Authors: Gerard Brennan
Published by Blasted Heath, 2013
copyright © 2013, Gerard Brennan
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means without permission of the author.
Gerard Brennan has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
All the characters in this book are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cover design by Blasted Heath
ISBN (ePub): 978-1-908688-54-5
Miss moves as if she knows I want her. She can read my thoughts sometimes. Sends me wee signals to prove it too. Like when the pencil rolled off her desk at the start of this class. It landed right in front of me. I pushed back my chair, ready to pick it up for her but she just raised her hand, cool as fuck. And then she stepped in front of me, hunkered down so that her perfect arse almost touched the floor, and snagged the pencil. She stood and twisted in one dance-like motion and I caught a glimpse of her knickers above the waistband of her black trousers. Then she adjusted the hang of her green blouse. The patch of pink cotton and tanned lower back disappeared and took the spit from my mouth with it. It happened in seconds, but I've replayed the images of Miss's graceful retrieval over and over for the last twenty minutes.
Time's funny in this shithole. I've been here for three years now. Three years that sometimes feel like they just disappeared and yet it's as if I've been banged up my whole life. My memory of the outside is sketchy; the last few weeks leading up to getting scooped, a blur. A class with Miss lasts a blink, but a session with the psychologist drags like Mass. At least the finish line is in sight. They have to let me out shortly after I turn eighteen, unless I give them an excuse to drop me in real jail. But I'm not going to let that happen.
I got some GCSEs last year. Even achieved A grades in the important ones, English and Maths. I'm doing a few more this year so that I can get into a half-decent tech and qualify for a good job. That's what's been planned for me, anyway. Fuck knows what'll actually happen. I don't even know if I want to work in an office or a kitchen, or at all. But at least I'm still young-looking. If I do end up in tech, the other kids will probably assume I'm the same age as them, even though I'll be a man. Legally, anyway.
"Danny, how are you getting on with your coursework?"
Miss has realised my thoughts have drifted away from her. It's the downside to all those vibes I've been sending out to her since I started this class.
"Aye, Miss. It's dead on, like."
Her little nose crinkles and I know she thinks I'm not taking the work seriously, or else she's objecting to me saying 'like' for no reason. I can't help it. It's one thing to know how you're supposed to talk and to have a bunch of new words to swap for 'like' but I've been talking one way for a long time now. If she keeps trying to test me when I'm off guard, she's going to get disappointed, like.
I'll try to win her back a wee bit.
"I mean, I've another few hundred words written that I'm happy with. Found some interesting stuff about that
"It's great that you're researching beyond the textbook, Danny, but you need to be able to provide references for your quotes. I don't think CCEA recognise Wikipedia as a reliable resource."
My cheeks are probably a little pinker. I try to ignore the heat in my face.
"Aye, I know. But reading that stuff helped me get my own ideas."
"Well just make sure you write it in your own language."
"I only know one, Miss. I failed Spanish last year."
Miss shakes her head and gives me that wee look of hers. The one that shows her eyes aren't exactly the same size as each other. She's still pretty, though. Those lips of hers would even make up for her having wonky ears. But she doesn't have wonky ears. They're small and pretty and they hold back the strands of blonde hair that slip out of her ponytail.
Perfect ears and blowjob lips. Oh, God.
I shift in my seat in advance of the oncoming stiffy. Thank Christ I've jeans on today. My trackies would just tent under this sort of pressure.
It's Adrian's voice from a few desks behind me. I don't turn around. Everything about that prick bothers me, especially the fact that he doesn't let people shorten his name to Ady.
Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus, didn't he?"
Because he was really small, right?"
Miss sighs. "What's your point, Adrian?"
Nothing, I just wanted to make sure I had the midget pinned down."
I know this is a swipe at me and the fact that I'm about six inches shorter than Adrian – maybe more – but I'm not taking the bait. For one, I don't want to fight in Religious Studies. That might get Miss in trouble. And then there's the fact that I've still got a hard-on. I won't forget his wee dig in a hurry, though.
Miss doesn't let him suck her in either. She looks down at a piece of paper on her desk; gets back to her lesson plan.
"What about you, Conan?"
I look to my right. Conan 'The Barbarian' Quinlan is in his usual seat. Front row, like me, opposite corner of the room. His back is straight and his long legs are bent awkwardly, size twelve feet crossed under his chair. There are two empty desks between us. I haven't figured this guy out yet. He's new. All I know is he looks every bit the savage that his name suggests. I'd heard he got built by dragging a plough along his da's field in Crossmaglen. Probably bullshit, but it's what I've heard.
Conan blinks at Miss. "What?"
"Do you mean to say pardon, Conan?"
He scrunches up his face. "Okay?"
An awkward silence swells. Not even Adrian snickers.
Miss tugs at one of her perfect earlobes. "Okay. Maybe you could hang back for a minute after the bell, Conan? I've a few thoughts about the rough draft you handed in."
I want to grab the barbarian by the back of his neck and slam his face into the wall. In fact, I'll pick Adrian up and batter Conan around the head with him for good measure. The two of them get far too much attention from Miss.
Adrian shoulders into me on purpose on the way out of class. He was on his feet and across the room before the bell stopped ringing, but then he found something of interest on the wall by the door and studied it until I got close to him. I'm not bothered. The nervy bastard looked over his shoulder too many times and I saw it coming. Now Adrian is red-faced and wheezing because one of my elbows found his floating ribs. My older brother, Paul, taught me that trick. He's a GAA All Star who's dropped many a goon on the back line. Never underestimate a Gibson.
I slip out onto the corridor before Adrian can make a fuss or try and get me into trouble with Miss. He needs to catch his wind before he can start yapping. When I'm far enough away to be caught up in Adrian's bullshit, I try to look over the prick's head to see what's happening with Conan. The barbarian stands slump-shouldered at Miss's desk. She's sitting down and pointing at some hand-written pages with her pen. Conan's face is scrunched up again, like he's trying to crack some sort of code.
Adrian's brute-ugly head blocks my view. I can see finger smudges on the lenses of his goofy specs. There's dandruff in his number-two haircut. He's taken a ding to his pride and has an urge to retaliate. I was expecting that too, maybe not just as soon. Thought he'd be discouraged by that sweet elbow I landed. He shows his teeth and takes another step forward. I can see up his nose. If we were on the street it'd already be bust by now, but I've to think ahead these days. I'll not get back on the street if I don't.
I take a couple of steps to the side. Adrian smiles because he thinks he's got me retreating. No chance, mate. I've obscured Miss's view by putting some wall between us. Adrian has slipped his glasses off and tucked them into the neck of his black T-shirt. He fancies himself as some sort of rock star, this one. Skulls and shit printed all over the cheap cotton. First thing I'll do is grab those glasses and chuck them down the hall. See how cool he acts then.
"I'm sick to the back teeth with you, Wee Danny."
"Is that why your breath stinks?"
"No …" Adrian thumbs his nose. "Dickhead."
This moron is way too easy. He could have said, "No, that's your ma's fanny you can smell." But he's no imagination.
"You should back off, Ady."
"My name's Adrian. I've told you before."
"Well, only my mates get to call me
Danny. You're not one of them."
Again Adrian is at a loss for words. His chin twitches and his lips part but there's nothing there. I should be enjoying this but I'm getting bored and agitated. It's only a matter of time before one of the supervisors appears. They've probably already picked this situation up on the CCTV. It's now essential that Adrian throws the first punch. I can't start the fight but they'll forgive me a few digs if I get hit first.
"Hey, Adrian, your ma's a smelly hoor."
I could have done better, I suppose, but why mess with a classic? It has the desired effect. A bunch of slack-jawed bystanders make snorting sounds. This winds Adrian up even more. They're supposed to be on his side. But there's no real loyalty in here. We're all on our own.
"Tell her to stop changing her lipstick,
. My dick looks like a rainbow."
And we're off.
I'm on the balls of my feet. The muscles in my calves are bunched. Spring-loaded. I slip my right leg behind my left in preparation for the inevitable charge. It's important I stay upright after he lands that first punch or two. Otherwise, I'll not be fighting, I'll be taking a beating.
My view narrows. I can just see Adrian and his squinty eyes. My hands aren't up yet. For the benefit of onlookers, the less aggression I display, the better. Adrian rolls his shoulders and raises his arms into something that's supposed to look like a boxing guard. Oh, Jesus I want to destroy this useless bastard. Every nerve in my body screams as one. FUCK HIM UP! It almost hurts to hold back.
All I can see is Adrian and the multitude of routes that would bring my fists to his face. But my ears pick up the thumps of heavy feet and booms of slammed doors. The supervisors are on their way. Come on, Adrian. Grow some balls and go for me. There's only precious seconds left.
Adrian's shoulder twitches. Here comes the excuse. I'm going to roll with this one then step to his left. Snap out some jabs and a solid cross.
But there's no pain on my part and I'm punching air.
My brain scrambles to make sense of this. Did his first punch miss? Where did he go? Am I in trouble?
The big barbarian has a fist-full of Adrian's T-shirt. Adrian's feet scrabble about, trying to get a grip on the slippery floor. He's going backwards. His T-shirt is ripping. And he's on the floor. Miss is in the doorway, not quite screaming but shouting in a voice that's too high-pitched to understand. The supervisors are on the corridor. Moving slowly now. My hands are in the air to show I'm not involved in the altercation. Conan stands still. His face is expressionless. He's not angry, embarrassed or scared. Just done with the situation.