Terry Harvey is dead.
They’re all saying it. He died last night.
“A Car ‘it ‘im,” Matty Murter is delighted to spill the beans, “an’ then another ‘it ‘im again on t’other side o’ road. ‘Is brains were spread everywhere like.”
The girls gape and cringe at the thought, pleasing Murter no end. He’s the only one willing to speak it the way it is – honest and crude – and he’s enjoying the popularity.
But Jimmy Summers says nothing. He just laughs.
The other kids can’t believe it and the news travels round almost as fast as the news of Harvey’s death.
“Can you believe it? Jimmy Summers jus’ laughed when they tol’ ‘im! ‘E’s supposed t’be ‘is best mate an’ all ‘e did wuz laugh! What the fook eh? Mus’ be sick, ‘im.”
Jimmy keeps his head down but it becomes a game after a while. Kids go out of the way to find him and see for themselves.
“’Ere Jimmy! You ‘eard that Terry’s dead?”
Sure enough, Jimmy turns his head away from them but they can see his shoulder heaving and one takes a closer look at his face.
“There yer go! I said, dinna say – e’s got a fookin’ great grin on ‘is face. ‘E’s laffin’ ‘e is!”
They run off to tell everyone that ‘Jimmy Summers is a sick bastard’ but are replaced by another group who just want to do the same thing.
In the end, Jimmy hides in a cupboard under the stairs leading to the Geography block. He’s going to miss Geography and he’ll get detention and a ‘howling’ from Miss Gravesend but he doesn’t care. It’s better than all the stick he’s getting from his classmates.
Besides, Jimmy hates himself. He must be sick – like really twisted sick. He can’t understand it. Why does he keep laughing? It’s not what he feels inside. When he was told this morning, by his mam, he could feel a grin creeping onto his face but he managed to keep it straight. He showed no emotion at all. That just made it worse though because his mam thought he was shell-shocked by the news and that it hadn’t sunk in. So she told him more details to reinforce that Terry, his best friend, was really gone and wouldn’t be coming back. The last thing he wanted was details but she told him anyway.
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