, listening for any sounds.
he heard heavy footsteps going past his bedroom; the back door was opened and
closed. He waited a few minutes and got up again. He went straight to his
mother’s bedroom, but nobody was there. The boy decided to go out the back and
see what was happening. He sneaked back along the hallway, past the bathroom,
through the lounge room and the kitchen. He saw no one. He silently opened the
back door and peered into the night. He could see and hear nothing. He went out
into the back yard. He saw his stepfather’s station wagon standing silently in
the driveway. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw a thin stream of
light coming from the tool shed situated behind the laundry. He tiptoed over to
shed’s main door but it was closed. He knew it would make too much noise if he
tried to open it, so he went around to the side of the shed where there was a
window. There was a wooden box standing under the window (which he had put there
a long time ago, so he could look inside and spy on his stepfather).
quietly climbed onto the box and slowly raised his body to get a good look. The
sight that greeted him almost caused him to fall off the box, but he gripped the
windowsill and stared, transfixed at what he saw. His mother was dangling from
the roof of the shed, a thick rope around her neck. Her face was a strange
colour and her body was limp. The boy knew that his mother had been hung…he
had seen a hanging on a TV Western show, at his friend’s place (his friend’s
family was one of the few that had a TV set. The boy and his friend were
supposed to be in bed, but they had sneaked out and saw some of the Western
before his friend’s father had caught and punished them). The boy’s
stepfather was standing near his mother’s body, smiling. The boy saw this
smile and was filled with a feeling he had never experienced before….rage.
He wanted to do something to his stepfather right then, but his
intelligence and reason took over, as he realized he could do nothing. The only
answer was to get the police. Just as he was thinking about how to do this
(there was no phone in the house) his stepfather turned to leave the shed. The
boy jumped off the box and went to go back to the house, but his stepfather came
out of the shed, closing the door and heading for the back door. The boy
crouched down at the corner of the shed, watching his stepfather intently; he
went to open the back door but changed his mind and went over to the car. This
gave the boy the chance he needed. Still crouching, he moved quickly to the far
side of the house and went around to the front door. He knew if he tried to open
the back door his stepfather could easily see him. He quietly entered the house
and went straight to his room. None to soon, because just a few seconds later
his stepfather came through the back door. The boy had enough time to jump into
bed and fake sleep. His stepfather came in, not bothering to switch on the
light. He came up to the boy’s bed, reached down and shook him furiously,
almost like a rag doll. The boy made no attempt to resist or open his eyes. His
stepfather lifted him up and threw him back on the bed, slapping him on the face
and giving him a clip on the ears. The boy did not react. His stepfather
grunted, cursed and left the room. The boy heard him making noises in his
bedroom. After a while he heard him stomp along the hallway and out the back
door. The boy wondered what he was going to do to his mother now, but in a few
moments he heard the car start up and move past his bedroom window. His
stepfather was leaving.
boy waited a few minutes, then got up. He went straight out to the shed to see
his mother. She was still there, swaying gently in the light breeze caused by
the open door. The boy reached up and cautiously felt her foot. It was ice cold;
he knew she was dead. Tears filled his eyes as he wondered what to do. He was
mesmerized by the vision of his dead mother. He stared at her body for many
minutes before deciding to get the police. He went back to his room, got dressed
and set off for the police station, which was not very far away. He thought
about waking the people next door, then realized they were away on holiday.
After thinking about waking up other neighbours, he decided to go straight to
the police station.
took the boy fifteen minutes to walk (and run) to the station. The officer on
duty was very surprised to see a dishevelled little boy run into the station,
saying “My Mummy’s dead! Please help me!” He said, “Now tiger, what’s
the matter?” but all the boy could say over and over was “My Mummy’s
officer called the duty Sergeant. He
knew the boy was not the practical joker type (which the officer obviously
thought), and he immediately directed the officer to go back with the boy to his
house. The officer was sceptical but obeyed. During the short trip in the police
car, the officer asked the boy a few questions. He became more sceptical when
the boy said his mother was hung up “like they do on TV Western shows”, and
that his stepfather did it. He also told the officer about the cordial.
arriving at the house, the boy led the officer straight to the shed. The
officer’s scepticism vanished when he saw the body. He ran back to the car to
call the station on his two-way radio, leaving the boy in the shed. When he came
back he saw the boy staring at his mother’s body. “This is no good for you,
son. Come on, let’s go inside the house”.
waited until other police, an ambulance and the big black Coroner’s car came.
The boy was well treated by everybody, especially the Sergeant, who had called
his wife. She met them at the police station, and they went to the Sergeant’s
house, where the boy had a hot bath and a big breakfast. Then the Sergeant’s
wife led the boy to a spare bedroom.
boy got into bed and was instantly fast asleep.
he awoke later in the day, the boy was taken to the police station, where the
Sergeant introduced him to Mrs. Barton, who was with the Child Welfare
Barton was very kind as she explained to the boy that he could not go home
anymore. She was going to find him a nice place to stay, where nice people would
look after him, make sure he had clothes, toys and food, and make sure he still
went to school. “You will be fine, my little man,” said Mrs. Barton
cheerily. “We will always take good care of you”.
The boy nodded and wondered where he would be going. Would he meet new friends? He was scared, but knew he must be a good boy, so that one day he might be able to find his stepfather. He would never forget the vision of his mother…. his hatred of his stepfather slowly began to grow inside him.
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