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A Rough Rearing

    Ruddy wasn’t sure what had woken him, though he was certain he hadn’t heard a noise. He stared off into the dark of the flat above the butcher shop for a long moment as he realized his father was absent from the room as often happened. That must have meant it was sometime after midnight. After the thaw had come he had been expecting his grandfather to resume dragging him out in the middle of the night to throw him into the canal out back, but it hadn’t yet come. It was that thought that made him realize what had woken him as he sensed something there in the darkness in front of him. 
    Ruddy instinctively shot a fist out into the darkness in front of him and winced at the crack and the curse that spat out from the old monster that had been hovering just within reach, ready to pounce.
    “Ye blasted lil’ punk! Ye’ll pay fer that!”
    With a yelp, Ruddy rolled out the other side of the bed only to see a shadow dart past the light coming through the window on the street facing side of the room in front of him, cutting off his attempt at escape. Ruddy shot a foot out towards the shadow and let out a howl of pain as he felt his bare toes crunch against the iron plated boot he’d aimed for. Damn those boots! Why did they even wear those?! Oh yeah, he had just proven one reason why.      He put up a fight as his ankle was grabbed and he was dragged across the floor and hefted aloft upside down, punching and kicking with his other foot wherever he could on the tough hide of the craggy old monster until a kick landed somewhere on it’s face and he was dropped on his head.
    Ruddy scrambled under the bed, holding his aching noggin as he heard the boots of his father coming up the stairs. For any other child, this would have been hope, a parent chased away the monsters in the dark. But night after night, as long as the canals weren’t frozen, his father just watched in amusement as he was dragged downstairs and through the butcher shop, fighting the whole way, just to be tossed into the canal again and again. He heard a match strike and flare for a moment, lighting the dark and glinting off of red eyes as Rusty lit up a cigar and then touched the match to a candle wick.
    “Alright, old man, that’s ‘nough. He finally did it, didn’t he? He got ya this time.”    Rawhead grunted as he swiped the sleeve of his coat under his bleeding nose. “Aye, but he couldae used one more dunk in the drink.”
    Rusty crouched beside the bed and grabbed the boy by the back of his shirt and dragged him out, standing him up to clap a hand on his shoulder with a big, jagged grin. “Ya finally ain’t let him sneak up on ya, boy. Good work.”
    Confusion slid over Ruddy’s face for a moment at realizing his father was stepping in for once and then at the prospect that it was because he’d finally reached what they’d been expecting of him. “Wait.. Ya mean all this time…?! He woulda stopped throwin’ me in the water if I’d just caught him in the act of comin’ up on me?!” Ruddy was furious and incredulous. His father was a bass ackwards brute and his grandfather was crazy on top of that!
    “Nawr, fer not lettin him sneak up on yas.” Rusty grinned down to his boy and steered him by the shoulder over to the table in the room, pushing him down into a chair. “Sit, ya get ter celebrate then yer can have the rest a the night ter sleep. Ya ain’t goin swimmin this time.”
    Ruddy could see a bit of black still oozing from Rawhead’s nose in the dim light of that single candle. It felt like his birthday, but that was still a couple of months away. The old monster piped up as he crossed the room to the table. “Ye’d best give the lad some meat. See how he takes tae it.”
    Rusty smirked at Rawhead, “He’s had it in the pies and sausages.” The short old man snorted in response, “Ye know it’s nae the same by any stretch. Go fetch it.”
    Nonono! Don’t leave me alone with the old coot! Ruddy’s eyes shot over to his father as the butcher turned to head downstairs. The boy’s attention returned to his grandfather as the short man took a seat at the table. “Ye scrabble under the bed like a bogey, lad, but ye’re nae even a monster. Ye’ve too much a yer mother in ye.”
    “Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that, old man.” Rusty plunked a plate down on the table in front of Ruddy, a large slice of what looked somewhat like raw, lean pork on it. The boy recoiled a little, looking up to his father. “It’s raw!”
    There was a look exchanged between the two elders and a raised brow from his father before Rusty nodded to him “Yeah, so ’tis. Eat up.” 
    Ruddy was by no means a slow or dim witted boy, but some things the human mind just didn’t want to come to the conclusion of and it took him a few moments to see more clearly beyond what the low light was showing him. “This.. isn’t pork is it?”
    Rawhead let out a raucous, grating laugh. “I told ye the lad’s nae got a stomach fer it!” The old man spat on the floor and stood, stomping for the stairs.
    Rusty growled after the old codger, “And I told ya, I’m raisin him ter survive regardless if he’s one a us or not! He’s still me boy!”
    The boy in question’s head was still clicking it’s gears down the path of what was in front of him, an old rhyme dancing in his head 
Rawhead and Bloody Bones
The thought of the nocturnal side of his father’s business.
Steals bad children from their homes
The hours he spent in the back of the freezer.
Drags them to his dirty den
The meat pies and sausages that tasted different and delectable from the rest.
And they’re never seen again.
    Emerald eyes slowly slid up to his father, watching the glowing cherry of his cigar light up those blood red eyes to shine like a wolf’s. Rusty could read the question written all over his boy’s face and answered before it could be asked, “It’s nae anyone ye knew, nor a kid.”
    Ruddy’s gaze slid back to the plate in front of him and he shut his eyes and took a bite, gagging as his father crossed the room to pull a bottle of his favorite scotch off the shelf, pouring some in a tin cup. It was dropped down on the table with a thunk as he finished coughing out the detestable midnight snack and Ruddy readily snatched the cup up to drink it down, his father’s words barely reaching his ears past the muffled ringing in his head. “It ain’t no matter that ya ain’t a monster, boy. Ya still did good. Ya ain’t getting tossed in them cold waters no more.”



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  1. Snowfang Snowfang March 12, 2013

    blinks and thinks on those words wondering if they where true forhimself.

  2. Edward Pearse Edward Pearse March 13, 2013

    Aaaawwww, little Ruddy’s come of age. :-)

    • Rusty Bones Rusty Bones March 13, 2013

      Nawr, but he’s sure growin up.

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