This post contains chapters 6-10 of the novel I’m writing on Facebook. This post will be updated as and when new chapters are written so stay tuned.
Derek, the middle-aged man with a comb-over and thick glasses, who lives in the flat across from Doris, Jack’s gran, was riveted as he looked through his spyhole. He saw Jack rush out of Doris’s flat and grab Doreen’s latest boyfriend by the throat, lift him up in the air and dangle him over the railing. Derek had to stifle a laugh when he saw Jack knock Doreen to the floor. Derek smiled as he heard Doreen’s boyfriend plead.
‘Help, Doreen,’ he croaked as he continued to dangle over the landing
Doreen didn’t like Derek, and the feeling was mutual. Derek had only just moved into the area, but Doreen had quickly become an enemy. Doris is a sweetheart, thought Derek. How did she end up producing a daughter like Doreen? His antipathy towards Doreen was probably justified. When she was drunk and high on whatever she was taking, which was often, she’d come back to her mother’s flat and cause scenes at all hours of the day. Derek was sick of it. He wasn’t one to gloat at the misfortunes of others, but he had reached his limit with Doreen. Derek found it hard to suppress his laughter as he watched the scene before him unfold. Karma’s a… thought Derek. Even in his mind, Derek found it hard to swear. His upbringing and his gentle nature prohibited it. But still he was very angry with her. The old boot deserves it, thought Derek.
Unlike Derek, Jack’s anger was explosive. When he looked at his gran’s battered and bruised face, his fuse got shorter and shorter. When Doris nodded to her grandson, confirming that the man he held was the one who attacked her, Jack’s fury exploded. He balled his fist and punched Doreen’s boyfriend.
John, Doreen’s boyfriend, closed his eyes as he saw Jack’s big meaty fist come hurtling towards his face. Despite closing his eyes, he couldn’t hide from the pain. John felt it instantly and cried out in agony. John’s nose was broken.
Jack knew how to punch a guy without injuring his hand in the process, but as any brawler will tell you, this isn’t as easy as it seems. Jack grinned as he saw blood erupt from his opponent’s nose. Jack punched his gran’s attacker again. I’m beginning to enjoy this, thought Jack
‘Mum, tell him to stop,’ said Doreen as she pulled herself up off the floor.
‘He’s your son,’ Doris said as she leaned against the door frame and smiled, her arms folded, and watched as her grandson beat the man that had attacked her.
‘Mum, stop him. He’s going to -‘
Doris whistled. Jack stopped beating Doreen’s boyfriend, John, and looked at his gran. Doris nodded. Jack moved his hand from around John’s throat but continued to dangle him over the railing. Jack held on to John by his tracksuit jacket. The hand Jack used to repeatedly punch John was now covered in blood. Jack didn’t want to admit it but he didn’t know how long he could hold Doreen’s boyfriend over the railing like this without dropping him.
‘This is my weak arm,’ Jack said to John. ‘You better say sorry – quick. I don’t know how much longer I can hold on.
‘Let him go now,’ Doreen said.
‘Really!’ Jack said, giving his mum a scornful look while wishing he could let his gran’s attacker fall onto the concrete stairs below.
‘Pull me up, please,’ John croaked as he heard his tracksuit jacket begin to tear.
‘Pull him up,’ Doreen said as she saw the fabric rip.
Derek, Doris’s neighbour, was glued to the scene unfolding before him. As Derek looked through his spyhole, he saw Jack lift Doreen’s boyfriend up over the railing and watched with some delight as Jack hurled him at Doreen, knocking her down again. To Derek, the pair of them looked like skittles after a bowling ball had hit them.
Jack ignored the pain in his arms and glared at them. Doreen and her boyfriend began to retreat. From behind Jack, Doris smiled and waved at her attacker, making a show of her disdain for him.
Once he was out of Jack’s reach, John gave Jack the finger.‘I’ll get you for that,’ John said
‘Aye, you and whose army?’ Jack asked as he stepped forward and made ready to chase John and Doreen away.
Doreen looked into her son’s eyes and shivered. ‘Come on, John, let’s get out of here.’
Doris smiled. ‘Yes, John, do what she said.’ She waved off her attacker with a cheeky smile beaming across her face
Once Doreen and her boyfriend, John, had scurried away, Jack turned to his gran and checked to make sure she was okay. After Doris had convinced Jack that she was fine, he turned and walked down the stairs and rubbed at his arms as he went in a vain effort to soothe his aching muscles.
Once Jack disappeared down the close stairs, Doris’s bravado evaporated. Derek saw her put her hand to her face to wipe away sudden tears. Derek had only known Doris for a few weeks and found her like many people of her generation to be full of a quiet stoicism. He knew that Doris wouldn’t want anyone prying and she wouldn’t appreciate him rushing out his front door with dull platitudes and words of comfort. No, that wasn’t Doris’s thing, so Derek watched as she sighed. And Derek watched as she walked back into her flat and closed the door behind her. Derek knows he will knock on her door an hour or two later and check on her. When Derek visits her later he will ask for some sugar, which he’ll never use because he’s a diabetic. Doris already knows this, and so Derek’s delicate social dance will be acknowledged by Doris for what it is: one neighbour’s genuine concern for another done in a way that respects their privacy but gives them the opportunity to talk if they want to.
As Jack exited the building, a man got out a white van with a large thick plank of wood in his hand. He had been looking for Jack and when the man saw him he headed straight towards Jack.
Jack was busy removing a pen and a small red book from his inside jacket pocket. He was unaware a large man with a scowl and a thick piece of wood was heading straight for him. Jack believed in many things, and one of them was karma but, unlike most people, he also believed that karma needed a helping hand from time to time. So he liked to keep a list of the scores he needed to settle which he wrote down in neat handwriting in his little red book. Jack was karma’s avenging angel or at least that’s how he saw it. Other might think that’s nuts, but he didn’t care. He kept score and looked for ways to nudge karma in the right direction. Naturally, he hadn’t crossed off everyone and everything from the list he had built up over the years. And his mother had a whole section to herself, which he was still trying to settle. But he knew he’d complete his task eventually. In the meantime, though, he smiled and unconsciously stuck out his tongue as he scored off Doreen’s boyfriend from the latest entry in his Little Red Book of Karma.
‘What are you doing here?’ Jack said, smiling at the man who cast a shadow on the weed-ridden grass.
The man stared at Jack silently
‘Okay, I know I left you to do the job all by yourself, but there’s no need for the silent treatment.’ Jack didn’t like silence, so he began to whistle as he walked on ahead. The man swung the thick plank of wood and walloped Jack across the head.