Joe's Story

The growing pains of a teenage boy


6. Joe S2

Chapter 6 Joe S2

   The open handed slap across my face made me fall backwards. All I heard was his voice shouting, “You, dumb shit.” Thankfully, the chair didn’t collapse under me as I fell on to it.

   “You’re a bully,” I shouted. My face stinging from the slap. What was his problem? It was only a partly smoked joint, what did it matter? He had acted as though it was me who had smoked it.

He stood there looking down at me. “I’m sorry,” he said.

   “You thought I would smoke that shit. No way! I thought we were friends. I’m not the junky.”

   That word ‘junky’ hung in the air between us. I regretted it as soon as I said it; we had become best friends. I wish I could take it back, but once said. Ginger started to leave the garage.

   I swore to myself, what was a slap? When I first met Alan we had beaten the crap out of each other. The thought of Alan made me call out, “Stop!”

   “I’m really sorry I hit you and yes I’m a junky, but you don’t know how hard it is to kick the habit.” Ginger replied

   “I can help you.”

   Ginger laughed, “Don’t talk daft, I’ve tried everything.” After a long pause Ginger asked, “What do you think you can do?”

   “I don’t know. Maybe having someone at the end of the phone will help.” A thought crossed my mind. I would give up smoking. “Maybe we can do it together.”

   “What do you mean together?” Ginger asked.

   “Well, we’ll both give up smoking.”

   Ginger laughed again, “No you don’t understand. It’s not the tobacco that’s my problem.”

   Who’s dumb now, you have to give up both.”

   “Shit Joe, that’s a big ask. I like smoking fags, it’s only the weed I have trouble with.”

   “Okay Ginger, let’s take it one step at a time how many cigarettes do you smoke?”

   “Ten a day maybe fifteen no twenty I don’t know,” Ginger replied.

   “What about joints.”

   “That’s easy,” Ginger, said. “Four a week that’s all I can afford except with this one now.” Ginger held up the partly smoked joint I had given him. “I can make an extra three.”

   “Oh no you don’t, give it back. Let’s start by cutting down rather than increasing them.” I put out my hand.

   “No way man, you’re not getting this back,” Ginger stated.

   “Hand it over. You do want my help don’t you?” Very reluctantly, Ginger gave me the joint.

   Now I could return it to Rob saying I had found it on the floor.  He’d had a go at me for being so careless the other day and suggested I was smoking weed, which of course I denied.


   “What do you mean; you’ve given up smoking?” Charley demanded.

   We were all in my garage except for Ginger who was at his part time job; the jammy bastard had paid work even if it was only stacking shelves for his uncle, unlike myself, having to work for nothing, just to pay off the money I owed mum.

   I had just stopped everyone from lighting up. “Well you see, Charley, it’s like this. After double science I was chatting to Mr Priest.”

   “Oh. Yeah,” Alan said, “I saw you chin wagging with him. So what did the old duffer want?”

   “We were talking about smoking.”

   “So, what’s that got to do with us lighting up?” Charley demanded, his voice getting edgy.

   “Okay I’m getting to that part.” I picked up my notebook and was about to give them some facts, when Charley started again.

   “Bloody well hurry up, I haven’t got all day,” he moaned.

   “Yeah come on.” Billy now butted in. “We’ve all heard about cigarettes and cancer before.”

   “Damn this for a lark,” Alan said as he started to leave.

   Bugger them all, I thought. I was getting ratty now, for I hadn’t had a smoke all day and was feeling the effects. I just swore and threw my book across the garage for I had had enough.    “Okay, if you lot won’t listen, that’s it. From now on this place is a smoke free zone.”

   There was a lot of swearing and a rush to get out into the back garden. I just sat there and watched them through the window, as they lit up.

   Wow! It was pure agony. It took all my willpower not to join them. After about ten minutes, they returned. Old Mr Priest was right, smokers stank. I could smell the odour of tobacco smoke still clinging to their clothes. But oh, what a lovely smell it was, unless one wanted to give up smoking, then it was hell.

   Charley was not as aggressive having had his tobacco fix, , “What if it’s raining?” he asked.

   My garage had become their place to meet. Everything had changed since Ginger had been caught smoking weed in the school toilets. Now it was unsafe there, prefects patrolled. Ted my brother had made sure of that.

   I had to be strong, if I let them smoke in here, I was done for. The funny thing was I almost told them to use umbrellas just like Rob. Instead, I replied, “Can’t you at least do without smoking just for a little while?

   “Why should we?” Alan asked.

   “Well to help me give it up.” There was silence as they thought about that.

   “Hey, I tried once,” Billy, announced.

   Charley started laughing, “Yeah you were so bad tempered you would pick a fight with anyone for just saying hello.”

   “Right, well I was doing it cold turkey,” Billy replied.

   “I tried those patch things once,” Alan confessed. “But they were bloody useless. They kept on falling off. I even put plasters on over them and they still fell off. ”

   “Yeah, I found they didn’t stick that well,” Charley admitted.  “But using them got me down to as little as three cigarettes.”

   “An hour,” piped up Billy, getting his own back on Charley.

   “No it was a day, you scum bag.” Charley picked up my notebook which was by his feet and slung it at Billy, who ducked.

   Alan almost fell off his chair as he reached out and caught the book left handed. “Maybe I could give up smoking again,” he said, handing the book back to me.

   That was great news; Alan’s sister, Samantha, would be pleased, maybe I would get another kiss. She had bluntly told me to stop smoking after our first kiss and cuddle the other day.

   Opening the book, I referred to my notes and explained that Mr. Priest had merely told me about the charity called, ASH, which stood for action on smoking and health. He didn’t go on about cancer and the usual bad things. He asked me if I realised how others perceived smokers. He had then explained how we always carried around the stale smell of tobacco. He had pointed out other things like bad breath, coughing and spitting, which was antisocial.

   “Wow I’ve never thought of it in that way,” Charley admitted.  Even Billy went quiet. It was certainly something to think about.



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