Joe's Story

The growing pains of a teenage boy


16. Joe sc

Chapter 16 Joe 

   God those pigeons are driving me crazy with their cooing. Hell I have to do something to stop the noise. This is the third morning in a row they’ve woken me. Getting out of bed, I went over to the window and looked out. Shit, it’s only just dawn, even the streetlights are still on. Maybe if I bang they’ll fly away, better not hit the glass too hard, just in case it breaks. That’s it, move you buggers. Shit, the birds have only flown around in a circle and returned to the ledge. Bloody angry now, I hit the window with some force and the glass resonate, making the sound louder.

   My bedroom door suddenly bursts open. It was Susan “Stop it, you’ll wake mum.”

   It was too late because she now entered my room she looked unhappy, “What in God’s name are you doing Joe?” she shouted at me.


   “It’s those bloody birds. Their cooing noise has disturbed me.”

   “Well, what do you think your banging has done?”

   Damn, I had forgotten she was having a lie-in. “Sorry, Mum.”

   “You men are all alike, sorry afterwards,” mum muttered, as she turned and went back to her room. She first stopped at the toilet, where, if I wasn’t mistaken, she was violently sick. I thought it serves her right for being such a bitch.  Susan just gave me a dirty look and also went back to her room.

   God, I thought, what was that about? Men being sorry afterwards, crap, so big deal, I had forgotten. I had been half-asleep last night when she arrived back from a day out with Rob. She had said something about a lie-in and for me to set my alarm, instead of getting my usual wake up call.

   Thinking about it, her eyes did look a bit puffy, as though she had been crying. This set me to wonder why Rob hadn’t stayed the night. Maybe they had had a row or something.

   Well, I had my own problems to sort out. Fred and I had found this first former crying in the toilets. The stupid boy had brought his entire week’s pocket money with him, and of course, had lost it. Eventually, with some coaxing, he owned up to having paid it over to a group of older boys as protection money. He was too frightened even to give us a name.

   We quietly, asked around, and found out, that this protection money was a new thing. It had only raised its ugly head in the last few weeks. As the so-called champion of the lower school, I decided it had to stop and the only way was to get help from the boys themselves. So I let it be known that a meeting would be held on Saturday.


   The first thing I noticed when I arrived at school on Saturday was that scaffolding, had been erected. Mr Stevens, to combat the spate of graffiti mania at the beginning of the term had given the pupils their own wall to decorate. He also employed a couple of graffiti artists to assist us. The wall was at the far end of the playground and included one side of the science block with its high gabled roof. The scaffold people had enclosed the base with a locked wire cage to stop anyone from getting up there without supervision.

   When I came to the covered playground where the meeting was to be held, I was somewhat overwhelmed by the numbers of boys gathered there. Looking around me as far as I could tell most of the first and second formers had come. Thankfully several of the of them who I knew came over wanting to say hello and introduce their older brothers.

   Even though I had never spoken in public before and felt a bit scared, once I started it was like talking to a sea of friendly faces and when I eventually finished explaining that if organised properly, I thought they might have a chance of stamping out this protection racket, I got a round of applause.

   The defence meeting overran a bit, so I was only able to grab a coke and a sandwich from the supermarket’s snack bar, before I returned to school for the session on graffiti photography.


   Alan was already standing high up on the walkway the scaffolding people had erected, spray can in hand, painting.

   God I thought, they expect me to go up there and join him, I must have been mad to agree.

   First, they put a harness on me and then attached it to a rope dangling down from the gables. To say I was a bit scared of going up there is an understatement. Well I had agreed and couldn’t back out now. So here goes I thought, with harness on and two boys holding onto the safety rope, I climbed the ladders until I reached Alan’s position.

   Standing there looking out over the playground I was pleased I had had a light lunch, for I felt distinctly ill. This reminded me of my mum being sick this morning and I had this horrible thought that maybe she was really ill.

   I had been reading of people catching cancer from secondary smoking. Well, she had washed my clothes, which stank of cigarettes for quite a while before I gave it up and grandpa did die of cigarette related cancer. This went through my mind as I stood there. After a while, I felt better.

   Once I started taking photos, I soon forgot how high I was. Occasionally I would even move back far enough to get a shot of Alan spray painting. I had to swing free and end up with my legs dangling in mid-air. Later when challenged, my argument was I was protecting the lens from the paint blowing my way. Once, when I wanted to go to the toilet I abseiled down to the ground, which was great fun. The only problem was I had to climb all the way back up again.

   All that session whenever I thought of home, I felt depressed. Thankfully most of the time, I was fully occupied taking pictures.

   By the end of the day, I had decided to face the situation and confront Mum.


   The phone was ringing when I entered the house. It was Rob, asking for mum.

   “Sorry, she’s not home.”

    He asked me to check.

    “There’s no point,” I answered. “I had to switch off the alarm when I came in just now.”

   He told me when he rang her cell phone it went to voice mail.

   “Did you two have a fight last night?” I asked

   Rob wanted to know what mum had told me.

   “She told me everything of course,” I lied.

   Oh, is all Rob said with a deep sigh.

   “Well she had to, with those puffy eyes; I could tell she had been crying. Also she was sick this morning.”

   Oh, he hadn’t realised that morning sickness started so early in the pregnancy.

   The word pregnancy hung in mid-air, and I almost dropped the phone in shock and relief.

   Quickly recovering I suggested if I heard from mum, l would contact him. With that, I ended the call.

   God, I thought and sat down in the chair. That’s when I noticed the envelope on the hall table addressed to me in mum’s handwriting.

   The note inside said, “Gone to see grandma for a few days. Don’t worry about Susan she is staying with friends and Ted is away visiting universities for next year.  PS. Bird problem sorted. Blue Bird Pest Control people will phone next week to arrange a day to do the work.”

   For a little while, I just sat there in shock. Then I realised I would have the house to myself.

   Not one to miss an opportunity, I phoned Sam.


The smell of breakfast cooking drifted up to me as I lay there in my mum’s king size bed, relaxing after a hard morning of pure lust.

   Sam had stayed over. She had told her mother she was staying with a school friend named Debby.

   When Sam shouted out, “Ten minutes.”

   I dashed for the shower. By the time the food was being placed on the table, I was downstairs and had just entered the kitchen, washed and partly dried, wrapped in a white bathrobe.

   I noticed Sam was wearing one of my long sleeved shirts, which buttoned up to the neck, so covering her entire front. It was long enough to reach her knees.

   As the tumble dryer was on, I presumed she had nothing on underneath. This sent my mind into overdrive. Noticing my interest, Sam coolly told me to eat the food before it got cold.

   I had just cleared my plate and was eager to go upstairs for a repeat performance when the doorbell rang. I was so busy unbolting the front door that without thinking, I did not look out before opening it.

   Shit, it was Alan standing there! Hell, what to do? Before I could react, he had barged past me saying that the food smelled good and headed for the kitchen.

   By the time, I got there. I found Alan just standing there looking dumbfounded.

   I had to admire Sam, for she, without blinking an eye asked if he wanted a two or three egg omelette.

   Before Alan could reply I grabbed my laptop from the chair and plonked it down on the table in front of him, I powered it up and started showing the great shots I had taken of him spray painting the other day at school.

   “What do you think of this one of you Alan?” I asked.

   “Wow yeah, it’s come out really well,” Alan replied.

   “Yeah let’s take it into the lounge so you can see it better on the big TV screen in there.”

   “Okay” Alan agreed. “God you must have been swinging out over the edge to take that one.”

   I thought Alan was really getting into it and was not just playing along now.

   We had been looking at the pictures for a while when I heard the front door open and close. After which I enquired, “I hope we’re still mates.”

   “Yeah, why shouldn’t we be, Joe, we’re almost family,” Alan said this slapping me on the back and laughing.


   God I’m awake early. Maybe it’s the absence of sound that’s awoken me. The bird people came yesterday and worked their magic. The pigeons have all gone, never hopefully to return. But I think their brief stay has screwed up my sleep pattern or it could be that I’m still a bit uptight about today.

   Hell, I feel terrible. It’s the start of school exams. My teachers have all rubbished me to my face. So I’ve been up most of the night cramming, just to spite them, I intend to do well.

   Coming out of the exam room, I feel great. I needn’t have worried for that first paper I had just sat was a doddle.

   Hey, there’s my brother, he came back last week ready for the exams. I wonder why he’s talking to Fred and Jimmy. He signals for me to join them. God, I wish I hadn’t come over, for he’s in a foul mood. His first words are not that pleasant, “You bloody fool. Why did you go and form a defence group? They’re acting like a bunch of vigilantes going around beating people up.”

   He told us that only the other day he had seen a group of first formers leaving the toilets, a couple had bruises and one had a black eye, all the signs of fighting. Yet they emerged laughing. When he went inside after they had left, he found this boy in a bad state. He was sitting there on the floor, blood running from his nose, which was mingling with the blood from a cut lip, making a long red stain down the front of his white shirt. To crown it all, he had a black eye.

   After hearing all this, I knew we were in big trouble. Our good intentions had turned into a nightmare. Ted suggested something had to be done quickly.

   At lunchtime, we put the word out that there was to be a Defence group meeting this Saturday afternoon where we the prefects would take back control of the group.                      


   Today at school, I was manning, the defence groups ‘HQ’ which after the meeting on last Saturday was now situated in the prefects’ room, Ted had arranged for us to use the school cadet’s walkie talkies. The first call of the day came from alpha patrol reporting a knife fight going on in the passageway behind the bike shed. I immediately relayed this to the nearest boys’ unit to go see. At the same time, I dispatched couple of prefect, with wooden battens, just in case.

   “Hello alpha, have sent backup,” I said into the phone and asked, “What’s happening now?”

   “Wow, it’s over.” the voice at the other end said.

   As soon as I finished that call, another one came through about a boy who had just fallen trying to climb the wire cage enclosing the scaffolding of the graffiti wall. And so it went on, until my shift ended. 


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