My Home Town
Copyright © 2014, 2016 by Gary Conder
All rights Reserved
All rights Reserved
Back then Bob Douglas' words rang in Esca's ears as he departed from the bus depot. Streets radiated in all directions. Busy, smelly, frightening yet at the same time exciting and loud but lacking in the natural harmony the country had to offer. Gone were the friendly faces and small town chatter as folk went about their business, turning a ten minute chore into a morning's outing. Replaced by a sea of silent, expressionless humanity divulging at his point of existence and if he didn't move with the flow, would possibly be trodden under foot.
Those were frightening times when poverty soon became his only friend. He did have limited savings, as he managed to snatch his school bank book from the safety of his mother's drawer before leaving home and the shopping money from a kitchen jar but soon this was spent; mostly on finding some where to live. This came more quickly than he expected, in the guise of signage in a shop window.
'Furnished room to let – apply within,' roughly written in bold red print on the flap from a Smith's Chips cardboard box, caught his eye from its corner of a cafe window. Esca applied.
The room was small, dark and damp. There was a ceiling leak in one corner that ran like a defective tap when it rained. A well placed bucket solved the problem but kept him awake with the continuous dripping. If the rain was heavy then there was constant emptying of the bucket.
The room as suggested was furnished, with a single iron bed, some old bedding, a small table, a lamp with no light bulb and battered wardrobe, still containing some of the previous occupant's belongings and a dead rat. It also smelt of damp and mould and had not been occupied or aired for some time but at least it kept Esca from sleeping on the street and was affordable.
"I won't charge you for the rat." Nat, his landlord joked, his Italian accent hardly understandable, as he removed the emaciated rodent.
"Nor the smell I suppose." Esca complained without receiving response.
Below a small window with its cracked pane of glass and loose fitting, which rattled with the slightest breeze, was the cafe's kitchen and rubbish containers and a laneway that became a shortcut connecting one busy street to another. During business hours a constant sea of humanity noisily passed searching for entertainment or that most memorable time out. After closing came the chatter of the cafe's kitchen staff and stench from the rubbish bins. With the window closed the room was a sweat box of stale air, still laced with the acrid smell of rotten garbage.
Often Esca walked the streets to avoid the smell and loneliness, amused with the antics of city life. Its paranoia and excesses were his entertainment. Especially one bar that caught his eye on his first excursion into an area called The Valley. It was named Marilyn's made obvious by a neon display above the front entrance. In passing Esca noticed a lack of female patrons. On his second passing Esca lingered in the shadow of a shop doorway opposite the bar, to glean a better understanding of the establishment. His suspicion was justified, not one female entered during the time of his observation, although some of the men appeared quite feminine and one in particular although dressed as a woman, had the biggest hands and roughest voice even for a man. Still any woman would be proud of her ability to walk in so tall a pair of high healed shoes.
Esca's intrigue in the bar increased. Its patron's appeared to be a happy gregarious lot and numerous. He had heard of such places from the humour of the school yard and taunting of any child who happened to display signs of softness or shyness. Eat or be eaten had been the code of his school yard. In which Esca had obliged out of a need to survive, even if he didn't agree with bullying those who may have the same shame as himself.
Esca's so called infliction became apparent when his Uncle came to stay. George Brody was the much younger brother to Esca's father; a young man in life's full flight, with little time to settle into the mundane existence of marriage and raising a family, or if it came to it, full time employment. George was a drifter who when on hard times returned to his brother for free meals and lodgings, of which he received begrudgingly from Esca's mother.
Accommodation at the Brody residence was tight. It was a small
House - old but comfortable. If George were to visit during the summer he would be bedded down on the front verandah, with the flies and mosquitoes but when the nights turned cold would share Esca's bed, head to tail.
At sixteen Esca had been book wise but lacking in sexual experience. His mates declared they had screwed this girl or that, bragging openly about their conquests and technique. None of which held substance but gave them status in the cigarette haze behind the school's bicycle shed.
Esca joined their boasting to the best of his ability but deep down lacked the interest in girls that came with puberty. To Esca sex was manual while his thoughts were better kept to himself. He believed his disinterest to be a phase and in time he would become interested in the fairer sex. Like his parents he would marry producing many sons, to pride in their family name. Besides it was his father's hope and since the departure of Esca's older brother some years earlier, the father's arrogance settled on the shoulders of the younger son.
It was during one such visit from Esca's Uncle George, when the language of sexual encounter finally became experience. The nights had turned cold and George arrived for bed some time after Esca had retired. Stinking of alcohol, George stumbled across the darkened room, his language turning from cursing to soft giggling as he bashed his knee against Esca's study desk, telling himself to be quiet is such a way he may have wakened everyone.
George draped his clothing across the back of a chair before climbing into bed. "You awake kid?" He asked in a rough whisper. Esca didn't reply. He was awake, lying with the bed clothes over his head, leaving a gap wide enough to view his uncle undress. George was a handsome man who still held his youthful physique which didn't go unnoticed by the nephew.
Out of that period of almost sleep a hand arrived on the privates of the lad. At first Esca became bewildered and alarmed but this soon ebbed into sexual delight. Each night the intrigue would continue. With the light out and enough time elapsed to fain sleep, a hand would arrive, then the moistness of his Uncle's mouth. Esca would lie on his back in blissful anticipation; almost bursting with desire. His breath held at the first touch, his mind swirling in sexual pleasure. The encounters continued almost nightly until after a heated quarrel with his brother, George departed under instruction never to return, once again leaving Esca to manual relief fed by memory of his Uncle's mouth.