“Kev, I thought you weren’t coming tonight.”
“I had some urgent business to attend to. Have you got the money?”
“Yeah, here,” Nick handed over the bundle of notes. “ Shouldn’t we be getting out of here? The pigs are round the corner.”
“Is that all of the money?”
“Yeah, of course it is. What’s up, Kev? Come on lets get a move on.”
“Sorry, Nick. You’re not going anywhere.” Kev produced a blade, his eyes glazed over as he stabbed Nick repeatedly in the chest. “You fucking little bastard. Did you think you could get away with it? Nobody, but nobody messes with Kevin Davison.” The stabbing became more frantic then with one final lunge, Kevin stabbed him in the eye. “Do you hear me? Don’t ever fuck with me again.”
Nick wasn’t listening, he was already dead.
This particular game had been going on for nearly the whole lunch hour. It was a special one for me as I was wearing my new anorak. It was split into two diagonal halves, one red and one blue. It had a racing car on the left-hand side and was finished off with a red hood. As I had never owned a real replica football strip, I had convinced myself that this was a match for the Barcelona strip. I was now Johan Cruyff.
Inspired by my new persona, I had already scored ten goals and set up another four. Using a fair bit of wing wizardry on the right I played in the perfect low cross for Bumper to finish. I had never been confident of Bumper’s skills as a goal poacher and my fears were realised when he spooned the ball high over the imaginary crossbar and into the neighbouring field.
“I’ll go and get the key, ” said Bumper.
“We haven’t got time,” I said desperately.
I knew that if we didn’t get the key in time, or worse still if the ball was confiscated, the game would be abandoned as a draw. We had a commanding lead and I didn’t want to give it up.
“You’ll have to go under the fence.”
“You’re joking. How do you think I am going to get under there?” He was right. Someone of Bumper’s size was never going to get under.
“Ok then, I’ll go. Create cover for me and I’ll go under.”
They formed a crowd that blocked the view from the staff room window. To offer encouragement they all whistled the theme tune to The Great Escape and shuffled about as if emptying soil from their shorts’ pockets. I was no longer Johan Cruyff. I was Steve McQueen. I rolled down the bank and straight into the ditch and went to get out at the other side.
I couldn’t move.
I was paralysed.
“Don’t forget you’ve got church in the morning,” said Bernie, “I don’t want you getting drunk tonight and not turning up. I’m stopping at Colleen’s tonight so I won’t be here to wake you up.”
“Don’t worry love,” Bumper reassured his bride to be, “it will only be a couple of quiet pints with the lads.”
“Ok then, have a good night.” A car horn beeped outside.
“That’ll be the taxi, ” said Bumper as he kissed Bernie goodbye. He walked down the stairs from the flat to the waiting car.
“Fuck me,” he exclaimed. Elvis, Gilbert and myself were standing with our heads sticking out of the sunroof of a white, stretch limousine.
“Evening, Bumper. Ready for a night on the town?” I asked
“Too bloody right,” he said as he stepped into the car and took a glass of champagne from me. “But you have to promise to get me up for church tomorrow morning, Bernie will kill me if I don’t turn up.”
“You big puff,” laughed Elvis, “this is your stag night, you can’t be worrying about church.”
“I’m not worried about church,” Bumper explained, “I’m worried about Bernie chopping my knackers off if I don’t turn up.”
“Let’s have a toast,” I shouted, “to Bumper’s last week of freedom.”
“Bumper’s freedom,” shouted Elvis and Gilbert.
“Can you take us to Southwick please, mate?” I asked the driver.
“But make sure you don’t stop when you get there,” added Bumper, “they’ll have your wheels off in no time.”
The driver took us for a ride round all of our old haunts. The field was now two small houses, Tate’s was a car showroom and Inkerman Print was no more. Perhaps it was a mistake to come here, they always say that you should never go back.
“Little shit alert,” Mr Rowcroft said to nobody in particular as he sipped his tar like coffee.
“What’s that?” Mrs Matthews asked him as they both looked out into the yard.
“Barry’s spooned the ball over the fence again. He’s got to be the worst footballer I’ve ever seen. He’ll be coming in here for that bloody key again.”
“We should get him his own one cut, ” said Mrs Matthews. “He’s in here more than I am.”
“What is he doing?” Bumper was now shuffling around with his hands in his pockets. “He looks like he’s wet himself.”
“Well if he has, all of his friends have as well. Look at them.” All of the teachers were crowded round the window now.
“Go on, Bob. Your turn to go out.” Bob Rowcroft absent-mindedly picked up the hammer he had been using to repair the bookshelf as he headed for the door.
“I’m going to kill the little bugger.”
Another installment to follow same time next week.
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