When Presley’s behavior towards his grandmother turned disrespectful, it was really because he didn’t know any better. He was merely conducting himself in a way that any other child his age would have reacted given the circumstances. He had been placed in the care of an erratic guardian, in a new environment without his consent and was expected to behave normally. Although this was asking a bit much from a boy who had never before been away from his mother (apart for the first few months of his life, which he had absolutely no recollection of), his behavior was more than exceptional in the days and weeks that followed his new beginning in Yarmouth. Everything that he was instructed by his grandmother to do, he did; he was fun; he was charismatic; he was mannerly; he was loving. He was everything Ms. Sillow could have asked for in a grandchild, and more. Never in her wildest dreams would she have imagined that her mild-mannered angel of all people would transform into a totally different person.
Things would have been so much better for the boy if his mother had actually forgotten the telephone number to the cottage after all. He had been doing so well up until the point when he heard her unmistakable shrill voice for the first time in several months. As a matter of fact, her call had come on the cusp of when his mind had almost completely expelled all recollections of her altogether. Even though he was only hearing her voice over the phone, it felt so good to have contact with his mother in some way.
Despite shirking her maternal duties, Sondra was always going to possess that innate motherly love for her child. Too bad her mother couldn’t, or just plain refused to, see that. Ms. Sillow assumed that there had to be some kind of guileful motive behind her daughter’s phone calls. She was convinced that Sondra was jealous of the job that she was doing raising Presley and surmised that her calls were being made with the sole intention of trying to convince the boy that she was a terrible grandmother. She concluded that that could have been the only reason why her grandson’s attitude was getting so poor. As a result of her unfounded beliefs, the boy would undeservingly suffer for these harmless phone calls.
The first time that Ms. Sillow ever laid her hands on her grandson, the severity in which her method of punishment was carried out didn’t bother her one bit. She felt no ounce of pity for the boy as she watched him desperately slither into a corner of the kitchen and curl himself up into a compact ball as he made a futile attempt at protecting his fragile body against her unrestrained rage. No matter how much that little boy cried or appealed to his grandma to discontinue her vicious attack, Ms. Sillow just kept driving her fists and the soles of her feet into the helpless child’s chest, skull, and groin area. Sadly, occurrences like this became the norm inside of the household, with similar brutish acts being carried out regularly against the poor boy throughout the course of the week.
Following Ms. Sillow’s latest assault against him for the dialogue with his mother that she had highly disapproved of, she was able to sleep comfortably that night and didn’t wake up the following morning with the flogging that had half killed the boy weighing down on her conscience. Instead, what her ferine behavior did do was give her a feeling of supremacy. Never before had she felt more in control of a situation in the last God knows how many years than at that moment when she had her grandson at her complete and total mercy. As the hard, dried out, gritty surface of that old leather belt pulled off pieces of the boy’s skin with each lick that she inflicted upon him, Ms. Sillow got an increasingly sickening sense of gratification out of the whole ordeal. She had always been her husband’s punching bag; so to be the one dishing out the abuse now instead of being the individual on the receiving end of it gave her the preposterous urge to beat until she was too exhausted to beat anymore. Her main objective was for the child to endure all the pain that she had gone through in her adolescence and in her adult life. She wanted him to suffer the very same way that her husband used to make her suffer. His torturous beatings used to seem as though they would last forever, and the only reason that she had quit flogging her grandson that day was because he had become unresponsive to her strikes. The unbearable pain of the flesh-breaking lashes had rendered him unconscious. For Ms. Sillow, the satisfaction that she got out of remorselessly abusing her grandson could be likened to the tremendous pleasure that her daughter got from hitting coke. And that only meant one thing: Presley’s abuse and mistreatment was going to continue until his mother decided to come and take him off of his grandmother’s hands.