Little Big Boy coming soon from Max Power Just a teaser…
…. It was Eamonn’s rebellion that allowed me to see just how far my father could go and I began to fear him even more. Dad came home from an early shift one afternoon to discover Eamonn drinking milk from the bottle. That was a cardinal sin in his book and he immediately began a tirade, lashing into Eamonn, berating my brother for every minor thing he ever did. He had been drinking and Eamonn chose not to rise to the verbal attack, instead remaining silent, no matter what Dad threw at him.
Unfortunately, it was clear that Dad must have had a bad day at work and he was determined to take it out on Eamonn. Eventually he settled on the one subject that came up time and time again, Eamonn’s hair. Dad always insisted that the boys got our hair cut in the same barber shop that he did. Eamonn and I hated going there. He used to joke that they only knew how to do three styles, short, back…and sides. He had let his hair grow out and while my father constantly complained and told him to go and get it cut, somehow Eamonn had dodged the bullet for a couple of months and his hair was by Dad’s standards, verging on being Hippy hair. Dad hated hippies.
Eamonn was a big fan of Marc Boland and Brian Connolly from the band Sweet and wanted his hair to grow past his shoulders. It was inevitable that there was going to be a clash. “Here!” Dad eventually shouted at Eamonn, throwing change on the table.
“Go now and get that…Mop… cut off.”
“I’m not getting it cut Da.”
The defiance was unbelievable. It was one thing to argue with Dad, but to outright defy a direct order was another thing and I flinched, watching as my father lunged forward and raised his fist, making as if to strike Eamonn. For his part, Eamonn backed away a little and half ducked, but Dad pulled out of the blow at the last second. When Eamonn looked at him, Dad feigned another strike and Eamonn raised his arm to protect himself. But Dad was just imposing his will. He knew that Eamonn was afraid and he would do as he was told. We both knew that Dad didn’t bluff and that if he didn’t accede to the demand to have his hair cut, then Dad really would land the next blow.
Eamonn was furious. He had no choice and his dreams of long hair were destroyed. Nothing else was said. He scooped up the change from the table and stormed out of the front door, slamming it shut behind him. Normally that would have had Dad rushing out after him to berate him for slamming the door, but he was content in his victory. He looked at me with a snarl on his lips.
“What are you looking at?”
I didn’t answer, I just shimmied past him and ran upstairs to read a book and keep out of his way until Mam came home from the shops. I wished she would hurry up. Sometimes she would be gone for hours. A simple shopping trip for Mam could be interrupted a half dozen times or more, as she encountered other women on her trip to the shops. She bought everything fresh. We had no refrigerators back then. Milk was delivered to the door; bread was purchased in the baker’s, meat from the butcher’s and so on. On her rounds of the shops, all it took was a casual meeting with another mother from our street, or one of my aunties, or a casual acquaintance to extend her simple shopping run.
I hated being with her if she met a neighbour. It was so boring to stand there quietly while they talked endlessly about things that didn’t matter to me.
“How are you Maggie?” Mam might say to a familiar passer-by and they would stop dead in their tracks to chat.
“Grand.” Would be the reply but that was just the beginning.
“Did you hear about so and so or such and such?”
That was the typical start to a gossiping spree that kept the boredom at bay under the guise of concern for friends and neighbours. Mam was kind hearted and would always stand up for anyone being maligned in a gossip. But it was a circle of talk that saved many of the women from loneliness and depression, in a society that kept married women at home, powerless without their husband’s consent, penniless without their generosity. I didn’t understand those things, but my mother was as prone to such feelings as anyone would be in the circumstances and it was a vital part of her daily routine. It was some such chit chat that kept Mam away too long that day, long enough for her not to witness Eamonn return home from the Barber’s, with a defiant look in his eyes and a subtle smirk on his lips.
I heard the shouting from my room. Dad exploded and fearful as I was, it was impossible for me to ignore the sound and I skip-jumped my way down the stairs in record time, to see Eamonn standing tall to face the full force of my father’s rage. My jaw dropped. Eamonn had done as he was asked; there could be no denying that he had complied with Dad’s instruction to get his hair cut. What I hadn’t expected, what my father clearly hadn’t anticipated and Eamonn had deliberately done to drive Dad across the edge, momentarily made me smile before the explosion of rage that snapped my jaw shut and sent me scurrying underneath the sofa for cover. Eamonn had short hair, very short hair. He had offered up the best insult he could to Dad in revenge for my father forcing him to cut his hair. He had asked for and received a skinhead. The only thing worse than hippy hair to Dad was a skinhead. But as if that wasn’t enough, Eamonn had sprayed the stubble green. He looked ridiculous, but that was the whole point. If anyone saw him and recognised him as Dad’s son, my father would be humiliated and ashamed. What happened next was horrifying….
Little Big Boy by Max Power. Coming soon…
Max Power’s other books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn and Bad Blood, all available on amazon to download or in paperback. You can find more details about Max Power’s other books here : –