Joe's Story

The growing pains of a teenage boy


23. Joe and Josh sc

Chapter 23 Joe and Josh sc

   Mum and I had this great big row over my taking a year off from studying, so while she was out I packed up my rucksack and headed for the ‘Eurostar’ terminal and took the first train to Paris.

   At first it had been great seeing the sights and meeting new people I soon discovered the drawback of not planning things in advance. I had intended to use the hostels because they were so much cheaper than a hotel, but soon discovered that not having booked ahead, the single rooms were already taken, and so was forced to sleep in the dormitories with other people. At first I had found this disturbing and not too safe as in one of them I had been awoken in the middle of the night by this drunk trying to get into bed with me. 

   Eventually, after talking to others, I discovered the best thing was to lock my rucksack away at the train station and then carry my passport and credit card in a pouch in my underpants near my crown jewels.

   Once a week I would book into a hotel for a shower, sort out my washing and, of course, have a good night’s sleep.


   In Amsterdam things changed. I was walking back to my hotel after supper when I came across a gang of boys attacking a young man. Without thinking of my own safety, I immediately waded in and, using my fists to good effect, soon chased them away. The young man’s name was Josh. He was an American and had only just arrived by train. Unfortunately, the boys who attacked him had stolen his backpack containing all his things. 

   Don’t ask me why but I took pity on him and so brought him back to my hotel room. Maybe it was because he looked a bit like Alan and I so missed his company. Funny thing back in the days before Brian we had discussed taking a trip like this. 

   Now back at the hotel I tried to insist we call a doctor but he wouldn’t allow me to, threatening to leave. At least he took a couple of pain killers.  I then made him sit on the edge of the bed while I removed his shoes and dirty jeans and then his shirt. That’s when I noticed he had no left hand or rather a stump where it had been.

   I helped him to get into bed and within minutes he was asleep.


   After emptying the pockets of his jeans I put them and his shirt in a bag and arrange for someone from room service to come up and collect them for washing. 


   I was rudely awoken this morning by Josh shaking me and demanding to know, “Where the fuck, are my jeans?” 

   Now fully awake, I told him I had sent them to be cleaned, and had put all the things I found in the pockets into the middle drawer of the dressing table. To say he was relieved when he opened the drawer was an understatement.

   Turning his back on me, I could hear him open the envelope I had found in the ticket pocket of his jeans, which I had thought maybe contained drugs. Little did Josh realise, from where I was lying on the bed, I could just about see what he was doing reflected in the wardrobe’s mirrored door. Instead of white powder, I caught a glimpse of things sparkling. 


   Over the next few days, Josh and I became really good friends. It amazed me how much he could do with only one hand and a stump. At first I had tried to help him until he politely told me to fuck off and in the next breath asked me to put cream on his back where he couldn’t reach. The bruising on his body slowly stopped hurting. 

   When eventually we did get to the police station to report the mugging incident and theft of Josh’s things, we had to wait in a queue, as apparently it was quite common to have things stolen in big cities. The girl in front of us told how she was pulling her suitcase behind her when she entered the hotel and by the time she looked for her hand luggage, which had been attached to the case, at reception it had gone, stolen. 

   Unfortunately, Josh had also lost his passport, so that meant a visit to the American consulate, where thankfully he was issued with a replacement. 

   The other major thing as far as I was concerned was that he had to buy some t-shirts and underpants because although I had more than enough for one, sharing mine was getting a bit ridiculous.                                        


   Josh and I had a row, it was all about trust. He wanted me to get a second key to the hotel room so he could come and go as he pleased. I in turn wanted to give up the room and go to a hostel. Josh grabbed his things and left before I could explain that my monthly allowance was running low.   

   I felt sad I had enjoyed the few days going around with Josh. Now, even surrounded by people in the hostel, I came to the conclusion it wasn’t much fun being alone, maybe it was time for me to go home

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