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  • Writer's pictureJack

Broken Man

This is the first in a new series I'm working on titled 'Broken Man', acrylic on board 20 by 30cm.

It's a picture painted from memory of the last time I saw my dad.

He wasn't a very good dad, he was never there when we were kids, he was an alcoholic, he was selfish and mean. When he was on form though he was charming and funny.

He fell over drunk one night and when he woke up he couldn't feel his leg. He went to hospital and was immediately put under for an operation. When he woke up the doctor told him they'd tried their best but couldn't save his leg. He said to the doctor 'Do you want to buy a pair of slippers'. That was him all over.

He still had a bit of fight in him for a while and would go out drinking still and he'd even pounce out of his wheelchair and fight people. Like I said, he was mean.

Eventually though his new situation wore him down. He had phantom leg syndrome or so he claimed and was in constant pain. He would stockpile morphine given to him so he always had plenty. I don't know how he managed to get so much because he had enough spare morphine to offer me it if I wanted it for recreational use, what a dad.

Having the morphine all the time would make him sick so he stopped drinking for the first time in his adult life, I can't remember ever seeing him sober. I think he just gave up on life, he felt like his masculinity had been taken away or something. He was quite a ladies man and now he was alone and referred to himself as a cripple.

I couldn't believe what he was like this last day I saw him, he'd always been a fuck up but now he was really fucked. He was 'gouching' out and couldn't string a sentence together. He was surrounded by burn holes in a arch around him on the floor where he'd passed out and dropped lit cigarettes to the floor. You could see black lines where cigs had burnt all the way down on the floor. I was surprised that he hadn't burnt the place down.

There was no point me being there. I took the cigarette out of his hand and put it between my lips. I wheeled him into his bedroom and tipped his wheelchair so he fell forward on to the bed. I took his glasses off and threw a cover over him, he was totally out of it.

I went back in the other room and took a slim white box of morphine tablets. I enjoyed them now and then. I'd take a couple of them and have a spliff and a beer then go into a weird coma for about ten hours and have out of body experiences and everything, which I found quite agreeable.. Once I woke up covered in my own vomit and realised that I'd had a lucky escape because I'd heard about people choking on their own puke. I gave it a rest after that.

I also took some of his weed and looked in his wallet he had a stack of fivers, I took a couple and I also took a packet of cigarettes, he had loads. I wasn't a good son.

I left him and never saw him again, I didn't feel anything.

It's only when I look at this painting now that I feel sorry for him.

He was from a large family and he was one too many children so his mum gave him to nuns to raise. He hated nuns, apparently they treated him really badly. I was once with him when we passed a nun and he swore at her, this little old lady, I thought how mean it was but he had a lot of resentment.

He'd left the nuns and was out on his own in the world when he was fourteen, he told me he'd drunk since then. He said his mum came to see him when he was eighteen and gave him 'Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club band' album and he threw it across the room and left and never saw her again.

That's all he ever told me about his family and that they were Irish travelers.

I'd always been curious about the grandparents and uncles aunts and cousins I'd never met.

I can't remember how long my dad lived after this last time I saw him, but I think he died of throat cancer in the end, he was found on his own.

I didn't feel a thing when I heard. My brother rand me up to tell me and was crying and I think I said something like 'I'm sorry for your loss'.

I didn't go to his funeral as there would have been lots of people there who I wouldn't want to see, some of them my own siblings. I'd left my life in Bradford and didn't fancy going back.

Years later my younger sister said her and her boyfriend had forced their way into my other sisters house and took his ashes. She asked me to meet her in Whitby.

I got the train up there the same day and got a bed and breakfast and she tuned up the next day.

I'd been sober for two years at that point and broke it to go and raise a few glasses in his favourite place. We got a fishing boat out to scatter his ashes in Whitby bay which had always been his wish. Actually he'd always said don't bother cremating me, just throw me over the side of the boat.

His ashes blew right in my face, in my eyes and nose and mouth when I scattered him over the side of the boat and my sister and I were laughing and I said 'Nice one you mean old bastard'.

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