The park was always a prime
hangout for us. The trees provided ample entertainment, as well as shade from
the afternoon sun. We would often walk there, as a group, or sometimes alone,
but we would always leave being picked up, sometimes by Jack’s mum, or Sylvia’s
dad, or either of my parents, because it was always too late to walk back.
But today there would be no
one picking us up. We had ditched school, none of us particularly enjoying the
prospect of last period Sport, what with it being such a lovely day and all.
Wherever we went, Sylvia was
always the first to talk. She’d say something like:
- Hey guys, what’s happening?
if she’d just joined us, or:
- My, we’re a cheerful bunch
today, aren’t we?
if no one had said anything
for a while. Or she’d regale us with some anecdote about her father, or her
brother, or her mother, or that guy, or this girl, or she’d sing us a line from
some preppy, overproduced, pop song, doing a handstand, then getting up, face
flushed as she pushed the wavy, black hair from her eyes.
We sat on a different table to what we normally would, as our regular had been
accosted by a bunch of half-dead old geezers keeping the bird population up.
Sylvia sat, hands resting on her knees, knees close together, next to Jack,
next to Brian, and me, on the ground looking up, next to Amy, next to Liam,
next to Julie.
“How funny was that sub we
had, the one who played the guitar?” said Amy
“I know, wasn’t he?” we agreed, chuckling a breathless chuckle
“How did he do that thing,” she continued, in her vapid way
“I think he had, like, a thing, up his sleeve or something,” I said. He
actually had a rubber band, concealed in his left hand; but I didn’t tell them
“Morning,” I said
“Morning,” she said, in a glossless voice
I was put off, but continued
“You know, I saw Reservoir
Dogs last night,”
“Mmmm. Like it?”
“Yeah, it was really good. You know that bit where he’s in the warehouse with
the cop? “
“Mmmm-hmmm,” she repeated.
“Julie, she said, breaking
away to speak to her, Julie I…”
They trailed off as they
moved out of earshot.
A man was approaching us from
the left, wiping away the dirt and saliva from above his mouth. His right step
brought him down slightly more than the left, as his shoe was a while behind
him by this point. He was wearing several coats, a worn hat and shorts. His
voice started up, like a motor that needed to warm up, before it could properly
“You damn kids don’t know
what’s what. You think you’re better than me, better than all the people older
than you, you goddamn kids, you know that don’t you, you know that.”
He was disturbingly
“I was in goddamned ‘nam.”
“If I had a gun, I’d…”
He made a gun with his hand,
and put it to Jack’s temple.
“You people make me sick.”
He spat, as if to accentuate
his point, and with that final thought he left the area.
We waited till he was just barely out of earshot before we began laughing.
“What a fucking loon”
“Ahah, I’ll say”
“I was in ‘nam”
“It’s too hot here; let’s go sit in the shade.”
And as they left me lying in
the grass, playing with the dirt, I could hear the wind howl above, and it
seemed to blow right through me as I stared angrily into the sky.