Wait for my signal . . . .
THERE HE IS – GET HIM! was all I heard as I walked through the main gates of my school. I looked over at my left shoulder to see Kevin and Dean running as fast as their 13 year old legs could carry them in my direction. I turned in an instance, knowing full-well they were after me, and dug the fronts of my new Reebok trainers into the pavement and started running towards home. Home was only three streets away, down New hill, but it may as well have been on the dark side of the moon. It felt like an eternity from hearing those words to seeing my front door.
As a thirteen year old, I had already experienced more than my fair share of confrontation and violence at school and at home, so a run home from the school bullies was all part of my daily grind. Anyway, it kept me fit and in preparation for Sports Day. Not that I did very well on Sports Day but I had to look at my bullying in a positive light or go through what I had gone through when I was Ten years old all over again. I wasn’t prepared to do that.
Dean Hughes was the cock of our year, for those of you that are not familiar with the term, it means the hardest, most violent kid there is in that particular year. He was a big lad for his age. I would secretly call him Dim Huge. Never to his face, that would have been suicide. He dwarfed everyone else in the school, even the year five kids. His size definitely contributed to his status. Kevin on the other hand was a short, squeaky, mixed-up kid who lived directly across from my house, in another house of course. He followed Dean around like a three-legged lap dog. He did everything Dean asked him to. The muppet.
It all started in Mrs Martins’ Pottery class. Dean was being a real pain, as usual, creating pottery willies. The rest of the class however were doing their very best to create little teacups, as per the teachers brief. In all honestly, mine looked more like a small bag of knuckles, but at least I was trying and being a good student – for once.
Dean wasn’t happy being annoying on his own, he needed an audience, and found a victim in me, to elevate his status that little bit more. He saw my teacup and decided to drive his gnarled-up fist straight through the middle of my creation while cackling like a hyena. I saw red. I stood up, grabbed my teacup and pushed it straight into the middle of his face. Every kid in the class turned to look. There were gasps and moans of disbelief. Then there was silence, deathly silence, it seemed to last for ages. All you could hear was the whirring of the kiln as it warmed, ready to receive our clay offerings. Willies and all.
Dean froze for a moment before standing up, bringing him clay-covered hand up behind his ear then throwing it into the middle of face. He must of had a lot of clay on his hand because I didn’t feel it as much as I would have expected. I immediately fell to floor from my wooden stool, I looked up and stared up at Dean and the rest of the class who’d gathered to see what would happen next. Dean stood above me pointed the gnarly clay hand at my head and said – “You’re dead you freak, you’re dead”. He appeared to mean it, but I didn’t feel dead. I did feel a little bit freaky with the other kids staring at me, but I definitely didn’t feel dead. I felt alive and, at the time very lucky . . . . . . but I was soon to discover, not for long.
I overheard as Dean turned to Kevin. “We’ll get the little turd after School, wait at the main doors, when I see him, we’ll pounce. Just wait for my signal.” Kevin nodded in agreement. I was prepared for the worst.
I spent the whole of the day looking over my shoulder and staying away from anyone who knocked around with them. I was aware that word would spread fast that I was around and what was inevitable after school would come a lot sooner. I was even tempted to skip school, but getting into trouble with my Dad would be a lot worse than anything Dim Huge and the lap-dog could dish out. They didn’t use leather belts, slippers and brick-layers hands.
Every stride felt like one step forward and six steps backwards. I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. They were gaining on me. They must have been quicker than I was, somehow. Dean sure could run fast for a fatty, I kept saying over and over again in my head. I dug my trainers further into the ground and lent forward to make myself more streamlined. I had seen it on TV when Daley Thomson ran the one hundred metres. He put his head down so he could go faster, but my rucksack ruined it. I couldn’t stop to take it off, it would have been curtains for me. I had to just go for it.
I must have ran through every kid walking home trying to duck and dive to lose them. But little did I know, I should have run in a straight line. The quickest distance between two points. I will never forget that, thank you Mr Woodward (my Maths teacher).
It was too late, I had managed to get to the bottom of the lane at the top of my street before Dean, or Kevin – I didn’t see who had done it, I was flying through the air, legged me up. My face hit the mud. As I stopped, the rucksack went all the way up over my head and off my back. Dean and Kevin started kicking me and punching me in the back of my head, all of a sudden my dad came out the house shouting, “What the hell’s going on here?”, he walked over to where I was laying and picked me up with one hand from the mud. He was very strong my Dad, fat but strong. Before anyone could explain, he sent Dean and Kevin packing. “Get back home you little bastards. And you, get up them stairs. I’ll teach ya to fight outside my house and show me up, you’re getting my belt. When will you ever learn?”
“But Dad . . . ” I manage to chelp before he stopped me. “Do you want me to give you it out here, in front of everyone?”, he screamed as he pulled me towards his face, our noses almost touching. He may as well have done. Everyone knew what was coming. Everyone in our street knew what would happen if I got into trouble or embarrass my dad in public.
Dean and Kevin knew what my Dad had done to me the previous night and came over the next morning to apologise for getting my into trouble.
Less than two hours later, Kevin drew a massive willy all over my Picasso-esque tree painting in Mrs Whitehouse’s art class, so I threw a pot of paint over his drawing. Sufficed to say, I made it home that night and there wasn’t an apology the following day or the day after that or the day . . . . .