‘Oh Tom, there’s a photo of you here’ Billy shouted across the small museum.
Billy loved to be the class joker, it probably was a picture of a pig or a cow. He always wanted to put me down, well to be honest he’d put even his own brother down. He was that sort of character, the class joker, but a definite A list player, popular with a whole entourage to agree with him and encourage him.
‘Yeah, yeah,’ I said raising an eyelid to Mai stood next to me. Like me she was a C List at best, part of the flotsam that floated around the players in the school, bobbing around trying to keep afloat long enough, whilst not wanting to be spotted by those higher up the food chain that we were. Mai, I suspected, had suffered from his cruel tongue on more than one occasion. He made no secret of the fact that his dad was a local BNP councillor. He hated people from different countries and muslims even more, Billy was a real chip off the old block.
‘No honestly Tom’ he said, ‘its’ either you or your father, come here you muppet.’
I glanced over, he had his usual gang with him crowded around one of the exhibits on the wall. It was a small museum in this quaint fishing village. A small house that had rooms cluttered with mementos of when this area was a thriving hub. Old photos, creels and nets adorned the walls. There was a huge section on a now defunct holiday camp, happy faces, past holidays that meant so much for the people in them.
Billy was over by the Second World War section, lots of pieces of shrapnel that supposedly us boys love with a passion. To be frank, which I’m not, I’m Tom, sorry bad joke at this time of the story. Anyway war and killing tends to turn my stomach.
‘Tom, get your arse over here’Billy shouted, the voice booming around the room.
Reluctantly I went his way, sometimes you just have to do what he says.
‘Look, it’s you’
I looked in the direction he was gesticulating, it was a school photo from one of the local schools I the war. I guess you’ve seen things like it, you know the rows of faces had smiling for a camera. A moment frozen for eternity. I scanned the rows, almost missing the face. It was me. Weird, this according to the picture was taken in 1940, but the image on the second row was really like me. My blood turned cold as I looked at the picture, as if something was wrong, someone walked upon my grave.
‘It’s really you, you geek’ Billy said warming to his audience now, ‘how the hell did you fake that?’
‘Just someone who looks like me’ I mumbled not knowing an explanation.
‘Well, kudos to you’ Billy said. He never stuck at things for long and was already tiring of the subject. He left the room, his followers in his wake.
I was still looking at the photo when Mai came to my side.
‘What’s up Tom?’ she asked. There was a worried look on her face, maybe she saw inside me to what I was thinking. How could I be on this photo which was taken over seventy years ago?
‘Look, it’s me, but have you seen this one?’ I said pointing to a small photo in the corner, one that Billy had obviously not seen.
She looked at it and then at me.
‘How… how …is that even possible’ she said, the bewilderment evident in her voice.
I nodded. The small photo was of three people. There was I smiling in the middle surrounded by two girls. The one on the left was Mai, Even though I hadn’t seen her without her hijab, it was unmistakable. The other was also someone I knew, Millie, one of our class, another C lister who kept to the back. I looked around but Millie wasn’t in the room.
‘Oh my god, have you done this? I know you’re a wiz with photoshop. You could mock something like this up couldn’t you.’
I shook my head. It was quite easy to do but I hadn’t done it.
‘Mai, Tom? Come on, time we were heading back to the centre’ a voice said through the door. It was our teacher Miss Spectable.
‘Just coming’ Mai answered and turned towards the door. Mai ever eager to please the teacher.
‘Just a minute’ I said pulling my phone out and taking two quick photos of the wall.
We were the last to leave the museum. I mumbled our thanks to an old woman who was stood in the doorway. She gave us a curious look, as if she was about to say something but decided not too. As we exited into the afternoon air, we heard the lock go behind us.
The others were already on the minibus waiting for us. With not time to discuss what we’d seen we headed off to join the others breaking into a jog as we heard the engine start.
It was a short journey back to the centre we were staying in. Billy was however still in his element although his repertoire now consisted of him farting all the time. Each explosion was created with howls of laughter by those around him, although even though we were in the front, how they thought the rancid, pungent stench of the odour was no laughing matter. Miss Spectable opened her window a notch allowing some fresh air to wash over the bus, bringing a short sweet release from the smells. Mr Jones, ‘call me Phil’, was as usual laughing with the lads. He was just as bad as them, always acting as a bit of a lad.