Sisters 64

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I was still puzzled by the defence, as they seemed to have done nothing at all in the way of cross-examination. No smoke and mirrors, no mud-slinging (Angharad had already collared that role) and no awkward questions at all. They had reserved their energy for procedural tics, such as the objections to Ambrose’s perceived delivery of hearsay.

We had a couple of medics up first, who delivered number of anodyne statements about bruising and welts, before the ushers started moving equipment around. It seemed that my mother-in-law was no longer able to walk, and when she entered it was indeed on wheels, with a young nurse beside her who took up station on a folding chair just behind the old witch.

Angharad looked dreadful, flesh vanished from her face and her hands palsied as she took the book, but her voice was still strong, that odd Gog accent quacking away. She gave her evidence in English, and I could only assume that she wanted to avoid the drone of Delyth’s go-between. It was an odd dance, for all my training had been to avoid engaging with the shysters, while Angharad’s gaze could have skinned the defence. Her words to us in Capel Curig came back to me, and I had a fleeting moment of sympathy for the barrister, who I am sure I saw twitch, just a little, as we were led, once again, through the labyrinth of Scripture.

“How long were you married to the defendant, Mrs Roberts?”

“I am still married to him. It is a sacrament not to be dissolved by a mortal man. His fornication and adultery have not altered that state, ah?”

Get your stall set out early, Angharad, why don’t you?

“Ah. Could you tell the court how you met?”

It was a pretty dreary story, of eyes meeting over Job, or perhaps during a debate on the relative levels of abhorrence to be reserved for varying types of abomination; I am afraid I tuned out for a lot of it. Despite Mam and Dad being as solidly Christian as I would ever see, and Pat and Janet’s logic games, I had done my best to steer very, very clear of Chapel concerns and involvement, especially once I had realised the way my affections led. I suspect I was nodding off when Siân elbowed me in the short ribs.

“You only had the one child, then, Mrs Roberts?”

“Yes. A pervert and abomination, whoring herself in unnatural ways. She is sitting over there, with that other pervert, her partner in sin”

No real change to her, then, as she pointed at us, despite all that Ambrose and Vicky must have been doing to show her another and different way of thinking. Ouch.

“So just the one child, then. Did you wish for more?”

Just a twitch, a quiver to an eyelid, but he had her.

“I could not hope for such a blessing, as my womb was clearly cursed”

“Cid Carwyn Roberts express any such desires, a wish for other children?”

She stared at the barrister for several long, glacial moments. “That man never wished for the blessing of children at all”

“But you had a child, Mrs Roberts”

“I do believe that may have been due to his laxity in avoiding such an event. He was not pleased”

“Why was he not pleased, Mrs Roberts?”

“In his words…”

The bravado was cracking at last. It was the first time I had seen her hesitate, other than when she had first called Siân for help, and when Kev had read her the Riot Act over her attitude to his family. She struggled for a while, but the wig kept on at her.

“In his words, Mrs Roberts?”

She looked up sharply at him, little patches of red igniting in her cheeks.

“In his words, you ask, ah? In his words our Lord had created him with needs, and my pregnancy was a spiteful act to deprive him of his rights, ah? He would be sated, with or without the…inconvenience, just as…”

Her head ducked, for a couple of seconds. Was that bloody shame? SHAME? From Angharad sodding Roberts? Her next words were spat out, and this time her glare was directed squarely at her husband.

“Eve’s Curse, ah, Carwyn? The monthly visitation?”

“Carry on…”

“Carwyn saw such things as menstruation and pregnancy as deliberate acts intended to deprive him of his marital, his conjugal, his God-given rights as a man. He would not be thwarted, ah? Not be diverted from attaining his… his grat-if-ic-A-tion. He would assert himself at such times”

“Could you describe what such, er, assertion involved?”

Yes, it was shame that burned in her, and I found myself revisiting the mental slap I had given myself over my own dismissal of the rape victim Delyth Siencyn. This was the other side of rape, where the victim throws blame in entirely the wrong direction.

Her voice was softer. “Assertion. Yes… Assertion. Carwyn would assert himself, with rope and rod”

“What would he do with a rope, Mrs Roberts?”

“Bind me. The rod was for chastisement”

“For clarity, Mrs Roberts, to ensure this matter is clearly understood by the jury, please define what you mean by chastisement?”

“He would strike me”

“With his hands?”

“No. With a rod, a garden cane at first, but later he would use a length of plastic piping. So as to leave fewer evidential marks, ah?”

“Ah indeed. And what would then ensue?”

“He would sate his lusts upon my body”

“On or within, Mrs Roberts?”

Jesus fucking wept! Did a barrister just ask my mother-in-law if her husband fucked her or wanked on her? Siân had a tight grip on my hand, nails digging in, and as Dad took mine I saw that Vicky had my wife’s other hand.

“You are referring to Onan’s sin? No, for that would never have been a virtuous act. Within”

She looked away, into a private world. “No, always within. Even when I was unclean”

Her mouth worked for an instant, jaw locking, lips twisting.

“At those times he would find another avenue. That of Sodom”

Once again, we got the glare, but it was softer by the slightest of margins.

“I often wonder, ah? If my daughter would have been a pervert if such acts had not befallen her mother as she grew in the womb. If I could…”

All at once, she broke. Racking sobs, tears, the works; all of her defences shattered and fell away.

“After Carwyn went a-whoring, I was homeless, and I found I did have some family. Victoria and her husband Kevin—Victoria, she sits by my daughter now. Victoria and Kevin, they are not Godly, but they are as moral as this sinful world gives us these days, they gave me shelter, ah? And they had a child, a little girl, Tara, and I could see what might have been, if I had not been sinned upon and within, if the fruit of my own womb had not been born to and of that sin and abomination. And that loss… I understood at last what that man had done to me. But it is not finished, Carwyn”

She looked directly at him, as he seemed to study an odd corner of the ceiling, and the venom came back to her voice.

“Do you see, dearest husband? Cariad? Do you see how our daughter, even in her unnatural fornication, is growing? Do you see the same in her partner in filth? Those are children to come, dearest husband mine, and they are kin together, kin to each other, in blood, and do they will be kin to me, and all that I have and all I can take back from you will be theirs, ah? While you rot in prison, our daughter will atone for her sin!”

The defence was a bit slow on that one, her outburst stunning just about everybody, but the judge was on top of things.

“Mrs Roberts, please do not address the defendant again. That is not a part of your role in these proceedings”

“I beg your pardon, your honour”

He looked over at the prosecution. “Do you have more relevant evidence to put to this witness?”

The wig sighed. “I believe we have covered the essential aspects of our case here, your honour”

“Then we shall adjourn these proceedings for one hour”


We stood, he stood, and once more we made our way to the little café. My wife was trembling, Vicky and Chris both wrapped around her, but Blake looked odd, and after a few seconds of thought I realised it was shame. He caught me looking at him, and shook his head.

“Lainey, what is it with bloody men? I mean, all that shit we worked on, and that bastard with Di, and, well, MEN!”

I shook my head, and he grinned, wryly.

“Don’t even think of saying ‘what would I know about men’, Lainey!”

I just looked around our little circle, and then back at Blake.

“Look around you, mate. Look at yourself, look at my Dad and Uncle Arwel, aye? Look at bloody Chris there, and then think. That you can ask a question like that says all that needs saying. Hang onto that, aye?”

He nodded, but tears were hiding.

Once again, I was wondering what other little delights awaited us. Either way, I intended to make bloody sure, that evening, that my wife knew I loved her.

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