RoYds Part 2 - Something Snapped

July 1940

There was no escape from the almost constant stream of voices which whispered in the corners, nooks and crannies of the building. Not even outdoors -- they followed him wherever he went, travelling on the wind, the slightest breeze or the fog. Things had become so bad that even the alcohol had lost its touch. That didn’t stop Billy from wanting another drink, though. He glanced again at his watch. Nearly lunch time; the pubs would be opening soon. He didn’t know what he would do for money, but something would turn up. It always did.

Thoughts of his wife Anne crossed his mind, but not for long. It occurred to him that he probably wasn’t the only one who was feeling tired and frayed at the edges these days. Looking after four young ones was certainly taking its toll on her. Perhaps a night out would do her some good? He would try to arrange something once he got paid. Leaving the downstairs bedroom, Billy emerged into the hallway and discovered his bubbly mother-in-law, Peg, waiting for him.

“I was just on my way to see you!” She smiled and held out a single £1 note. “Here’s a pound, Billy. Why don’t you and Michael nip down to the pub for a few drinks? Anne and I will join you later.”

His prayers had been answered! The only problem now was that he would have to take Michael, his bloody awful father-in-law, with him. He reached out somewhat grudgingly and took the faded note from Peg. He didn't feel good about it. He disliked taking charity from anyone, but he took it anyway.

***

The pub was full. Everyone was a mate enjoying a pint and a cigarette. Even his father-in-law was a mate here -- there was a war on after all. Billy looked across at Anne, expecting to see sadness in her green eyes, and was surprised to see her smiling. He stiffened, though, when he caught sight of the lecherous pub landlord looking at her. His stomach tightened. He quickly finished his drink and ordered another one. Did that make eight or nine now? What did it matter? Perhaps he would sleep better for it tonight.

The taxi arrived soon afterwards and Billy's mouth began to water as the savoury aroma from the hot pies they were taking home tickled his nostrils. He was feeling a bit more positive again, and starting to believe that things would look brighter in the morning. That was, until Michael started to bully Anne about the children making too much noise in the house, and then he turned his attention in Billy’s direction.

“The Navy is the top dog, always has been and always will be! All the Army is fit for is running away!”

“Shut-up, Michael, and keep it shut!” Peg spoke the words Billy had been thinking.

***

Billy glanced at his watch and fidgeted with the smooth brass bullets in his pocket. Out of the corner of his eye he watched Michael chatting with the babysitters: Peg’s sister Catherine and Catherine’s husband Thomas Clark. Anne and Peg busied themselves arranging supper.

It wasn't long before Michael stopped being civil and settled on his first target. He fired a round of abuse directly at Anne, unnecessarily finding fault with the way she was laying the supper table. The Clarks shifted uncomfortably in their seats. Billy, hand still in his pocket, continued to roll the ammunition quicker now, the heat from his fingers warming the metal cylinders. Michael’s comments were about to make him boil over. He made eye contact with Anne and her furtive glance in his direction begged him to stay quiet. He bit his tongue.

Anne placed the last supper plate on the table and without sitting down to eat, made her excuses and left the room looking exhausted. She was headed to bed and Billy decided that it wouldn't be too long before he joined her. He took a bite of meat pie and chewed thoughtfully as he poured himself a glass of the beer they had brought home with them. Every now and then he reached into his pocket, feeling the smooth bullet casings, glad of the peace of mind of knowing that the bullets were out of his children's reach. He had seen the damage bullets could do. He had seen enough damage to last him a lifetime. God, he needed to forget! He needed to forget it all!

“I said you’re no good! You never have been! I’m the one keeping your bloody wife and kids! Me!”

Billy realised it was his turn in the firing line again.

“The only reason you joined the bloody Army was because you are too bone idle to find work! You’re a good for nothing layabout!”

Billy cringed as the voices stirred. Above the din he managed to hear Peg say something to Michael and grasped the opportunity to escape the kitchen and join Anne in the sanctuary of the room next door. He took off his jacket and threw it a bit more forcefully than necessary over the back of a chair before walking towards Anne. They stood together, facing each other, listening to the raised voices from the kitchen beyond. The baby stirred uncomfortably in her cot. Anne was the first to speak.

“Do you think you could try and get my Dad to go to bed?”

Billy considered Anne’s request for a moment and then, with a hesitant nod, he reluctantly returned to the battle front and entered the kitchen to witness an enraged Michael towering over Peg. The voices in his head all screamed as one and something snapped in Billy.

He sped from the room and grabbed his Lee Enfield rifle from its resting place behind the baby’s cot. He was aware that he was shouting but had no idea what he was saying, his voice was just a far-off whisper in a storm of rage. He only vaguely noticed Anne’s presence close by as Michael stormed down the hallway towards them. With one swift movement, Billy departed the bedroom and centred himself in the corridor, simultaneously levelling his rifle at Michael. A single shot reverberated throughout the house and a body hit the hallway floor with a dull thump.

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11 Comments:
  • At 23 September 2009 at 14:29, Blogger Miladysa said…

    I wonder who will be the first?

     
  • At 24 September 2009 at 16:53, Blogger Vesper said…

    Billy playing with the bullets in his pocket is a nice touch that brings an ominous feeling.

     
  • At 24 September 2009 at 17:08, Blogger Miladysa said…

    Vesper - Oh Goody!

    Thanks for the feedback :)

     
  • At 25 September 2009 at 03:10, Blogger Melissa said…

    This is *so* well written! you really get into Billy's head and this line is perfect:
    "The voices in his head all screamed as one and something snapped in Billy."

    I love the way he plays with the bullets and the part about how he knows what bullets can do, but thank goodness the bullets are safe from the children.

     
  • At 25 September 2009 at 09:10, Blogger Miladysa said…

    Melissa - *grin*

    Not a word would have been written without your encouragement and support! Thank you x

     
  • At 13 October 2009 at 09:35, Blogger Najela said…

    A single shot reverberated throughout the house and a body hit the hallway floor with a dull thump.

    Wow...what a cliff hanger. I can't wait to catch up on things!

     
  • At 13 October 2009 at 17:32, Blogger Miladysa said…

    Please keep letting me have your feedback Najela - much appreciated :)

    I'm posting three time a week until we catch up to where the story was before. Quite a bit has changed & a lot remains the same lol

     
  • At 3 November 2009 at 01:12, Anonymous Gabriel Gadfly said…

    Really like the ending of this chapter, but it moves a bit quickly. I think I feel that way for the number of people we're introduced to in a relatively short 18 paragraphs -- six characters that may or may not be expanded on later. I wonder at the inclusion of the Clarks here.

    I have to assume they're important in later chapters in such a way that they need to be introduced here, but it's something to look at: if you could introduce them elsewhere, I think it'd be a good move to do so.

    I -really- like Billy playing with the bullets throughout the chapter. Nice build-up.

     
  • At 3 November 2009 at 13:16, Blogger Miladysa said…

    Gabriel - hmmm... some food for thought there.

    "Nice build-up." Thank you :)

     
  • At 27 May 2010 at 23:43, Anonymous @howiehippobum said…

    Those were the days - when you could get a few pints for a quid & could smoke inside the pubs. Very well written!

     
  • At 28 May 2010 at 08:05, Anonymous Miladysa said…

    Thank you Howie! Nice to see you here :)

     

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Whituth's living can't see the dead but psychic Elizabeth Whyte can see everyone: living humans, delayed souls, fallen angels, vampires and fae. She helps maintain the fragile peace between light and darkness in her work with RoYds, an unworldly refuge. But that peace has suddenly become fragile. Whituth's carefully maintained balance is tipping toward darkness. Now Elizabeth and her angelic allies must discover who or what is threatening both town and refuge before balance is lost forever

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