A bit more of the tale of urban delinquency, based on the kids we see every day.
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`Stupid little shit!' I forced myself to think as I walked out of the hospital.
`It's not my problem, it's not my problem.' I said over and over in my mind. But that look in his eyes when I turned round as I was leaving haunted me.
I caught the bus to town, and another the short distance home.
After all, I could afford it now. I still had 65 of that kid's money.
When I got in the house, Mum called.
"Anthony? You're just in time for dinner. Steak pie, mash and gravy. One of your favourites!"
I walked into the kitchen and sat at the table. Mum put the plateful in front of me, and poured the hot gravy over it. I had no appetite at all. I picked at the pie, mixed up some mash and gravy but only had one forkful of it. Mum sat opposite, eating hers, until she noticed I wasn't eating.
"What's the matter?" she asked, setting her knife and fork down.
What could I say? That a kid had jumped in front of a lorry, because of me? No. I stared at my dinner.
"I can't tell you, Mum. Not because I don't want to, but because I don't understand it all yet. I wish I could, `cause I'd ask for your advice, but I can't. Not yet, anyway."
I stared at my dinner until I was sure it was staring back. I pushed the plate away.
"I'm sorry, Mum, I'm just not hungry." I said.
"Well, I'm not going to waste it, it'll be in the fridge for you tomorrow." she answered. "Ok, I'll eat it then." I said, meaning tomorrow.
I stood up. "I'm going up. There's too much going on in here (I tap my head) and the only way to stop it is to sleep. Don't disturb me unless we win the lottery!" I said.
"Fat chance!" Mum said as she got up and slid my dinner into the near-empty fridge. "I didn't get the ticket this week."
`Shit!' I thought. `This week our numbers will come up.'
I walked into the hall and turned to climb the stairs. I glanced at the phone, and remembered Pie. I picked up the phone and dialled his number.
"No, I'm sorry Anthony, he's at Kieran's for the weekend." Pie's Mum replied to my asking for Peter.
"Oh, OK, I'll try him there!" I said. "Thanks!" and put the phone down.
I climbed the stairs thinking
that was strange. Key wasn't with them when I saw them today. But Pie's away
for the whole weekend -- what was going on? Perhaps I should have gone with them
instead of going to -- and I remembered
"Its -- not
-- my -- fucking -- problem!" I said
as I walked in my room and slammed the door. I kicked off my trainers, slipped
off my hoodie and jeans, and fell on the bed in just my boxers and socks. I
couldn't get he memory of
It was still dark when I woke up. I forced myself to think what say it was, did I have to get up for school? No, it was Sunday. I looked at my clock. Ten to four. Ten to fuckin' four? I got up anyway. I needed a drink. I crept downstairs and opened the fridge. Coke, fanta orange, juice, milk. No. I needed a drink!
I opened a few cupboards, but saw nothing I wanted. I wandered into the living room, opened the drinks cabinet, lifted a bottle out and sat on the settee. I unscrewed the bottle top, lifted the bottle to my lips and drunk. Sheee! That burnt! I looked at the label. McLennan Scotch Whiskey. The searing burn in my throat turned to a dull warmth. I took another swig. It's like swallowing the lit end of a fag. Talking of fags, I could do with one of those as well, I think I've got a couple in a packet upstairs. I crept back up, and found them after searching every pocket in my clothes cupboard. I'll put the clothes back later, I thought.
Quietly back down the stairs -- this is fun! Like being a secret agent!
Where's that bottle -- oh yes, here. Another swig.
Now, where to have my fag -- Mum won't have smoke in the house.
OK, back garden.
Fuck, where's my lighter?
Shit, I ain't going up there again. Back in the kitchen I turn on a gas ring and push the button -- whump! A light! I hold the fag in my lips and slowly approach the flame -- yes! Genius!
Back outside before I take a drag -- ahh! That's better!
Where's the bottle again -- there, at the side of the back doorstep. Sit on the step, take a swig. Back to the fag.
At least it's warm tonight. And dark. No stars.
They're too far away anyway.
Why would anyone want to go up there? Must be mad.
Just a bit more of the whiskey, Mum won't notice -- she doesn't drink it anyway.
Sheesh! How can people say they like this stuff? Just a bit more.
Another pull on the fag, that's better. Ahh yes.
Breathe and relax. Drink, fag. Fag, drink.
Fuck! I want a piss now. It'll have to wait. Fag, drink.
Need to go, too much effort to hold it and wait.
Think about trying.
Wonder if I can reach the lawn from here?
I pulled up the leg of my boxers, held it and aimed -- Yes! Going on the grass easily. Easy! Eeeaasy!
I finish, OK the last bit went on the path but -- well, fuck it. I shook the drips off and -- but it feels nice with my fingers holding it.
It feels nice with anybody's fingers on it. Just play with it for a bit. Another puff on the fag.
Where's that bottle? She won't miss another little drop.
OK, I hope she doesn't miss a big drop!
Bottle down, play with it again. My! How you've grown!
Just a bit, to and fro, up and down.
Last of the fag, good drag. Chuck the nub on the lawn.
This whiskey's OK, actually.
Just a sip more.
At least I've got a spare hand now the fag's gone.
Sip again. Mmm, it is OK.
Oh yeah, that's nice. To and fro, to and fro.
Fuck it, I'll have a wank.
That kid's hands were soft. Pretend it's him.
Just one last sip and-oh God, that's nice.
A bit faster -- yes -- yes - whatever your name was. I never did ask, did I?
Oh fuck it, I'll have that other fag.
Where's the fuckin' packet?
On the fuckin' table.
I'll have it later.
This is too good to stop.
Any left in that bottle?
There won't be soon!
There! All gone!
Crash! The bottle broke on the step.
Shit. Made me jump. Funny though!
What was I doing? Oh yes.
Why won't my hand go any faster?
It feels funny.
Everything feels funny.
Oh my God, I'm going to --
The vomit splashed down in my lap, over my hand and -- well, it was in my hand at the time.
And again - Urrrgh. Oh, that tastes awful.
It's funny, though.
I bet that kid's never thrown up in his lap.
Especially when he's wanking!
That's so funny!
Oh, I do feel bad.
Just lean back on the door and it'll stop spinning round.
Where's that fag.
Why won't my legs move -- oh --(vomit again).
I do feel bad.
Lean back and -- crash! The door opened and I fell on my back. The top step was cutting my back in half, but, well -- you gotta laugh, haven't you?
I did, anyway.
Laughed and giggled.
"Anthony!! What on earth do you think you're doing?"
Oh shit. Hehehe! That's Mum. She'd better not see me like this -- I'd better move. Oh no -.
My eyes slowly cleared and I could see a mountain the colour of Mum's dressing gown towering over me. Her face was frowning down from the summit.
She looked -- well, how would your Mum look if she found you on the doorstep blind drunk, dressed only in boxers that were covered in sick with a wilting erection sticking up out of it? -- well, that's how she looked. I said the only thing I could say. "Hehehe!"
I really woke up in the shower when she turned the cold water on. Sobering? I'll say. I looked up and she was standing there, glowering.
"Get yourself cleaned up and
downstairs. You've got a lot of explaining to do, Anthony Calligan." She
boomed. It hurt. Everything hurt. Even thinking hurt. Why couldn't I just die? The
I stood still under the cold water. My mind started to clear, just a little, but enough to wash myself. At least she left me alone to strip off my boxers and shower properly. I turned the hot tap on a bit.
When I dressed and went down there was a scalding hot cup of coffee waiting for me. My Mum can get water to wait until 200 degrees before it boils, unlike the 100 it saves for everyone else.
The room was spinning, the world was spinning, I was spinning. All in different directions.
Mum stared at me with a look the KGB would have been proud of. I just wish she could see that little bit further, into my mind, and see the shit that's going round in there. Maybe she could sort it out, I'm fucked if I can.
I took a deep breath. The nausea swept over me again. I held the breath. It passed.
"It's Ryan, Mum. He's in hospital. He got run over by a truck, and he's in hospital." I said, staring at the superheated coffee.
"How bad is he?" Mum asked, compassionate about all humans except me at the moment.
"Arms and legs smashed, face badly grazed, fuck knows what else internally -"
"Anthony! Watch your language!" she shouted. It hurt.
"There was a machine by his bed with `ECG' on it. That's for hearts, isn't it?" I asked, looking up at her.
"For measuring heartbeats, yes." She said. "You've been to see him?"
"Yes, he's in St. Saviour's."
"How did you get there?"
"I got a taxi from town."
"A taxi? How could you afford that?"
"Some kid gave me the money."
"Some kid? How come he gave you money? Did you steal it from him?"
"No, Mum. He saw it happen, the accident, and, well, wanted me to go see him." I lied.
"Hmmm." she said. She knows when I'm lying.
"How did it happen?"
"I don't know, he got knocked down, that's all I know."
She smacked the table hard. I jarred the coffee mug, and felt my skin blister. "Don't lie to me, Anthony. I know when you're lying. Now tell me the truth!"
I didn't know whether to shout back or cry. That's not true, either -- there's no way I would shout at her when she's like this.
"He ran in front of a lorry, Mum."
"Because I -" I did cry then. Not for what I'd done, but for how he must have felt to do - that.
"Because you what, Anthony?" she was forcing me to answer.
"Because I let him down, Mum, because I let him down." The realization fuelled my tears.
"Let him down? Enough to jump in front of a lorry? What have you done, Anthony? What on earth have you done?" she asked. I glanced up at her eyes. She was trying to understand, trying to sympathise, not for me, but for someone she saw as my victim.
"This is the boy you told me you wanted to try to help, isn't it Anthony?" she asked.
"Yes, Mum." I replied.
"Well, I think you ought to think about trying harder." She said.
And that was that. She'd spoken, and would expect it to be done.
"Now." she said in a sterner tone. "About the state you were in at the back door."
I hung my head. The head that was hurting, throbbing fit to bust.
"Sorry won't work this time, Anthony. That whiskey was your Father's, so you'll have to replace it by when he gets home, which is this Friday incidentally."
I winced mentally at the thought of my Dad's coming home. I don't think he actually hates gays, but he always makes a joke out of them if the subject comes up. How will he take it when he finds out the little boy he used to bounce on his knee and have so much fun with had become one of the `faggot shirt-lifting sissy boys' he pokes fun at? I daren't think.
"It was bad enough you drunk his whiskey. It was worse you drunk enough to get you paralytic. It was worse still you drank it all. It was even worse you smashed the bottle on our doorstep. It was unbelievable that you sat there and vomited on yourself, but Anthony, when I opened the door, your - your penis was out, and erect! What on earth were you doing, Anthony?"
My mind was still spinning.
"I'm so sorry, Mum." I said.
"Sorry isn't acceptable, Anthony." she said. "Sorry isn't a reason, an excuse, or an explanation. I want one before you leave this table."
I hung my head even lower.
"I was wanking, Mum." I muttered.
"You were what?" the emphasis on that last word had to be heard to be believed.
I searched in the crevices of my brain for the right word. Not easy when you're drunk, your brain is pounding, your stomach churning, and you're so embarrassed you want to crawl up your own asshole.
"I was masturbating." I forced out. It's the admittance you never want to share with anybody in the world, and certainly not your Mother.
"I thought as much!" she said, which surprised me. Not that she'd said it, but that she'd guessed what I was doing.
"I just hope to God that nobody saw you." she said, raising her eyes to the ceiling.
I knew exactly what she meant.
"I don't know. I was drunk. I'm 14. It just happened.
"Was it about Ryan?"
"Some other boy?" Wow. She really has worked it out, hasn't she. Take the easy option.
"Yes, Mum." Somehow I felt relieved that I was, at last, out to her.
"The one who gave you the money?"
It was like being hit in the face with a brick. I'd dug my hole, all I had to do was climb down into it, and she'd shovel the dirt back in.
Before I realised it, she was on her feet and her hand was accelerating towards the side of my face.
I fell sideways to the floor, taking the chair and coffee mug with me. The chair smacked against my leg: the mug smashed, and coffee flooded across the linoed floor.
"You little whore!" she screamed. "You're no better than a common slut!"
I lay there, beaten. Too shocked to cry, too embarrassed to retaliate, too drunk to stand. And very luckily, with an empty bladder.
She walked round to me, grabbed one arm and lifted me with a hand, and righted the chair with the other. "Sit down!" she commanded.
She walked round to the sink, put a tea towel under the cold tap, returned and placed it on my cheek.
"I shouldn't have done that." She said calmly. "I'm sorry, Anthony."
I held the tea towel while she returned to her seat.
"You were right to. I deserved it." I said.
She wiped the corner of her eye before I could see the tear.
"Tomorrow afternoon," she started, "You're going back to see Ryan. And I'm coming with you. You are going to start to sort things out, Anthony, one way or another. You're not going to mess up your life before you've started living it. Now go to bed, and sleep it off."
I stood up and turned away. I got to the door and turned back to face her. My mother. The only woman in the world that I would ever love.
"Goodnight Mum." I said.
I understood why she didn't reply, I was choking with tears myself.
I hauled myself back up to my room, sat and then rolled onto my bed. I closed my eyes to sleep, or try, and Ryan's face came into my mind. Not just his eyes, all of it. And it was smiling.