I lived in the bad part of town, I went to the bad school, it was very rough, at first my big sister protected me, but I learnt to defend myself. They called me Thumper.
My Mom kicked my Dad out and we moved to a better part of town and I went to a better school. It was a better school, only a few of the boys hit one another, but the name Thumper followed me. I wore a t-shirt with a cartoon rabbit on it. I hated the rabbit but it was less trouble.
I was in the top class, but I was still Thumper, held back by all those rough years in the bad part of town, I was a late developer.
What did I want? I asked my friend Charley, he is a bit odd, like he always says “C for Charley, C for clown.” He told me who had all the action, who had it, who used it, who looked like a dressman, who looked like a supermodel.
Fillip and Cecilia, of course. OK, they both looked good, Cecilia was definitely the most beautiful girl and most attractive. Too beautiful and too attractive! And what was wrong with Fillip? He was so handsome. He was also an ARROGANT BASTARD!
That did not help none. The two of them had been together for months, real hot stuff said Charley. My problem? I wanted one of them.
What did I want? I asked my big sister. She told me that I was still fighting in the streets in the bad part of town. She said that I had to grow up, change my attitude, get my hair done, wear attractive clothes and on and on.
She kept her promise, she helped me, two months later I looked more human, or so she said. Charley said so too, he also said that Fillip and Cecilia met every day after school in the old, disused gym.
But I was still Thumper.
What to do? I went to the old gym after school. It was not locked, perhaps the lock was broken. I went to the far wall, raised my arms to grab the climbing bars, faced the wall and waited.
“Oh, Cecilia! You're looking good, even from this side.” Fillip kissed the back of my neck. “You smell so good, you real woman, you.” Fillip fumbled me. “You and me, you and me.” Fillip did something to me that I can't repeat here. “Oh, that's real good!” It was. “I'm going to turn you round and...”
“Oh, hell! You're not Cecilia. You're Thumper. What yer doing here?”
“Oh, you're right, I'm Thumper and you, Fillip, are real good. I like you, Fillip. You are not who I thought you were. I'm not who you thought I was. Look at me, Fillip! I may not be as pretty as Cecilia, but I'm a real woman, you just said so.”
“I want you, Fillip.”
“Go away! I don't want a Thumper. Where is Cecilia? I'm going. Nice meeting yer.”
“Fillip! When I say I want you, I mean it. You are not going anywhere. You are going to finish what you started, I'm sure you can.”
“No luck, Thumper, you don't look bad I must say. But you can't force me to stay...”
I thumped him twice and knocked him to the ground. “I want you, Fillip.”
He stood and tried to go. He did not get very far. I knelt down beside him, I put my arms around him, I said nice things in his ear. He got the message.
It was very good. He was very gentle, perhaps he was tired, he was very good. I told him how good he was.
I helped him to his feet and walked to his home with him. I had got what I wanted, a lot of Fillip. I wanted more.
We met the next day at my big sister's apartment, I had a key. I told him that I had forgiven him for making me hit him. He was good, very good. He told me that I was a real woman.
I told him about my past, the bad side of town, my useless father. He didn't know that, he knew the old Thumper of course and was very happy with the new one. He used the right words to make me feel good.
He told me about his drunken dad. He told me that he only been arrogant to win over Cecilia. He was a good guy really, I told him so, didn't he want to hear that! There was a lot we had in common, there was a lot to hold us together.
Big changes in my life. Mom put her arms around my neck “Thumper, I gotta tell you this. Please don't take it badly. I've not been a good mother to you. I'm sorry. My life is in a mess. Too many useless boyfriends, too much partying. I've made a mess of my life in this town. I gotta go. I going to stay in a little town on the coast, far away from here, I've gotta be on my own for a bit, get my life back together.”
“I've stopped the contract on the apartment. I want you to stay with your sister, you have no problems with her. Please tell me that you can take that. Please tell me that you don't hate me.”
It took an hour, with help from my sister, to tell her that it was OK. I told her that I had a boyfriend and that we would visit her.
Big Sis drove Mom and all her stuff to the little town on the coast and I had a big helping of Fillip.
So what had happened to Cecilia? She cornered me one morning in the school yard.
“So what's so great about you, Thumper? How come you get to snatch Fillip away from me? Fillip and I had a good thing going until you prettied yourself up and grabbed him. Oh, yes. He had no chance. You hit him, Thumper.”
“You, Thumper, are a Thumper. I can see through you. You are a violent thug. I'm going to hit you. I'm going to hurt you. Fillip won't want to see you after I've finished with you. I'm going to...”
“No, Cecilia, no! You are not going to do that. We are going for a walk. You tell me about me and I will tell you about you.”
She was right of course, I was a violent thug, I could not hide it from her.
I was right of course, she was the most beautiful and the most attractive girl in the class. I did not tell her that she liked girls and that she wanted me – some other time.
She told me that I could have Fillip, she fancied Les. He was the new boy in the class, very big, very brash, very brutal.
“You want HIM? He's brutal. You know that he has had a fight with all the boys except Fillip. And that's going to happen. I gotta be there. Fillip 'snot doing any fighting, that's my job.”
I suppose every girl likes being picked up by a big, strong and handsome male, being squeezed, feeling his big surprise and being violently kissed. Every girl likes it, providing it's the right male.
It was the wrong male – Les did not have the guts to fight Fillip – he decided to rape Fillip's girlfriend.
Les picked me up, squeezed me, and then big surprise, I did not feel his surprise.
I threw him to the floor and thumped him just short of passing out.
“Did you like that?”
“How would you like me to drag you to the main hallway and thump you again with everybody looking?”
“Sound's fun, don't it? Girl beats hell out of boy. The cameras are there too.”
“You know something? You've got a secret, a little secret, but I'm sure you can find a girl somewhere who wants to share your little secret.”
He stared at me.
Why am I unhappy? I should be happy, everybody I know is happy. Why not me?
Fillip makes me happy, we meet every day. This is going to last a long time, we know it. I should be happy.
Charley has a boyfriend, they are both very happy.
Les is very happy. He never had a fight with Fillip, he didn't get the best looking girl, he got the ugliest. Daphne is not plain, she is not ugly, she is not plain ugly, she is real ugly. But she adores him, he is devoted to her, they are both so happy.
Cecilia and me cornered Daphne one afternoon after school. “We are going to make you look better, do something about your appearance, you'll like it.”
“No way, I don't want to look a tart like you two.”
Cecilia looked at me, I looked at Cecilia, we laughed. “Daphne, you will do what Thumper tells you to do, got it?”
We took her to the hairdresser in town and got her hair fixed. We took her to a chain store and bought her a simple black dress, a little black number, every woman looks good in that.
We took her to my sister's apartment, some lip gloss, a little eye shadow, a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I grabbed a string of white beads from the necklace tree and put it around her neck.
“Well, you do look good. Stand in front of the mirror and turn around slowly!”
“Wow!” said Daphne. “That's really something.”
She still was very ugly, but we didn't tell her that. “Daphne, you gotta look good for Les tonight.”
“But I'm not seeing Les tonight.”
I gave her the phone. “Make him feel special tonight! You are something special.”
After Daphne had gone I put my arms around Cecilia. “I'm so happy about you and Monika.” I kissed her on the forehead.
“How do you know about Monika and me? It's supposed to be a secret.”
“I ain't telling anybody, Cecilia.” I kissed her again.
Mom is happy. I've never seen her so happy. Fillip and me took a train to the coast to visit her for a day. Mom has a part-time job and a new boyfriend, they are happy.
Dad is happy. He was still living in the bad part of town, still useless. He asked about Mom, I told him, he was clever enough not to ask where she lived. He is happy.
Big Sis was still the big constant in my life, my ersatz mother. She has too many boyfriends, but she is happy.
Marina and George live in the bad part of town, Marina and George are Fillip's parents. I got invited to Sunday lunch. I really liked Marina, George was useless, but harmless. Marina was really happy about me, about what a nice boy Fillip had become. Marina is happy.
Daphne was crying. I tried to comfort her. “You having problems with Les?”
“Yes, I mean no. It's Les, he's got a problem, I can't tell what it is. We are both so unhappy. What can I do?”
I put my arms around her and whispered in her ear. “Daphne, I think I know what Les's problem is, you don't have to tell me.” I held her a while. “Daphne, listen to me! Hear everything I'm going to tell you, don't say anything until I've finished.”
“But that's disgusting, I can't do that.”
“Daphne, you are in my arms, it's good isn't it? It's even better when Les is holding you, holding you tight. You love Les, don't you? I can see it in your eyes. You will do anything to make Les happy. It will make you happy. Just try it.”
Daphne is happy, Les is happy.
Cecilia told me a secret. She and Monika were going to share an apartment, and maybe, just maybe, adopt a couple of kids. Cecilia and Monika are happy.
Oh, yes, everybody is happy, it reads just like the standard letter that your aunt and uncle send you every Xmas. That was the problem. It would soon be Xmas and I was invited to stay with the Williams, Fillip's family, for Xmas. I should have been happy, but I knew that it was going to be dreadful.
It's three o'clock in the morning, I'm lying on my back thinking, Fillip is lying half on me, my left breast in his mouth, I run a finger nail along his spine.
There is a streak of violence in me, I hit people, I am evil. Thick black clouds are coming out of the doors and drawers, it's that time of the night, there are demons in the air, there is evil.
Marina didn't look too good, she had fallen down the stairs, it wasn't too pretty. I helped prepare the big Xmas dinner, roast goose and everything to go with it. I had never eaten that before, something to really look forward to. I did all the heavy work, Marina was very weak.
Fillip had gone with his dad to the pub for a bit of the early Xmas spirit. I helped Marina. There was something very special about her. I did not understand. She wasn't another ersatz mother for me, no, but something, someone, very special.
In the afternoon Marina and George sat on the sofa, Marina watched TV and looked at the goose in the oven from time to time, George slept off the early Xmas spirit. Fillip and me made love very slowly in the bedroom, it was very good, Fillip had had not much of the early Xmas spirit.
The roast goose was great, much better than turkey, you've gotta try it.
After dinner was the present giving time, the Bescherung as Marina called it. Fillip and I had arranged this, everybody had something to give to everybody, everybody got what they wanted or what they liked, everybody was happy.
There was plenty of the Xmas spirit, there were nuts and fruit and sweet things and tasty things, everybody had a good time, everybody was happy.
I helped Fillip to bed, I wrapped myself around him, we were happy.
“Happy Xmas, Darling!”
Just before dawn I got up to go to the bathroom, there was someone in there, I went downstairs to the guest toilet. When I came out there stood George, naked George.
George grabbed me, dragged me into the living room and tried to throw me on the sofa. I have never thumped anybody so hard before. He didn't move any more, maybe he was dead, I didn't care, I went back to bed.
As I reached the top of the stairs I heard crying from the parents' bedroom, I went inside. “Don't hit me! Please, don't hit me again. Please!”
I got into the bed, I held Marina tight, I kissed her, she tasted salty, I licked the blood from her face. She said nothing, I said nothing, I had to hold her, the crying stopped. I had the feeling that she was coming into my body, that she and I were coming together to make one person. I cried.
I lay there, I was thinking. Marina had become part of me, for now anyway, Fillip crawled into the bed an hour later. What did I know? What must I do? What could I say to Fillip, to Marina, and to George if he was still alive?
I knew that I was deeply in love with Fillip, I knew that I wanted to marry him and have children with him.
I knew that this was something very good to announce at Xmas, but not this Xmas. No, I knew that I had to keep quiet about this.
I knew that I had found the love of my life and that I would never leave Marina.
No, I knew that I had to keep quiet about this.
I knew that George was a drunkard, I knew that George hit his wife, I knew that George tried to rape me, I knew that George needed treatment.
I knew that the problem was George, I knew that it was my problem.
George was not dead.
I made breakfast for the four of us. Nobody spoke. Everybody knew that it was a black Boxing Day. Fillip did not know why, we all had our pain.
“OK, everybody. Listen to me! I have to tell you the truth.”
“George is very ill. He needs treatment. I don't know exactly what is wrong with him. I don't know what he needs. I'm taking George to the doctor on Monday morning.”
Fillip stared at me, Marina stared at me.
George screamed. “There's nothing wrong with me. You can't make me go to the doctor. I...”
“George, sit down!”
George screamed and jumped about. I hit him and he sat down.
“George, do what I say, you know you have no choice, get used to it!”
I needed some fresh air. Marina and Fillip needed some explanations. George needed to rest his wounds. I tied George to the sofa and the three of us went for a walk along the river.
I told them the whole truth. Fillip didn't want to believe it. Marina knew the truth, but still didn't want to believe it.
It's hard to accept that your father, your husband, is an alcoholic, a wife beater and a rapist, well almost.
It's hard to accept that your girlfriend, your lover, thumps your father, your husband, because he doesn't behave himself.
I had to accept that I had three problems, not just George, I had to help Fillip and Marina too.
For Fillip I was the source of all his happiness, his future plans, everything that he wanted. It was hard for him to accept that his father was so ill, it was hard for him to accept that he must share me with his mother. For Fillip I was the big and wonderful cookie jar – any time he wanted he could put his hand in the cookie jar and pull out a piece of wonder.
For Marina I was the source of all her happiness, I was wonderful, I poured a bucket of wonder over her every few minutes.
Now, don't get me wrong, I loved and love them both, I do. But it did cost and does cost a lot of energy, especially in those winter days just after Xmas. And I had the George problem.
George was not there, George had gone, probably one of his mates had untied him.
I went to the pub, there he was, drunk, loud, with a glass of beer in his hand and down his shirt. He was angry, he called me everything he could think of, I don't want to repeat what he said about me.
“George, you're making a fool of yourself.” The pub went quiet. He laughed and shouted at me again. What could he know about my genitals?
I grabbed his beer, poured it over his head, thumped him a few times, grasped him by the collar and marched him home.
“Good morning, Mr Williams. What can I do for you? You haven't been here for some time, an ingrowing toenail five years ago.”
George stood up and shouted that there was nothing wrong with him. I put my hand on his shoulder and sat him down again. “George, behave yourself!”
“My name is Thumper. George has more than one problem. He's an alcoholic, he is violent, perhaps he has a brain tumour, that's why I brought him here.”
“Well, Mrs Thumper, er, um. You are Mr Williams' daughter perhaps?”
“I'm George's future daughter-in-law. I look after him. His wife can't do it, he hits her. You could say that I'm George's minder, his unofficial guardian, someone has to do it.”
“OK, we could send him to the Brain Unit at the clinic, they're very good there, but first...”
George did not like this, he stood up, leaned across the desk and breathed alcohol all over the doctor, she didn't like it. “I'm not a loony. You're got no right to...”
I pulled him back and whopped him.
“Mrs Thumper, I think that Mr Williams is not the only one with problems here.”
“I know, I know, but it's the only way to keep him quiet. Can we fix George's problems first?”
“As I was saying, we'll give Mr Williams all the usual tests first and then we'll send him to the Brain Unit.”
“Sounds good to me. Thank you doctor.” George just groaned.
I hauled George back home, my home now.
I am Mrs Thumper now, that did amuse me.
No, he did not want to get up early. Yes, he did want his breakfast. No, he did not get any. Yes, I did thump him.
George screamed when they stuck a needle in him. “Hey, don't take all my blood, I need it.” Getting him to piss in a little bottle took time and thumping. The other tests were too embarrassing to talk about.
George liked riding the bicycle for the ECG, but he didn't want to take all his clothes off for the general examination, I hit him.
“Mrs Thumper, you don't have to stay, I don't think Mr Williams needs your help now.”
“Doctor Jones, I am not just George's minder, I'm here to protect you too.”
The doctor swallowed hard.
She looked in all his orifices, she was very thorough. George groaned.
I took George to the five-hole doctor. They cleaned his ears out, tested his hearing and looked down his throat.
I took George to the eye doctor. They tested his eyesight.
I took George to the tooth doctor. They filled some of his teeth, he cried.
I took George to the urologist. No, I'm not saying what happened there.
All this took time, weeks, I noticed that George was slowly turning into a child, but there was not much wrong with him, just a few fillings to his teeth and some stronger reading glasses and a lot of bruises from you-know-who.
The Brain Unit was brutal, more than me, they stuck needles into George and gave him electric shocks. They did tell me why they were doing this, but I did not believe them. George cried like a baby.
On the last day of the tests they put George in the brain scanner. It was a very big machine and very loud. It frightened me, but George loved it.
It took hours to plot pictures of George's brain.
The doctors looked at the pictures, I looked at the pictures, Fillip brought Marina to look at the pictures, George wasn't interested.
There wasn't much to see. And that was the problem.
George's brain was slowly turning into jelly, George had to go into a home, I helped Marina fill in all the forms.
Marina, Fillip and me went back home, I felt very strange, there was no George to keep under control and wallop from time to time. Fillip opened the front door, I walked inside and collapsed on the floor.
I slept for days, I cried a lot, the doctor came, I was burnt out. I knew damn well what that meant, a breakdown. I wanted to get out of bed and get on with my life, but I felt so tired, perhaps they were putting something in my food.
Everybody was so kind to me, especially my boyfriend and my lover. Everyone came to visit me, Cecilia and Monika, Daphne and Les, Charley and his partner, my sister of course and my dad. Mom wrote me a long letter.
I noticed that the buckets of wonder were being poured over me now, it was wonderful. I could see how handsome Fillip was. “You're not my boyfriend any more, we'll getting married soon.” I could see what Marina really looked like, the bruises were gone, I could see how beautiful Marina was. “You are my lover.”
I had time to think. I read about an 85-year-old woman who stopped a man dragging a 7-year-old kid into the bushes, I think it was in Duisburg. Sometimes force is OK, perhaps.
My name is Thumper, I come from the bad part of town. There is a streak of violence in me, it is true, I cannot deny it. I must live with that.
My name is Thumper, I come from the bad part of town.