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Authors: Jim Carrington

In the Bag (20 page)

BOOK: In the Bag
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Joe

It’s all quiet in the dining room. Everyone’s tucking into their curry, crunching their way through poppadoms. I lean over and take the chilli chutney jar from the middle of the table, spoon some on to my plate.

‘I see they still don’t have a clue who committed the murder in town,’ Granny says.

I look up at her. I’m taken straight back to yesterday with a jolt. To the Old House. To the common. To that horrible sick, guilty feeling in my throat and my stomach.

‘The sooner they’re locked away, the better,’ Dad says.

‘You’re right,’ Granny says. ‘I don’t feel safe with them still on the streets.’ She shudders. ‘Let’s change the subject, shall we? It makes me feel all uneasy.’

The subject is changed, cos no one says a thing. Everybody eats, apart from me. I keep having visions of yesterday, of throwing the bag in the pit and covering it over. I wish Granny hadn’t said anything.

‘Hey, Granny,’ Mum says, ‘this time tomorrow, young Joe here will have officially left school!’

I look up at Mum. She’s smiling at me sort of proudly. I can feel Granny looking at me as well. So I turn and I look at her.

‘I hadn’t thought of that,’ Granny says. ‘Ooh, fancy that, Joe! The next time I see you, you’ll be a free man.’

I can’t help but smile at the thought of being free of school. ‘I can’t wait for study leave,’ I say. ‘But I’ll be back there in September doing my A levels.’ And then I pop a small bit of poppadom in my mouth.


Are you ready for your exams, then?’ Granny says.

I shrug. ‘S’pose so,’ I say. Though, to be honest, they’ve been the furthest thing from my mind these last couple of days.

‘He’ll be fine. Won’t you, Joe?’ Dad says. He winks at me. ‘He’s a Wainwright. A chip off the old block.’

‘However you do, we’ll be proud,’ Granny says.

Over the other side of the table I see Kate stick two fingers down her throat, pretending to make herself sick. I snigger.

Mum shakes her head and smiles. ‘Oh, you two,’ she says. ‘Behave.’

My phone beeps in my pocket. I take it out. It’s a text from Ash.
Meet me at the rec.

I put my fork down and look across the table at Mum and Dad. ‘Um, is it OK if I go out later?’

Dad makes a face. ‘It’s a school night,’ he says. ‘I don’t think so.’

I make a disappointed face. ‘Please.’

Mum looks at me and then at Dad, but she doesn’t say anything.

‘Your granny’s here,’ Dad says. ‘No.’

‘Let him go out,’ Granny says. ‘Don’t mind me. He’s only got one day of school left anyway – it won’t do him any harm.’

Mum and Dad look at each other.

‘He’s earned his chance to relax,’ Granny says.

Dad sighs.

All right,’ he says. ‘But you have to be back before ten, understand?’

I smile. ‘OK!’ I text Ash straight back.

Ash

I’m walking back along the main road, pushing a trolley that I liberated from the supermarket, sipping a can of beer. I keep getting looks off people. Their faces are a picture as they look down their noses at me and tut. Just cos they’re stuck-up and don’t know how to enjoy themselves they get snotty when they see someone else having fun. I stare right back at them till they look away.

As I get close to the rec, I see a hoodie up ahead. It’s Joe. He spots me and walks over, nods as we get close.

‘Why’ve you got a shopping trolley?’

I grin at him. ‘Why not?’

‘How’d you get it out of the supermarket?’ he says. ‘Don’t they have those grid things so you can’t get them out of the car park?’

I smile again. ‘Lifted it over the top.’

Joe shakes his head and laughs. ‘Idiot.’

‘What? I need it. This box of beers is heavy.’ I point at the trolley, where the beers are wrapped in a carrier bag.

‘How did you get them?’ Joe asks.

We start walking towards the rec. ‘I got someone to buy them for me,’ I say. ‘Nobby.’

Joe sniggers. ‘What,
the
Nobby? Nobby the Knob?’

I nod. ‘The one and only.’

Joe laughs.

We get up close to the rec. The wall gang are all there, sitting on the wall.


All right,’ Manky Mark calls down from the wall. He’s smoking a fag, holding it between his thumb and first finger like the complete chav that he is.

I nod at him.

All right, Mark.’

‘You got beers?’ Suzie asks, nodding at the trolley.

I stop walking and nod back.

‘Give us one.’

I shake my head. ‘Get your own.’

I start walking again, to the gate. I push it open and wheel the trolley through.

Joe

It’s nearly ten. I have to be home soon. The beers are nearly gone. I’ve had two. I think Dylan and Rabbit have had a couple each as well. But Ash has had loads. And it’s really starting to show cos he’s starting to act like a knobhead. He’s talking shit, being nasty.

I sit on the top of the bench next to Rabbit, resting my feet on the seat. And I watch as Dylan pushes Ash round the field in the shopping trolley, racing along, tipping it up from side to side, zigzagging around. All the while Ash has a mad grin on his face, like he’s on a fairground ride or something. He’s shouting and screaming like a madman. I can’t make out half of what he’s shouting. I don’t want to, either. He’s being a dick.

‘You watch,’ I say to Rabbit. ‘Ash’ll throw up in a minute.’

Rabbit laughs. ‘He’s lost it tonight.’

I nod. ‘You got that right.’

We watch as Dylan lets go of the trolley with an almighty final push. Ash and the trolley roll on for a bit, before slowing and stopping in the middle of the field.

‘It was weird yesterday, wasn’t it?’ Rabbit says. He says it quietly, almost whispering, like someone might be listening in.

I nod. I stare out across the field as Ash jumps out of the trolley, runs after Dylan and rugby-tackles him to the ground.

‘D’you think that’s it?’ Rabbit says. ‘D’you reckon we won’t hear any more about it?’

I shrug. ‘I bloody hope so,’ I say. ‘Whoever’s got the bag now never even saw us. And they won’t care, will they? Not now they’ve got the money back.’

Rabbit nods. ‘Yeah. S’pose.’

But the truth is, I still feel weird about it. I mean, I haven’t been spending all day thinking about what happened and biting my fingernails, but every now and then, when I’m not expecting it, it pops up unexpectedly in my mind. And every time that happens, my heart starts racing and I feel nervous and paranoid and sick. Right now is one of those moments. So I try and think about something else instead.

Over in the middle of the field, Dylan climbs unsteadily up into the trolley. As soon as he’s in, Ash starts pushing him, weaving in and out and round and round, turning sharply so the trolley tips up and nearly dumps Dylan out on to the grass. Dylan holds tightly to the sides of the trolley. Me and Rabbit watch, not saying a word.

I think of what Dad said earlier and look at my watch.

Rabbit notices. ‘What time have you got to be back?’

‘Ten,’ I say.

‘Same here,’ he says. ‘We should go in a second.’

I nod. But neither of us gets up to go. We both just sit there and stare as Ash runs, pushing the trolley straight towards a hedge.

‘For fuck’s sake, Ash,’ Dylan shouts. ‘Stop!’

But Ash doesn’t listen. He keeps pushing as fast as he can. At the last moment, just as the trolley looks like it’s gonna be swallowed up by the hedge, he tips it up and Dylan falls out, straight into the hedge.

‘Jesus!’ Dylan shouts. ‘What was that for? You dick.’

Ash just collapses to the ground, laughing like an idiot, rolling around in the dewy grass.

Dylan comes across to the bench, rubbing his arm. ‘That bloody hurt.’

I jump down from the bench, look across at Ash. He’s sitting on the field now, staring into the darkness.

‘Let’s get him home,’ I say.

Rabbit and Dylan nod and we all walk across the field. Ash looks round as we get near him.

‘Come on, Ash,’ Rabbit says. ‘We’re going home now. Gotta be back by ten.’

Ash doesn’t say anything. He just stares, first at Rabbit, then at me and finally at Dylan. ‘Don’t be so gay,’ he says. He stumbles over his words. He sounds pissed. ‘The night’s still young. We can get some more beers . . .’

I shake my head. ‘School in the morning,’ I say. ‘I’ll get in trouble if I’m not back by ten.’

Ash focuses on me. ‘
I’ll get in trouble if I’m not back by ten
,‘ he says, imitating me in a prim-sounding voice.

‘Stop being a dick, Ash,’ I say.

But I don’t think he even hears me. He tries to spring to his feet, but stumbles a bit and laughs. ‘What about you two gays?’ he says to Dylan and Rabbit.

They both shake their heads. ‘Going home,’ Rabbit says.

‘Me too,’ says Dylan. ‘I think you’ve broken my arm or something.’

‘For fuck’s sake,’ Ash says, staring at us all. And instead of smiling, he looks angry. ‘That’s the problem with all of you. You three, you’re all mummy’s boys. Gotta run home to your lovely parents in your lovely homes . . .’

Rabbit steps towards him. ‘Shut up, Ash,’ he says. ‘You’re being a dick.’

But Ash doesn’t. He steps towards Rabbit and stares at him, angry. ‘Don’t tell me to shut up,’ he says, ‘mummy’s boy!’

Rabbit stays still for a moment. You can see him taking deep breaths, trying to stay cool. And I think maybe I should step in and try to calm things down. God knows why Ash said that. He knows as well as anyone else that Rabbit lives with his dad, that he doesn’t see his mum. What’s he trying to prove? I don’t do anything, though. I stand and watch as Rabbit pushes Ash in the chest and then turns and walks away. Ash stumbles back, nearly falls over and laughs. He stares after Rabbit for a bit. Then he looks at me and Dylan.

‘Anyone else gonna have a go?’ he says.

I look away from him. I’ve seen him like this before and it’s kind of scary. Unpredictable. I just want to get away from here. ‘I’m going now,’ I say.

Dylan nods. ‘Me too.’ He goes back over to the bench to his bike. I watch him for a second as he gets on, waves and then cycles off.

I turn to Ash. ‘You coming?’

Ash shakes his head in a really exaggerated way, like a toddler. ‘Come on, J,’ he says. ‘Let’s stay out and get some more booze.’

I shake my head. ‘Nah, I’ve gotta get home.’

Ash sighs. He sits back down on the grass. And I don’t know what to do. Should I just leave him here? I look at my watch. It’s after ten now. I have to get home. I can’t wait around here all night. Mum and Dad will give me grief. So I start walking across the rec towards the gates. When I’m halfway across I turn and look. Ash is still in the same position, sitting on the grass. For a second, I think about going back for him. But I don’t. I’m not his mum. He can look after himself. I keep walking, towards the gate and then out on to the main road.

I walk along the main road. It’s pretty much empty, just the odd car cruising past. The sky above is totally clear. I can see thousands of stars. After a bit, I hear something behind me. A clattering sound. I turn round to see Ash running along the pavement, pushing the trolley in front of him. I stop walking and wait for him.

‘Wait up,’ he shouts as he gets close.

So I stand and wait.

‘Give us a push, will you?’ he says when he gets to me. He tries to climb up into the trolley. It tips to the side, nearly overbalances as he gets in.

I sigh. I don’t want to push him, but maybe it’s the easiest way. If I do this, we’ll be back in five minutes. If I stand and argue with him, we could be ages. ‘All right,’ I say. And I start pushing. Fortunately, there’s no one around to see.

But pushing the trolley straight isn’t easy, not with Ash in it. It keeps sliding across the pavement towards the road. And getting it up and down the curb every time we cross a side road is a nightmare.

‘Can you get out?’ I say after a while. ‘I can’t push it straight on the pavement.’

Ash doesn’t say anything and doesn’t budge. So I just keep pushing. Until I see a car up ahead, in the distance. I push the trolley into the side of the pavement and let go.

‘Get out,’ I hiss at Ash. ‘There’s a car.’

Ash jumps out of the trolley, stumbles a bit. And then we walk along the pavement, try and get as far away from the trolley as possible. As the car gets nearer I can see it’s a police car, cruising slowly towards us. My heart starts to race. I try not to look.

The car slows down as it reaches us and the passenger window lowers. I feel like I might have a heart attack.

‘All right, lads,’ the policeman says.

Me and Ash stop walking. ‘Yeah, fine,’ I say. ‘Just going home.’

Ash doesn’t say anything.

The policemen sit and look at Ash. He’s finding it difficult to balance.

BOOK: In the Bag
13.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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