I woke with a start. I’d been having
a nightmare. It was early. I drew back
my curtains. The street lamps still blared
their sickly yellow. There was a dewy mist
draped over the whole world. The shadow
of a man was standing in the street. He
was muffled up in a big dark overcoat.
My heart somersaulted into my mouth.
I felt quite certain it was Uncle Timothy.
I could tell he was gazing up at my
window. I wanted to scream.
Two plain-clothed policewomen called
at the house. Mrs Eames was present,
but she was all clammed-up and sulky.
Uncle Timothy had been cautioned. It
transpired that he had a record of
harassing young girls. I felt vindicated.
My instincts had been right. I don’t think
you’ll be hearing from your Uncle Timothy
again, said the taller, thinner police-
women. Mrs Eames gasped. We went
to pay your Uncle a second visit. It looks
like he’s scarpered. Guess he didn’t want
to face the music, she concluded, with
obvious satisfaction. It felt like an
oppressive weight had been lifted.
I was light-headed. I began to sob.
But they were tears of delight.
Natalie, you’ve blown things out of all
proportion. I don’t know what’s made
you accuse such a kind, sweet man.
The whole thing is lunacy. Mrs Eames
was flabbergasted. She said I was an
ungrateful troublemaker. The police had
visited Uncle Timothy and taken him in
for questioning. This would affect his
whole business. People would whisper.
A perfectly fine man would take a
grievous tumble in the world. I tried to
tell Mrs Eames about all the inappropriate
creepy stares. But she was adamant I’d
made a terrible mistake. I dashed up to
my room, and buried my face in my duvet.
I made a full statement. The lady I spoke
with was kind and attentive. I surprised
myself by crying softly. Delicate questions
were asked. I kept my cool. I made sure
my answers were pertinent, succinct. It
was like navigating in shark-infested
waters. Finally, the interview was over.
I was advised to avoid Uncle Timothy.
He would be receiving a visit from the
police. Two caseworkers were allocated
to me. They would telephone me shortly,
to organise a home visit. I hung up. I felt
shivery and tearful. It was imperative
that I tell Mrs Eames. I felt certain there
would be horrible eruptions.
The question of where to go seemed
insurmountable. William and I were living
off peanuts, and the generous handouts
of Mrs Eames. There was absolutely no
chance of finding another home. So I
decided it was better to stay put, and
report Uncle Timothy to child welfare.
They would relish an investigation into
his loathsome ways. I knew this would
break Mrs Eames’ heart, but I didn’t care.
I didn’t plan on being a victim of child
abuse. I thought it was strange that
William had taken a shine to Uncle.
But it was probably all the lavish gifts.
They simply shut William’s mouth. I
picked up my mobile. I scrolled through
a list of government agencies. I dialled.
Uncle Timothy announced that he was
purchasing a house in our neighbour-
hood. He scratched his hanging
jowls and leered at me. He desired, he
said, to be near to his favourite niece
and nephew. Uncle claimed he would
work from his new home. His career
would be unaffected by the move. Mrs
Eames was deliriously happy. She
giggled like a merry schoolgirl, and totally
embarrassed me. I felt my whole soul
shrivelling up. There would be no escape
now, from this horrible pervert. Mrs
Eames fetched two glasses of sherry,
to toast Uncle’s new direction. He quaffed
the sweet liquid down, licking his lips,
looking up and down my body. I flushed.
I knew I had to run. Run from this
Uncle Timothy brought us lavish gifts.
For William there was a red motorised
speedboat. He could take it to the grubby
lagoon behind the gasworks, and race it
among the weeds. For me, I got a huge
make-up set. It felt like Uncle wanted to
tart me up, for his own sick titillation. I
blushed profoundly, and mumbled an
awkward thank you. Mrs Eames was
clearly touched. Uncle lapped up her
praise. Mrs Eames went off to make tea.
Uncle Timothy ensconced himself in our
best chair, and stared at my legs.
The blazing fact struck home slowly.
Finally I saw it. Mrs Eames was interested
in Uncle. Her frothy banter when he was
around signalled it. I couldn’t believe her
poor judgement, her excruciating taste.
Clearly the man was a cringing
paedophile, who had no interest in older
women. My estimation of Mrs Eames’
sensibility came tumbling down. I would
have a word with her. Brush away the fog
that blinkered her vision. I didn’t know
how to broach the subject. So I came
right out with it. Auntie, do you have
hidden feelings for Uncle Timothy?
I asked gently. Mrs Eames was panicked.
She scrabbled her feet. A hot flush
suffused her cheeks. Here was my
Uncle Timothy wore a bright green
waistcoat. He was scented, his hair
was oiled, sleeked back. Mrs Eames
offered him some finger food. He smiled,
and daintily took a sausage on a stick.
I noticed his hand was veiny, mottled
with age spots. Uncle Timothy was
middle-aged. He couldn’t keep his eyes
off me. I prayed it was simply curiosity.
Meanwhile Mrs Eames rattled on about
little things. She mostly reminisced,
steering well clear of Mother’s final
madness. Uncle nodded sagely.
I was sure he didn’t know all the facts.
I watched the way he chewed his
sausage. It was repulsive. I longed for
him to leave. There was no way this
creepy man was going to be mixed
up in our lives. But he stayed on,
and Mrs Eames was effervescent,
I tried to raise my concerns with Mrs
Eames. But it was extremely awkward.
I couldn’t come right out and accuse
Uncle of being a child molester. There
wasn’t a grain of evidence, just a creepy
feeling and some dirty looks. I had
nothing substantial. I questioned William
to test the waters, but he hadn’t felt
anything was untoward. He’s just some
old dude, Nat. Don’t get yourself all
worked up, William insisted dismissively.
But I couldn’t shake off my nerves. It was
like something evil was burrowing under
my skin. I barely thought of poor Mother.
Uncle Timothy was hunkered down on
my life, like an obscene oily toad.