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Jack Merridew was four years old when his mother disappeared; but he remembered her well. She was plump with a round cherubic face, emphasized by her blond sausage curls. She was also kind and nurturing, with a special place in her heart for her only child, Jack. Jack had fond memories of his mother taking him on trips to the park on Sunday afternoons, playing make-believe games with him and his plethora of imaginary friends, and singing him to sleep every night with her enchanting voice.
Those memories, the ones from the "scintillating era" as Jack knew it now, were about as substantial as smoke through his fingers; being that as lovely as these memories were, they were not the most recent. The latter memory Jack had of his mother was watching her impeccable beauty be tarnished by gashes and bruises made by his father, seeing the angelic woman run from her house screaming, watching as Mr. Merridew chased after her saying that he would, "silence her for good", staring helplessly as his mother, protector, fled in abject fear.
A few days later Jack was still only a frightened bystander, as the pure incarnation of the devil himself convincingly deceived copious amounts of people with the story he concocted about that night. Mr. Merridew lied to the police, to the newspaper reporters, to friends and family, claiming all the while he was innocent. Everyone believed him. So the young, vulnerable toddler continued to live in his home with Mr. Merridew, and no protector. This was when the "ominous times" began.
The "ominous times" were the next four years of Jack's life. When how brutally he was harmed or mutilated daily was determined by how intoxicated Mr. Merridew was, and whether his favorite rugby team won their match. But Jack was always tortured somehow. On the rare good day, Mr. Merridew just sat on the couch listening to the radio, ignoring Jack entirely. But it was more often then not that Jack went to bed at night emotionally and physically wounded.
Jack suffered through his own personal dark age not only at home, but also at church school too. One of Mr. Merridew's favorite ways of torturing Jack was not feeding him for stretches of time, causing Jack to be scrawny for his age. That, coupled with the fact he was the head choirboy at his school made him an easy target for larger children. He could have chosen to relinquish his title as the lead choirboy to end the bullying, but music was the only connection he shared with his mother. The last string that attached Jack to his "scintillating era" of the past.
The most abominable day Jack endured began for a simple, superficial reason, a tie. The finest silk tie owned by Mr. Merridew. It was handcrafted in Italy, stitched by hand, and was given to Mr. Merridew as a gift from his wife when he got a promotion at work during Jack's first four years of life. Mr. Merridew didn't work anymore, giving him scarce reasons to wear such a fine tie. Jack's school however, required him to wear a work attire ensemble, so it was common for Jack borrow clothing from Mr. Merridew’s old life as a successful man. Jack chose his clothing wisely, his objective being to conceal his scars and bruises -which to him were a stigma- as well as remain inconspicuous in the strained social structure that was Blackwood Primary School.
In-between choir and Jack's fourth hour of class, he was stopped by a group of three burly boys. Though Jack was not a comrade of these boys, he knew them well. The smallest boy, with blond curly hair, was named James Merceoux. He transferred here from his French boarding school after getting caught holding a flame to a littlin's clothing. The boy to the far left was Samuel Greenson. He was as violent and brute as a savage. Finally, there was Peter Anders. Peter was the single most malicious, tyrannical ten-year-old Blackwood had ever seen. He was notorious for taking innocent little boys and tying them up if they didn't do as he commanded; Jack was commonly a victim.
Jack tried to run, but his attempts were futile. These boys were faster and stronger. James and Samuel pinned Jack to a wall standing on each side of him, allowing their chief to get closer to Jack. Peter slowly walked forward and took a long look at Jack, noting the fine tie. He grabbed the tie and pulled, using more and more force; simultaneously giving Jack's face a purple hue.
Jack thrashed his limbs and fought with all his might. But every time he tried, he got jabbed in his gut with a hard fist. As the opaque shadows of Jack's mind besieged the edges of his sight, the boys dropped him. Strolling away as though they’d witnessed nothing out of the ordinary.
Jack limped without making so much as a sound -being careful not to draw attention to what Jack to be considered routine- and into the boy’s lavatory. There he examined himself to take stock on what had been damaged. He had ten individual red lines per arm, from the unyielding grip of Samuel and James, one red ligature mark around his neck, and one huge uneven circle on his gut that would surely bruise. Overall, it was not the worst beating he had ever received. The worst destruction was done to the tie. The hand stitched Italian silk had been stretched beyond repair, and was now marred with holes and loose strings. It is not going to escape Mr. Merridew's notice.
Jack silently crept into his home through the rarely used backdoor. Careful as he was, the door betrayed him with a sound. Jack abandoned any hope of entering unnoticed and made a bolt for the stairs to his room. Mr. Merridew caught him.
"And where do you think you're going?" Mr. Merridew demanded, but before Jack could respond Mr. Merridew looked down just below Jack's distended face to see the tattered tie. Jack focused heavily on the first step that lay just meters before him, trying to ignore what he knew was to come. Jack turned around and got on his hands and knees, he heard the snap of Mr. Merridew's belt on his backside before he felt its burning pain. With each snap, he saw the stairs jump. The snaps became more and more distant as the amount of them rose in numbers. When Jack heard the rugby game's opening whistle, the snaps stopped. Jack crawled on hands and knees back to his room. Once there, he rubbed his numb bottom and laid on his bed stomach down, holding his small bag of clothing and plane ticket for the following morning. He drifted willingly into unconsciousness dreaming of sweet melodies that flowed so perfectly with complex rhythms, allowing him to win the choir competition across the country the following day.