Eventually, my good friend Elliott Egan and I (and possibly a third friend of mine, but I can't remember who) decided that it would be a good idea to intervene. So, when we next saw him violently swear or hit the boy, we went over to have a word with him.
"Alright, mate," said Egan, "leave him alone!"
"Yes," I said in agreement. "What you're doing is hardly necessary or appropriate."
"Shut up," he said to us. "You're lucky my son's here! You have no right to say that to me. You better hope I don't see you again." The violent man then grabbed his son by the arm and walked him away, leaving Egan and I with nothing but strong negative feelings towards him. With him gone, we continued our day as normal, trying to forget the unpleasant experience.
I told my Mum about it all afterward, and she suggested I not stay out late by myself due to his threat. While he was clearly not afraid to use violence, I wasn't too concerned as I didn't think the likelihood of bumping into him alone was that high, since I only ever saw him with his son during the day.
As it happens I did bump into him again, and as you can imagine, it wasn't the most enjoyable of meetings.
"Oh, it's you," he said contemptuously. "I'll teach you to tell me how to raise my son!"
"I'd rather you didn't," I said to him, and then quickly fled in the other direction. Despite my rather low level of athletic ability, I was somehow able to escape him; I guess it must have been some kind of adrenalin boost. That was the last time I ever saw him (and luckily Egan managed to avoid him too). That's twice now that I've had a violent threat and then never seen the other person again, but I suppose I can't always rely on being so lucky...
And that's the end of the story. You may ask, why did we not simply report him to the police? And that's a question I can't answer. It now seems such an obvious solution to the problem, but at the time, for whatever reason, it never really occurred. It's all quite sad, really, because when we spoke out against him, he clearly got very angry, for all I now, our actions could have simply lead him to unleash more anger on the child, and since we never saw him again, who knows what happened to the pair of them in the next five years? I can only hope things started to improve.