In the Genes

Monoamine Oxidase A (low activity genotype variation) and Cadherin 13 are known as the warrior genes. You may have heard of them, but didn’t know their names, well – there they are – MAOA-L and CDH13. For years scientists have been trying to find the causation of these two genes and violent behaviour; as the correlation was clear to see. One study recently concluded that whilst serial killers always have these genes, the activator is early childhood trauma. In short, if you aren’t traumatised and you have these genes, you’re likely to be fine. Tony fit into the traumatised category.

You’d suspect that having a child with dwarfism would instil an even greater sense of caring, if that’s possible. Yet, Tony’s father saw his physicality as an easy opportunity for exploitation. Much like a circus freak show, he’d wheel Tony to the pub and display him. Combining his woes with crocodile tears, he would feign acquiescence upon the offering of consolatory pints by whomever would listen to his tales of woe. Whilst this was distasteful, it was not wholly damaging, as the little tyke would never remember the exploitative practices of his father. When he reached school age and the clientele had grown thoroughly sick of his practices, Tony’s father amused himself by carrying out increasingly draconian methods of punishment. These punishments soon evolving into treatments, with the excuse of the sleight fading from memory.

There was an abandoned yard not far from their home. Some days Tony was permitted to play amongst the rubble and debris, with strict instructions to hide if anyone approached the entrance gate. The yard bordered an oft used road, being the primary road between two large towns. At the back, behind a brick wall, stood a workshop, it was in this workshop that a rusty cabinet stood. You may be thinking that Tony would hide in this cabinet when someone approached, as instructed, but the reality was far more atrocious. Tony was barricaded into this metal coffin more times than anyone would dream to imagine. It was the responsibility of Tony’s father to look after him during the day, whilst his mother worked; yet Tony’s father had a penchant for the pub and the bookies – both places the absence of young children is de rigueur.

After the day’s activity was over, his father would return to the cabinet, slide out the metal bar that ensured his ensnarement and return home. Tony learnt to almost relish the solitude, the darkness moulded his thoughts, yet there was always the promise of eventual release at the days end.

One day his mother left. 

This sent his father into a rage that decimated their house and nearly took Tony’s life. He roughly dragged him to the cabinet and threw him in. The first day was pretty much like all the rest. There was a certain amount of uneasiness and he mourned the leaving of his mother. He knew she would never return.

As night ate the last ray of light, he soiled himself.
The night went slowly, yet he managed to sleep, in fits and starts as the foxes and cats moved around the yard. The sun rose and with it the hope his father would return to free him. 

The second day drew on, he grew frantic as his mouth turned to sandpaper and his lips split. His stomach was growling, yet he knew that would fade. He could hear the road, but nothing defined, just a low and constant hum.

As darkness approached, again; he couldn’t bare it anymore. Deciding to risk his father’s wrath, he screamed at the top of his lungs. Yet, his dehydration had closed his throat, his screams were shallow and weak. He shook the cabinet to loosen the bar, but it held. The night went by in a haze of melancholy and despair; the stench of his clothes attracting rats that scurried and scratched at the cabinet. The doors preventing his freedom, now his only protection from their sinister intent. Eventually, the sun rose, and his father returned.

As Tony lay, broken, in the cabinet, the distinctive sound of the metal bar screeching against the doors woke him from his stupor. Shielding his eyes from the glaring light he saw his father looking down on him with utter sorrow. Out of his pocket he retrieved a packet of crisps, a sausage roll and a can of super strength lager. ‘Eat this’ he instructed, handing the food to Tony. He greedily consumed the crisps and sausage roll, barely chewing despite his constricted throat.

‘I’m thirsty, dad’ Tony pleaded. He cracked open the can and handed it to Tony, ‘this’ll help’ he said, as he closed the door.

6 thoughts on “In the Genes

  1. That was… hard to read. I think writing should be hard to read at times. I have kids, and it’s difficult to hear about kids being abused like this, but it does strike me hard and I appreciate that.


  2. WTF! I hope Tony doesn’t quietly allow his dad to bar the door next time. The cruelties and selfishness of abusive and neglectful parents know no bounds.


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