Jerry Chapters 1 - 3
Melanie woke up in a cold sweat as her body trembled from the vividness of her dream. Or nightmare would be a more accurate way to describe it.
Though awake now, she couldn't shake off how real it'd felt. How scared she'd been when the man with no face, other than shiny white teeth, had her trapped. In her room. In her former place of sanctuary. When thunder had rumbled from outside and shook the house her very core trembled.
Worse still was when lightening struck. Splitting the very heavens in a flash of brilliant blue. Revealing more of the grinning monster. Its high cheekbones. Its chiselled chin. It was handsome, but resonated an evil aura.
Tears came to her eyes as she remembered how she'd begged for it to just leave her alone. But it advanced. Taking no notice of her pleas, that she was only 11, that she had nothing to give... Instead it grinned wider. Showing more of its teeth.
As it got closer all she could do was cower in a corner. Huddled next to her teddy bear with the white fur and red ribbon. She’d always imagined Teddy as her big furry bodyguard. Her personal protector.
How wrong she’d been.
The grinning demon simply dashed Teddy to one side. Stepping on it, towering over her. Its massive shoulders blocking out any light and casting a long shadow over her. Shaking she looked up, and this time its face was fully revealed. She saw the face of Jerry. The face of her son. Reaching for her, with massive hands. She let out a scream – it was the scream that had woken her from her nightmare in a cold sweat.
It was only a dream she tried to reassure herself, but she knew that was a lie. Although the events were warped by the dream, they
had happened. So long ago, when she was so, so young. Her life forever changed. Her innocence forever tainted.
She felt around, noticing the warm body laying next to her. A man's body. Naked. Right now though she couldn’t think who he was. Or how he got here. Her mind was a mess, cloudy from the dream. Cloudy from life. All days seemingly rolled into one long battle against depression. The only peace she found was in warm flesh and gift of cocaine highs. To ease the numbness and help the days roll by.
She reached for the bedside table, feeling for the little bottle of Hennessy that she knew would be there. She picked up the three sleeping pills left on the side, popped them into her mouth, washing them down with a massive gulp that warmed her chest.
Laying back she tried to close her eyes but all she saw were visions of darting shadows. Shadows that morphed into images of a shadowy man. With large shoulders. Always smiling. Smiling with the face of her son.
She rolled over into another dream. Back to being just a child. A child who was so skinny. Who had such slender arms. Slender legs. But such a pretty face. Comments about her natural beauty became normal for her, but one commenter remained consistent. Persistent even. Always telling her what a beautiful face she had. How long her legs were. How full her lips were. How she could/would make a man very happy. Her young brain just couldn’t workout how the man who openly praised her and showered her with gifts for just one affectionate kiss. Stood in front of her. Again. Going for that which was most precious.
She felt his large hands on her. She tried to cower away further, but still he touched. Placing his hands on her neck. Over her shoulders. Across the little lumps on her chest. Making her shudder. With disgust.
Outwardly crying. Crying for help. That she knew – that they both know - wouldn’t come. Why did mummy have to work so late? She sobbed, for the millionth time.
As if turned on from the whimpers, his hands reached further. Reaching across her slim stomach. Down below her waistline. Underneath her pyjama bottoms. Between the thin pieces of fabric that concealed her innocence.
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She woke up in another sweat. Everything felt hazy, surreal. Was this real? Was she real? Was her existence real? she felt drained and tired. She hadn’t slept properly for the last six months. Barely more than a few hours each day. Each time she managed to sleep, she’d be met with the same reoccurring nightmare. She hoped time would off eased the pain. But it only got worse. The men. The drugs. The drink. These only helped to temporarily ease the hurt. Ease the urges. Her old urges. Subconsciously she touched the cut on her wrist.
In a haze, she got up and made her way over to the source of her problem.
She entered her son's room, sitting on his bed she looked at him, watching as he slept so peacefully. Only seven years old but still so handsome. He had the same high cheekbones. Like him. The same chiselled chin. Like him.
Without warning tears streamed down her face. As she pondered the question she’d asked a million times before why God, why does he have to look like… him... Act like… him...She stroked his hair as her tears fell harder. Rolling over her cheeks, dropping from her chin, dampening his hair.
She looked over at the spare pillow next to him and suddenly it all became so clear. All so apparent. Why hadn’t she thought of this earlier. For the first time in such a long time she had a clear plan. A clear route.
To stop the feelings of emptiness, the feelings of loneliness. A plan to stop the self-hate. The self-harm. The feelings of resentment – no, hate - towards her son.
She grinned, just like how the monster – no, Jerry - had grinned in her dreams. She grinned even more as she placed the soft pillow over her son's – no, the monster's - face. She grinned even wider as she saw his body react. How his arms flailed about. She pushed down harder on the pillow as he struggled for oxygen, the oxygen that she, his mother, prevented him from breathing.
The muffled voice of her son calling for her, snapped her back to reason. Fuck! The reality of what she’d nearly done, hit her. Hard. She ran from his room. Her mascara ruined by tears. Her mind further damaged by the sobbing heap left behind. Her sobbing heap. Her Jerry.
She ran to the bathroom. Locking the door behind her. She turned on the light. Looking in the mirror. Seeing a reflection of a gaunt face. With mascara streaks. Puffy eyes. Smudged red lips. Full hips. Ample breasts. She was still beautiful. But so badly damaged. And hurt.
She raised her arm and looked at the lines. From where she'd cut herself. As a child to her late teens. Though her cuts were healed each one represented a memory. A point in time. When her uncle, the real monster, Jerry’s father, had molested her. Each cut representing each one of his touches.
Calmly she opened the cabinet door. Pulled out and opened the container with the sleeping tablets. She popped a tablet into her mouth. Then another. And another. And another. Consciousness slipping from her as her mind travelled... Travelled back to the sleeping angel that was her son. Her beautiful son, Jerry Fishton.
DARREN absorbed the calm persona of the young person waiting in the reception. It was hard to believe that this 17 year old, who seemed so laid back, quiet even, was the infamous Jerry Fishton. The guy who police labelled as a prolific, violent criminal. A dangerous delinquent. A gang leader
Though on record it would be hard to prove these accusations. He barely had a criminal record before this, save for a few minor charges of possession of class B. Whatever gods he’d been praying to so far had been keeping to their side of the agreement. Well, until recently anyway. As not even they could save him from a lengthy jail term. For shooting a loaded handgun in public as he’d aimed for two other young males acting incredibly reckless.
Luckily no one had been seriously injured and was the only reason he was given five instead of the intended ten years. But after serving just under 4 years on good behaviour he had been released from Feltham.
Before getting him from reception Darren remembered how adamant his manager, Tracey, had been in regards to his safety.
“Make sure you wear your wrist alarm when you’re in that room with him,”
she’d said peering into to see the notorious youth.
“Wrist alarm!?” His colleague Paul had added. “What’s that gonna do! He needs a bullet proof vest and a copy of his will. In fact write me into the will, Darren. I could do with the extra cash!”
Darren had to laugh; Paul always managed to make light of serious situations, and for once he wasn’t too far off the mark. Danger surrounded Jerry. There had already been previous attempts made on Jerry’s life. Two of them just before he was locked away.
The first attempt had been made one early morning as Jerry was taking out the trash. He was greeted with a hail of bullets but somehow managed to duck into his home with no injuries. The second attempt was when a girl he’d met through Instagram talked him into meeting her at a park one night. He ended up having to run for his life as guys with black masks and long machetes chased him down. Luckily for him he was able to out run them and avoid an almost certain early death.
To say Jerry’s life hung in the balance was a grand understatement. While in custody, a MAPPA meeting (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements) decided to move him away from the streets of South West London into the quieter area of Havering.
Though he wasn’t happy with the decision, he didn’t fight it too much. He knew how dangerous his current situation was.
Things had gotten so bad that even his grandmother had had to be moved temporarily from the area. Gunmen had even broken into her place looking for him. But she had more heart than they’d imagined. Not only did she slap away the loaded guns pointed at her, she also told them in a harsh patois,
“Unna need fe get outta me house now!”
Everything about this case was so intense Darren felt like he could do with a laugh.. Every meeting. Every supervision session. Everything was a constant bombardment of the risks posed to Jerry and the risks he posed to the public. That’s why when he was released from Feltham it was on a 25 hour Intensive Supervision Surveillance order (ISS) and placed on a Level 2 MAPPA. Which was reserved for only the most violent of offenders and those who posed a high risk to the general population.
The MAPPA meetings only added to the headaches as representatives from
the police, social services, probation, and the youth offending service, clashed over the best course of action for him.
Many times Tracey, who for the most part Darren found to be good hearted but extremely observant and intelligent, would come back from the meetings in a dark mood. Her usual smiles replaced by a long frown and her office door that was usually always open was closed.
When she would finally open up she’d detail how she felt as if her hands were tied with the Jerry case. That their input was not being regarded in the meetings and that they were only really there to follow orders.
She’d joke in a dark manner, “The police under Mr uptight Kelly are in control. And us mere mortals are his basic puppet show. Ha!”
She had good reasons for these resentments, as she told Darren about more friction being created at the last MAPPA meeting, due to Jerry asking to have his curfew adjusted. Before his release Jerry had asked to be able to see his grandmother and be allowed to visit his mother’s grave. To lay down flowers. Something he’d been doing every 3 months or so before he was locked up.
While Clare, from social services, and Tracey thought this would be fine, that
his ban from the Borough of Lambeth could be amended for just these instances, the police representative, Patrick Kelly, - or Mr Uptight Kelly as Tracey so fondly referred to him - was not happy with this. His argument was,
“Imagine if he goes out offending again? If the press got wind of that, it would be very damaging for all of us. They’d rightly say we’re not here to serve Jerry! But to protect the public from someone who believes it’s OK to shoot at a crowd of people in broad daylight!”
Patrick was adamant that not only should he be kept away from the Borough of Lambeth but that he should also be placed on tag from 7 am till 7 pm while checking in everyday at a local police station. He concluded this was the best way to reduce any risks to the public.
The debate went back and forth as Clare argued that,
“Jerry is still a vulnerable young person himself who has been through traumatic life events. He needs support. Love and care. Not to be treated like a wild animal. To stop him from visiting his mother’s grave and to stop him from visiting his grandmother will likely only bring greater consequences later on down the line.”
Though Tracey agreed with Clare it was the conditions set forth by Patrick Kelly which were eventually agreed. Although they wanted the best situation for Jerry, Clare and Tracey also understood the unspoken truth: if things went wrong someone’s head would need to roll.
As Tracey put it, “We want to do all we can and what’s right for Jerry, Darren, but we also need to make sure we’ve got our own backs covered…”
After bringing in Jerry from reception into a small meeting room, Jerry sat there quietly taking in a long thoughtful look at Darren.
Darren took a breath and said, “So before I even introduce myself and my role let me ask you a question: how you feel being back out in normal society?”
Jerry gave a half smile.
“I’m not gonna lie. It feels good. Just being able to move when I want, without some prison screws trying to chat some rubbish to me”
The deepness of Jerry’s voice momentarily startled Darren.
“Why you had issues in there with them?” Darren’s mind briefly flicked to the report he’d heard of Jerry attacking a prison guard, breaking the leg of a chair and using it as a weapon.
“Yeah had one screw in there who didn’t like me, always tried to violate, but I sorted the situation, and no one else in there could chat shit to me so it was cool.”
Darren chose not to press on further with these questions for now. He was
well aware of some of the violent skirmishes Jerry had had with other prisoners while being locked in Feltam. Many of them being in the early and the most volatile days of his sentence as he established his dominance.
Changing the line of questioning Darren asked “And how you finding ISS so far?” already half prepared for the negative answer he was going to hear.
“It’s long! Taking up so much hours of my day, can’t even get to see my gran, can’t visit my mother’s grave...”
“But,” Darren said, “more importantly, you’re outside! Being able to feel the sunshine on your face and enjoy all the good things that summer brings. Instead of being locked in a sweaty box. Full of sweaty men. Right now, you’re up in life!”
Jerry laughed at this, flashing two gold canines.
“Anyhow let me introduce myself. So, I’m Darren and I’ll be doing a lot of the more hands-on work with you while you’re on ISS. To be honest, my role is less about enforcement and more about helping you to get to a positive position. Say for instance you told me you wanted to get into college, I would look into getting that sorted for you. That make sense?”
“So, do you have any interests, or things you’d like to achieve?”
“Look. I be honest. I just want to get this order out the way and get back to making money.”
“Well how you like to make money might land you right back here.”
“Huh?! I’ve only got caught like three times! I’m not like those other moist youts you know!” Jerry’s eyes intensified. Though outwardly he remained calm. “Hear me out,” said Darren. “With the few things on your record I can see
you’re not like these other youths. Whether that’s a good thing though, “ He raised his eye brows, “...is very debatable.”
“All I’m saying,” Darren continued “ is now that you have been caught and you’re in the system you may need to consider different options…”
“Listen. The only reason I’m here is because feds don’t wanna see me eat and prosper. That’s why I say fuck feds all day long. Fuck ‘em!”
“Alright cool, so you’re saying fuck feds. But let’s say you’re in a situation where you need feds. Wouldn’t you want them to be there to help?”
“Fuck them! I wouldn’t go to no police! I’d call the mandem and ride out!” Jerry’s eyes intensified again, giving Darren a glimpse into the wild nature he reportedly had.
“Alright. Let me change it then. Let’s say you have a family member. Maybe your gran…” Jerry’s eyes went cold. “Who may not be built as tough as you and hasn’t got friends or as you say mandem to call on. Who’ll ride out for her? Is it not good that the police will be there to help them, if needs be?”
Jerry looked out the window of the little box room, fidgeting with the Gucci shades held high up on his head. He turned to Darren looking him squarely in the eyes.
“All that I’m saying… Darren, is that in my world we don’t go to police. That ain’t hood.”
Darren took his time answering.
“Hmmm, right or wrong, for now I can see that’s a real answer for you… Anyhow times up, so I’ll see you on your next appointment. Look after yourself.”
“You too.” Jerry replied.
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SWEAT dripped from the brow and nose of Darren’s face. He held the press up position as is triceps screamed in protest. Then he jumped up, his stance wide, his guard high, and immediately performed a right -left punch combination. Then he went back to holding the press up position.
Self defeating thoughts entered his mind as his triceps signalled his brain again. Telling it of its hurt and pain.
His thoughts of pain subsiding he turned to the action of completing the rest
of his workout. He jumped up, focused, and completed the last 10 reps at a faster rate than when he’d started.
Taking in deep breaths to slow down his rapidly beating heart he sipped and drunk from the cool bottle of water he’d left on the glass coffee table. Exhausted he collapsed back to the ground. Sweat dripping all around the brown wood panels of the living room floor. Leaving little wet patches.
“Daddy, why you always training? Is it because you want to get rid of your big fat belly?”
The whole time he’d been exercising. His daughter, Amber, with a thoughtful expression had been quietly observing him from the cream leather sofa.
“I haven’t got a big fat belly.” Darren lifted his t shirt and tensed his toned stomach muscles to add emphasis.
“Yes you have. See. There!” Amber with her little five-year-old hands grabbed at his stomach. “See?”
“There’s nothing there,” Darren said narrowing his eyes with a mischievous grin.
“Ain’t you got homework?” He said with a half laugh “In fact: Samantha! Come get your child. Before I leave her at the charity shop… Accidentally of course!”
Amber ran away giggling. Samantha entered the room with a smirk. They
hadn’t talked for the last 5 days so the atmosphere in the house had been tense to say the least and the smirk quickly turned to a frown as she saw the watermarks left from his intense training session.
“I hope you’re going to clean that up.” She looked at him square in the eyes. “Hello to you as well, mother of my child.” He gave her an unimpressed look. “And for your information,” he carried on, “I was just resting and was going
to clean it up after!”
“What, like how you did last time?”
Samantha kissed her teeth and walked out of the living room leaving Darren to dwell on the bad energy between them.
The funny thing about their situation was that it hadn’t always been like this. As youngsters in their late teens they’d been inseparable. Always happy in each other’s company. Even unofficially vowing to always remain by each others’ side.
But what did they know as youngsters? What did they know of feelings changing with time? Or of the one you’re closest too becoming the thorn in your side? That you sleep with, each and every night.
To be honest though it wasn’t a straight hate relationship. It was just difficult. Made more so by the birth of Amber. Neither one of them was truly prepared for how much a child changes the dynamics of a relationship.
But though testing times, Darren believed they still had love for each other. The love was just buried. Deep. Below the feelings of resentment.
Later on that night Darren entered their bedroom and saw Samantha on her side of the bed. From her breathing he could tell she was still awake. He placed a hand on the curve of her hips as he tried to bring her in close.
“I’ve got an early start at work tomorrow and I have to get Amber up for school!” Samantha said in a no nonsense tone.
Darren sensing things were still hostile quickly took his hands off her hips and rolled back over to his side of the bed.
Should have stayed up and watched Babestation, Darren thought to himself before closing his eyes, leaving both of them deep in thought about their current situation.
COOL air breezed past the open windows of the red Volkswagen Touran as heat from the perfect summer’s day gently warmed the driver and passenger. Ladies with perfectly manicured nails and flowing long hair laughed heartedly as they strolled idly swapping gossip of adulterous affairs. The backdrop of lush green trees along the thin pavement let you know you’d entered the affluent part of Chigwell.
The occupants of the car took in the surrounding mansions with their white doors and massive Roman pillars. Each one featuring a driveway that could hold at least 5 cars while sprawling palm trees and exotic flowers decorated immaculate lawns in a colourful display. Parked in front were Range Rovers, Mercedes, Porches and the rarer Bentleys and Lamborghinis.
It was easy to imagine these being the homes of the notorious, or the rich and famous. But the truth was less glamorous, the occupants were normal businessmen and women who had worked extremely hard.
Darren liked to change up the scenery of his sessions as he knew that being in the same one room would lead to boredom and the repeated question:
“Can we finish early?”
Experience had shown Darren that scenic environments were not only visually stimulating but from it you could start more personal conversations. As the surroundings rolled by Darren broke the silence.
“Do you think money is the root to all evil?”
“Hmmm,” Jerry closed his eyes in contemplation, sinking deeper into the black fabric of the seat.
“You know what, yeah. It’s important, but it makes people do a madness. Like right now. I know mandem sitting down for years because they tried to make money.”
“Uh-huh,” Darren listened.
“Yeah. I reckon it is the root of all evil as it has mandem out here doing a madness. Because you can’t be broke.”
“You know what,” said Darren. “I’ve been thinking about that question for a long time. The more I think about it the more I think it’s not money that’s the root of all evil. People are.”
Jerry pondered on Darren’s words for a moment, before responding, “But money will make a man do a madness, bang all out.”
“Yeah, that’s true. But I think it’s the person’s nature that causes that. If there was no money in the world, I believe people would still do a madness, just for something different; Money hasn’t always been around but people have always committed bad deeds for anything of value. I think it’s closer to what my cousin was saying the other day: “Bad money breeds bad behaviour.”
There was a moment of silence as the two were left in their thoughts.
“All I know is that I have to have money,” said Jerry. “Being broke you’re looked at as a joke, man, and I ain’t no joke. Believe I’m an official banger!”
Darren shook his head giving a half grin. “ I don’t know how you managed to add being an official banger into our line of convo.” He rolled his eyes as he said this, making Jerry laugh.
Darren continued, “I just think with the amount of brains you have and that go-getter mentality you could set up your own business and be extremely successful. Paying taxes means you can live a trouble-free life.”
“Fuck that!” Jerry narrowed his eyes. “Why pay taxes to the government?
They want a cut out of everything. Listen, all I need to do is sit in the trap and earn tax-free.”
“True but I think that’s a lot of pressure.”
“What pressure? There ain’t no pressure. I sit down in the trap with a couple of the mandem. Play Xbox. Step out the trap for a couple minutes. Earn about
£1200 every week! What’s hard about that? You work harder than me for less bread having to deal with facety youts that’ll chat shit to you!”
“OK, so you earn all that money, then what?”
“Then I live life. Have a bad bitch. A whip, s-class sumthing. Own yard. Living life right. Belly full!” Jerry rubbed his hands together with a smile as a thought on his grand aspirations.
“But all of that has to be maintained.”
“So I’ll just keep on stacking till I hit 100 grand!”
“But you’ll still need to make more just to maintain, and what? You think people will see you eating good and won’t try something?”
Jerry gave Darren a look of mock disgust as he looked him squarely in the eyes.
“I’m official. There is no robbing me. If anyone does the robbing. It’s me!” Darren shook his head. “You know though, a lot of the times it comes from
the places you least suspect. Those closest to you. In fact, let me tell you a story that a youth told me. From guys he was locked in jail with. Like you, he was… respected let’s say. But the 4 years he did gave him a different perspective. As he came out a lot more humble.
So from what the young person told me this happened around south sides.” Darren rolled his eyes with a grin. “It’s always south sides, you lot need to ease up!”
“So, anyhow there was this youth who was making a lot of money on road. Sounded like his father was into badness too. From what I was told they had a nice house, with very nice stuff in it. Anyhow, the guy’s friends must have been noticing this. And yeah, they started plotting on him!”
One night when they knew the guy’s dad was away on holiday they turned up at his house and obviously the guy and them were friends so he lets them in. To join him and his girlfriend in smoking weed, or whatever else they were doing.”
Darren paused for a moment as he remembered what was told to him. “And, yeah, they took the piss.”
“Why, what happened?” The curiosity on Jerry’s face was clear to see.
“So they started beating up the boy, demanding money, and other bits fromhim. They even started hitting the girl. And then this is where things went mad. They forced the guy to order food, Chinese or something. They took a few bites of the food but after…” Darren paused, shaking his head as he recounted the horror that was told to him. He instantly felt sick.
“They then basically poo’d on the food. Each one of them…” Jerry’s face looked perplexed “What! They shit on the food?”
“Yeah,” Darren replied. “They then forced the guy and his girl to eat the food.”
“What! Na, I’d kill them!” Jerry was furious as his hands clenched and unclenched involuntary.
“I know, and these were supposed to be his friends,” Darren continued. “But it doesn’t stop there. When I think about it, they were pretty sadistic because
next they not only stripped the boy and his girl but they pulled their genitals with pliers… and pushed a pool cue up their bums, repeatedly.
Bet he would of rode for his mandem too. Probably would of broke bread with them too. But that’s what he got for his loyalty… sadomasochistic torture!”
Silence filled the car.
“Them man are paigons. I swear to God. I would a murdered them,” Jerry spat, breaking the silence. “So what happened, in the end?”
“Well, they’re all in jail for a very long time,.” Darren sighed “ The guy and his girl? I don’t know what happened to them. But I’m sure they’re not over that traumatic ordeal.”
“Trust me, when I first heard the story I was shocked. But it just reminds you of the wickedness man can do when he’s ready. Envy and jealousy are powerful motives.”
“If one of my guys ever tried to do that, I’d-”
Darren broke in.
“I didn’t tell you the tale to get you all upset and angry but to highlight how road life can get extremely intense and bring out the worst in people. And a lot of the times it comes from the places you’d never expect. Like your friend of two years, five years, or even 15 years.” There was a long pause as Darren looked over at Jerry. “Bad money breeds bad behaviour.”
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About The Writer
In my day to day work, I've spent close to 10 years working with some of London's most extreme young offenders. Working with them tirelessly in trying to create real opportunities for them, while trying to bring stability to the chaos that can be their world at times. I don't even call this work, as this is something I love doing, and thankfully my passion for it has helped many of these young people into much brighter circumstances.
If you'd like for me to give a talk to your class in regards to the issues that surround these young people or require consultancy for dealing with these young people then please feel free to get in contact.
Publications In Media
Made In Shoreditch Magazine 2018
Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019
UCL University Of London - Institute Of Education February 2019
Course entitled Criminal Journeys: The Individual and the Environment run by Prof Jane Hurry and Dr David Maguire. I Gave an in depth talk to students on the issues surrounding young people involved in crime.
No Knives Better Lives
Knife crime meeting held by Redbridge Youth Councillor Hannah Chowdhry please click here to view
Youth Violence Conference
Sat on a panel for City Gate's serious youth violence summit please click here
The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea- Unison Fundraiser for Black History Month
Recited one of my short stories as part of the event please click here to view
In partnership with Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture event, won a grant out of 160 applicants to put on an artistic event called Red Light Busking click here
My creative blog on fatherhood www.daddieslovetheirdaughters.com