I knew this couldn’t be my fault. I had seen Wildlife on One. What was I going to tell Mrs Morris?
Elvis hobbled back from the kitchen carrying two glasses of orange and holding his crutch under his left armpit. He handed one of the glasses to me.
“Thanks, four eyes.”
“I said thanks, Binocular face.”
“Who do you think you’re calling?” He was going red in the face.
“You, you four eyed peg leg.” After I said this I knew what was coming. Elvis lifted his crutch and swung it at me. I ducked and the crutch crashed into the budgie’s cage.
“You’ve killed Chirpy,” I said without looking round.
“Look. Chirpy’s dead.” As it slowly dawned on Elvis he hobbled frantically over to the cage. We both looked in and Chirpy was indeed dead.
“What am I going to tell my Mam?”
“We’ll just say he died in his sleep. Put the blanket over his cage and say he wanted an early night. She’ll find him tomorrow and she won’t suspect anything.” I had it all worked out.
“Promise me you won’t say anything to my Mam?” Elvis was horrified.
“It’s our secret.” I knew that this made us even. Elvis had saved my life at the Skip. I had now saved his. It was never mentioned again.
“Shit,” the barman cautiously eyed the crowd that had just come through the door. Tomma was at the front, closely followed by Nick Couzens and about twenty other unpleasant looking men.
“Is your boss in?” asked Tomma.
“No, he’s out for the night.”
“That’s a shame. I’ll have a bottle of Becks.” The barman went to the fridge a little apprehensively and retrieved the bottle.
“That will be one eighty please.”
“Yeah, whatever,” Tomma took the bottle without paying and went to sit down.
“I’ll have the same,” Nick was now at the bar.
“I’m sorry but I’m not serving you until your friend has paid for his beer.”
“Look son, you have two choices. Either you get me my beer now or you get seriously hurt. What’s it going to be?”
“I don’t want any trouble but I can’t give beer away, I’ll lose my job.” A bottle flew past the barman’s ear and smashed into the optics behind him. Tomma grabbed him by the shirt and dragged him over the bar.
“Your boss owes us money so be a good boy and do what you’re fucking told.”
Nick jumped over the bar and emptied the till as Tomma landed a kick in the barman’s stomach. This was the cue for the rest of the lads to start smashing the bar to bits. The Guinness mirror behind the bar shattered as a stool hit it. Customers ran for the door as the glasses started flying. Two lads had thrown the fruit machine to the floor and were attempting to smash it open. Two more attempted the same with the cigarette machine. The barman lay, cowering on the floor. The sound of breaking glass nearly drowned out the sirens of the police cars that were approaching.
“Police, let’s do one.” Everyone started pushing for the door, smashing everything in their path.
“Nick, quick let’s go this way,” Tomma was holding open the fire exit.
Nick looked at the crush at the main door and ran towards Tomma. As Nick went through the door, Tomma slammed it shut behind him and joined the crowd at the main door.
“Tomma?” Nick looked back at the closed door then he felt the presence of someone beside him.
“Kev, what are you doing here?”
There were two playgrounds at St Christopher’s. Originally they were to separate the Infants and Juniors however since the school had grown, the Infants had moved further down the road. There was the main playground that we tended to use and the smaller playground was generally unused. This was apart from the presence of Kevin Davison and his associates.
The larger playground was surrounded on three sides by grass and on the fourth was the school. The main playing field was at one end whilst the other two pieces of grass were little more than verges leading to the fence of St Patrick’s Senior school. Every playtime and lunchtime we used to play football along the full length of the yard.
On more than one occasion the ball would go flying over the fence into St Patrick’s and would have to be retrieved by whoever had put it there, unless it was a goal. Then it was the goalkeeper’s fault and he had to get it. There were two ways of getting the ball back. The first was to go to the staff room and ask for the key to the gate leading to St Patrick’s. This was a risky business depending on which teacher answered the staff room door sometimes resulting in the ball being confiscated for the rest of the day. It was to be avoided if at all possible. The second was even more dangerous although it was ultimately quicker and more likely to gain respect amongst your peers.
There was a small ditch that ran along the length of the fence. I have never been sure of its purpose however it was the ideal size for a little boy to duck under the fence, reminiscent of somebody out of the Great Escape, and retrieve the ball. If caught, not only would the ball be confiscated but you would also be in serious trouble. And if Mr Rowcroft caught you, well it didn’t bear thinking about.
Another installment to follow same time next week.
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