I wrote 'Larry' a few years ago for a charity anthology called The Lost Children. All of the proceeds went to the National Association to Protect Children and Children 1st. The book, in both electronic and hard copy formats, is still available to buy, and all of the dough still goes to charity, so far as I know. In the time since it was first published, the rights to the piece have returned to me. I thought it couldn't hurt to publish it here once more and drum up some press for the book. Enjoy.
Six weeks into dating my Ma, Larry wanted me to call him Dad. I wanted Larry to go fuck himself.
I remember my blood tasting the same then as it does now: bitter and rich like Guinness. There was music in the way he hit me. My ears would ring well into the next day when he was sober enough to strike true. When the bottle robbed him of that, he made up for a lack of quality with quantity. Whether he was on or off the drink, my days typically ended with a head full of bees and railroad ties in the wake of a backhand from a fella three times my size.
I stopped crying ‘round about the time as I realized Ma had no intention or means of peeling the fucker off me. My silence egged him on, and that was fine. I could feel his frustration in the frantic cadence of his fists, and there was some satisfaction in it. When I was twelve, I remember wheezing myself to sleep with a grin on my lips: He’d broken a knuckle working over my ribs. I suspected that I might have broken a rib on his knuckle too, but it turned out I was just bruised deep and black.
I never thought it would stop. But it did.
And here we are.
“Are you comfortable, Larry? Can you breathe?” He’d not moved in the time since I’d brought him to the water. He was slack coming out of the trunk. He failed to twitch as I lashed his fat, pink arms and calves to the lawn chair, jamming his mouth full of tennis ball. But as the chilled Atlantic tide kissed his toes, he couldn’t manage to stifle a throaty grunt, half gasping at the cold, mostly gagging on his tongue. “It’s Mahone Bay, Larry. You drove past here scads of times over the years, yeah?”
McConnell’d put me on a flight from Montreal this morning to pick up a package and drive it back into Quebec. Five years after leaving off from home and another twenty since I stumbled into working for the Irish, nothing they shifted moved over land without me there to see it sorted.
I could see Larry's eyes searching my face for recognition, as he tried to blink away the dried blood caking his face: a reminder of the pistol whipping I’d given him outside the Sobeys on Queen St. just before I folded him into the back of my car.
I was on my way back from from the Harbour Authority after sorting the works to move in the morning. I had it in mind that I’d have myself a steak for dinner before fucking off to bed, but life offered me up a taste of something better instead. Larry’d just finished the shopping when he caught my eye, scurrying across the parking lot with a bag full of canned corn, store roasted chicken and a gait that smacked of cheap whiskey and failure. I’d heard word ten years back that Ma’d passed after a bout with the cancer. I didn’t feel much for the news then. I wasn’t feeling a thing for the man shivering in front of me now.
As I pushed him face first into the come-and-go of the tide, I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to make him bleed. I wanted to pay him back for what he’d done, but there was nothing for it. No amount of pain I could inflict would leave him with an understanding of what he’d done to me. It was fall. Dusk came early and the high waters were rolling in.
He’d drown and die, his corduroy clad ass saluting it’s last to the stars and skies above him.
It'd have to be enough.
If the tides failed to draw him out to the depths, the tourists or the Mounties would find him once the sun came up. The smell of Larry’s chicken filled the car, but did nothing for my appetite. Skipping dinner, I spent a restless night at the Lord Nelson, waiting on the new day to bring me the kilometres of blacktop I’d need to put this city and my last link to it behind me.