Three out of every four children enjoy a good enough childhood, and manage to successfully navigate the transition from adolescence to adulthood-emerging as sane and well-adjusted human beings. However, the remaining one in four of our children are ill treated, abused, brutalised and abandoned through circumstances beyond their control. The 26 short stories contained in Glimpses are all based on fictional characters, the circumstances displayed are true to life.
An extract from Glimpses
Zane and his friend stood on the street corner and watched a young woman moving boxes from a house to a nearby car. They were judging the situation and discussed how best to approach her. The friend suggested just walking up to her and casually asking if she had a spare cigarette. Zane, himself, thought it would be better if they pretended to be lost by asking her for directions. Eventually Zane’s friend grew impatient waiting and said he was going home. Zane nearly did the same but decided to wait and see what would happen.
Unbeknown to him, the woman he had been watching was Elaine Smyth who was clearing things out of her ﬂat. She was soon getting married and was moving into a new house that she and her ﬁancé had just bought. It had been a stressful day for Elaine. She had hurried home from work to do some of the packing. She also felt that she had hundreds of things to do in preparation for her wedding day. She started loading the boxes in the boot of her car, oblivious that a young predator was closely watching her by the name of Zane.
Zane walked up to Elaine as she was coming out of the house with a box and pretended to ask for directions. Zane then asked her if she had a spare cigarette. Elaine told him that she did not smoke and added in a joking manner that she thought he was too young to be smoking. It was at this point that Zane started to grab the box she was holding which contained a new laptop computer.
Elaine put up a struggle and shouted for help. This annoyed Zane. He told her to ‘shut up’ but she continued to scream for help. His anger suddenly intensiﬁed and then he gave her a hard punch in the face. The force of the blow cut her face around her mouth. She put her hand to her face and discovered she was bleeding. However, Elaine was determined not to let him get away with it. She began shouting louder and louder. Unfortunately there was nobody else in the street at the time and her cries for help went unnoticed.
Zane was surprised and none too pleased at what was happening. He had committed several street robberies and usually his victims did not put up any resistance – especially women. Now he feared for his credibility and feared that his father would tease him for this.
‘Ha ha ha, a woman got the better of you Zaneie,’ he could hear his father saying in his mind.
His father always called him Zaneie. Zane liked his father styling his name this way. He lived at home with his father, in a house that was compiled of stolen goods. His father liked to think of himself as a ‘career thief ’. Over the past year a kind of rivalry had developed between him and Zane. This had started out as a joke but Zane took the jest a little bit too seriously and tried his best to outshine his father with the number of stolen goods he could take home, including money.
Elaine managed to tug the box away from Zane but then she tripped on the kerb and fell awkwardly onto the ground. He ﬁnally got hold of the box, but this wasn’t enough for him. He was upset at being challenged and kicked Elaine whilst she lay on the ground, narrowly missing her head. He then asked Elaine if she had any money. He took her car keys and went over and unlocked the boot and started rummaging through her belongings.
Zane thought he had got the upper hand with Elaine. Whilst going through her possessions he failed to notice that she had managed to get up and had run across the road to a nearby pub. It only dawned on him that she had slipped away after he suddenly heard loud voices and saw Elaine coming towards him accompanied by two men. The men gave chase but could not catch up with Zane, as he was a faster runner than them.
Although Zane was winded from running he managed to look round and saw that the two men had stopped chasing him. He gave no thought to Elaine or how she might be feeling. There wasn’t anything unusual about this because Zane rarely thought about his victims after he had robbed them. His mind was always preoccupied with plans for his next robbery, which left no room to worry about any trauma he had caused.
Zane was ﬂushed and out of breath as he boarded the bus home. He remained angry with himself for leaving the laptop and other items behind. He wondered how he had been so stupid for not having noticed the men approaching sooner. He considered it a very unprofitable evening. Nevertheless, he reassured himself ‘Never mind Zaneie, you will have better luck tomorrow’. Zane, of course, could never visualise that his ‘tomorrows’ would eventually run out of luck and that he would be caught. Thoughts of him facing up to the reality of his actions were far from his mind. He sat on the bus and began to make up an impressive story about the evening to tell his father.
The thought of disappointing his father was greater than the anger he held towards himself for the bungled robbery. But the greatest shame for Zane was the prospect of being perceived as a failure in his father’s eyes. He knew he would not be able to cope if his father referred to him as being weak – and decided he would have to conceal what had really happened that evening and invent a story around it.
When he got home his father asked him how proﬁtable his evening had been. Zane responded to the question by giving a dramatised account of the failed robbery, exaggerating parts of it here and there, in an attempt to amuse his father.
‘You’re still not as clever as your old man,’ exclaimed his father holding up a collection of gold chains that he had stolen that evening.
‘Fucking hell, how did you get your hands on them dad?’ Zane asked.
Then they spent the rest of the evening discussing how they would sell the gold chains and how much money they could generate. The whole conversation between Zane and his father contained bravado with each of them pretending to be more courageous than the other. They began to discuss how they would sell the chains. Plans for this were interspersed with ideas for another haul that would supposedly earn them even more capital.
But nothing was fully decided before bedtime. They would resume the discussion next morning. They often did this. There was something about discussing robberies at the breakfast table that added excitement to the rest of the day. Subconsciously, they had discovered that the missing void in their relationship was best ﬁlled in this way.