The whole operation had taken no more than an hour and I had been settled back into my chair a long while before Mr Swinbank, the deputy head, came into see me.
“Pete, I know you are excluded from lessons but this is an emergency. Can you take this message round to all of the teachers and make sure they all act on it immediately?” He handed me a small piece of folded paper.
I headed across the hall and through the entrance hall. There was a police car outside and two policemen were talking to Mr Burns.
“Can you tell us again, Mr Burns, why you were late for your first lesson after break?”
I tried to keep in my smile but still couldn’t help a little smirk.
I took the message around all the teachers and they immediately told everyone to pack up and head for their form rooms. Everybody did so, happy to avoid lessons. My old class weren’t so happy as they were in the middle of football and netball games.
“What’s going on, Pete?” asked Claire.
I couldn’t help noticing how nice she looked in her little netball skirt.
“I’ve no idea but the police are in the entrance hall interviewing Mr Burns.”
“Maybe they’ve finally caught up with the dirty old pervert,” she laughed, “I always knew there was something dodgy about him.” She turned to her friends to let them know the news.
Mr Armstrong rounded up the footballers and also those who had got out of games by producing forged notes. Davison, Tomma and Nick quickly stubbed out their cigarettes as he came round to the bike shed. He had been happy for them to disappear for the lesson, as they were more trouble than they were worth.
“Fuck me,” said Bumper as he put down the phone, “we’re rich.”
“What was that?” Bernie shouted through from the bathroom.
“We’re rich.” Bumper slumped into his armchair, unable to believe what Elvis had told him. The last weeks had certainly been weird for Bumper. Meeting an old school friend he hadn’t seen for fifteen years, getting married, stitching up the local gangster and now this.
Not since he had won the chod chucking championships at Tate’s had Bumper felt so good.
“Quiet,” Mr Burns shouted above the rabble and when he got no response he ran his finger nails down the blackboard, the horrible screeching noise ensuring everybody’s attention. “You might be wondering why you have been brought back to your form rooms.”
“I’m surprised that the police have let you go.”
Everyone chuckled. Mr Burns ignored this and continued.
“There has been a very serious crime committed today. A number of items have been taken from the staff room and the police have asked us to complete a desk search to eliminate you all from their enquiries. Everyone open their desks please.”
He started walking up the aisle looking into everybody’s desk. Burns knew exactly which one he wanted to look into. The somewhat carelessly misplaced St Pat’s casual’s calling card found in the staff room could only lead to one person.
Kevin Davison’s jaw dropped when he saw the bag inside his desk. The colour drained from his face when he looked inside.
Gilbert sat down in his armchair with a cup of tea. He had enjoyed tonight. He had danced with Claire, admittedly he had felt a little guilty as he knew what was happening with Kev and didn’t tell her.
It was a good idea to have the reunion, he thought, maybe school wasn’t that bad after all.
He considered what Elvis had told him.
One million pounds.
He wouldn’t spend any of it just yet; he was saving it for a rainy day. He knew that the money changed everything though. He had hoped that when Pete had returned home that maybe the old friends would stay together this time. He knew now that Bumper and Elvis were likely to move away and Pete wasn’t going to hang about.
Maybe he could get them to rally round one last time; maybe the lads would help him find his father.
I left school with four ‘o’ levels. Quite an achievement considering how little work I had done. With Kev out of the way I decided to come clean about the drawing in the maths book. Burnsy didn’t believe me at first but chose to accept my story after I was backed up by my art teacher. She explained that I would be unable to draw a stick man.
The exams came as a bit of an anti climax after what had gone on the previous year. I sailed through the maths and Computer Studies was as easy as expected.
Tony Evans may have regretted not taking me up on my offer as he failed miserably. The major surprise was English Literature, despite not attending any of the lessons or reading any of the books I managed to get a ‘C’. Luckily the parts of the passbooks I decided to cram into my head the night before the exam were exactly the ones that appeared on the exam paper.
The last day of exams should have been a celebration but I found myself strangely deflated. Eggs and flour were thrown and exercise books were ritually burnt on the school field but I didn’t feel part of it. Missing the last few months of term had left me even more of an outsider than I had been before. The celebrations went on without me as I watched from a distance.
“Glad to be out of it all?”
It was Mr Burns, realising that he no longer had any power over me, he tried to be human.
“Any idea what you are going to do next? You could go to college and get a few more ‘o’ levels. You never know what you could achieve if you applied yourself a bit more.”
I already knew what I was going to do.
I took one last look at the crowd in the centre of the field, focusing on Claire knowing that this would be the last time I would see her for some time.
“Got to go,” I said to Mr Burns.
“Make sure you use the gate and not the fence.”
This was his last attempt at authority. I headed for the fence, removed my tie and tied it round one of metal posts. I straddled the railings and looked back one last time. Not only was I leaving St Pat’s today, I was also leaving Sunderland. I had no definite plans of where I was going but during all of the celebrations there was one fact I couldn’t ignore; Kevin Davison was not going to be in a young offender’s institution forever. He was going to come after me and I was tired of fighting, I had to get away.
Some say that revenge is a dish best served cold. It isn’t, revenge is cold. It’s cold, damp and painful and it never turns out the way you thought it would. My legs were becoming weaker now but I was determined to reach the lighthouse. I felt bad leaving Karen like that but it would never have worked out. I’ve learnt the hard way.
I hoped that Elvis had told the lads about the money by now, I hoped it would make things better some how. I felt guilty for not telling Gilbert about his father, I felt guilty for getting Tim killed.
I’d left one of the main lights on in the lighthouse and I could just about make it out as I headed down the pier. The rain was heavier now, lashing in from the sea. Waves swept up the side of the pier and crashed down at my feet.
Not long now.
I didn’t mean for anyone to die.
Burns didn’t have to hang himself.
The light from the helicopter swept along the coast road as the blue lights of the police cars blinked in the distance. I wondered why I had returned home. Sometimes when you seek something so hard you lose sight of what it is you are actually looking for. A wave crashed up beside me and took my legs from beneath me.
I lay on my stomach and then forced myself onto my knees. I sat back and stared at the sky, the helicopter now hovering behind me with its searchlight sweeping up the pier towards the weak, pathetic figure I had now become.
I thought about Karen, about Claire, about Elvis, Bumper and Gilbert. Did I come back for them? Did I come back for revenge?
All I wanted was to ruin Davison, get him put away for a few years, destroy his business. Why did he have to go and shoot himself? The fucking idiot.
Why did he have to shoot me?
I had no more answers now than I did when I arrived. I looked down and noticed the pool of blood at my knees.
Not long now.
That was the final installment of Leg It by Alan Parkinson.
I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to leave a review on Amazon.
The sequel, Idle Threats, is available here.