Attack on Dylan Thomas

A fictional account of the night Dylan's friend attacked his house with a machine gun in a drunken frenzy.

Dylan had wondered briefly, as he left the Black Lion, whether William was alright. He would have called ahead to Vera, but she was out of town visiting her mother. This certainly didn't bode well, but what could he do? He had no idea where William could have gone if he hadn't gone home, and if he had gone home then it was best not to disturb him; not until he was sober. William was a grown man; he could take care of himself.

He'd kept an eye open on the way back to his house, but William had been nowhere in sight. Dylan had three friends with him, though one of them more a friend of a friend, a Jewish assistant of Eldridge's. Dylan had some wine and whiskey stored up; they'd have a good night. It was late, so Aeronwy would be sleeping and Caitlin would be waiting in the front room for him.

"Caitlin! We've got company!" Dylan called in warning as he opened the flimsy wooden front door, his wife hurrying to greet them, quietly unimpressed but not surprised. She gave Dylan her usual look, the ‘you owe me' look, and in return he gave her his soft smile and a compensatory kiss on the lips before heading into the front room. Caitlin herself was still dressed, perhaps having had a premonition of Dylan's evening antics.

Moving into the small room he found his guests had made themselves at home, sitting on wooden chairs around the small fire, the only warmth in the wood and asbestos hut. Cosy was a word some might use to describe it; small, damp and cold were Dylan's. There was just enough room for the group. Dylan found himself at once in his element, relating his most recent ideas, scripts and poems, or talking about anything that came to mind. If there was one thing Dylan knew how to do it was entertain his guests.

"So there I was, skipping down the street, and one of the fellows decided to climb up the lamppost!" Dylan exclaimed, almost in tears as he relayed an old story from his youth when he'd been dancing down the streets of London with a stranger on each arm, and had run into a police officer. He was about to continue when there was a sound outside.

"What's that?" One of his guests, a young man called Aled who lived not far from the pub, wondered as he moved to the closed raggedy curtains to peek through. As he shifted the curtains there was a popping sound and the glass smashed. Aled fell back in alarm as the others got to their feet, all of them dropping as the popping grew louder and more distinctive. It was a sub-machine gun.

"Move! To the back of the house! The back of the house!" Dylan shouted above the sound of smashing glass and crumbling plaster. Looking through the growing dust cloud he could see the blonde head of his wife as she cowered down by the fire while their three guests shifted back. "Caitlin!" He cried as he settled beside her.

"Dylan!" Her terrified voice choked back, sitting side by side facing still burning fire. It seemed only a few of the shots fired had pierced the walls of the house, and those had done minimal damage. No one had been hurt. Taking her hand he squeezed it tightly and looked her in the eye, licking his dry lips. "Who is it? What's happening?" She asked fearfully.

"I don't know love, you just get to the kids! Make sure they're alright; poor things'll be scared to death!" Dylan replied, Caitlin nodding before crawling towards the front door, which was opposite the bedroom where Aeronwy and a friend's baby were sleeping, though now he could hear them crying. As she left his sight Dylan let out a sigh of relief and turned his attention to the commotion outside. He could just make out a voice, but not what it said.

Without warning the front door was all but kicked off its hinges and William stepped inside, submachine gun in hand. For a moment Dylan was shocked; his dear friend's husband was standing in his living room with a weapon. He knew they'd had a scuffle in the pub earlier when William had insulted his Jewish guest, but he'd had no idea something like this would happen.

"Will? What the hell do you think you're doing?" Dylan demanded as he got to his feet, his fear erased until there was the sound of gunfire again. He ducked back down to the floor and covered his head as bullets tore into the front wall. Dylan was relieved that he hadn't shot to the left, where his wife and child were hiding. He looked up as the firing stopped with an impatient frown. "Stop blowing holes in my house! There's a woman and children in the back room! Are you trying to kill them?" He shouted before ducking down as the gun fired, this time at the ceiling.

"Your house? That's rich! I paid for this!" William retorted with another hail of bullets.

"What are you on about? I pay the rent on this house!" Dylan replied taken aback, unsure how to handle his old drunk, and armed, friend. William dropped the submachine gun's muzzle to point at Dylan, not a direction the poet appreciated.

"Don't you mean the money you mooched of Vera while I was away?" William shouted as he reached into his pocket, Dylan's stomach dropping as he saw the small round object in William's hand. It couldn't be. He wouldn't go that far. It was a grenade. "Did you think I wouldn't find out? Did you think you could keep it a secret from me? And what about Caitlin? Does she know?" The drunk demanded, not that Dylan wasn't sizzled himself, but having your house shot to bits with you in it somehow brought things back into focus.

"What on Earth are you on about man? You're pissed! Go home and sleep it off!" Dylan replied in confusion, unable to grasp what William was trying to get at.

"Don't try to play dumb with me! You had her, didn't you! While I was away, fighting and risking my life, you were here, with her! Leeching the hard earned money I sent back to keep her! And when I come back, after risking my life, do I get any appreciation or attention? No! I walk into the pub and get blanked! Blanked by my friends!" William accused, his meaning dawning on Dylan and making him sick to his stomach. He'd been many things in his life, done many things in his life, some of which he wasn't proud of, but he had never laid a hand on Vera, or her money.

"Now you see here William! Vera is a very dear friend of mine, but that's as far as it goes! That's as far as it ever has or ever will go! As for leeching off her, I would never! If she ever helped us out we'd always help her back! And as for blanking you, it wasn't my intention; you could have come and joined us! I thought you were out for a quiet drink and wanted to be left alone!" Dylan shouted, William faltering a little, though he still had the grenade in his hand, which made Dylan wary. The gun had already been lowered and seemed to be out of ammo anyway, so as long as the pin stayed in that grenade...

"What about after that? You hit me!" William said, turning his head to the side to show the bruise around his eye as evidence. Dylan laughed and got to his feet, pulling his shirt up to show a large bruise forming on his midsection from their scuffle.

"You hit me too! It was a misunderstanding! That's all! Now just put the gun down, and the grenade...Go home and sleep it off." Dylan said, gently and persuasively. After a few moments of hesitation William returned the grenade to his pocket and left, Dylan's guests swiftly following to escape and call the police. Dylan sighed in relief as he sank onto one of the still standing chairs, the others having toppled in the commotion.

"Dylan?" Caitlin's voice called, the poet dragging himself to his feet shakily and heading to the now open door of the bedroom, quickly finding his wife and two babies in his arms. At that moment he didn't even register that one of them wasn't his; he was just relieved that they were alive and well.

"Shh, I'm alright, I'm alright..." He soothed, still shaking himself as the sound of police cars sounded not far off, either called for or attracted by the noise. Sinking to the floor Dylan stayed in the arms of his wife and child for a while longer.

The End

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