Joe's Story

The growing pains of a teenage boy


19. All change sc

Chapter 19  All change                       

   Tom woke me with a cup of strong black coffee then, without saying a word, he went back inside. With each sip of the hot liquid, my throbbing head began to ease. More awake now, I looked around me, only to discover several of the other partygoers like me had spent the night, or what was left of it, sleeping in one of the many deckchairs dotted around the garden. My clothes felt dry. Thankfully, it hadn’t rained whilst I slept.

   I just lay there thinking how nice it was not to have to get up and rush off to work. Normally, by this time in the morning, I would’ve already have been loading crates containing the milk bottles onto the float ready for delivery.

   Unbelievable though it might seem I hadn’t just taken the morning off, but had in fact jacked the job in.

   I had proved to myself that I could work as hard as anyone else, if not harder. Now I was ready to try going solo.


   My phone vibrated. It was a message from Tom, he was ready to go. It was two weeks since the party and I had already tried my hand at selling from a stall. Unfortunately I found it hard going, being on my own. It fact it had proved a disaster because I needed to go to the toilet and was forced to leave the next stallholder to look after my things. When I returned some of the stock had gone missing. No way could I prove whether it had been stolen or had been sold and the cash pocketed.

   I grabbed my things and left the house closing the door ever so quietly behind me.

   Tom stowed my gear in one of his saddlebags and then handed me the spare helmet, all without saying a word.

   I helped him push the bike down the road a bit before he started the engine.

   Tom then straddled the bike and held it steady for me to get my leg over. Once settled, I tapped him on the shoulder to indicate I was ready and off we went.

   At first it was a bit scary riding pillion, but slowly I relaxed and got into the swing of things.

   It was just getting light when we arrived at the market and joined the queue for stall rentals.

   Today I was sharing a stall with Tom, who sold cosmetics. Our thinking was that my costume jewellery would appeal to the same target customers as his.

   First, I helped Tom set out his display and then to his surprise, I put out my own, which consisted of only one product.

   “Wow,” Tom exclaimed, “You’ve certainly got a lot there, Joe.

   “Yes,” I agreed. A hundred coloured chunky charm bracelets certainly made a big mound. I had discovered on my last outing that this item certainly sold well.

   Within minutes of putting the bracelets out, several girls came to look.

   Moving over to the front of the stall I picked up a bracelet and, with a smile, suggested to the girl nearest to me, “Try it on love, the colour matches you’re beautiful eyes.” Quickly I slip it over her hand and did the catch up.

   Her friends admire the bracelet and all wanted one. At a fiver a go they were dirt-cheap.

   By lunchtime, the mound of charm bracelets covering my half of the stall was getting smaller. It amazed me how well they were selling. Maybe it was the sun shining down on them and, like jackdaws, the sparkle attracted the girls.

   Even Cathy, the girl working on the stall next to ours, could not resist buying one.


   The next morning being a school day, I called for Alan and was told by his father, who was loading up the car with all sorts of pictures and spray canisters from Alan’s bedroom, that they were expecting a visit from the transport police. He asked if I would help paint the walls of Alan’s bedroom before they arrived. He also explained that Alan was suspected of spray painting graffiti on one of their trains. That of course, he had denied, even though a passenger had reported seeing him do it.  As with all street artists Alan had perfected his own elaborate name tag to sign his work.

   That’s what the police wanted to find to identify him as the culprit.

   It was a near thing. We had only just finished painting when the police arrived.

   I hid in the kitchen and could hear Alan’s father ask to see their search warrant. He pointed out as there were two of them there should have been more than one signature on the paper work. Reluctantly one of the coppers added his signature. Alan’s father then told them he would only allow them to search while he was present.

   I had to smile when he told them to mind their clothes as the room had just been painted and the walls were still wet.

   I didn’t hear anything else as I went out the back door. I was outside when the police left and overheard one say to the other should they arrest the father, as he had obviously obstructed the search by removing things and painting the room.

   The other replied, “No, he’ll give us more hassle than it’s worth.”

   Afterwards when Alan was allowed to come home he was somewhat subdued. The one good thing was that his father had unknowingly removed with the incriminating evidence his stash of pot which, had it been found, would have been really bad.

   Alan told me his father had grounded him and to his surprise, had called him a fool for breaking the eleventh commandment, don't get found out. And hopefully he wouldn’t suffer the consequences of that action.  

   Eventually Alan had his day in court and with the help of a solicitor he got off with a conditional discharge. He was warned by the magistrate that if he was ever brought before him again for any misbehaviour in the future, it would mean him getting a criminal record.


   Founder’s Day was fast approaching when our parents were expected to visit our school. Once again my job as a prefect was to put the graffiti boys I had caught into work gangs, to remove their daubing from the school walls. This, I was sorry to say still needed doing even though our head master, Mr Stevens, had given over the wall of the science block to them to deface. The problem was the wall was more like street art and only those who were good at painting were permitted to contribute. So unfortunately the others were still at it.

   I was rather embarrassed when Alan reported to me. Jenkins the art teacher, had volunteered his services during double art to help with removing the graffiti around the school. Apparently, someone had told Jenkins about Alan’s run in with the transport police and how he was dab hand with a spray can.

   The only thing I could think of was to take him to the official wall and suggest he use his talents to smarten up areas that looked a bit tired. While pointing them out, I discovered high above us Alan’s printed name together with his tag. Thankfully for Alan no one had thought to look on our wall.


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