Terry Harvey is dead.
There’s no doubt of it all. He’s absolutely a dead man. His mam is going to kill him when she sees what he’s done to his brand new trousers.
Jimmy stood half in the stream not unsympathetic to his best friend’s whimpering as he tried to wash down the boy’s trousers using leaves simultaneously as water scoop and scouring pad. To both the boys’ dismay, the muddy marks were getting worse not better. Neither would call themselves experts in the matter of cleaning clothes (that was, after all, women’s work – or if not women, definitely mams’ work) but both could tell the dirt was now even more ingrained in the otherwise pristine new cloth. There was little hope it was coming out.
“Me mam’s gonna proper butcher me!” wailed the twelve-year-old ‘dead man walking’.
Jimmy put the handful of leaves down and grimaced as he surveyed the ruined trousers.
“She might not see it?” he offered, the best he could come up with.
“Ar yer fookin’ loony?” Terry screamed, “she sees ev’ry bloody mark! She even checks ev’ry soddin’ pocket. ‘Ow am I supposed to get these buggas past ‘er eh? She’s gonna fookin’ kill me, she is.”
It was certainly a bad end to what had been a terrible ‘day of adventure’ for the two. Holidays were always ripe opportunities for fun but this day had been the exception. Both boys were ‘latchkey kids’. Jimmy’s parents both worked and Terry’s mam was back at work soon after his dad died. The boys, like most of the classmates, were left to their own devices during the day. As long as they didn’t break anything, annoy the neighbours or get in trouble with the ‘pigs’ then their parents didn’t care what they got up to. Dirtying new clothes, however, counted as ‘breaking things’.
“Tell ‘er yer lost ‘em then,” Jimmy tried. Terry’s face turned white.
“No that’ll be worser than gettin’ ‘em dirty.”
Jimmy clambered out of the stream. The bottoms of his jeans were muddy but his clothes weren’t brand new and he knew his mam would hardly bat an eyelid over them. In fact it was rare that Jimmy didn’t come home with clothes dirty or torn.
“I’ll kill that Murter when I get hold of ‘im,” Terry said as he crouched down as if doing so could hide the state of his clothes.
“Aye,” Jimmy murmured agreement, “I’ll ‘old ‘im down ‘n you can kick ‘is ‘ead in.”
Terry laughed, got up and went over to a fallen tree which he started to kick angrily. Jimmy looked around the wood in which they stood. The sun was shining down hard and even though the tall trees sheltered them both from most of the heat, it was still a pretty hot day. How had they even ended up in this place, the dreaded ‘dark woods’ which everyone knew was a place that ‘children should not go’? It wasn’t even remotely an area they’d considered going near when Terry had come round to his house that morning to prepare the day’s ‘plan of action’.
To continue reading this story please buy the book ‘The Old Man on the Beach and other stories’ available January 2015.
Copyright © 2014 D K Powell