10 Oct

Another additional chapter by Peter Rogerson
” Bernard’s first day at school, and it doesn’t start well… “

“There will be nasty, nasty girls at school, dirty little girls in skirts and frocks and with sweaty panties they might want to show you, might want to make you look at…” his mother said suddenly as she dragged him along by one hand on his first day at school. She often said things like that and he often found himself not listening because he knew it already.

Bernard, the dead and naked Bernard, stared in horror as this new scene unfurled on the looking glass. It wasn’t exactly that any memory of that distant day returned to him because it didn’t, but the very likelihood that it might have occurred, knowing what he knew of that woman and the way she had been, gave it a stark reality that he was beginning to hate.

“Why are girls like that?” he asked of that domineering woman, and she pulled up sharply to a standstill, released the arm she was holding and swiped him across the head with an iron hand.

“You dared ask me that?” she shouted, and several other people paused on their way towards the school with their own children, and stared at her. Those eyes, boring into her, didn’t trouble her but they did bother Bernard because even then, aged five, he knew that there was something unusual about the way his mother behaved.

“That hurt, mummy!” he wept.

“You dared question me when I tell you about the evil of women and the sin they have poured over humanity since Eve in the precious garden and the way she ruined everything for everyone, even us all these years later?” she squalled, and that suddenly brought into his mind the biggest question that ever was. It was huge. It filled his five-year old head with its enormity and he knew the answer to it would solve every problem known to man. He knew that he had to ask it.

“But mummy … aren’t you a lady like Eve was?” he asked, timorously.

She was. Of course she was. He could see that much.

But his mother couldn’t. She had spent so long denying her own place in the order of things that she saw herself as without gender of any sort. She had long chosen to forget her place in the conception and birth of her dreadful son, had no memory whatsoever of the passions that had erupted within her when the boy’s father had dared to do IT to her on a night filled with unusual passions, and she had let him. Yes she had. But she preferred to forget the sin, for sin is what it had been, and had blotted it out of her mind.

To herself she was a human being apart from the rest. Although equipped with those physical attributes shared by all women she had completely forgotten she had them. She was neutral, asexual, a saint to whom gender was meaningless, even offensive. So the question, that huge question posed by a child on his to his first day at school, was calamitous.

It cut her to the quick. It stirred odds and ends in the dustbin of her mind. It would trash all of her preconceptions should the answer be yes. It caused for swift action, and that swift action was a second fisted clout to little Bernard’s head.

Even the Bernard watching in horror from his place in Hell felt the sudden numbness as the child Bernard crumpled like a scrap of screwed-up paper and fell limply to the ground.

Two or three women rushed up to him and helped him back to his feet. He looked pale and groggy, and they looked angry. He shook his head in order to clear it, and started crying.

That was a signal for decency to rear its precious head, and decency did in the shape of a ferocious women in her forties who marched right up to Bernard’s mother and pushed her with a more than adequate hand on her shoulder.

“We saw that!” she barked in a voice bordering on the masculine, “we witnessed a terrible abuse of a poor child! Yes we did, all of us…” and her eyes swept round the increasingly sizeable crowd as if challenging them to disagree with her. A great number of female heads nodded and there was audible muttering as the eyes of other mothers focussed on the bully as if intent on leaping upon her and tearing her limb from limb for what she’d done to her own child. Most parents can’t abide cruelty, and these women most certainly couldn’t.

“Or course, most of us know something about you,” continued the ferocious woman, “most of us have seen you about before and know you as being a sandwich short of a picnic! We’ve seen you with that boy and the poor man of yours, his father, and we know you’ve got madness in your head and we also know it’s a crying shame you have the care of a child. He should be taken away! He should be put in care where you can’t punch him in the head! Women like you should be put away and, yes, the kids taken from you, all of the poor little mites! Women like you should be neutered!”

Bernard from his place in front of the looking glass could almost see what was going on in his mother’s mind as she stood up to the other woman.

“I’m just guiding my lad into a life free from sin, if you don’t mind!” she shouted, and she was shouting whilst her opponent was merely being fierce. “It’s what we parents do, and if we do it right and proper they’ll be thankful for it when their time comes to go to the Afterlife and find themselves in the arms of Our Lord!”

“You’re a mad creature!” snapped the other, “as far as I can tell there’s no such thing as any afterlife, no such place as any heaven and no such place as any hell! They’re places in fairy stories so that mad women like you have got something to believe in when your nights get short and black! And if there was a copper anywhere near I’d be demanding that he arrested you, here and now, for cruelty, and arraign you before the beak. That’s what I would be doing, and no mistake!”

“I’m not standing here bandying words with the likes of you!” raged Bernard’s mother, “we’ve got things to do and a school to go to! Come on, lad, to school with you, and take no notice of any old fat women on the street who think they know everything but end up knowing nothing!”

Then she grabbed Bernard firmly by the hand and marched off with him in tow.

“The blasted know-all woman!” she moaned as she dragged him along, “thinks she knows how hard it is to bring up a kid in this world of sin! I’ll teach her if I see her again, that I will! I’ll make sure she knows all about it! It might have been her in the precious garden, her who picked the apple from the forbidden tree and her who tempted her man with it! That’s who it might have been! I can see it clear as clear, thanks be to the Lord!”

When they arrived at school there was a chaos of young children darting everywhere in the playground, boys and girls with their shrill voices, running to and fro and having the best of times.

“Look at them!” grated his mother, “thinking that life is something to laugh at when it ain’t! We know that much, don’t we, Barnard? We know all about sin, the two of us! Look at that snotty nosed girl over there, the one with dirty, filthy knickers, I’ll bet, and a mouth big enough to swallow the moon! You’ll have nothing to do with the likes of her, and if you do have and I find out I’ll learn you! That I will, Bernard-child! But not in the street like just now, where know-alls can see what’s going on, but back at home in the dark, dark cupboard where you go to purge your sins after I’ve caught you playing with your winkle!”

“Not there, mummy…” whispered the Bernard in Hell, but she couldn’t hear him. She was a lifetime away, and her nose was running.

© Peter Rogerson 10.10.16


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