Authors: Richard A. Johnson
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Sexually abused teenagers, #Runaway teenagers, #Teenage boys, #Pedophilia, #Revenge
It was six o’clock on a Saturday morning. Big day at work and I was still shattered from the excitement of the night before. Couldn’t be late though, if I lost my job I’d be bumming beds on friends’ floors again and I didn’t fancy that. If I’m quick, I thought, I can grab some juice and coffee in the dining-room before the rush starts.
I jumped out of bed and pulled on a fresh pair of blue and white striped chefs trousers, a nice white T-shirt and jacket and checked that my hat and apron were okay. The apron was dirty and I didn’t have a spare. Shit! I thought, Chef would kill me if I turned up without a clean one. No sweat though.
I crept out of my room and along the hall. I stopped and listened at the door three rooms down from mine. ‘Good, he’s in the shower,’ I whispered to myself. I carefully opened the door halfway, just enough for me to see his outline through the shower door. I dropped to my knees and crawled over to a small chest of drawers that was against the wall between me and him and silently opened the bottom drawer. I slipped out an apron, closed the drawer and quickly slipped back out of the room and
into the hall; then whistling loudly, I strutted down the hall to the lift and went down to work.
George lived in that room. George was a shit. He came from Hong Kong and he's related in some way to the owner of the hotel. George wants to be the best chef that Hong Kong has ever seen. The trouble is that George is a walking disaster area, added to which he thinks he's brilliant. Chef thinks that he's a right tosspot but can't get rid of him and you have a wonderful combination for a very happy kitchen.
Two orange juices and three coffees later and I'm in Chef's office waiting for his instructions for that day's function.
'Where's George!' hollers Chef.
'Dunno, Chef,' I said, looking as innocent as I could.
'Go and find him, Liz,' he said to one of the kitchen hands and off she trotted.
'Might as well have a smoke while we wait for his lordship,' said Chef as he lit his second cigarette of a sixty-a-day habit.
George came in looking all flustered.
'You're improperly dressed,' barked Chef. 'Where's your apron?'
'My apron,' said George, 'it just vanish.'
'What do you mean, vanish?' asked Chef.
'It there, then it not there,' said George.
'Maybe the roaches took it, George,' I said, trying hard not to grin.
'Knock it on the head, lad,' said Chef, looking at me with a scowl.
'I know it when I see it,' said George, 'my mother, she sew my name in corner.'
'Well, she would wouldn't she?' I whispered to myself.
He insisted on looking at the corner of my apron.
I told him to piss off.
'Come on, boy, show him,' said Chef, 'or we'll never get any work done.' George lifted up my apron and checked the corner. He studied it carefully then looked up at me. I thought that he was going to cry for a minute, his eyes behind his Coke bottle glasses just filled up. I felt myself feeling quite sorry for the snivelling git, but only for a couple of seconds. Chef then gave him a lecture about being properly prepared and said that he could learn a lot if he followed my example. Fucking good job I bit his name off the apron in the lift on my way down.
Chef's okay. I don't know what his real name is, everybody calls him Chef, even his wife. He likes to tell everyone stories about the time that he studied and learned his profession at Escoffier's in France. Lying sod. We all knew that he came from the Royal Army Catering Corps. But he was good, very good.
He was a big bloke, nineteen or twenty stone with a bright red face mostly covered by his full set of beard and moustache that was a dingy grey colour with tobacco stains tinting it here and there. He had sparkling blue eyes half-hidden behind a pair of half-moon specs, and massive hands. He just oozed niceness if you know what I mean.
I used to talk lots to Chef. He became for me just what I wanted my dad to be. He always used to come out with things like:
'How can anyone with such obvious intelligence spend so much of their life trying to hurt everyone else.' That was aimed at some of the tabloid reporters. And:
'While you are a part of the problem, you can never be a part of the solution.' That pearl of wisdom was aimed at the shrink that I had told him about. He was great and I'm not ashamed to admit that I loved that man.
Anyway, the day was to be taken up with providing the food for a function for one hundred and fifty people. By eleven o'clock most of the main cooking and preparation had either been done or was well on the way, when Chef called me into his office.
'Sit down, son,' he said.
'What's up, Chef?' I asked.
'I'm going to ask you to do a very important job for me,' he said. 'As you know we are going to be running a carvery for these people at lunchtime and I want you to do the carving.'
Now let me explain. There is only one thing that Chef likes more than cooking a successful meal, and that is being told that he has cooked a successful meal. For that reason Chef always carved and served the meat at any major functions. He just loved the look of pleasure on people's faces as they bit into his cooking. So you must understand that this was not only more than strange, but for me was one of the highest honours that he could give me.
I asked him why and he said, 'Just do the job, son, and don't let me down.'
George didn't like it. George thought that he should be doing it and George said so. Silly thing to do that was. You don't show off in a kitchen when everyone in that kitchen thinks you are a shit. We all decided to teach George a lesson, even Chef.
George was called into Chef's office and told to prepare
a large bowl of chocolate mousse for the function. We all knew that George loved his belly and his belly loved chocolate mousse. He came out of the office grinning from ear to ear.
'Chef want me to make my special chocolate mousse,' he crowed.
We watched as he gathered all of the ingredients together and began his preparation. Chef sent Liz to the chemist in the hotel foyer with a note. She returned ten minutes later with something in a paper bag.
George was merrily whipping up a batch of egg whites while waiting for some slabs of plain chocolate and butter to melt in another pan. He whipped some egg yolks and water into the chocolate mixture and then started to fold in the egg whites.
Now George is one of those people that, if you ask him to prepare something, only seventy per cent of it would reach the table, he will have eaten the rest during preparation. His mouth was already full of chocolate.
When he had finished the mixture, he went to get a large cut-glass serving dish to pour it into. While he was gone Chef emptied the contents of the paper bag into the mousse and gently folded it in.
George came back and poured the mixture into the serving bowl, making sure that he left plenty behind for himself, then he put the serving bowl into the fridge. The rest, well over a pint, he wolfed down without taking a breath.
A while later, Chef yelled, 'Where's George?'
'In the bog!' I yelled back.
'Again!' Chef shouted and walked off roaring with laughter.
Almost half a pound of Senokot-Crystals went into that mousse - George must have shit his brains out that day.
Nice clean whites, courtesy of the laundry-room. Clean and newly sharpened knives at the ready, I stood at the carvery and prepared myself for the incoming lunch guests. George was still shitting.
They filed into the dining-room in perfect order, too perfect if you ask me. Then I understood why Chef had decided to stay in the kitchen this time. It was the bloody army, we were catering for an army reunion function and judging by the letters on one or two of the uniforms, some of them were from the Royal Army Catering Corps. The crafty bastard. He wasn't giving me any honours at all, he was trying to avoid meeting any of his old mates.
I turned and looked towards the kitchen and there, behind the steam-coated round window in the kitchen door, was Chef grinning from ear to ear. It was good to know that not even he was perfect. Behind him, George, holding his arse, was rushing back to the bog again.
‘What do pervs have after dinner!’ yelled Wiwa.
‘Piss off Wivva!’ we all shouted back.
‘You’ve heard it,’ he said with a moan.
‘Course we have,’ said Pete, ‘we’ve heard all your bloody jokes.’
‘We told most of them to you in the first place,’ said Den.
‘One day,’ said Wivva, ‘one day I’m gonna find a joke that none of you have heard.’ We all laughed at him.
We were all sitting in Max’s preparing for the special and waiting for Mick.
A ‘special’ is when we all go for someone who has hurt one of us in the past. This one is for Tony. Wiwa told Mick that Tony’s foster father is going to be at some pub in Willesden for a stag night and we are going to get him when he comes out.
Mick arrived in his van. He’s allowed to use it at night because he has early morning starts for his delivery job. We all go out and pile into it and as we drive to Willesden, Wivva explains the plan.
It seems that this guy would have to walk from the pub, down the length of Willesden Lane to Kilburn High
then he has to take a night bus home. We are going to be parked up on Willesden Lane and we are going to wait until he comes along and drag him into the back of the van. He's not going to know what is happening because he'll be far too pissed.
We drive off. We parked up by Coverdale Road and waited.
Everybody goes deadly quiet just before a special. The only sounds come from the cassette. The music is Tony's, it's his special so he chooses the sounds. True to his roots, he's into ballads, Italian American, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Perry Como, that sort of stuff.
Specials are different, this is someone that is known to us. We can make sure that this one knows just why he's getting done. We all sit and wait. Eight heads with eight different thoughts.
Me, I was thinking about when the time would come for me to get my old man and what I'd do to the bastard.
Mick was sitting and talking quietly to Tony. I know what he was saying, I've seen it and heard it all before. Old head on young shoulders is Mick. Tony Bennett was softly crooning 'If I Ruled the World' while we waited.
It'd been pissing down with rain for some ten minutes, Alan said that he didn't like the rain and hoped that it would stop. Me, I didn't mind it, at least not that kind of rain. It was very hot and there had been no rain for about two weeks. The news on telly had been screaming about a drought and how everything was bone dry. This was one of those very heavy showers, the kind that made everything smell fresh and clean. The gutters fill up with fast-moving rainwater that sweeps away all of the accumulated rubbish as it rushes by. The pavements
shine and the trees and grass look green again. Even the cars look as though they have just been washed. It's nice. It made me wish that I could have a rainstorm like that in my brain sometimes, to clear out all of the shit in there.
Staggering down the road came Tony's foster father. He was pissed as a newt and trying to sing 'Big Spender' through a mouth that he was obviously having great difficulty controlling.
'Get ready,' whispered Mick and we unhooked the back doors ready to pile out.
'Oh shit,' mouthed Tony nervously.
'Don't worry,' said Mick, 'he can't hurt you any more.'
This bloke was big, but we couldn't stop now.
We had no hassle grabbing him and it was almost like he let us drag him to the back of the now-open van, then he sort of instantaneously sobered up.
'What the fuck!' he yelled and Mick head-butted him in the face. As he fell backwards he threw his arms wide and sent Pete sprawling into the road. His hands were now firmly clamped on to the sides of the van as he tried to pull himself upright. Alan hit him low and hard in the stomach, which on reflection wasn't a good idea, because as he doubled up and pulled his arms in to protect himself, he spewed ten pints of lager out of his now severely bleeding mouth.
'Me strides, look what he's done to me bleeding strides!' yelled Alan and aimed a mighty kick at his balls which made him curl up and roll backwards into the van like a ball.
Seven of us sat on him while Mick slammed the van into gear and wheelspun us away from there. We drove
for about twenty minutes and finished up in a car park on Hampstead Heath. The bastard fought all the way.
When we arrived Alan was sitting on his chest, Wivva and me had an arm each, Pete, Den and Tony had his legs and Si, who had stuffed an oil-rag into the guy's mouth, was sitting with his feet on each of the bloke's shoulders while tugging hard with both hands at his hair.
Mick stopped the van, jumped out, ran round and opened the doors and as though at a signal we all pulled at our piece of this guy. We all tumbled out of the van together, arms and legs were everywhere. Mick snapped out orders to each of us and we eventually got him spread-eagled face-up on the ground.
The electricity of the moment was pounding through my body as I dug my knee hard into the side of his neck. He lay quiet, so Mick removed the rag from his mouth. He made to scream so Mick stuffed it back in again quickly and said, 'Make a sound and you're dead.'
The guy nodded as best he could so Mick again removed the rag. This time the guy stayed quiet.
Mick said, 'D'you know why we're here?'
'No,' said the man and he coughed and spat out some blood. After clearing his throat he said, Tf it's money, I ain't got none.'
'No, it's not money,' said Mick. 'This is what it is.'
He beckoned to Tony to show himself.
'What's that lying bastard been telling you,' growled the guy.
'I'm no liar! You know I'm no liar!' screamed Tony as a look of rage spread across his face. The man's eyes widened with terror now that he had begun to realise what was happening.
'What do you want then, boy? Want me to say sorry, eh?' The man gave a bloody grin. 'Okay, okay, I'm sorry, all right now?'
'Not good enough,' said Tony. 'Four years I've taken from you, four long years of shit, filth and pain and you think that sorry is going to be enough.'
'You won't get away with it, you slags,' said the man, trying to sound tough, 'I'll get you, I'll get all of you sometime.'
'We'll just have to make sure that you don't then, won't we,' said Mick and he rammed the rag back into the guy's mouth.
'You first,' we said to Tony.
He jumped and landed on the bloke's left ankle with a loud crunching sound. Si grabbed the wheel-wrench from the van and slammed it against the bloke's jaw, knocking the bottom half of his face sideways. The frenzy then overtook us all. I felt that we must have broken every bone in that slime's body, how he didn't die I will never know. The cassette in the van was belting out Frank Sinatra's 'New York, New York' as we did the business.
Thinking about it now, it must have been one of the weirdest sights that you could imagine. Eight blokes, giving it all to this one bloke and not a sound but the huffing, puffing and grunting as punches and kicks rained down, and over it all, Frankie boy belting out one of his best numbers.
The papers just said that a man had been found severely beaten on Hampstead Heath, it was thought that he had been the victim of a mugging. Funny thing is, we never rolled him. We took nothing off him at all. I'll bet that confused the Old Bill.
Mick drove us back to his placebo that we could clean up. Not to his flat in the block where he lives in Hackney, but to the garages underneath, where he used a hose to clean out the van. He then turned the hose on Wivva, me, Tony, in fact the bastard drenched us all. So we jumped on him and stuffed the hose up his trouser-leg. Fucking good water fight that was, went on for over an hour, well, until we saw the blue lights arriving anyway.