He fished his phone out of his pocket, grimacing as he read the name flashing upon his screen. This guy? Why was this guy calling? He was always bad news.
Oh ho, he used the ‘mr’ card. This guy wanted something.
“Yep. What can I do for you Matthew?”
If he was anything he was always polite. He just hoped the young man sensed that he was on dangerous footing by the use of his full name.
“It’s your daughter.”
He sat up straight, cautiously placing the cool glass of dark rum on the wooden coffee table before him. He said nothing, waiting for the younger man to continue.
Shit. What was she doing at this bloke’s house? He thought she was done with this tosspot. His daughter sure had rotten taste in boyfriends. Maybe if he’d been there more during her childhood.
“She’s off her face. I don’t know what she’s on but she’s screaming and…”
There was a kerfuffle on the other end. He heard her daughter’s voice, shrill and slurred as she yelled obscenities. His mind flashed to a dark room, a woman screaming, a baby crying.
The young man gave as good as he got before returning his attention to the phone.
“You’ve gotta come get her!”
“I’m on my way.”
He pushed himself off the couch and swayed on his feet. He’d planned for a night in. “Shit.”
“What was that?” came a woman’s voice as she emerged from the kitchen, her husband, his best mate, trailing behind her, rum bottle in hand.
He explained what was going on, running a hand through his prematurely grey, close cropped hair, wondering where he went wrong with his second daughter.
“I’ll drive you,” the woman volunteered.
The woman was a friend of his. Nothing more, nothing less, but he knew his daughter would not like him turning up with her. She was jealous of any woman near him but her own mother. He had no choice though, his ex was on the mines and his elder daughter lived on the other side of the city. That girl was fiercely protective of her little sister. She’d come, but she would probably go ape shit at her younger sister’s ex-boyfriend, should he say something stupid. Undoubtedly he would.
The drive took them about twenty minutes. He was on edge the entire time. When they pulled up outside he could hear the screaming. A male voice dominated over the young woman’s. He could hear tears, crashes. His daughter had spiralled downwards since meeting this guy. This angry, narcissistic, self-centred, no-good little cock.
He took the steps to the apartment two at a time, racing up to the second floor. He didn’t knock, he just let himself in. There was the young man, his hand wrapped around his daughter’s throat, a sneer on his face as he pushed her against the wall. He was in there in a second, disentangling the boy from his young daughter. The old saying, if looks could kill, was never more aptly applied to the way he glared at the young man. For once the boy was smart and he backed away.
The father pushed his daughter out of the apartment and down the stairs. She was compliant until she saw the woman behind the wheel of the car. She rounded on her father. Her tongue lashed out words he never considered she’d know. She claimed him as a harlot, unfaithful. She blamed him for her parent’s divorce. None of it fazed him. She was crazed out of her mind. He tried to calm her, tried soothing words. They had no effect. He moved forward to wrap his arms around her, to hold his baby daughter close. For a moment she allowed this. When the woman emerged from the car, the demon was released again. The girl lashed out, striking her father, kicking him in the shins, bashing him on the shoulder.
He could disarm her easily. One, two, three and she would no longer harm herself or him, but he did not move. He allowed her to thrash.
“You’re not my father anymore!” She screamed.
The fight escaped him, his face fell and his shoulders slumped. He was winded by her words.
The girl, not long eighteen, turned and sprinted into the nearby park.
For a moment he considered letting her go.
His youngest daughter.
Her words stung more than anything he had ever imagined. More than the bullet wound he had suffered in Afghanistan.
He took off after her.