Jamie in the Badroom
|Recap Jamie Radcliffe went AWOL from his abusive captors, Pedro and Delilah. He took a teddy bear named Oscar with him, which he believes capable of telepathic communication. They came across a deserted house and Jamie was in the process of placing an envelope into its letterbox when his captors' van came down the road in hot pursuit. Jamie hid in the bushes down the adjacent bank but was spotted by Pedro and taken back to the house. Unfortunately during his struggle, Oscar was left behind It is now early next morning.
Back with the Captors
Sunshine glistened through the grimy window of the Badroom and dazzled Jamie’s raw eyes as he stared into the mirror on top of the dusty duchess. A solemn twelve year old boy in crumpled Spiderman pyjamas returned his gaze. Tears had carved crevices down his ashen cheeks and there were scratch marks on his forehead and neck; sustained from the previous night’s misadventures in the undergrowth.
“I’m not giving up, if that’s what they think,” he muttered to himself. “There’s just got to be a way out of this Hellhole.”
Jamie’s return had not quite been as traumatic as he had feared, but unpleasant nonetheless. Pedro had said very little; allowing Delilah to do most of the chastising. Afterwards she had marched him to the end of the hallway, through a door, and down a dilapidated flight of stairs to the basement. She then unfastened another door and ushered him into a squalid room with sparse furnishings; where he had been incarcerated ever since.
His captors referred to the room as “The Badroom” and utilized its solitude and lack of entertainment to punish Jamie’s more egregious transgressions. The wallpaper was as sickly yellow colour and azure carpet felt lifeless to walk on. There was a set of shelves housing a handful of comics and paperback novels. Below it was a 1960s school desk with a hole for an ink bottle. The accompanying chair also looked from the same era. There was single bed that sat on the eastern side of the room; absent of electric blankets or themed bedspreads and pillow cases, like the one back at his step-parents' house.
Adjacent this room was a small bathroom which had a sink and toilet, but no bath or shower. Access to this facility had been limited to a side door within the Badroom. The main door remained secured throughout his confinements and had a double cylinder deadbolt that required a key either side to unlock. Both rooms had windows, also requiring keys to open and were fitted with metal bars like that of a jail cell.
Jamie wiped his eyes with the back of his hand then walked to the opposite side of the room and slumped onto the chair behind the desk, where his unfinished breakfast still sat on a wooden tray. The Weetbix had absorbed most of the milk, leaving a pile of unappetizing sludge in the bowl while the half-drunk glass of orange juice tasted warm.
The sweet twitter-tweets of birds and shrilling cicadas sounded from outside, tormenting his need for fresh air. Shutting his eyes tight, he imagined himself roughhousing with his stepsiblings in Carterton Park, whilst his stepparents and pet dog Koromaru watched them from beneath the shade of large gnarly Marcocarpa trees. He could hear the monotonous squeaks of unoiled swings and shrills of other children at play.
His thoughts were once again rudely interrupted; this time by the sound of footsteps descending the staircase. Fearing yet another reprimand, he began gulping down the remaining breakfast, but was still not even close to being finished when the door unlocked. Pedro entered and shut the door behind him.
“Good morning sir,” greeted Jamie in a sheepish tone.
“Ungrateful little brat,” retorted Pedro, folding his arms close to his chest. “After all we’ve done for you.”
“I’m sorry sir,”
Pedro dismissive grunt spoke volumes for his lack of compassion. A loathsome bully, that seemed obsessed with finding faults in Jamie’s behaviour or attitude. He wore thick rimmed glasses, plaid shirts and corduroy pants and assorted baseball caps to hide his receding black hair. Tobacco stains marred his moustache and there was a slight scar just below his left earlobe that he seemed unwilling to discuss.
“What on earth possessed you to try such a stupid stunt like that?” he continued. “You’ve got no one where to run, and no one to run to.”
“I don’t know,” replied Jamie, shrugging his shoulders.
“You betrayed our trust last night, but your betrayal was not entirely your fault. I should have been more vigilant, as should have Major, and that was the only thing that saved your ass from my belt .”
“It won’t happen again.”
"It better not. Last night’s escape has lessened our faith in you, and Delilah and I feel it would prudent to confiscate your clothing, so you won’t run off again.”
“You’re losing the lot, Boy; except for your pyjamas, socks, underwear and slippers. You’ll get them back, once you’ve proven yourself worthy of regaining our trust,”
“I’ll try my best.”
“Good boy. I think you’ve probably been here long enough. You can come back up when you’re ready.”
“Oh, and Jamie”
“If you ever run off like that again, you’ll be confined here permanently; in your birthday suit.”
“I’ll remember that, sir.”
“Another Speights!” ordered Pedro, snapping his fingers like an impatient patron bullying a subservient waiter. “And for God’s sakes be careful. We don’t want a repeat of your stuff-up; do we boy.”
“No sir,” replied Jamie, hastening from the living room.
“Finished already, is he?” grumbled Delilah when he entered the kitchen. She was standing with her back to him, slicing up vegetables on the marble countertop. “He’ll be out of booze all together soon if he doesn’t slow down. If he thinks I'm going out and buying him more, then he's got another thing coming.”
Jamie opened his mouth with the attention of agreeing with her, but feared Pedro might hear him and thought better of it. He retrieved the can from the fridge and returned to the living room as quickly as he dared. His previous attempt to acquiesce Pedro’s impatience had ended with him tripping over and dropping the can. This caused it to fizz up and spray foam everywhere when opened, leading in turn to sharp clip across the ears.
“There you go sir,” said Jamie pulling the tab off and handing the beer to Pedro.
“Good boy,” replied Pedro taking the can and placing it down on the coffee table. “Can you believe this one-eyed ref?”
“I suppose not,”
“Off side my ass. Where was the ref when the Chiefs were doing the same thing, aye?”
“It’s not fair.”
Errand-boy duties was one of the few chores he looked forward to. It occasioned rare sentiments of praise from Pedro, who was usually drunk throughout most of the televised rugby matches. Sometimes he allowed Jamie to sit by him and watch the proceedings, the closest the two ever came to spending anything remotely resembling quality time together.
“Hey…look at that, yeah come on…nah don’t kick it, pass it ya dingbat! Come on move ya ass…yeah…oh for Christ sakes, what the hell’s that fecking ref’s problem?”
“Sir, do you need anything else right now?”
“Oh bullshit! He hardly touched him.”
“Can I get you anything else?”
“Nah…but stay handy and keep your trap shut.”
Jamie nodded then slumped down on the armchair to the left of the sofa, from whence Pedro was intermittently raging at the television. It had been a long trying day so far and he felt exhausted. His attempts to dust the living room proved futile. First Delilah complained because he worked slow, then yelled at him for not doing a thorough enough job, so he took extra care to do it properly only to get scolded again for taking too long. He slurped his soup, used the wrong sponge to wash the dishes, did not put enough sugar in Pedro's coffee, put too much milk in Delilah's tea, spilt orange juice on his own pyjama top, changed to the wrong sports channel, and referred to Pedro by his first name instead of "Sir" by mistake
His eyes slowly shut and his subconscious transported him back to the Radcliffe household. He found himself in his bedroom, with his stepbrother Harvey. Assorted toys were scattered around the floor, bookshelves crammed with disorganised piles of comics, some of the pins from the posters that littered the walls were missing and in the far western corner of the room sat his toy box, doubling as a hamper for discarded clothes..
“I’m not sure this is such a good idea after all” said Jamie, watching his stepbrother seal the envelope. “What if she throws it back in my face like Eminem’s Mum did on “Cleanin’ out my closet”?”
“She won’t,” assured Harvey. “Just keep to the script and you’ll be fine,”
“She’ll think I’m only doing it because of Jody’s pool party, but I don’t even want to go.”
“Mum will insist I wear those Batman swimming trunks.”
“What's wrong with Batman?”
“Kurt’s like really into DC and I keep telling him Marvel Tales rules. If he sees me wearing DC clothes he’ll think I think DC is cool, which it isn’t.”
“You could take them with you, but also hide your Spiderman’s in your backpack to wear instead. Mum will never know.”
“Will too, someone‘ll take photos of the party and post it on Social media. Mum will see me not wearing them and get all upset cuz Grandma gave ‘em to me for Christmas.”
Harvey and Jamie were approximately the same age, build and hair colouring, but functioned with varying degrees of maturity, which often led to squabbling and hurt feelings. Those unfamiliar with their histories tended to assume they were biological brothers. Some even went as far as mistaking them for non-identical twins.
“Look, even if she thinks you’re pretending to be sorry, the worse that could happen is she continues forbidding you to go to the party. You’ve got to at least try to apologise, otherwise she’ll just stay mad at you.”
“Has Mum ever not forgiven you?"
“Whatever she didn’t forgive for she moved on from. I’ve had a lifetime of getting into trouble with Mum; but she still gives me hugs and kisses, and calls me sweetheart.”
Confrontation had never been one of Jamie's strengths and unlike his feisty big stepsister Melisa; he tended to take on a submissive stance whilst being chided. It was a passive tactic that, by allowing whoever was mad at him, to let off steam without being interrupted; which in turn seemed to shorten the ordeal.
“Mum said I deserve to be thrown to the hungry wolverines.”
“She’s probably right…come on Jams, you’d best get it over with before she starts putting on dinner.”
Jamie slipped off the edge of the bed looked at himself in the mirror on top of the duchess. He tucked his black Pikachu Pokémon top into his faded blue jeans and then vaguely brushed his hair with his fingers before turning and collecting the plastic bag from Harvey.
Catarina was sitting at the western end of the table, reading a magazine when he entered the dining room. Her long auburn hair had just been styled and dyed at the local salon but he thought he could still see a couple of grey hairs. She was dressed casual in a grey Adidas top, black track pants and the pink fluffy slippers.
“Mum?” he said meekly but she did not answer. The radio was uncharacteristically muted and an unsettling silence loomed. “Mum…can I talk to you? Please.”
“What is it?” she said at last without looking at him.
“I’m really sorry about the camera. I can’t afford to buy you another one…so I...um, sort of like got you a peace offering.”
Jamie’s heart chilled as Catarina’s shifted her attention from the magazine and scowled directly at him. His legs trembled as he handed her the bag. The room swam before him and he felt a lone tear dribbled down his left cheek, which he licked away. He wiped his misty eyes with the back of his hand and struggled to pull himself together.
“That is very sweet of you,” said Catarina; reading the apologetic poem he had written inside the homemade card. She placed it on the table, before removing the wrapping paper from the small box of Guylian Seashell chocolates Harvey had helped him finance.
“Am I forgiven?”
Jamie woke abruptly as something gripped his upper arm, wrenching from his dream and back into the reality. His blurry eyes focused on Delilah’s exasperated expression. She was yelling something at him, but he too groggy to understand. He could hear the sound of Major, barking outside and the rapid changing of channels on television.
Delilah’s grip tightened and she hauled him to his. Assuming he had once again somehow transgressed he arched forward and braced for impact, but she hastened him forward instead.
Pedro was stumbling about with the TV remote in his hand. His eyes were glued to the television which now displayed an exterior shot of his backyard. Jamie could make out two figures moving about near the Van, out of the corner of his eye.
He was once again rushed along the same journey as the previous night and then ushered back into the Badroom. The door slammed shut and he heard Delilah’s footsteps recede and then clamour up the stairs. His heart pounded and confused mind struggled to comprehend what had just happened.
-TO BE CONTINUED-