Saturday, November 22, 2014

Perimeter Fence

Sam looked on with resignation as the ball veered away from the makeshift goal of two piles of school bags.  In his haste to capitalise on the open goal due to Cavan’s slip, he’d rushed his shot, his standing foot too far away from the ball when he struck it.
Ignoring the catcalls and pisstakes, he ran to recover the ball.  Its resting place was the perimeter fence separating Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School and St Urbans Catholic Primary School.
He slowed as he approached the fence so as not to scare the Robin Redbreast he’d glimpsed through the fence.  A bystander observing what was unfolding on the Primary School side.
Just by the unadulterated shrieks of laughter, Sam sensed it was an altogether more carefree environment than the Cardinal Heenan playground.  The younger children yet to be weighed down by the combined burden of exams, puberty, social media and being in or out of the ‘in crowd’.
Sam picked up the ball tucking it under his arm pausing and breathing in the air from the other side of the fence seeing if it could infect him and take him back to times when he was free of spots and blackheads, when he had a bum fluff free top lip, his armpits didn’t exude an odour of old tea bags and his hair didn’t need washing daily.
A ruddy faced boy flushed with joyous excitement in hot pursuit of a smaller pig tailed girl giggling uncontrollably.  Neither likely to be subject to a Spanish inquisition from their friends at the end of play time of why they were playing together.  Not having to run the gauntlet of questions, feeling your acne pock marked cheeks colouring and the burn of your neck reddening – “what were you doing with her?  Are you seeing her or summat?”.  The minefield of teenage boys, an age when it wasn’t sick to have friends who were girls.
Sam’s bubble of innocent musing was punctured by Jordan’s bawling – “ere, there’s only 5 minutes of break time left, you fetching the ball back or gonna stay standing there staring into space with your gob open catching flies”.  “Shut up nobhead” responded Sam launching the ball at Jordan, re-joining the fray.

Paul Jobson

The Liquor Store

Hetty and Jake had to run an errand for their mom whilst she was at work.  They had to go to the store and get some groceries so mom could fix supper when she got home.  They set-off in great spirits, laughing and joking as they walked on the sidewalk to the store.  Their route took them past the Liquor Store.  As they passed it, Jake shot into the yard beside it.
“Hetty, Hetty, look at all of the empty beer bottles, these are the ones you get money for returning”
“Come on, we need to get the groceries and get home in time for mom”
“Take these”
“What are you doing?”
“We’re going to earn ourselves some money.  Mom will be pleased if we go back with all of the groceries and give all of her money back”
“It’s stealing”
“No, it’s not.  It’s a killer idea.  Anyhow, don’t be a square”
“Just hold these and follow me”
Hetty reluctantly held the bottles and followed Jake into the Store.  Jake confidently placed his empty bottles onto the counter then took the others from Hetty and put them alongside.  The Liquor Store owner ambled over, glancing quickly at Hetty and Jake over the top of his glasses.  He counted the bottles – six in total, opened the cash register, picked out 6 coins and handed them into Jake’s outstretched palm.
“Thank you sir”
“So long kids”
Jake could barely stifle his laughter as they were leaving the store.  As they stepped out onto the sidewalk, he squealed “again, let’s do it again”.  Hetty knew they shouldn’t but reasoned the owner had hardly looked at them, he probably wouldn’t recognise them.
In their haste to gather another set of empties, Hetty dropped one of them, it smashed on the floor.  Hetty and Jake didn’t have time to look at one another before the Liquor Store owner emerged into the yard from a door at the rear of the store.
Jake beat it, flat out up the sidewalk.  Hetty was caught by surprise and the Store owner had positioned himself between the Hetty and the yard entrance.
“I’ve called up the Cops, they’re on the way to throw you and your friend in jail for stealing”.
Hetty started to cry.  She didn’t want to go to jail.  Mom would go crazy.  Mom hated stealing.  Mom had never done anything wrong in her entire life.
The Store owner moved towards Hetty.  Without warning, an empty beer bottle whistled by his ear, smashing on the ground between him and Hetty.  Startled, the Store owner turned round to see where it had come from, this gave Hetty the split second she needed, Hetty darted past the distracted Owner, joining Jake on the sidewalk from where he’d launched the bottle.
“You cool?”
“Yeah.  C’mon.  Let’s cut out”
They took flight back up the sidewalk towards home.  They arrived back breathless at the tenement building where their apartment was, to see their mom crossing the road.
“Watcha.  What you been doing?  You look hot”
“We’ve been running mom”
“Be careful.  Have you got the groceries like I asked?”
Hetty and Jake exchanged a look.
“You’ve forgotten”
“Let me change out of my work clothes, then I’ll go.  You two carry on playing and enjoy the sunny weather.  But no moaning about having a late supper"

Paul Jobson