Author's note: While I was writing Timmy and the Travellers I got a mail from a guy called Tim who particularly liked the more, er, disciplinary elements in that story (if you're interested and haven't read it it's in the YF section). After a bit of correspondence I agreed to write a story that followed a bare framework that he suggested, and this is that story.
It was originally intended to be a school discipline story, and the aim was to invent a thoroughly horrible child, let him behave monstrously for a few chapters and then turn the tables. However, I'd only written the first seven chapters when Tim disappeared, and so it sat unfinished for a long time. It has now been continued, though the later part of the story is maybe not quite what Tim might have had in mind...
A fellow author who has read the whole thing has described it as “An adventure story, a story of redemption, and ultimately a love story”, but because of the disciplinary nature of much of the story readers should be aware that there's quite a lot of fairly unpleasant behaviour, too. Consider yourselves warned!
The story is set in 1977 (Chapter One takes place on March 7th, in case you're really interested). Although it takes place in a real town in the west of England, it is in all other respects entirely fictional: the characters are all invented, and the school where most of the story takes place does not exist, has never existed and could never exist (as should be clear from its name!) [Quick explanation for non-UK readers: this is a grammar (selective secondary) school, taking pupils from age eleven to age eighteen]. And I should point out that David's views on race, which are on a par with the rest of his delightful personality, are absolutely NOT the views of the author.
Finally, just to cover myself: this story involves sexual activity between boys, so if it is illegal for you to be reading this, either due to your age or to other local laws, please go away now. Thank you.
"For God's sake, woman, this toast is cold! Can't you even manage toast? Take this away and bring me some hot slices!"
"I'm sorry, Master David," said Mrs Devlin, struggling to remain polite. "I'm afraid the phone rang, and I had to answer it."
"I'm not interested. Just get me some fresh slices, now."
Mrs Devlin simply picked up the tray and carried it back to the kitchen, trying to stay calm. Obnoxious little brat, she thought. If either of my boys ever spoke to me like that, I'd smack them into next week. Not that they would - they're both good boys. But this one - if he was mine I'd have him put into care, so I would.
Of course, having no father about the place didn't help, and his mother was so tied up in her burgeoning political career that she was didn't take the time to sort the boy out any longer. Mrs Devlin knew the story - after all, she'd been acting as house-keeper to the Villiers-Gores for over a year now (and that was a lot longer than previous house-keepers had lasted, too) - the father was a minor offshoot of a fifth-rate noble family, and the mother was an ambitious woman who thought that a hyphenated surname and the money that came with it would help her career along. Quite what Mr Villiers-Gore got out of the marriage Mrs Devlin couldn't tell, unless he was one of those men who needs a strong woman to organise his life. If so he'd changed his mind after the wedding: first it had been the cigarettes, then the drink, in ever-increasing quantities, and eventually his liver had given up the unequal fight. That left Mrs Villiers-Gore with a posh surname, a large house, plenty of money, and a fourteen-year-old son whom she made little or no effort to control.
At least the little bastard was out of the house for most of the day, at least for the next four weeks, until the Easter school holidays came round. Mrs Devlin was praying that Mrs Villiers-Gore would be at home over Easter, not gallivanting about the county with her big-shot Tory friends, because a solid two weeks of young David acting all high and mighty was more than she thought she'd be able to take. Indeed, if it wasn't for the fact that this job was better paid than most she would have quit months ago.
She went through to the kitchen and shoved a couple more slices of bread in the toaster, and when they were done she spread them with butter and carried them back through to the dining room. She got the usual amount of thanks, which is to say none at all.
"You'd best eat it fairly quickly, Master David," she advised. "The taxi will be here in five minutes."
"Then he'll have to wait," replied David, taking his time about spreading some jam on his toast. "If he arrives before I've finished, tell him I'll be there when I'm ready, and not before."
Mrs Devlin didn't bother to answer: instead she just picked up the tray and went back to the kitchen.
David finished his breakfast in a leisurely fashion, then got up and went back to his bedroom, where he put on his school blazer and picked up his briefcase, which was a proper leather one his mother had bought for him in Italy - not like those nasty cheap plastic things most of the boys carried, even at a decent school like King Edward the Fifth. He enjoyed plonking it down ostentatiously on his desk in the mornings so that the rest of the boys in his class could see how much better it was than the rubbish they had.
He went downstairs to his mother's office, where she was busily typing something - no doubt something boring, as usual, he thought.
"Off to school, darling?" she asked, looking up as he came in. "Don't forget we're going out this evening, so try to get some of your homework done at lunchtime if you can."
"All right, Mother, I'll try. But about tonight... I'm wearing long trousers, okay?"
"Oh, but darling, you know how nice you look in your shorts. The other ladies always say such nice things about you, about how sweet you look, and so on, and it all helps."
"Mother, I'm fourteen, not four. Just because I'm still only five feet tall, doesn't mean you should treat me like a baby!"
"Oh, have you grown another couple of inches? I'm sure you were only four feet ten last time we looked. Anyway, darling, that's not why I do it, as you know very well: it's important that I make a good impression on the other ladies if I'm going to get anywhere."
"I don't see how sucking up to a lot of horsey county women is going to help. Anyway, why should I? What's in it for me?"
"Because the Conservative Party has always thought the family is one of the most important things there is. That's why Ted was never the right man to lead us: he's not married. But Maggie is, and she's going to take us places... anyway, if I can show them that I can bring up a young son on my own and still do a good job for the party, they'll say good things about me to the people who matter, and the fact that your father is no longer with us will actually count for me, not against... Look, darling, if you help me with this and everything goes well, I'll be really pleased with you... didn't you say you wanted a new bicycle?"
"Yes, I did," said David, suddenly taking interest. "That thing of mine is over a year old, and it's only got five gears. So... if I wear my shorts tonight and make all those old biddies think I'm Little Lord Fauntleroy, you'll buy me a proper ten speed bike?"
"I should think I should be able to manage that. Oh, and don't forget to call me 'Mummy', will you, darling? 'Mother' is so formal..."
"I'm sure I won't forget," he said. "Bye, Mother - Mummy, I mean."
She raised a cheek to him and he kissed it quickly and then strolled out to where the taxi driver was waiting and looking fixedly at his watch.
"We're going to be late, Master David," he said.
"You'll have to drive a bit faster, then, won't you?" said David, installing himself on the back seat.
The driver closed the door for him and walked back to his own side of the car, thinking yet again that although this was a regular job, and one furthermore that meant he didn't have to fight his way through the town centre in the rush hour (David's school was on this side of town), he really might be better advised to ask the controller to find another driver to do it: just being in the same car as this mouthy little brat every day was doing his blood pressure no good at all.
At school David walked to his form room, placed his Italian briefcase on his desk and walked out again. He knew that most of the boys in his form didn't like him much, but that was fine because he didn't like them much, either. Most of the boys in the school had got there by passing the eleven plus, and the rest - like himself - by way of the Common Entrance exam. The CE boys had of course come from prep schools, and so were mainly from good families, but the rest came from all sorts of backgrounds - some even lived on council estates. David saw absolutely no reason why he should associate with that sort of riff-raff, and so, as far as possible, he didn't. And it didn't matter that his classmates didn't like him, because there was nothing they could do about it: he had friends.
Well, make that one friend - but what a friend that was! He was protected by the most powerful boy in the school, the Head Boy, and that meant nobody could touch him. It didn't matter that he was small for his age, or that he couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag, because being Garrett's right hand man meant that he never had to fight anyone.
He was prepared to admit that he'd been lucky to start with - Garrett might have picked any kid to run that first errand for him almost a year ago - but everything he had done since was down to his own cleverness.
David had joined the school at the start of the previous academic year: he had done rather less well in the CE than had been expected, and as a result failed to get into any of the major public schools. Instead he had come to the local grammar school. Of course, that meant that he joined the school at the start of the third year, by which time most of his form-mates had been together for two years, and that made it harder for him to make friends - had he actually wanted to make friends with council-housed oiks, that is. For the first two terms he just kept his head down and got on with it. He hated being called "Titch" or "Blondie-boy" but there wasn't much he could do about it back then.
But then early in the summer term one of the new prefects had emerged from the prefects' common room just as he was passing, and had told him to take a note to the PE master at the gym. David didn't appreciate someone from his background being expected to act as an errand boy, but he couldn't really say anything, so he took the note and delivered it as instructed. And as he came out of the gym he spotted two boys disappearing out of the small side gate to the school that lay next to the gym.
The school rules clearly stated that only sixth-formers were allowed out of school during the day, and these two were obviously far too young to be in the sixth form. So David ran back to the prefects' room and found the one who had given him the note.
"I thought you might like to know I've just seen two juniors sneaking out of school," he reported.
"Really?" said the prefect. "Which gate?"
"The one by the gym."
"Come on and show me, then."
So David had led the prefect to the gate, and five minutes later the two boys reappeared and were promptly collared.
"Thank you... what's your name?"
"Villiers-Gore. Er... if I spot anything else that shouldn't be happening, should I come and tell you about it?"
"Yes, OK. I'm Garrett. You know where to find me."
So David's career as snitch-in-chief to Garrett had begun, and after that he hung around gates looking for boys sneaking out; he checked the toilets and bike sheds, looking for smokers, and in general he tried really hard to find people not sticking to school rules. At first Garrett despised him - after all, nobody likes a snitch - but he was happy to use the information to make himself look good.
And then at the start of the next academic year it bore fruit: the boy who had been scheduled to be Head of School didn't come back after the summer holidays because his father had got a job in Ireland and taken the family with him, and Garrett, in view of his fine disciplinary record the previous term, was made Head Boy in his place, and after that David's career really took off.
The Head Boy was allowed a lot of leeway in maintaining discipline in the school: he was allowed to cane boys if the situation merited it, or take any other measures to ensure that everyone obeyed the school rules, and Garrett's job was made much easier by the presence at his side of an extremely efficient spy and sneak. He still didn't like David much, but the boy was so useful to him that he was happy to put up with him. Besides, David began to demonstrate a talent for dreaming up what are usually described as "cruel and unusual punishments".
A caning was a caning: it hurt - and when Garrett did it, it hurt a hell of a lot - but it was still done in private and over fairly quickly. But one day David asked if Garrett was allowed to do anything other than caning miscreants.
"I can do pretty much what I want, short of actually expelling someone, and even there if I tell the headmaster that someone should be expelled he'll usually listen to me, I think. Why?"
"Well, I was thinking - if you make the punishment really, really embarrassing, it's pretty unlikely that whoever it was would ever do it again. I mean, take Osterley, that third-year you caught this morning bullying first-formers: if you cane him, he'll have forgotten how much it hurt in a couple of weeks, and then he might do it again. But suppose you made him dress up in girl's clothes and then go and wash the blackboards in all three first-year form rooms, like a cleaning-woman - I bet once he'd heard the entire first form laughing at him he wouldn't feel like doing it again, especially if you told him that the second time around he'd have to do it with no knickers on, so the kids would be able to look up his skirt while he's cleaning the top of the board."
"Whoo-ee, V-G, that's a brilliant idea!" said Garrett. "In fact, I want you to go and tell Osterley to come for his punishment tomorrow lunch-time, instead of today. That'll give me time to find some girl's clothes - I expect my sister's old stuff would do. Got any more good ideas like that?"
"Well, yes, one or two. I think the best way to make sure someone won't make the same mistake twice is to make their punishment as embarrassing and humiliating as possible. I mean, even caning can be made worse if you want."
"Well, at the moment you just get them to bend over the back of a chair for it. Suppose instead we made them take all of their clothes off out in the hall and come in to be caned completely naked? That would be a whole lot more embarrassing - plus, you could be sure they hadn't got an exercise book tucked into their underwear if they weren't wearing any."
"I like it - in fact we'll start doing it like that from now on. Okay, you'd better go and find Osterley - and keep on thinking up stuff like that, too: it'll make my job a lot more entertaining..."
So the following lunchtime Osterley had turned up, expecting detention, or at the very worst a couple of strokes of the cane, and instead had found himself the first recipient of one of David's increasingly nasty punishments. He tried arguing, of course, but Garrett pointed out that bullying was one of the headmaster's pet hates, and that if it was referred to him it might even mean expulsion.
"It's up to you," he ended. "Either you can go and clean those blackboards, or we'll go and see what Noddy has to say about it."
'Noddy' was really Mr Alan P Weston, MA (Cantab), the headmaster, but all the boys called him "Noddy" because of his habit of nodding continuously whenever he was talking about something he cared about - such as why bullying was one of the lowest forms of human behaviour.
Osterley thought about it for a few seconds and realised that even if he didn't get expelled, it was a certainty that Noddy would write to his parents about it, and that would be almost as bad.
"OK," he said, reluctantly, "I'll go and clean the blackboards."
"Right. In that case you can start by taking your uniform off - all of it - and then we can see if my sister's knickers fit you."
So Osterley had to strip completely naked, which was embarrassing enough, and then put on a complete set of girl's clothes, including the knickers, which were extremely uncomfortable. And then David escorted him, first to the cleaning cupboard to find a bucket, then to the toilets to fill it, and finally to the first-year form rooms, where the results were everything David could have wished: the first-formers fell about laughing, and Osterley was so embarrassed and humiliated that he was actually crying by the time he finished the third board.
At last David took him back to Garrett's office, where he was allowed to put his own clothes back on.
"Just remember," Garrett told him as he was tying his shoelaces, "if we ever catch you bullying again, we'll make you clean every blackboard in the lower school dressed like that - except next time you won't be allowed any knickers. So if you want every first- and second-year in the school laughing at your pathetic little prick, you know what to do. Okay, get lost."
"Bet he'll never do it again," said David, once he had gone.
"Bet you're right," agreed Garrett. "Which is a pity, really - I like the idea of all the first-years looking at his balls while he's trying to clean the board. Oh, well, I suppose the idea is to stop bullying, not to give the first-years a good laugh. Good one, V-G: keep those ideas coming."
So David had kept those ideas coming, and Garrett had been delighted by them, happily trying most of them out at the earliest opportunity. He had also added one of his own: whenever a repeat offender was caught, Garrett would give him the choice of either getting a double caning, or sucking Garrett's cock. Of course, they almost invariably went for the caning, but one of Garrett's canings on the bare backside could feel like the end of the world, and quite a few changed their minds when Garrett offered them the chance to reconsider after three blows.
David viewed this with disgust - sucking another boy's cock seemed to him to be about the most degrading thing anyone could do, and he was absolutely convinced that in their position he would take the caning every time. On the other hand, he never failed to watch the performance, finding it sick but fascinating. Garrett had a large hairy organ, and David was amazed that the boys could actually get it into their mouths at all, but somehow they all managed it.
"Why do you do that?” he asked Garrett once, when the victim had left the office.
"Because it feels fucking great, that's why."
"Yes, but... doesn't it make you feel like a poof?"
"Nope. It probably makes them feel like that, but there's a world of difference between sucking and being sucked. Obviously I'd never suck, because that really is queer, but being sucked feels pretty much the same whoever is doing it - if I close my eyes I can pretend it's Bo Derek, or someone like that. And to be honest, one or two of the boys here do it better than my last girlfriend did. They probably practise on each other... Look, next time we get one in, I'll make him suck you, if you want. That way you'll see for yourself what it's like."
"No, thanks, Garrett," he replied straight away. It wasn't just that the whole idea felt queer to him: more importantly, he didn't want anyone to see his cock, not even Garrett, who by now he got on really well with. David was small for fourteen, but his cock would have been small for fourteen months: it was tiny, only about an inch long, and still less than two inches even when fully erect. Puberty, he sometimes thought, was something that only happened to other people: his genitals were as tiny and hairless as they had been five years previously. No way was he going to let anyone suck it, no matter how good Garrett said it felt.
So now here he was, almost two terms later, and thoroughly enjoying life, even though most of the school despised or feared him. He knew they called him "The White Rat" - he'd got close enough to hear it more than once - but he didn't care, because with Garrett behind him he could do pretty much whatever he wanted with absolute impunity. And Garrett's position was unassailable - some of the teachers occasionally heard rumours of excess, and even Noddy sometimes wondered how he had achieved it, but there was no doubt that his methods, whatever they were, worked: nobody at all had been expelled in the past two terms, and the number of miscreants appearing before the headmaster was down by almost 50% on the previous academic year.
So this morning, as he usually did, once he had left his briefcase on show in the form room David went out to see if he could find any sinners at work. He only had about twenty minutes before he had to be back in his form room for registration and this part of the day was generally very poor in terms of rule-breakers: it was too early for the smokers, and obviously nobody could sneak out of school before they had actually arrived; but he had sometimes spotted a bit of bullying, or pupils arriving without their blazers on. Today, however, he was out of luck. Oh, well, he thought, we'll have to try again at break.
And at break he got lucky. At the far end of the school grounds was an area once used by the school's cadet corps: there was a rifle range, and an equipment hut, and beyond both, in a sunken bit of ground between the range and the high wall that marked the edge of school property, was the old assault course. It hadn't been used much even before the corps was disbanded: it was too small to form a proper challenge, and instead the corps used to make use of one on a regular army base a couple of miles away. The school course was now overgrown and neglected, and it was also strictly out of bounds.
David had on a couple of previous occasions found smokers hiding behind the rifle range, so he checked it out today just in case, and instead he found two first-formers inching their way across one of the narrow raised planks that formed part of the old assault course. Jackpot, he thought.
"Hey, you!" he shouted.
They spun round so quickly that one of them lost his footing and fell four feet to the ground, though there was plenty of long grass underneath, so it didn't do him any harm.
"Oh, shit, it's the Rat," he heard the other one say, in a low (but not low enough) voice. Well done, he thought, you've just earned one of my special punishments.
"Come here," he ordered, and slowly they trudged towards him - there was no chance of running, because the course was enclosed by the school wall, the back of the swimming pool and the side of the Cadet Hut: the only way out was back past the rifle range.
"Names?" he asked
"Sherwood," said the shorter one. "He's McMillan."
It was a school rule that everyone had to have a name tag sewn onto every article of clothing, and checking the tag on someone's tie or shirt collar was the easiest way to confirm that they were who they said they were. Nobody ever seemed to go to the trouble of sewing a false label onto their ties. These two ties bore the given names, anyway.
"Lunchtime at Garrett's office," David told them. "Right at the start of the lunch break. Don't be late," and he strolled off happily, smiling even more broadly when he caught the word "rat" in the rebellious murmur that broke out after he had moved away.
He glanced at his watch. Just time to check out the toilets for smokers before the end of break, he thought, and so he headed back towards the main block, and as he entered the boys' toilet he bumped into someone on his way out.
"Watch where you're go... oh, it's you," said the other boy.
David looked up: it was Osterley, the third-year who had been on the receiving end of David's first inventive punishment early in the autumn term. In the past six months or so he had grown a bit, and was now three or four inches taller than David.
"Been bullying anyone lately?" David asked, with a smirk.
"Don't you know?" replied Osterley, made bold by the fact that he was now taller than the other boy. "I thought you knew everything that went on in this school."
"Don't be cheeky, Osterley."
"Or what? I haven't done anything wrong this time, so you can't touch me."
"Is that what you think?" said David, smiling nastily. "We'll see about that."
He moved past Osterley, on into the toilets. How dare he be insolent to me? he thought. He needs teaching a lesson...
The toilets were sadly free of smokers, and a couple of minutes later the bell rang for the start of the next lesson.
As soon as the lunch bell sounded David made his way to Garrett's office.
"I've got a couple of first-formers coming in," he said. "They were out of bounds in the old CCF area. What do you reckon, a tug of war?"
"That seems a bit harsh - unless they've been here before, of course. Names?"
"Sherwood and McMillan."
Garrett consulted his punishment book, which held details of everyone he had dealt with since the start of the school year. It didn't, of course, list the actual punishments, because this was the record that Noddy consulted every time a miscreant came before him, and quite a lot of the things that had been done to wrongdoers would have taken Noddy's breath away. But it did give the name and form of everyone who had been punished, and also what the offence was in each case.
"No, looks like a first offence," he said. "And I don't like going too far over the top with first-years - not because they don't deserve it, but because if we overdo it they're the ones most likely to go home to mummy and complain, and I'd sooner avoid that. Pop your head out and see if they've arrived yet."
They had, and David ushered them in.
"Villiers-Gore tells me you were trespassing on the old CCF area," Garrett said. "Is that true?"
"Yes, I suppose so," said Sherwood, scowling at David. "But we weren't doing any harm..."
"That's not the point," said Garrett. "The rules are there for a reason. That area is out of bounds because it's dangerous and it's out of sight of the school, so if you fell and hurt yourself nobody would know about it."
"Yes, but there are two of us, so if one of us got hurt the other could go for help," Sherwood pointed out.
"Not if the first one pulled the second one down with him. Anyway, I'm not getting into an argument about this - you were out of bounds, and that's all there is to it."
"Shall I get the cane out?" asked David, eagerly.
"No, thanks. You know I don't like caning first-years, V-G."
"Yes, but these two were insolent to me as well. I reckon it should be six each, with the cane."
"I'm afraid not - and you know why not, too. Get the belt instead. And you two - get undressed."
"What?!" queried Sherwood.
"You heard me - strip. Like I just said to Villiers-Gore, I don't cane first-years unless I have to, so we have to find other ways to make sure you don't do it again, and the best one seems to be to embarrass the hell out of you. I want you to go away from here determined never to come back. So get your clothes off - or maybe I will use the cane, after all."
Reluctantly Sherwood took off his blazer, and McMillan followed suit, and soon they were both naked, hunched up with their hands in front of their groins.
"Face each other, stand up straight and put your hands on your head," ordered Garrett, and they slowly complied.
David looked at them, enjoying their discomfiture, and to maximise it he came and stood between them and to the side, looking them both up and down slowly and grinning at them. McMillan's penis was long and thin, with a small nozzle of excess foreskin on the end; Sherwood's was shorter, thicker and circumcised. Both boys had soft, dangling ball-bags and neither had any hair. David's enjoyment was slightly tempered by the knowledge that these two eleven-year-olds were both better equipped than he was, but he did enjoy the look on Sherwood's face, which was one of barely suppressed fury. McMillan just looked ashamed and embarrassed.
"Okay, now I'm going to give you three each, provided you do as I tell you, otherwise it'll be more," Garrett told them. "And because you're friends I'm going to give you the chance to help each other through it. Move forward until you're touching each other - yes, like that - and now put your arms round each other - go on, Sherwood, properly... good. Okay, stand still."
He pushed them as close together as possible and then drew a chalk line a couple of inches behind each boy's heels.
"Okay, you're now standing on the bridge," he told them. "As long as you stay between the lines you'll only get three each. Step over the line on either side and you'll get six. Now, I'm going to beat Sherwood first, so McMillan, your job is to hold him in place and to make sure he doesn't cross the line. You can talk to him, hug him, do whatever it takes, but don't let him flinch so far that he crosses the line, okay? Ready..."
He picked up the thick leather belt, doubled it over and swung it against Sherwood's naked bottom. The first-former gave a yell of pain and jerked forwards, but McMillan stood firm, preventing him from moving far enough to push him over the line. A second blow, and Sherwood managed to do no more than hiss, though David could see his arms tighten, squeezing McMillan against him; and then a third, which once more drew a little cry. David was disappointed to see that Sherwood's eyes were glistening, but he wasn't actually crying. But he was pretty sure that Sherwood was the tough one, and he thought McMillan would react in a much more entertaining way. Indeed, he was already trembling before Garrett moved across to his side.
Garrett could see it, too, and cruelly he held back his first blow to draw out the anticipation. David wished he had a camera: the two first years were now standing pressed together, their naked genitals squashed against each other, and McMillan looked as if he was going to faint in terror at any moment.
Finally Garrett swung. The belt struck McMillan's buttocks with a satisfying 'crack!' and McMillan cried out and jerked forwards. Sherwood barely kept him in place.
"It's okay, Ally," he said in his friend's ear. "Only two more. You can do it."
The belt swung again, and McMillan squealed once more and bucked forward, and for a second Sherwood was on the brink of overbalancing. He caught himself at the last moment and pushed McMillan back to their starting position. "Come on, Ally, one more, okay?" he said, hugging his friend hard, and McMillan gave a shaky nod and tried to brace himself.
"Would you like the last one, V-G?" asked Garrett, and David seized the belt enthusiastically. He'd have preferred to beat Sherwood, who was the one to have called him the Rat, but he reckoned that if he did it hard enough he could push them both off the bridge and so get six more to hand out. So he took a step back, wound back his arm and delivered the blow as hard as he possibly could. His aim was a bit out, however, and the blow landed on the top of McMillan's thighs, and the boy shrieked out and convulsed, pulling Sherwood to the floor with him.
"They're off the bridge!" shouted David, happily. "That means more, doesn't it?"
"Actually," said Garrett, "I'm afraid they're not, not quite: they fell sideways. And, anyway, I don't think that last blow was really fair - you missed his bum, or didn't you notice? Okay, you two, that's it: you can get dressed now."
David was disappointed, though at least he saw that he'd made McMillan cry - Sherwood still had his arm round his shoulders and was trying to comfort him, and McMillan was trying hard to pull himself together. At last he gave a final sniff and a nod and started to get dressed, and Sherwood, still looking anxiously at his friend, did likewise. Eventually both were dressed once more, and Garrett told them they could go.
"Bye-bye," said David, grinning at them as they passed him on their way to the door. "Be good, now."
Sherwood glared daggers at him but kept his mouth shut.
"I don't think that one likes you much," observed Garrett once the door had closed behind them
"I seem to have that effect on quite a few people," said David. "I can't say it bothers me, though. Can I borrow the Book for a moment? I want to look something up."
So David consulted the punishment book, leafing back to the previous September - yes, there it was: Ian Osterley, form 3C, punished for bullying Downing and Lithgow, of form 1A. He made a careful note of the names and put the book back in its drawer. Guess what, Osterley, he thought, there's a surprise on the way...
He got home that evening and took his school uniform off, pulling on some casual clothes instead, and then he went downstairs and ate his tea. He was on his best behaviour because his mother was eating with him, so Mrs Devlin had nothing to complain about, and he was also on his best behaviour when the taxi came to take them to the Conservative Club, though this was not the same driver who took him to school. By that time he had changed into another set of smart clothes, including a clean white shirt, long socks and the shorts he wore for going to meetings with his mother. These, like all shorts in the seventies, were extremely short and quite tight, though as he had nothing much to make a bulge in them they looked quite presentable. It would be fair to say that wearing these clothes and with his silky blond hair nicely brushed, he didn't look a day over ten.
"Now remember, darling," said his mother as they got out of the taxi, "best behaviour, all right? There are going to be a couple of people from Central Office here tonight and I want to make a good impression."
"Don't worry, Mummy, I won't forget," he said, and she smiled at him, adjusted his tie and led him inside.
The meeting was as boring as it usually was, with a couple of people making tedious speeches and then a lot of circulating with wine and canapés, but David, with his mind firmly set on the promised new bike, managed not to yawn too often, and replied politely whenever anyone spoke to him. A couple of the usual blue-rinse brigade cooed over him as they usually did, but tonight there were three or four people there that he hadn't seen before. There were a couple of large men in well-cut suits, who were presumably the men from head office - David was introduced to them by his mother, who seemed uncharacteristically nervous in front of them, but he smiled at them and said all the right things - and there was also, to his considerable surprise, what he thought of as "a bloody nigger" - well, okay, he wasn't a full-blown nigger, because his skin was quite light in colour: probably he was a half-caste, or something. David couldn't imagine what he was doing here: there were hardly any coloured people in this part of the country to start with (there were only two non-white boys at his school, a Hong Kong Chinese boy in the Lower Sixth and a kid from somewhere in North Africa in the second year) and as far as he knew the Conservatives were very anti-immigration: the idea that a coloured man was a supporter of the party seemed bizarre.
He was sufficiently curious to wangle an introduction, and learned that the man's name was Mr Dhif, and that he came from somewhere called Oran. He managed to ask the question quite diplomatically, for him - at least, he didn't actually blurt out "What the hell is a bloody nigger doing supporting the Tory Party?"
"This is the future," Mr Dhif told him, in response to his more moderate phrasing of the question. "Mark my words, this country has had enough of vacillating between governments and always doing what the unions want. Mrs Thatcher's got all the answers, and she'll be around for a very long time. And I like backing winners - it's very good for business." And he smiled and moved away.
David still found it a surprise that they'd let him in: he was too young to remember the "Rivers of Blood" speech, but his own inner conviction would have been that "Enoch was right" - frankly, he didn't like coloured people, and didn't think they should be allowed to mix with people from good families, such as himself. He didn't think there was much future in trying to get rid of Sun, the Chinese boy: the sixth form were really out of his reach. But he resolved to see if he could find a way to dispose of the second-year kid. KEV is supposed to be a decent school, he told himself: it's bad enough that they let working class kids in, but they don't have to let foreigners in, too. I'll have to look into that tomorrow, he thought - if I can find time to do that as well as putting Osterley in his place, of course...
So now you've had a first sight of the obnoxious Rat and you're probably thinking that his personality has one or two small flaws. In the next chapter we'll see him stitching up the unfortunate Osterley and what happens as a result.
If you feel like telling me what you think of it so far, please do – you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I try to respond to any mails I receive (flames excluded, of course!)
Copyright 2008 – all rights reserved. Please do not reprint, repost or otherwise reproduce this or any part thereof anywhere without my written permission.