Occupational Hazard

Lots of teenagers have part time jobs right? Well, so does Casey. Only hers is different, exciting...dangerous. Living in constant danger has built her a hard exterior and moving around with different identities each time has made her secluded from people her age. But when she moves to London something changes. She makes friends and meets Nathan. For the first time she'll have to make a decision. Can she let go? Can she let her heart rule her head for once?

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4. The Find

Sharon approached me the next day, just as we were leaving the class room at the end of maths.

“Keep your talons, off my boy,” she hissed.

“I’m sorry, who?”

“Nathan. He doesn’t have the brains to see scum like I can. So I’m warning you now. Stay away or I’ll find a way to show him and everyone else what you’re really like,”

Who does she think she is? I thought. I didn’t correct her by telling her exactly what I thought she was and ruining her beauty regime by smashing in her face because well, I’m just nice like that. And I’ve been in that situation before. And I would lose my job. But mainly cos I’m nice.

The next few weeks passed quite quickly. I became quite good friends with Emma and Katie, Emma’s friend. In fact I’d even been invited to my first ever sleepover, which I still had to clear with Grant, but after sending me in several lunatics’ houses I doubted he’d have a problem. I’d carried on chatting to the guy in my case on the internet, but I’d barely had time to even get involved in the gang scene yet.

 It was actually quite weird how well it was all going, apart from Sharon whining about losing her phone or something. I wasn’t concerned with that; I just thought she should’ve been more careful with her possessions. She also made an extra special effort to show me that she and Nathan were “in love” laughing extra loud at stuff which was barely funny and glaring at me when she held his hand. I knew exactly what she was trying to do, I just didn’t know why. All I’d done was embarrass myself in front of him which usually led to turning bright red. What can I say? Maybe she thought red was the new orange?

I let myself into the house and dumped my bag by the door. To my surprise Grant was already in the kitchen and even making tea! Grant was a much better cook then me. I used knives to cut myself free of being tied up, not slicing carrots. He seemed to have an edge to him though; he was cutting the carrots quite vigorously.

“Nice day?” he asked. His expression showed he didn’t require an answer.

“Yeah, the usual, Maths was horrible, PE was great, Emma was lovely Sharon moaned about something which I didn’t listen to,”

“Good,” he replied automatically.

“You?” I asked out of politeness before I asked him about the sleepover. He just grumbled something illegible. I didn’t really need to ask him, but Grant could be funny about “normal” things.

“Can I sleepover at Emma’s on Friday night?” he snapped out of his mood.

“Why?” he was genuinely surprised.

“Because… they’re my friends and they’re having a sleepover?” And why not?

“Do you know her parents?” he said.

“I’ve seen them outside school, why?” I said.

“I don’t really want you going to some stranger’s house. Do you know they’re okay with it? They could be psychopaths.”

“No, I don’t know what you’re trying to say. Katie goes round all the time, her parents are fine. Why’re you being like this? I’m 14, almost 15, a black belt in karate and you’ve left me in actual psychos’ cars and houses many times before, I’ll be fine,”

“I never leave you in danger Casey, you know that. If you have a problem with what we’re doing just say it, I’ve had a full day of this at work I don’t need you at my throat as well,” so this is what he was really arguing about. Sometimes Grant’s bosses got concerned with health and safety, they went through phases of trying to change the way we did things, today must have been particularly bad.

“Look. I love my job, I like the thrill of danger, what we’re doing. I’m sorry, I didn’t realise you’d had a bad day, it’s just they’re really looking forward to this sleepover, and so am I,” he realised he was fighting a losing battle

“Yeah, sure, I’m sorry, I’m just uptight right now. You don’t need looking after.” He said. “Just take the button won’t you?” he added.

“Yeah, course,”

With the sleepover confirmed I decided to do some work. It was to get involved in the London gang scene. I walked down to the gang spots in my hoodies and tracksuits, flirted with a few of the guys and talked to some of the girls. I could already start to grasp the gang rivalries, and where the drugs were sold. I generally just gathered information and planted recording devices for the police to pick up. Working with gangs is a perk of the job. Being in a gang isn’t against the law, but it’s bad for the individuals involved. Fights can get them criminal records or they can end up seriously hurt. Instead of grassing on ‘em I mess with the politics of the group. I can get them to split up, break up fights, convince them not to take the drugs. It’s a lot more interesting than fixing cameras, less routine, more creative, if you will.

The week before the sleepover trawled by at the speed of a tortoise. No. Slower. I knew I was getting over-excited but this was a whole different experience for me. I’d never even had a friend who’d met up with me outside of school, never mind a sleepover. I kind of like the whole “normal” thing. The novelty would soon wear off. I wouldn’t trade my lifestyle for anything, but sometimes difference is a welcome break. Wednesday finally came, but it didn’t quite turn out as planned…

Sharon had been whining like a dog for food about losing her phone. “My twitter followers are missing me!” she exclaimed dramatically.

“Look this thing has been missing now for over a week. Now Sharon’s purse has also gone missing. It’s school policy to search the lockers and school bags,” droned Mr Higgins. “I look forward to seeing what’s in there,” he added and winked. I got a “creeped out” look from Emma. Then a look of dread appeared on her face.

” I’ve got paracetemol in there, we’re not allowed it in school!” the panic in her eyes was highly disproportionate to the situation.

“Sir, it’s illegal to look through our bags without a search warrant,” I piped up. Which it was, law was of course part of basic training for any individual involved in the police, even a  14 year old one.

“Do you have anything to hide?” he replied.

“No, but some people might?” I replied meekly however he was no longer listening. I could see by the panic in other girl’s eyes, they also had stuff they didn’t want Mr Higgins to see.

“It’s ok, put them in mine,” I whispered. She was a bit of a nerd. A detention wouldn’t hurt me but it would seriously scar Emma’s reputation. A look of relief washed over her.

“Thanks,”

Mr Higgins marched down the wall of lockers searching each one thoroughly with over-the top-importance. Everyone watched nervously wondering which one of us it had been. Finally he got to my locker. I stood back, tapping my foot impatiently, waiting for the whole pal larva to be over with. Instead Mr Higgins turned round, a triumphant look on his face.

“Oh dear Casey, oh dear,” he muttered. I looked over at Sharon who managed to turn her smirk into a smile of thanks when Mr Higgins turned round with the luminous pink iPhone and matching purse. He then searched my bag and found the 2 packets of paracetemol. Emma got frequent headaches. Unfortunately the two packets just made me look like a druggy as well as a thief.

“Pill popper too are we?”  It was the final straw. I just lost it. I ran over to Sharon and was about to knock her senseless when the rational side of my brain took over. My anger wasn’t having it.

“You freak!” my voice was low and threatening. My brain was torn in two, I wanted to kill her but there was a part of me that managed to keep control. Everything had been going right. I had friends- that kinda thing didn’t happen to me. I had to do something. I had to make her pay. My instincts took over but my brain directed the anger elsewhere. I did a superb roundhouse kick but moved my foot to the window right at the last second. My foot went straight through the window, shattering the glass like an exploding star. My anger shattered with the glass as the realisation of what I’d just done occurred to me. I had ballet pumps on. My technique on the kick was awesome however I’d just kicked through double glazing in practically bare feet.

The whole class stared at me and I think someone even wolf-whistled. I looked over to Emma but she looked away ashamed. Ashamed of me. They all thought I’d done this and why wouldn’t they, it was completely logical. I hobbled out into the corridor, my foot bleeding. I vowed, if I was allowed back to school, to clear my name and show Sharon up for the cow she was. I shut the door and caught Nathan’s eye. His look said it all; “How could you? What happened to the Casey I knew? How could you be so two faced?”

I left the school gates an hour before everyone else that day. Grant picked me up. I’d been suspended for a week. I told him the whole story, start to finish and he trusted me. He knew that when I used to steal I did it a lot better than that, and he laughed at me kicking through the window.

“I’m willing to let it go, if you pay for the window,” he laughed making me recall memories of when we first met. “Seriously though, we need to get your foot checked out,”

Three hours of glass removal, a small plaster cast and some crutches later I was sat with Grant at McDonalds. He treated me to a McFlurry as a reward for being “a big brave girl”. It wasn’t the first time I’d been in hospital, I was in a dangerous line of work, but I always got a reward. “Next problem is,” Grant started. “How do we clear your name?”

“I’ve worked in the police force for a few years now, can I not pull some strings? Get some forensics on it?”

“It’s not a murder Casey, come on use your brain. She’s triumphant, and proud of it,” he pressed, willing me to work it out for myself,

“I’ve got to prove she hid her phone and purse in my locker, sure I can’t even take fingerprints?” he sighed at me.

“You’re allowed some recording equipment,”

“I’ll record…. A confession!” I realised. Another acting job! “I’m loving it!” I exclaimed and we both burst out laughing. “Pardon the pun,” I added.

Then my phone bleeped. It was from Emma. It simply said “Sleepover’s off”. I decided that the friend thing? Way overrated.

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