Joe's Story

The growing pains of a teenage boy

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2. Gill S1

Chapter 2 Gill S1

The slamming of the front door, when Joe left, upset me. It made me feel bad about taking my frustrations out on him during the past week and especially this morning, when he was almost in tears. Although I’d had a good laugh when he fell out of bed and how funny he looked. 

   It had been my finding of an old school photo album, while clearing out a cupboard that had upset me. There had been several pictures of me together with Jack, when we were teenagers. The thing that got me was how much Joe looked like his father at that age.

   I thought, “I was over Jack.” It was now two years, since we had divorced. I even had a new young man in my life. Yet the thought of him, had like a ghost, crept into bed with Rob and me the other night.

   I was wondering what to do about Joe when the doorbell started ringing. It went on and on nonstop, as If someone was leaning on it. “Not again,” I thought. It had to be Joe. It was no wonder he had forgotten his keys this morning with, all the slamming of doors and muttering under his breath.

   If he didn’t stop ringing that blasted bell, I would scream. I almost flew down the stairs from my bedroom to the front door just as Susan was opening it. Instead of Joe who I was about to give a right telling off, there was, the dog woman Miss Watts, who before I could utter a word,

She spat out, “You need to control that son of yours; he’s a foul mouthed hooligan.”

   “What on earth are you talking about?” I asked.

   “Your boy almost assaulted my dog, Patty. If I hadn’t been there, he would have.”

   “I don’t believe it, my son’s kind to animals.”

   Susan suddenly declared, “Look mummy the dog’s doing a poo.” 

   Looking down now, I became aware of the dog for the first time. It was as Susan had said, to my horror doing its business in my flowerbed of all places.

   “Take that bloody dog out of my garden, and I hope you’ve got a poop bag with you, so you can clear up that mess and take it away with you.”

   Miss Watts turned around, muttered something and, dragging Patty by the lead, exited the garden, leaving the gate open and the dog mess behind.

   I was so incensed, by this, that, I swore at the woman as she walked away.

   Miss Watts stopped and remarked in a loud voice, “Patty, no wonder the boy has such a foul mouth; he gets it from his mother.”

   I was really, angry by now and shouted after the receding figure, “I’m fed up with your kind; you think the whole world’s your dog’s toilet.” With that, I slammed the gate shut in frustration, and told Susan to be a good girl and go inside, then went to fetch the garden spade.

   The garage was a mess. It took me a good ten minutes to locate the spade. I thought next time Joe or Ted wanted some extra money, I would get them to clear the place up. The encounter with Miss Watts and her dog was upsetting enough, but when I returned with the spade, my friend, Betty, looking rather agitated, was there, just opening the gate.

   “Hi Betty, what’s wrong?”

   “I’m sorry, Gill, I don’t like to complain, but it’s your Joe.”

   “What’s he done now?”

   “Well leaving out the bad language, I thought you’d better know he’s kicked a great big hole in my neighbour’s fence.”

   “Oh no! Let me lock up first.”

   I put the spade back in the garage, collected Susan, set the house alarm and was ready to go to inspect the hole, Joe had made.

   “What’s this about bad language?” I asked Betty as we walked towards the alleyway.

   “Well it was the shouting that made me first aware something was going on. You see from my back bedroom end window I can look into the alleyway, and there was your Joe kicking away at the fence in a sort of frenzy and shouting at the same time.”

   “Oh dear, so what was he shouting?”

   “Sorry, I can’t repeat such foul words.” Betty said eyeing Susan. “Let me assure you they were very, very offensive.”

We had by then reached the hole in the fence. I was rather taken aback by how big it was. As usual, I had to stop Susan from climbing through to the garden behind, while doing this I spied a man looking, or rather glaring back at me.

   “My names ‘Gill White’ and I’m terribly sorry to say my son did this to your fence. Naturally I shall pay for it to be repaired.”

   “I’m not sure that will be good enough Mrs White. I was thinking of reporting this vandalism to the police.” The man said in reply.

   On hearing this, Betty pushed me aside and looked through the hole, “Hello Henry as a favour to me then.”

    “Hello Betty I didn’t know you were there. Certainly if Mrs White is a friend of yours, I will not take it any further as long she pays for a whole new section of fence.

 In response, I moved Betty aside until I was once again looking at Henry.   “Thank you; there’s no need to involve the police I will arrange for this whole section of fence to be replaced.” God, I thought, the old bugger wants his pound of flesh, and as for Joe he certainly will pay for it. Before dropping Susan off at her all girls’ school, I made a phone call. Thankfully, I manage several rented properties on behalf of my mother so had access to Mick, a friendly builder who, after seeing a picture I took of the fence with my phone, agreed to send two of his men around to sort things out. 

   Later that morning I received a call from the school secretary. To say I was angry with Joe was an understatement. I sent him a text message that he was to meet me at the school main gates as we had an appointment with the headmaster right after lunch.

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