“You’re not smoking again are you, Davison?”
“No Sir,” he said. Sounding quite offended at the accusation.
“Empty your pockets.”
Kev emptied his pockets to show nothing more than a few loose coins and a key.
“And your friends.” I was in serious trouble now. I had gone from being star pupil one day to being destined to a life of crime. Not only was I banished to the small playground but I had also befriended a known criminal and I was now a smoker. My descent into criminality had been rapid.
“You two go and play elsewhere. This lot are nothing but trouble.”
Mr Rowcroft had let us off the hook. Bumper and me didn’t need a second invitation and headed to the other end of the playground. We spent the rest of the break using Kev’s matches to set light to sweet wrappers under the bush in front of the caretaker’s house. A surprisingly rewarding experience we found. We headed back to the school when the bell rang relieved at how painless the whole experience had been. Kev was waiting just inside the door.
“Thanks lads. You saved my skin out there.”
“No problem,” I said as I discreetly handed over his cigarettes and remaining matches.
“See you later.”
We had gained a very powerful friend.
Mr Burns sat uncomfortably in the front row. Perhaps I should have bought the extra large after all, He thought, You can never be sure when you are buying off the internet.
Burns had been at a bit of a loose end since he had retired from the school but he had now found something to occupy his time. Giving out communion at church was right up his street. It was a high profile position and fuelled his holier than thou attitude.
He was the priest’s right hand man and he loved every minute of it. Perhaps the job should have rightly been Mrs Turner’s. Perhaps Burns had embellished a little when he told Father McAllister that there had been complaints about her smelling of fish but the job was his now and he wasn’t going to let it go without a fight.
It was time to hand out the communion and he shuffled awkwardly onto the stage, sorry altar, to do his duty. His new PVC underpants were beginning to chafe a little.
The blue flashing lights of a fire engine always caused excitement for schoolchildren, today was no different. We all rushed to the window as Mrs Matthews tried to contain us. It came as a great surprise to me to find flames leaping from the caretaker’s bush. I looked at Bumper and felt a knot form in my stomach.
We eventually went back to class but I couldn’t concentrate. I was waiting for the knock on the door to take me away.
It was a relief when the bell for dinnertime went and we headed down to the canteen. It also came as a great surprise when we arrived there to see Kevin Davison being loaded into the back of a police car in the car park.
We were even more relieved when we were told that he had been searched again and was found to have matches on him.
We’d got away with it … for now.
“Hair of the dog?” asked Bumper.
“Hair of the dog, they’re giving out free wine at the front. If you feel half as bad as me you’ll try anything.”
“Got to be worth a go,” I agreed.
“Come on it’ll be a laugh,” said Gilbert, “imagine Burns’ face when we get to the front of the queue.”
We shuffled out into the aisle and joined the queue for communion, barely suppressing our laughs.
Burns had bigger things to worry about; his pants were really beginning to cause him problems.
“Body of Christ?”
“Amen.” The eager child took communion from him.
Christ on a bike, thought Burns, I can’t go on like this for much longer. Sweat poured from his brow as his black mini briefs dug into his flesh. He raked beneath the elasticated leg and gave his testicles some breathing space. That’s better.
“Body of Christ?” he said as he offered the communion host.
“Err I don’t think so,” replied the young mother, “that was disgusting.”
She ushered her son into the next queue as she explained to the elderly woman behind her. The whole of Burn’s queue shuffled across into the next one leaving him embarrassed and ashamed. The colour drained from his face as he realised the only four people left were Elvis, Gilbert, Bumper and myself.
“Body of Christ?” he murmured.
“No thanks,” I replied, “I’ll go straight for the free wine if it’s ok with you.”
He dropped his communion wafers and ran for the side door humiliated. This church lark was turning out far better than I could have ever imagined.
After the caretaker’s fire we didn’t see Kevin Davison again for the rest of term. Bumper and me were restored to the main playground and everything went back to normal. We had a brief brush with the criminal underworld. It had been exciting but neither of us wanted to go back.
Elvis had his plaster removed however his leg hadn’t healed properly and he still walked using a crutch.
That summer, whilst he made the odd foray up field as a running goalie, he became a bit of a legend in between the sticks.
Our last few weeks at St Christopher’s had been quite eventful but we were all looking forward to starting St Patrick’s.
I had come top of the school in the end of year exams and was quite proud of myself. It looked like Elvis, Bumper and me would all be in the top stream in St Patrick’s. Gilbert unfortunately would not, although he had managed to avoid going to the Special School over the road.
Kevin Davison, fortunately for us, had not been so lucky.
Another installment to follow same time next week.
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