So there he was, locked in his basement bedroom, battered and bruised for a few misplaced words round the dinner table the day before. Then – SNAP – the door unlocked. It opened. In the doorway stood the silhouette of his mother.
‘Come, Arthur. Dinner’s out.’
The words barely escaped through her gritted teeth.
‘You’d better hurry up or you won’t be getting any!’
Reluctantly, Arthur approached her with fists clenched, bracing for impact. As he walked forwards she put her hand round the back of his neck and forced him out of the room.
An hour later the defeated form of Arthur returned, trying his best to keep the weight off his right leg. His father was close behind. As Arthur turned he noticed the bulging, bloodshot eyes, gunning him down.
Before Arthur could dare to respond, the door slammed shut and all that remained of his father was the pain in his right leg.
He hadn’t been given much to eat and it wasn’t long before his stomach began reminding him. However, the dinner wasn’t a complete disaster. Concealing them inside his jacket he had managed to smuggle a couple of bread rolls back to his room. Desperate to eat them, he devoured the first in a couple of seconds. It wasn’t easy to deny himself the other, but he knew better. He took his seconds to the wardrobe.
Opening the double doors, he stuffed the roll inside one of his shoes. The wardrobe was old and had been slowly dismantling itself for decades. Yet for many years the wardrobe had seemed the perfect escape for a young Arthur when the shouts and screams got loud upstairs. Above his shoes – some of which were still squashed from his refuge there – hung old clothes that no longer fit him and a pair of battered puppets that were dented and limp. Their strings were ragged and formed nooses round their necks. They appeared to have been hanged in a rush, as though there was a fear of them escaping.
One puppet was masculine, with a pointed nose and huge red eyes. The other character, with a poorly painted smile, was a woman. They were no Punch and Judy. These demons dangling in his wardrobe were a product of his plight – effigies of his parents.