Sunday, 15 March 2015

Silent Rage by Grant Harbison.

London 1983

When Josephine Gardner awoke in her bed on a Saturday morning she was not surprised that she was alone. She stared at the poster of Wham on her bedroom wall.

“Jist like yer song says, George,” she sighed. “Nothin’ looks the same in the mornin’.”

Just then there was a knock at her bedroom door. “You awake, Josie?” her flat mate called out.

“Come in, Claire. There’s naebody else here.”

Claire opened the door. “I thought there was a bloke with you?”

“Aye, there was. Same auld story, once they get what they want they cannae wait tae get away. Maybe there was some attraction last night, but he probably woke up an’ got a fright this mornin’. Ye know what they say. After a few beers, the girl who looked like she needed a leash earlier on suddenly becomes very attractive.”

“Don’t put yourself down like that, Josie. You are lovely.”

“You’re jist bein’ kind, Claire. You’ve got it all. Gorgeous looks, a modellin’ job and a guy who dotes on you.”

Claire frowned. “You’re allowing guys to use you. How many different guys has that been in the last month?”

“Maybe ah’m usin’ them.”

Claire shook her head. “I’m going to make coffee. You want a cup?”

“That would be nice. Ah’ll be up in a minute.”

Although they’d only known each other for a few months, Josie and Claire had become the best of friends. When Josie had moved down to London a year earlier, life had been very lonely to begin with, but the loneliness was nothing compared to what she had suffered back in Glasgow.

After her dad had died in a tragic accident, her mum had started drinking heavily. Night after night her mum had come home drunk with strange men she’d met at the pub. Most had seemed nice, but in the morning they’d be gone.

As the months had gone by, Josie had begun to notice that her mother had been going out less frequently, and when she’d gotten home, she hadn't been in her usual intoxicated state. Josie had been pleased, as her mother had looked happy again.

One night, her mother had come home looking very excited and had told her that she was getting married again. Although the news had startled Josie and the loss of her father still saddened her, she’d been happy for her mum. A week later her mum’s husband to be had moved in.

His name was Kenneth and initially Josie had liked him He’d had a wonderful sense of humour and had been kind and attentive. Since her father had died, there hadn't been much money and Josie had had to do without many things. Kenneth had never been short of money and had often given Josie and her mother money to go on shopping sprees. As a seventeen year old, Josie had been ecstatic at being able to buy all the latest fashions and accessories once again.

Her mother’s happiness hadn't lasted long and Josie had noticed that her mother had started drinking heavily again. Being a non drinker, Kenneth had often rebuked her. Josie had tried to talk to her mother to find out what was wrong, but her mother had refused to answer the question.

Josie had also noticed a change in Kenneth. He hadn't been his usual chirpy self and the way he’d looked at her sometimes hadn't felt right, but she’d thought that maybe he was just sad.

One night, she’d awoken to the sound of Kenneth and her mum arguing. It had ended with her mother leaving the house to go to the pub and Josie had cried herself to sleep. Sometime in the early hours of the morning, she’d awoken with fright and had seen Kenneth sitting on her bed naked and staring at her. She’d scrambled out of bed and had tried to run, but he’d been too quick for her and had grabbed her around the waist, forcibly dragged her backwards and thrown her back on the bed. She’d tried to resist once again, but he’d slapped her hard across the cheek and had her pinned down. Tears had streamed down her face as she’d stared at him in terror and disbelief.   

“You asked for this, ya dirty wee slut!” he’d shouted at her.

“No, please!” she’d sobbed as she’d felt her nightdress being torn off and her panties being pulled down.

She’d tried to keep her legs closed, but he’d been too strong and had forced them apart.

“Don’t!” Josie had begged when he’d brutally entered her.

He’d ignored her cries and had thrust deep and hard like a man possessed.

“Please, no!” she’d cried out as she’d stared at him in disbelief, wondering how this kind and gentle man could have turned into the raging monster on top of her with saliva dripping from his mouth.

The ordeal hadn't lasted long and before he’d left the room he’d told her that she was a filthy whore and it had been her fault for teasing him with her short skirts and skimpy tops. Trembling with fear, she’d lain on her bed until the early hours of the morning before going to the bathroom.

The following morning, she’d gone to the kitchen and had found her mother at the kitchen table with a mug of coffee in her hand.

“Mum, ah need tae tell ye somethin’,” she’d said tearfully.

“Not now, Josie,” her mother had said. “Ah’ve got a headache.”

Moments later, Kenneth had greeted them cheerfully and had gone to boil the kettle. Josie had stared at him in disbelief, and when he’d winked at her, she’d wanted to vomit right there and then. That night she’d lain in bed and silently prayed that he wouldn't come again.

 He hadn't come that night, but she’d awoken the following night and had seen him standing naked before her. She’d screamed loudly and he’d tried to stifle her screams. Seconds later, she’d stared in horror when her mother had come running into the bedroom with a knife in her hand. Without hesitation, she’d plunged the knife into his shoulder. Kenneth had roared and had felt to the floor, writhing in agony.

“Ah knew somethin’ was wrong!” her mother had shouted. “Get oot o’ here, Josie! There’s money in ma handbag. Go tae yer aunt in London. Ah’ll deal wi’ this.”

Josie had just stood, not knowing what to do.

“Go, Josie. Before the police get here.”

Josie had then packed a bag and had stayed at a friend’s house that night. The following day, she’d gotten on a bus to London. A few days after she’d arrived, she’d managed to find a job working behind the bar in a night club. Although she’d enjoyed it, she’d still been lonely; and with only her aunt for company, she’d begun to get depressed.

One night, a strikingly beautiful young woman had ordered a drink at the bar. The two of them had started chatting, and from the start, it had been clear to both of them that they had a lot in common. The woman had introduced herself as Claire, and when she’d told Josie that she’d been looking for a suitable flat mate, Josie had told her that she was desperate for a new place to stay.

“Your coffee is getting cold, Josie,” Claire called out.

“Comin’,” Josie cried.

“You never did tell me about your life in Glasgow,” said Claire as the two of them sat at the kitchen table

“Nothin’ much tae tell,” Josie lied.

“Is it your night off tonight?”


“Got anything planned?”


“My mum has asked me to meet her in a restaurant tonight. She wants to introduce me to her new boyfriend. I’m not looking forward to it. Do you want to come?”

“That’s a family thing, Claire. Ah don’t think yer mum would be happy with me being there.”

“Please, Josie. It could turn out to be a very boring affair. I’ll phone my mum and tell her.”


At around eight O’clock that evening, Josie and Claire entered the restaurant.

“Table for two?” a waiter asked them.

“I’m here to see my mum,” Claire replied. “That’s her at the table in the corner.”

Claire greeted her mother and introduced Josie. “Where’s the boyfriend?”

“He’s just gone to the toilet.”

“I need tae go as well,” said Josie. “Excuse me.”

Ten minutes later, Josie made her way back to the table. The man at the table had his back to her, but she could see that he had already made a big impression on Claire, as Josie could see her laughing with delight.

“Josie, I would like you to meet my mum’s boyfriend, Kenneth.”

The next few moments for Josie were a blur, but when she saw the steak knife that had been plunged into his neck and heard the screams, she understood.            

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