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Authors: Casey Kelleher

Rotten to the Core

BOOK: Rotten to the Core
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An eye for
an
eye only ends up making the whole world blind

             
             
             
             
             
             
~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

Kate threw her mobile down onto the sideboard.

Why wasn’t he picking up?
It

s gone two thirty, please God, answer your phone
, she thought
.

Kate
went back to picking up the shards of glass
from
the grubby kitchen floor. There was always some domestic going on down this street, no matter what time of the morning it was. The neighbours were very good at pretending to be deaf when they needed to. Getting involved would be more than their lives were worth, and they were all very much aware of that. This morning’s shenanigans had been a little more eventful than most, thanks to her brother and his infamous bad temper. Kate wrapped all the bits of broken glass up in newspaper before carefully putting it in the bin
:
w
ouldn

t want anyone to get cut.
S
he knew that there would be enough bloodshed to come. Billy would make sure of that.
When
he
lost it, he really lost it, and tonight she feared would only be the beginning of her troubles. He had gone mental, worse than she had ever seen him. She had never had the misfortune of being on
the receiving end of his temper
until now
,
and she had watched horrified as he had smashed and thrown everything and anything he could get his hands on. She had even thought at one point that he was really going to hurt her. She had seen Billy kick off loads of times, but this
was the first
time that she had been the direct cause.
             
Billy O’Connell was a big bloke, six foot two and built like a brick shit-house as some would say.  Intimidating was an understatement, he was one of the most feared men this side of London. Feared but also respected. He was only a year older than her but it may as well have been ten years the way he carried on, always thinking that he knew best and that it was his right to know all her business. Kate should have guessed that he was going to react like this, it was stupid of her to think otherwise, but surely he would see it through her eyes, surely one day he would accept how happy she was.
             
He had seemed in such a good mood when he had got home, and Kate had forced he
rself to tell him. S
he had been making herself physically sick all day by bottling it all up inside.
 
It would only be a matter of time before somebody told him, knowing what this lot round here were like.
It is
better coming from
me,
she had thought. They had been sitting together at their little kitchen table and she had fetched him a whisky, thinking it
would
soften the blow a little. Boy, how wrong she had been!

Now she was once again alone in the house
,
Kate slumped down on one of the only chairs that had escaped being broken into pieces
.
S
he placed her head in her hands, and she prayed that
Billy
wouldn’t be returning anytime soon.
             
She just couldn’t understand how he could have been so angry, so disgusted with her. She grimaced as she went over the night

s events in her head. There would have never been a good time to tell him
,
though
,
she thought, and it hadn’t helped that he’d been out drinking with his pathetic cronies all evening. She hadn’t seen him looking so chirpy in ages and it had seemed like the perfect time.
He had been telling her all the funny things that he and his mates had been up to that evening in The Dog
,
the local pub that h
e
and his friends ‘invaded’ most weekends. They had spent most of the evening winding up the pretty new barmaid on her first shift. Really laughing
,
he was
,
as he told Kate of the night’s events. She reasoned with herself that he would eventually come round to it all, and that now was a good a time as any. Slowly plucking up a little more courage,
she thought: i
t

s now or never
.
             
“Billy
,
” she said quietly, feeling her nerve go as soon as her mouth opened but realising there was no going back now
.
“There’s something you should know
.

             
She watched him take another swig of his drink
;
whisky was his favourite, it always took the edge off. He was drinking more and more lately
,
not that anyone would have the balls to mention it to him
:
or
not to his face anyway. As she sat across from him
,
she was aware
,
as always, of how much she reminded him of their mother,
Kate
had the same blonde hair and piercing blue eyes as she had, God bless her soul.
 
Poor old mum, she thought, what a struggle her whole life had been, their old man had upped and left when they were just babies, leaving their mum to struggle with not a penny to her name. Same story with most families nowadays
,
but back then it was a bit of a stigma, the nosey old neighbours, with nothing better to do but gossip and look down their
noses at her
.
Their husbands may be useless pieces of shit
drinking
away most of the money, but at least they
had
husbands
:
what a joke. Her mum had never let any of that bother her
,
though
:

M
indless people with meaningless lives” she’d say. She was what you would call ‘old school’
,
a real tough cookie. She had more important things to worry about
,
like keeping the debt collectors from the door and putting food on the table for the only two people that mattered in her life, Billy and Katie, her pride and joy.
Kate’s
mum may have been a tough lady, but she had a heart of gold where her kids were concerned. There was nothing that she wouldn’t give them
, and
she always had time for them. Even when she was up to her tired, lined eyes with worry, she always had time to sit and listen to them. Kate felt saddened at how Billy had acted back then, bringing aggravation to their door on an almost daily basis. He had been a nightmare as a teenager, and she cringed now just thinking about some of the things he had said and done. You don’t realise the hurt and pain that you cause at that age, she guessed. All he
seemed to
think about back then was his main priorities, his mates and making a name for himself, which he certainly had now. He had definitely taken their mum for granted,
Kate
thought. Kate had always tried to be the peacemaker, always trying to smooth things over for Billy. Even though there had been times their mother had seemed genuinely upset and angry with Billy for all his getting up to no good, Kate knew deep down that their mother
had
always loved him very much. She just wished that he would realise it too, instead of always feeling guilty. There was no use feeling guilty, she
thought sadly,
M
um was at peace now. It was hard for Kate to believe that it had been almost a year
since she died
.

Knoc
king back the last of the whisk
y, Billy glanced up at his sister. When the time was right
,
Kate was going to make somebody a really great little wife
,
he thought
;
she would often have him a nice dinner on the table if and when he chose to come home, and she kept the place nice and tidy. She was a real homemaker. He never really returned the favour in that respect, but he was sure she knew that he appreciated it
,
deep down. He was paying the mortgage,
after all,
it’s the least she could do really
,
he justified. Kate had been acting a bit shifty tonight though
,
Billy thought, and looking closer he could see that she looked really knackered
.
He
could see bags under her eyes and that she was deathly white
-
looking
,
too
.
S
omethi
ng was definitely up.
             
“Billy,
listen
,
” Kate’s voice was almost a whisper as she tried to get her words out.
Something in her tone had him feeling wary now
;
the whole mood in the room had changed, and he could feel the tension in her voice

or was it fear?
             
“Go on
,
” he pressed
.
             
“Well, you see, it’s... well…
it’s just that…
I’ve met someone…
I’ve got a fella...
and he makes me really happy…
.

S
he was babbling
;
she could feel the words tumbling out without really thinking first.
             
Billy
gave
her his full attention
.
             
“He treats me like a princess
,
Billy, I’ve never been so happy; I know it sounds really daft but it’s like what happens in films, you know? I
love him…
.

             
“Who is it
?

She could see Billy was getting really impatient now
.
             
“Look

please
,
Billy, please don’t be mad….”
             

Get
to the fucking point
:
who the fuck is it?”
 
Billy bellowed
;
he slammed his glass down on the table, making Kate jump.
             
“Look
,
Billy, please don’t be angry. It’s Jay.”
             
“Jay? Jay who? Tell me that you are not talking about Jay Shaw
.

H
e was rising to his feet now.

Slowly nodding
,
Kate could see the veins throbbing in Billy’s forehead
;
his face was red with rage. He looked like a volcano on the verge of erupting.
             
“That major fucking waster, are you taking the piss or what?”
H
e was staring at her intent
ly. She’d heard the expression ‘if looks could kill’
, now she completely understood it.
             
“Please Billy listen…
.
He is really good to me, he really is a nice bloke, and you have just got to give him a chance…
.
” She was crying now, she knew there was worse to come, and that from the way he was reacting he would never see it from her point of view
.
             

A chance... g
ive
him a fucking chance? I’ll tell you what I’ll give him
,
Kate, a pair of broken fucking legs, that’s what I’
ll fucking give him! You and Jay
are over, do you hear me? I’m go
ing to
go and give that cheeky fucker the news myself!” Billy was fuming
;
if that lowlife scumbag thought he had any chance with his sister he had another thin
g
coming.
             
It had all seemed to happen in slow motion after that. Kate remembered seeing him go towards the front door and
chasing
after him,
begging him not to go, begging him to leave her poor Jay alone. He shoved her out of the way with such force that she screamed it at him, at the top of her lungs in a desperate bid to get him to see sense
:

D
on’t you dare lay a finger on him
,
B
illy,
I
mean it!!!! You don’t know everything
.
"
S
he was really sobbing now.
             
Through her sobs
,
he heard her say quietly
:
             
“I’m pregnant
,
Billy, I need him
.

             
It was all a bit blurred after that, her brother
had
just
gone
completely loopy. She had sat huddled in the corner of the room, her knees bent instinctively to protect her stomach and her head buried under her hands as Billy had smashed
up
the whole place. She
hadn’t
dare
d to
speak in case he realised that she was still actually in the room.
             
“What a major fuck up, how could you have been so stupid?”
he
bellow
ed,
as he emptied the cupboards onto the floor, smashing plates and cups. “You’re no better than any other slag on this estate now
.

H
e was kicking the cupboard doors
,
as he paced the kitchen.

You

ve really gone and fucked your life up.

             
He must have burnt himself out; because the next time Kate looked up
,
he wa
s heading out of the front door; that had been
about two o’clock this morning
:
w
hich thankfully
,
Kate thought, was the last time she had seen him.

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