Cycle of Abuse
Frizzy, ginger blonde hair cascading in an unruly halo around her cheeky, freckled face, highlighting her bright, corn blue eyes; she crouched, cowering in the corner of the interview room like a trapped animal.
The prepubescent urchin, tattered and raggedy in a hotchpotch of styles, had been found on the street an hour previously. Nothing strange about that: these poor, unfortunate children are a fact of life; except that she was covered with blood.
Sitting in a chair a few feet away, Michelle tried to gently penetrate her barrier of silence. “Hi, I’m Michelle… what should I call you?” but she got the same response the police had: silence, and a wary, wide eyed stare.
A few moments passed, “Look… said Michelle, I have to call you something, and until you decide to trust me, I’m going to call you Angel… is that OK? You look like an angel… kind of.”
Ten years as a juvenile services worker, Michelle Carey was slightly careworn around her sad, dark eyes and her cheeks were a little hollow; regardless, she looked younger than her thirty four years and was not unattractive. In fact with a little more effort she could have been quite stunning. Slim, almost too slim, dressed in a suit that had been cleaned and pressed too many times, she wore her dark brown hair short and business-like, and good posture made her appear taller than her five feet four inches.
“So… Angel, are you hungry?” Sensing a flicker of response she added, “I wonder what your favourite food is?… Pizza?… Hamburger?… maybe even a big juicy steak?” By now the urchin was just a very hungry little girl, her mouth watering so much she had to keep swallowing. “What do you think, Officer Mahony?… could we send out for something?”
Getting to her feet, Courtney Mahony started for the door. “Oh, I think that could be arranged,” she said with a smile. Opening her purse, Michelle fished out a single, crumpled twenty. “No… my treat,” said the police woman.
As the door closed Michelle locked eyes with the girl, recognising instantly a soul in torment.
Angela was four years old when her father, a respected primary school principal, began sexually molesting her and by the time she was seven he was having a full sexual relationship with her. Unable to cope with the truth, her mother pretended it wasn’t happening. Angela became pregnant before she was twelve years old; her father sold their home and they moved to a small country town.
When Angela died in childbirth they told the authorities they had no idea who the father of the child was, and that they had moved from their last address for Angela’s sake, to avoid a scandal, give her a chance of a new beginning. Volunteering to raise Angela’s daughter as their own child was considered an act of kindness, and accepted without question.
The cycle of abuse began when she was four years old and continued until, at age ten years, she ran away from home.
On the streets, living in a derelict block of flats with half a dozen others, she became one of the numberless street kids of the big city; doing whatever it took to survive.
Minx, a girl just a year older, who’d been on the streets for two years already, took her under her wing.
Minx’s drug addict mother had begun paying her dealer in kind. One day the dealer, noticing Minx for the first time, decided she would be a sweeter deal. The next time he called for payment Minx buried a screwdriver in his jugular, and with her distraught mother screaming, hysterically over the bloody body, Minx left never to return.
“Since then I’ve always carried a screwdriver,” Minx told her. “But I learnt from that first time: if you’ve got a choice burry it in his eye!… Less blood and they die quicker.”
It was eighteen months before the private investigator ― hired by the respected, school principal ― managed to track her down.
One night, while she worked a street renowned for its paedophiles with fat wallets, her grandfather/father caught her completely by surprise. Forcing her into his car and locking the doors, he barely gave her a glance as he started the engine. He certainly never noticed her reaching into her raggedy, over sized coat.
Barely pausing, she plunged the screwdriver through his left eye. Fleeing the scene, she threw the screwdriver into the harbour.
Detective Inspector Finlayson entered, indicating with a nod that he needed to talk to Michelle.
“Make yourself comfortable, Angel… Get a bit of shut-eye if you can. I’ll be back in a minute; and Officer Mahony should be here soon with something nice to eat.”
In the corridor D.I. Warren Finlayson looked at his feet before meeting her questioning gaze. “We were on our way to assist a stabbing victim found near death in his car when we first saw the girl, running like a frightened rabbit. Two patrol cars were already attending the stabbing, with an ambulance on the way; so when Officer Mahony thought she saw blood on the girl we decided to investigate.”
An odd feeling in her stomach, knowing the answer but giving no indication, she said, “You think there’s a connection?”
“We’ve since established that the blood on the girl belonged to the victim,” said DI Finlayson, soberly, before adding, “Emergency just called… He died.”
Her insides were churning now but she was outwardly calm as she said, “And the weapon?”
“We haven’t found it yet,” he said, giving her a curious look, “but, it must have been a screwdriver or something similar… right through his jugular vein.”
As Michelle and the police woman watched in silence, the ragamuffin demolished the first hamburger in seconds flat, seeming not to chew at all, and as she started on the second, “I can’t watch this…” said the Officer Mahony, and then giving a little laugh, “I’ll get her some milk to wash it down.”
As soon as she left the room Michelle ventured a little closer and whispered, “Angel!” and when she turned those corn blue eyes on her she put a finger to her lips, eyes wide in warning, “Shhh… Say nothing!”
Some people would say that Michelle Carey was driven; in her thirties and still single, she dedicating every waking moment to her underpaid job, and no one had ever heard of her having an intimate relationship.
It was more than twenty two years since another ragged street urchin had been picked up for questioning in connection with a man found dead in his car: this one stabbed through his left eye. It was six months before that street urchin spoke a word. She was never charged. The juvenile services worker looking after her placed her in an orphanage run by nuns; a road to certain ruin had been averted.
Blossoming under the nuns’ tutelage, the child had an excellent education and, taking what the Mother Superior considered to be the obvious path, she became a novice nun. However, never taking her final vows, Michelle became a juvenile services worker instead.
Author T.D. McKinnon writes in the genres of action/thriller, speculative fiction, memoir and historical fiction. He now lives in Tasmania with his wife, professional actor, singer, dancer and editor Zoë Lake. Learn more about T.D. Mckinnon and his writing from his website, Goodreads author page and his Amazon author page.