An excerpt from ‘Beat’:
Dan’s hands were deep inside Adam, wired to his spine and pulling gently up and down, up and down, lifting him up from the bed and down again, rhythmically, like a pulse. Adam called to the earth. Tendrils of him, of his skin and his flesh, coiled down through the bed, under the floor and sunk deep into the ground. He cooled off in the dark soil. He fanned his fingers through the moist earth and laid his legs against the black loam. He curled into a ball and breathed in the damp closeness.
He was curled on his father’s lap, his shoulders resting on the hardness of his belly, his ear pressed to his father’s chest, covered in thick down. His blood pumped to the rhythm of his father’s heart. His father stroked his hair as he watched the news on TV. And then he was peeled off him like a Band-Aid, ripped from his lap and carried, screaming, to the bath by his mother.
“No Mamma! I wanna stay with Pa!”
“You can’t Adam, you have to have a bath.” She yanked the clothes from his body. “You have to have a bath!”
“I wanna stay with Pa!” and he wriggled free of her and ran down the hallway back to the family room and threw his tiny naked body on his Pa and clung on tightly. He lifted his tear streaked face up to him, “Pa? Can I stay here and watch TV with you?”
His mother came screaming down the passageway, her arms outstretched as if to catch him. “You don’t have anything on! Get up! Get up Adam, now!” and she was pulling him by the arm, dragging him down his father’s legs and onto the floor. She hauled him to the bathroom and lowered his bucking body down into the hot water. Adam screamed.
“For Christ sake Claire, stop it! It’s too hot for the boy!” His father stood in the doorway, his face crumpled like paper.
“Get out!” Claire, on her knees, stretched her arm out as far as it would go and slammed the door shut. She turned back and plunged her hands into the hot water and held Adam down as she scrubbed at his skin with a hard coconut fibre brush until he was red. When Adam woke up the next morning his father was gone. And now he was coming. He was five, in the bath and screaming for his Pa, and now, thirty years later, he was coming. Adam could see his face. He was in a car and he wasn’t far away. He was coming.