Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Shaun Adams returns to TK'n'C, bringing us Billy and a bouquet of chills.

Red Admirals & Rotten Fruit               

Daddy was a bad man, rotten to the core Mom says, and I don’t doubt it. She looked out for me all the while I was growing up and now it’s my turn doing the same for her.I don’t do so well sometimes and I need a little help. It’s not my fault I am a bit backward. It’s what daddy did to me so Mom says.

I sit with her every day, sometimes when she is not tired we talk or she helps me with my reading. That’s on a good day. Other times she will sleep a lot so I just sit with her and listen to the whirring of the syringe driver. I mustn’t touch it, I have to wait for the nurse to come each day and check that it is working properly. I wish I wasn’t stupid.

I try to keep Mom's room smelling fresh with flowers from the garden. I grow them myself because mom loves them so.

“Thank you for the flowers Billy; you’re such a good boy.”

That’s my job, tending the garden. I grow flowers and vegetables. I am good at it. I know a secret.

Daddy drifted in and out of our lives. Mom says he turned up like a bad penny. I don’t really understand what that means but I do know that bad things happened whenever he was around.

I got my brain damaged last time he came home. I was ten years old.

Daddy turned up one day wanting money. Mom told him there wasn’t any but that didn’t stop him searching. When I came home from school, he was shouting.

I crept up the stairs and saw him standing over her in her bedroom. She was crying. There was broken furniture and clothes everywhere, Daddy was holding his belt in front of her face, the same one he used to keep his trousers up. When he hit her, I screamed and jumped on his back. It wasn’t at all like riding the bucking bronco it was pee your pants scary. Then he threw me down the stairs. When I came out of hospital, he was long gone. Mom said it was good riddance to bad rubbish. I asked her if he would come back and she said not this time Billy.

But Daddy did come back.

I said goodbye to the nurse when she left.  Brenda, like always stopped in the doorway and smiled up at me.

“Take care of your mom Billy, and take care of you.”

I nodded and grinned. She said the same thing every evening. I liked that, things always being the same. Mom was asleep, her room full of freshly cut chrysanthemum. It smelt much nicer with the flowers in there. The funky sick person smell from earlier in the day had gone away. It was time for me to put the kettle on for my hot chocolate and make my supper.

The kitchen light was on, that was okay, but there was a cool evening draft coming in from the open back door. That was different. I stepped over to the door and pushed it shut. That is when I knew I was not alone. I had no choice but to turn around.

“Hello Billy, how’s it hangin' son?”

I knew it was my daddy but fifteen years change many things. Somehow, he looked shrivelled like he had gone to seed.  I could see nicotine stains in his eyes, remnants of food in his grey stubble. I could smell alcohol and stale sweat, most of all though, he was much smaller than I remembered.

“Where’s your mother, son? I have unfinished business with her.”

“No, Mom's asleep go away daddy,” I said. I spoke as quietly as I could but inside I felt strange.

“Daddy? You’re a grown man. You retarded or something?”

I wanted to say some things right then but I didn’t find any words that worked, and I knew daddy wouldn’t care anyway. He just shook his head and laughed.

I knew he was laughing at me.

“You just go about your business, Billy. Me and yer Mom got things to discuss.”

I watched as he turned away and Brenda’s words echoed in my mind. Take care of your mom Billy, and take care of you. I leaped on daddy's back only this time he crumpled under me like an empty sack.

A whole load of bad words spilled out of him while I sat on his back. I got so afraid Mom would hear his dirty talk I had to shut him up. I pushed down on the back of his greasy skull with both hands as hard as I could; I forced his face into the kitchen linoleum. The words turned to grunts, something cracked, and the grunts became a gurgling, wailing sound like an ambulance siren. This was not good. I slipped one hand over his face, hooking my fingers into his nose. With my other hand, I grabbed hold of his jaw and began to pull as hard as I could.

I had him pinned, kneeling on him. His back arched as I rammed my fingers deeper into the holes in his nose; snot and blood coated my hand. A stained dental plate popped out of his mouth as his tongue protruded, I felt the sliminess of it touching my fingertips and then his jaw broke.

Everything was quiet once more.

It has been a month since daddy came and went for the last time. The leaves are beginning to fall. There is always so much to do in the garden. Mom sleeps more now but I guess that is to be expected. The last of the windfalls has gone on the compost, I like to sit out here and watch the Red Admirals feeding on the rotten fruit. Nothing’s wasted, not really. Compost is the secret to a garden's success. Every gardener knows that. Now my daddy knows it too.

Bio: Shaun Adams is forty-seven years old and getting a little saggy and loose at the seams. He lives and works on the Isle of Wight. He is making the most of a prolonged second childhood before slipping gently into old age and senility. He has been published online at Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, Dark River Press, Separate Worlds e Magazine and as part of an anthology called Nine Days of Madness available at Smashwords. 

Shaun has recently published his first eBook called, Jack Is Writing, a dark anthology. You can find out more at his blog The Greasy Spoon.


  1. Shaun,

    Really enjoyed this redemptive tale. You set it up nicely, gaining reader sympathy for Billy - who is a well drawn character with a convincing voice - and building 'daddy' up to be the ogre he is (was!). Nice play on the rotten fruit premise too.

    Good stuff.


  2. You do a lovely job establishing mood and voice, and you never waver, which delivers a powerful yet strangely subdued ending. Well done, sir!

  3. Powerful punch at the end, Shaun, just the way I like it!

  4. Love it when a writer isn't afraid to make the grammer and usage fit the character. It's the only way a guy like Billy can jump off the page, sit beside you and tell his story. The kid was in the room with me and I could see him clear as day. I guess immersed is the best word for how strong a feeling Billy evoked in me. Cool.

  5. He was a rotten dad and now he's rotting. Justice was done.

  6. Quality writing. Billy tells his tale very well, and we understand him completely.

  7. Great tale Shaun. I can only the echo the above - excellent voice and a spot-on ending.

  8. Excellent writing Shaun, one of the best flash stories I’ve read in a long time and a killer ending. Kudos.

    Carol x

  9. Agree with the others about the voice. It truly did drive the story along and allow us to empathise with Billy.

    I really enjoyed the metaphor of the dad being a chrysalis of the past from which Billy and his mum could emerge and be free.

    Dark writing with a sweet ending.

  10. I want to thank Lily Childs for giving this story a home here at TKnC. Thank you Col Bury, Joe Clifford, Angie Sargenti and AJ Hayes. I am so pleased you all liked reading about Billy.
    Thank you Madam Z, Keith Gingell, Paul D Brazill and Chris Allinotte, your comments are all well received.
    Thank you Carol Wills and you too Anthony Cowin. I might need to call a doctor now, this grin is to big for my face.

  11. Enjoyed this very much. You really established a great character voice that was consistant and believable.

    1. Thanks Dana. Glad you liked it, and I appreciate your comment.

    2. I loved the honesty of Billy and how he dealt with his loving father. Great read.

      Jeanette Cheezum

    3. Thank you Jeanette,I am grateful that you enjoyed it.