Joe's Story

The growing pains of a teenage boy

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30. Home again sc

Chapter 30 Home again

   I was pissed off. I had left Sam and the boys in Milan and had taken the first available flight home when I heard Grandma was very ill possibly dying. I found out from Ted, my brother, when he collected me from the airport, that I had arrived too late for she had died while I was still in the air. My sister, Susan, greeted me with a welcoming hug when I entered the house she told me poor Mum was terrible upset and was asleep in her room upstairs. Rob was not there; he apparently was running around sorting things out.

                                ****

   I had only been away with Sam for just over a month yet being in the house felt strange. To start with my bedroom looked much smaller than I remembered and, when I went into the garage, all the stuff I kept in there had gone. When I asked Susan where it was, she told me things had changed.  Mum had let Rob take over. He had been her boyfriend when I left. Now not only had he moved in, he was acting as if he fucking well owned the place. I think what really upset me most was the cavalier way he had usurped the garage for his car and put all my things into the shed at the back of the garden.

                                ****

   At the graveside, Rob and I had words. Who was he to tell me off for being disrespectful? It was my Grandma, not his. He’s nothing. I had left Sam with the boys in Milan so she couldn’t be here in person. The next best thing was Skype on my pad. Why Rob thought it was so inappropriate baffled me. It was not like I was taking a video of it to show her later. The last straw was back at the house when friends and neighbours called. Rob started bossing me around, telling me to do this and get that. After a while, I’d had enough, so not telling anyone. I had grabbed my things and was out of there. Cathy greeted me with a kiss. We were in the coffee bar, the one nearest to the station in the high street. I needed sympathy and a bed for the night.

                                ****

    The TV awoke me; I quickly pulled the duvet up over my head to protect my eyes from the daylight streaming in. Someone had opened the curtains. It felt like the old days when my mum would wake me on a school day. Only there hadn’t been any pre-warning, like banging on the door, to make sure I was decent. Within seconds the sound of the newscaster was replaced by an almost continuous zapping noise. I slowly lifted the duvet up and spied a little girl sitting on the floor with her back to me. She was playing some form of space invaders. Last night had been a disaster. Instead of sleeping in Cathy’s bed, I had ended up on this damn settee. In all our conversations, she had never told me she still lived with her parents. When we arrived at her home, I discovered the house was full, even the spare bedroom was occupied by her sister’s little girl. Cathy, with all her outward sexual signals, was a real disappointment. In the end it was either the settee or go home, which was out of the question. My back hurt, the settee was not that comfortable. I stretched trying to get the kinks out of my muscles. The duvet began to slip sideways allowing sight of my naked body, which was a big no, no under the circumstances. Thankfully the little girl was preoccupied and hopefully did not see anything. Wrapping the duvet around my body, I grabbed my clothes and high tailed it to the downstairs cloakroom to get dressed.

                                ****

   In anticipation of staying the night in Cathy’s bed, I had taken an overnight bag with me when I left home the previous day. Thankfully, the downstairs cloakroom had a shower unit fitted. Old Mrs Tyler, Cathy’s grandma, used it until she’d snuffed it last year.

   After drying myself, I put on this snazzy pair of underpants, the type that always got a great reaction from Sam. Looking good. I thought, as I observed my reflection in the full-length mirror. A pity Cathy wasn’t there with me. If I carried on thinking like that, I would need another shower and this time a cold one.

   Frustrated, but now dressed in a clean shirt and unwrinkled trousers, which due to my sleeping nude had retained their snappy look, I entered the kitchen where the family were already seated eating breakfast. Even the little girl, who had disturbed my sleep earlier, was there. “Hello I’m Pip”, the little girl shouted over the noise. So introducing herself and at the same time drawing everyone’s attention to my being there.

   I felt embarrassed, when everyone in the room suddenly stopped talking and stared at me. Thankfully, Cathy came to my rescue, “Everyone, this is my friend, Joe.” Smiles all round, a couple of them said, “Hi”, in acknowledgement and then they returned to their conversations and stuffing their faces, leaving me standing there, like a lemon. The table had six chairs and all were taken, Cathy whispered something to Pip who nodded, got up and came over to me. “You can have my chair if you like,” she suggested. “That’s very kind of you, but where are you going to sit?” I asked. “I’ll use the kitchen stool, if you would bring it over for me.”  Breakfast was all cold, no fry-up as my mum would have provided, still it was good to be surrounded by people enjoying themselves. I was having a conversation with Cathy’s mother about grandma’s funeral. Pip must have been listening, for she stated in a loud voice, that her Grandma had slept in the freezer while they went on holiday. That was certainly a party stopper. I thought it quite funny and almost laughed. Everyone else glared at poor Pip. Apparently, old Mrs Tyler had died the day before they were due to go on this very expensive holiday. The family decided it was best to put her in cold storage to await their return. They all knew she wouldn’t mind as she had been a very thrifty person in life and had hated waste of any kind.

   “Joe,” it was Pip again interrupting, “Why do you hold your knife and fork in the wrong hands”? “Don’t be rude,” Cathy, told her.

   “I’m not, it just looks funny.” Pip replied. I leaned over and whispered in Pip’s ear, “Well I’m extra special, I’m left handed.” Just then my Mum phoned, she was not in a good mood and really let fly. “What in hell’s name were you playing at yesterday?” She shrieked down my ear. Before I could reply, she carried on, “You were so rude to Rob at the graveside, and then to leave home without saying anything, you’ve really upset me.” “He started it,” I said, getting annoyed at her words. “Oh grow up, Joe; you’re not a kid anymore, stop always thinking of yourself.” With those parting words, she ended the call. Looking around me I realised everyone had been listening to my conversation, Oh Hell, it was time to go, I thought feeling embarrassed. Remembering my manners, I thanked Cathy’s mother for letting me stay and for breakfast and told everyone how nice it was to meet them. Collecting my

  bag, I was then accompanied by Cathy and Pip to the front door, where I said my goodbyes and left. 

                                ****

“Oh hell,” I thought, after leaving Cathy’s place who should I see coming towards me, but Sam’s best friend, Helen. I had forgotten she lived down this road. She appeared to be in a right state. Her blouse had lost almost all its buttons and was gaping open, so exposing herself to everyone. It was obvious to me she was returning from an all-nighter.

   Damn, there was no way of turning around and avoiding her. She was waving. This was bloody awkward. I hoped she hadn’t seen me coming out of Cathy’s house with my overnight wheelie bag. What to do? Maybe I could ignore that fact and hopefully she was too drunk to have noticed? “Hello, Joe,” Helen said in a slurred voice. Then, looking around, she asked, “Where’s Sam?” “Not here,” I said, trying to look appropriately sad, rather than guilty. ” I came back alone.” “Oh, so she’s out there on her own.” Helen started to giggle as though she had said something funny.

   As a distraction, I took a tissue out of my pocket and pretended to blow my nose. “No, Alan and Brian are with her. I’ve come home for my Grandma’s funeral.”  Helen looking puzzled asked, “Why are you here then?” “Oh, just visiting a friend of my grandma’s,” I said.

                                ****

   After my meeting with Helen, I walked around for a while. I now had a few things to worry about. Had Helen seen me coming out of Cathy’s house and if so would she report it back to Sam? Then there was Mum’s phone call. Her words still stung and made me feel bad about going home. How could I face Rob? Especially after thinking it over, I suppose I had been a bit childish running off like that. To my surprise, Rob opened the front door as I got there. For one awful moment we just look at each other, “I’m so sorry”, I said feeling embarrassed. “Yes.” Rob answered. “I thought we had become friends.”

Shit, this made me feel worse, Rob stuck out his hand, I took it and he pulled me into a bear hug. Releasing me when Mum’s voice from the kitchen declared food was ready.

 

 

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