I'll chop you up...

Two lives would end when Keith went on the rampage...

Published by: Laura Hinton
Published on: 11th October 2010

You never think it’s going to be you, the woman with the black eye, making excuses for their boyfriend. How do you go from being shouted at, to slaps, to punches?
I can’t explain, and I’ve lived through it. Even having our son Connor together hadn’t stopped my boyfriend Keith Doyle from beating me.
Somehow, I’d just got ground down with insults and terror until there was nothing left of the person I’d once been.
But a tiny piece of me must have survived somehow because, finally, six years on from meeting Keith in the pet shop I’d worked in, I was finishing with him.
Why? Because he’d pushed me against the stairs, bruising my arm. It was the last straw.
Now, standing in the kitchen, my hands shook as I text Keith.
‘Here goes,’ I sighed to Jack and Jasper, my two parrots. I don’t want to be in a relationship, I wrote. I’ll sleep in the spare room.
Then all I had to do was wait for his reply… Beep!
It’s okay. I understand.
Blimey, that was easy. I let out a sigh of relief. ‘It’s over, Jasper,’ I grinned, as he cocked his head.
It had been my parrots that had brought Keith and me together. I’d gone to work in the pet shop all those years ago because I’d been saving to buy another parrot to keep my African grey Jasper company. He’d been my sidekick since I was 14, was my best friend.
When Keith had walked into the shop, we’d clicked immediately. ‘I’ll have a few crickets, please,’ he’d winked.
‘Bearded dragon is it?’ I’d asked.
‘Nah, they’re for my friend’s spider…’ Even though Keith had been 28 – 12 years my senior – I’d immediately been smitten with him.
Within months, we’d moved in together, buying Jack – a grey parrot.
Jasper had listened to my problems as I’d grown from an awkward 14 year old into a woman. Then he and Jack had comforted me countless times after Keith’s cruelty.
Feeding Jasper a peanut, I stroked his head. ‘You’re always there for me, aren’t you?’ I said softly. ‘You even saved me once.’
Even the memory of that night made me shiver…
I’d been in the kitchen when Keith had stormed in.  Lightning fast, he’d slapped me.
Where had that come from?
‘You’ve been sleeping with someone else, haven’t you?’ he’d yelled, grabbing my hair and slamming my head against the front door.
Just then, I’d heard a squawk. Jasper… he was out of his cage!
He’d flown across the room, swooping at Keith’s head. ‘Argh! Get him off!’ Keith had screamed.
The wimp had stumbled out of the door, leaving me laying on the floor.  Hopefully, now Jasper would never have to save me again.
That night, Keith didn’t come straight home after work.
Sitting in the lounge later with a cuppa, I heard the front door go.
‘Come here,’ Keith sighed, reaching out to give me a hug. ‘I’m sorry, I don’t want to fight any more…’
I felt myself relax, relieved he was taking our break-up so well.
But quick as a flash, he grabbed my long brown hair. He snapped my head back, then ploughed it into a wall.
My teeth rattled, pain exploding. Dizziness washed over me.
His face was in mine, eyes bulging with a madness I’d never seen before, even in Keith. ‘You. Are not. Leaving me!’ each word punctuated with a punch.
Blood trickled into my eyes as he leaned over me and drew a line across my forehead with his finger.
‘I’m going to put an axe here,’ he whispered. ‘Chop you up.’
Just then, there was a rustle behind us. Jack and Jasper…
Keith spun around. Grabbing my mug of tea he threw the boiling liquid over Jack and Jasper… ‘No!’ I shrieked, planting myself between him and their cage.
His attention back on me, he continued to hit me before stepping into the kitchen. I heard rattling as he rifled through the cutlery drawer. This was my chance…
I ran out the front door. My neighbours had heard me screaming and came to help.
Looking back through the window, though, I saw Keith swiping at the parrots in their cage with a knife.
My parrot’s piercing shrieks sounded like a child’s as Keith dropped the knife and grabbed Jasper.
He plucked his grey feathers from his body, flung my lifeless pet to the ground.
Jack, I had to save Jack.
Keith was too fast. In one swift move, he tore my bird to pieces.
While a neighbour managed to coax Keith out of the house, and the police finally arrived,
I cradled Jasper’s lifeless body. He’d been my best friend for nine years.
‘I’m sorry,’ I sobbed. ‘You saved me, but I couldn’t save you.’
Keith was arrested, and I was sent to hospital. Connor had slept through the whole thing. But he knew what his dad had done.
In April, Keith pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to ABH, threats to kill, and cruelty to animals. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
At last, he’s out of my life for good. But I’ve paid a heavy price, losing my best friends.
You never think it’s going to be you, that woman with the black eye. But I’m determined it’ll never be me again.
Fiona Regan, 23, Banks, West Lancashire