Sunday, 18 September 2011
05:56:58 PM (GMT)
Lionel dared not look around the corner into the narrow ally for fear of being seen.
But the voice rang out loud and clear.
"I'll teach you, you piece of shit!!!"
The boy cringed as something swooped through the air, smashing down hard. The dog
yelped, obviously terrified and hurt.
"You don't growl at me, do you hear?!" The sound of his father's boot
colliding with the dog's body made a dull thud. Tears filled Lionel's eyes as
he looked up at the darkening sky.
He ran inside where his mom was sprawled on the couch, watching a television program
turned up too loud. She obviously didn't want to hear what was happening outside.
"Mommy," Lionel whispered, "why does Dad have to be so mean to the dog?"
"Quit your whining. Animals need to be disciplined, to teach them manners. We can't
have the dog snapping at people."
Lionel's long-buried rage stirred beneath his facade of silent obedience. "Maybe it
wouldn't try to bite him if he didn't hurt it!" he yelled. "It's like self defense,
like when Uncle Robert punched that guy for breaking into his house!"
The woman struggled to sit up, the shirt sliding up to reveal her swollen, pregnant
belly, and she groaned. "Don't you raise your voice, young man! You get in your
room! I've got enough to worry about without you nagging at me! You know how your
father is, and we're both stressed out. Now get."
Tears burned in Lionel's eyes as he fled to his room. He slammed a toy against the
wall, shaking the tiny shack of a house. His mother's voice shouted something from
the living room, and Lionel pushed his window open and jumped out. It was past his
bed time, he knew, but he wouldn't sleep tonight anyway. He ran, his too-small
sneakers pinching his toes as his feet hit the sidewalk. He crossed the rail road
tracks, and came to the park. He took his shoes and socks off, the gravel of the
playground cold against his bare feet. He climbed up high in the tower above the
slide, and pulled his knees up to his chest. The dog's tortured yelps echoed in his
ears, and he pressed his fingers to his temples and hummed to block out the sound.
Tears streamed down his face; he could feel the impact of the wooden plank, of
the heavy boot against his ribs, as if it had been him, not the dog, who had been
hit. His whole body shook with the rage his helpless position had caused him.
Next time, he thought, I'll speak up. Next time he hits someone, the dog
or Mommy, I'll yell at him, I'll tell him to stop. Even if he turns on me. Next
time, I'll say something.