Joe's Story

The growing pains of a teenage boy


14. No more sc

Chapter 14 No more sc

   Alan was lucky, I thought, only to receive twenty hours of community service from the magistrate for the possession of a small quantity of cannabis.

   His mother, Aunty Caroline, as I always called her, was not very pleased. She blamed me for being friends with Ginger and banned me from ever setting foot in their house until I gave up seeing him.

   No way could I tolerate anyone dictating who I should or shouldn’t be friends with.

   Neither Sam or her brother Alan could understand my point of view. To me it was a matter of principle.

   To be quite honest, I had more important things to worry about than their feelings.

   The police had asked me a load of questions regarding my working for Shiro.

   I had to thank my lucky stars that when Shiro had asked for my help in setting up another cannabis farm in an empty house instead of the room over his garage, I stuck to my decision to never to set foot in another hot room ever again. So thankfully, I was not there when they caught him. Apparently, his next-door neighbour had experts round to check their house for heat loss. The people who came were demonstrating their equipment to the house owner by pointed the thermal imaging camera on the empty house next door to show how it compared. Only when they did so, it lit up like a Christmas tree.

   Unfortunately, I could not drive yet, so was unable to transport the mower and other things from job to job. Therefore, my mum had to find someone else to take over the work.

   The new people mum contracted had their own crew so didn’t need my services, forcing me to look for another job.


   I awoke this morning feeling a bit depressed Sam and I had broken up. We’d had this god-awful row last night. She had accused me of being stubborn and selfish and I, in turn, had said a few things I shouldn’t have. It was all because I wouldn’t abandon my friend, Ginger.

   I just couldn’t tell her the truth, Ginger needed me. I was helping him kick his drug habit. That was a private matter between him and me.

   Never one to stay down for long, I counted my blessings, although jobless, at least unlike Shiro I had my freedom.

   For the last few days I had been looking around for work. Tom, next door, had told me Mr Nickels, the manager of ‘Deacons’, the local newsagents, was looking for another paperboy

   I found getting up early was certainly difficult. I had to use an alarm to wake up. Tom was a great help; he would phone me to make sure I hadn’t gone back to sleep. It felt strange when I left the house, mum wasn’t up yet. Thankfully I had my dad’s old bike, so each morning Tom and I would cycle to the shop and collect our satchel bags full of newspapers. I soon found I was able to complete the deliveries with time to spare before going to school.


   “Oh hell,” I thought. As I switched the alarm off. I then started sneezing. I had a cold. It was summer and people just don’t have colds, my head hurt and my eyes were watering. It was hay fever. I had left the window open last night as it was so hot and pollen spores had entered my bedroom.

   I would have loved to stay in bed.  It was Monday and I had to get up and do my paper round. I had set my alarm extra early because I had to go on foot. The chain on my dad’s bike had broken.  Feeling sorry for myself I took an antihistamine tablet, which soon helped.

   By Wednesday I was fed up. Not only was I foot sore but I had been late for class three day in a row, so had got a detention.

   Mr. Nickels, the manager of the newsagents, was waiting to see me when I arrived on Thursday. He had received several complaints in the last few days and was worried people would go elsewhere for their papers. He explained to me that a paperboy had to have a bike so he could deliver the papers to his customers before they left for work. He was very sorry, but he had to let me go and had given the round to another boy. 


   Once again I was out of work. On the off chance I asked our local milkman if he knew of any work going. He suggested there might some temporary work at the depot as they were short staffed.

   It was still early, so I decided to visit the milk depot, just in case there was a job.

   Who should I see unloading empty bottles from a float when I got there but Charley one of my school friends “Hi, Charley, I didn’t know you worked here.”
   “Oh hello Joe. My dad owns this place.”

   “You want help unloading.”
   “That would be great, but no way. Dad’s very hot on health and safety here, especially after last week’s accident.”

   "What accident?”
   “Billy had a crate fall on him and it broke his arm.”
   “I wondered why I hadn’t seen Billy at the swimming pool.”   Tom and I, since doing the paper round had become good friends. He and I were taking swimming lessons so that we could join the schools sailing club. 

   “Yes, he’s got his arm in plaster and that’s why we’re short of a worker.”
  “How long will he be off?” I thought to myself maybe I could fill in while Billy was away.
  “Oh he’s not coming back Joe. His mother won’t let him. I thought you knew and that’s why you’re here.”

   “No I just came on the off chance that there was a job going.”
  “Look, let’s go to the office and see my dad.”


   I soon discovered being a milkman’s assistant was hard work.  I was to help a young milkman named Lucky, who was very cool. Almost from the start, he had let me drive the float down the road.
   By the end of that first day, what with the getting up early and physically manhandling all the bottles, I felt knackered.

   Next day I felt a bit better, I was back at the depot helping unload empty bottles, when Charley asked me, “Did Lucky visit number twenty seven this week?”
  “Why yes, his sister wanted help with the bed and he was gone for fifteen minutes,” I said innocently.
  “I bet she did. Our Lucky is good with anything to do with beds.” At that, Charley started laughing and said no more.


   I swore as I looked at the clock I had slept through the alarm. I was going to be late. Of course, it was my mother’s fault again, she hadn’t knocked to make sure I was up. Then I remembered it was Sunday, the one morning in the week she did not get up early. I quickly got dressed and crept down the stairs trying not to disturb anyone.
   I decided to skip breakfast because I didn’t have time, anyway, I would drink some milk later.
   I left in such a hurry I almost forgot to take my keys.  Thankfully, I remembered just as I was about to close the front door otherwise I would have had to disturb Mum later when I returned. I arrived at the depot to find that Lucky had already left. Charley’s dad was not happy and gave me a lecture on time keeping. He told me to buck my ideas up if I wanted to keep the job, especially as it was my first week. He then sent me off to find Lucky and his milk float.
   I chased around the streets until I eventually caught up with the milk float, in of all places my own street. Lucky was in a bad mood, he was upset. There had been this woman, who had just moved into the corner house two streets back. She had wanted help with, of all things, her bed, and because I wasn’t there, Lucky was unable to leave the float unattended, so he couldn’t oblige her. He told me that it was my fault, and once again I got an earful about my poor time keeping.
   Lucky kept me busy running back and forwards delivering all the milk and collecting the empty bottles as a sort of punishment.


    In the spare bedroom of Mrs Smith, Sam and I enjoyed making up. I had eventually found that sticking to my principles wasn’t worth going without sex. So in the end I told Sam the reason I was still friends with Ginger. Also Alan had told her about needing the fix to get over the road to go to school. So although I was not officially welcome in their house, we could still hang out together.


    For my birthday treat Rob took me and Alan to an off road driving centre, where as long as you had a provisional driving licence, which could be obtained at the age of sixteen, you could learn to drive a car or motor bike. My brother, Ted, decided at the last minute to come along. To my surprise he had been very friendly lately. He even welcomed me into the ranks of the prefects. Maybe it had something to do with him being head boy this coming year and so in charge of all the prefects, but it was still nice of him. He also asked how Tom and I were getting along with our swimming.

   At the Centre Rob arranged for both Alan and me to have driving lessons, one after the other with the same instructor. I was to go first. While this was going on, Ted and Rob hired motorbikes and tackled the assault course.

   Our driving instructor explained the basics to both of us then let me drive while Alan stayed in the back seat, At the end of one hour the instructor complimented me for my road sense, like judging distances, and moving out from parking safely, and not over steering when turning corners and even reversing into tight spaces. All I had gained by being allowed unofficially to drive the milk float.

   Poor Alan, when it was his turn to take the wheel, he became so nervous and upset while driving around the driving school’s compound, that he had vowed with the instructors’ agreement to give up and never drive again. This driving episode had brought back memories of the accident where he had been a passenger in the back seat of his grandparents’ car. They were on the road driving past the school, when the lorry driver in front of them braked hard, doing an emergency stop, because someone had walked in front of him into the road without looking. Unfortunately, the lorry was carrying a whole load of scaffolding poles, which sprung loose and shot backwards spearing both his grandparents, killing them instantly.

   It was only by some miracle Alan’s life had been spared. Even so, he was left with this recurring nightmare. He could see this single pole after spearing his grandfather, advancing slowly inch by inch, towards him its blood covered end moving ever nearer. This was scary if you asked me. As far as I knew, his only reaction was to have a recurring dream and a fear of crossing that same road to get to school.



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