The Bull Singer
I stared at my shoes and wondered how I could get out of the embarrassing situation I had landed myself in, without losing the chance of a little friendship in my life. I'd had the hots for this gorgeous looking Latin since the first day he came to Fordage Secondary School, just like I'd had the hots for Billy D'Marco. I liked Latin lookers, neat and sexy, and the complete opposite to my big blonde teddy bear looks. But Dad had given me a mission and as I stood there with my cheeks growing ever redder, I recalled my conversation with my dad over supper last night.
"Who was that on the phone, Dad?" I asked as he sat back down at the table with a worried look on his normally cheerful face.
"Oh, someone I used to know when we were in school here. It seems that one of our new pupils might be in some kind of danger from some shady characters, and he wants me to keep an eye on the boy while he's in school."
"Well, you can't do that yourself, you're too busy."
"I know that; and I don't intend to start a kiddie protection firm either; friend or no friend. Thank goodness our faithful school caretaker is an ex Marine. He'll keep a watch for any suspicious characters or cars, but you could help keep an eye on the boy inside the school."
"Why not?" Dad poured two mugs of tea and offered me one. "As head boy, you have the run of the school buildings; so you can be anywhere you like without people asking questions. You can keep tabs on the boy without anyone getting on your back. You're ahead with your studies, or so your teachers tell me, and you have plenty of free time on your hands till the Christmas break. Then Mags will be back."
I gave Dad a blank stare. "Mags Alton; where have I heard that name before?"
"Your favourite cover band?"
"Billy Junior? That Mags Alton! Wow! What's he doing round here?"
"His dad owns Home Farm over in Little Fordage. You know the boy already if I've been reading the signs rightly."
"I've noticed you making cow eyes at him since he started school here." I gaped at Dad and felt my cheeks burn as he smiled at me. "Your mum and I have known since you were twelve that girls didn't have much of a place in your life, so don't be embarrassed about it. Other people might not understand, so don't go flaunting it about; but we understand and it's okay by us. You're still our son and we love you just the same; you can't help who or what you are any more than a tree turning yellow in the Autumn. Mags and I were in the same position when we were younger than you, so I can't say anything otherwise can I?"
I uttered a sigh of relief. "I didn't know, that, Dad. Did it last long?"
"About two years." Dad shook his head and he looked away, deep in thought. "It could have lasted a lot longer but my parents had other ideas. We moved away from Fordage and I found myself living next door to your mum. Our parents literally pushed us together and by the time we were eighteen we were married and you were on the way."
"Do you regret that?"
Dad shook his head and gave me a soft smile. "Not a bit of it. Your mum was the girl for me, and we're still very much in love." The smile seemed genuine enough but I detected a look of sadness in his eyes.
Dad's smile slipped a bit. "Ah well, things might have been different for me if we had stayed in Fordage, but you would never have been born. So, no, I have no regrets."
I felt tears spring to my eyes. "Thanks, Dad. I love you."
Dad reached over and squeezed my hand. "And I love you too, James." Suddenly he let go of my hand and slapped the table with a gesture or determination. "Right, lad, are you going to help Mags and me keep that young man safe?"
So here I was, standing the boys' toilets, wondering if I had blown things before I had even started my mission. I tried to get my mouth to work but all I could do was mumble a few words even I could not understand. "Er… well…ah…I…er; oh damn it, Street, I like you." I had to turn my face away; I just couldn't look at him. I waited for him to walk out and tell the rest of the school I was a fruit. A few seconds later, I realised I had not heard the double doors clang shut. They were always a fair warning for anyone, doing something they shouldn't in these toilets, to make themselves decent or hide in one of the stalls. As a group, we prefects tried to catch any suspected 'predator' who preyed on the younger pupils but until Dad's pleas to have the doors replaced with quieter ones were answered, our efforts would always be thwarted; not that such crimes were a common occurrence in this school, thank God. Street was still there, gazing at me with arms folded, a glint of amusement in his eyes. "I'm sorry," I apologised. "I shouldn't have said that."
"Why not? I'm cool with it, or you would have had a broken wrist early on. The only thing is, I already have someone I like, and I wouldn't want to hurt him. We can still use my house for the weekend, and I have a better idea for the rehearsals." He held out the piece of paper again. "Have your boys ready to come out to Home Farm on Friday night then call me after your meeting. Here's my phone number. Now I think we'd better head back to class before the Joke sends for the school nurse. Tell your mates to bring their own sleeping bags and enough food. I don't want Gramps feeding the five thousand."
Like a lamb, I followed him back to class as if he were the prefect and I the wayward student; I was just relieved to be let off so lightly. I only had a short essay to finish, which should have taken me five minutes or so when I got back to my PC, but when the bell went at the end of class I had only written one more sentence, my concentration gone completely as my imagination ran riot as I thought about spending the weekend with Joey Street. Sod the Paper Dolls!
I thought it was Doug calling me back when my cell phone jingled in my coat pocket but wasn't all that surprised to see Joey's cell phone number winking at me. "Hi Joey, how are things at school?"
"Okay I suppose."
"What do you mean, you suppose?"
"Er…well…I think I'm being watched."
"Where?" I hoped Doug had done what I asked. "In the school or out?"
"In what way?"
"Strange cars parked in the street."
"That could be anything."
"Not when the driver reads the same page of his paper. I've seen him during lunch break, a few yards back from the gates. And Winston had one car move away."
"Our caretaker. He's pretty paranoid about child sex perverts."
"Well, I'm sure he's just doing his job as he sees it."
"But he's never gone outside the gates; he's always called the police in. You haven't been talking to Mr. Mitchell have you?"
"Why do you ask?"
"His son, Jimmy is showing an interest in me all of a sudden. Now, that's too much of a coincidence to me. What have you been up to, Mags?"
I closed my eyes and thought for a moment, knowing I was not going to pass anything by Joey. "Okay, Joey. I won't lie to you; I asked Doug to keep an eye on you."
"Don't you trust me?"
"Of course I do. It's your mother I don't trust, and it's not fair to leave Dad and Pete on watch twenty-four seven. How do you and Jimmy get on?"
I heard Joey chuckle. "Wouldn't you know it; he has the hots for me."
I felt a twinge of jealousy. "Is he serious?"
"I think so."
"And what about you; are you interested?"
Joey gave himself away when he hesitated before saying, "I wouldn't want to hurt you, Mags."
"Look Joey, our relationship is totally different to you getting yourself a boyfriend. It's okay; I understand. You're young and full of raging hormones. I'm just the older guy who helped you know who and what you are."
"Don't say that, Mags! You're more than that. You're my uncle and I love you."
"All the more reason why it's best you look elsewhere for a close relationship."
There was a sob in his voice. "Are you telling me it's over between us? I need you Mags."
"I'm not saying it's over, kiddo. I just think you need to ease up and have some fun with someone nearer your own age, that's all." My heart ached for me to say it, but it was the truth as I saw it. "If things work out with Jimmy, I'm not going to raise a stink. I just want you to have fun. Now, was there anything else you want to talk to me about? I've got five minutes before Daley bites my head off for not being at rehearsal."
"Well, yes there is. I want the Paperboys to come to Home Farm for the weekend, if it's all right with you. We need to rehearse or Auntie Millie's going to cut us out of the show."
"It's your granddad's place; what does he say?"
"He said it's okay with him but to ask you. He's also said that if we want to, we can use Auntie Millie's old practice room at the cottage. By the way, Pete's says thanks for the drum machine you sent him; we tried it out last night and we think it's cool. It'll save humping all those drum boxes around all the time. Did you know he's the drummer for the show?"
"Yes, he did mention he might offer his services. You boys take care up at Home Farm now; no getting up to mischief and breaking things; and tell Aunt Millie if there's anything else she needs for the show, to let me know. Now, I've got my own rehearsal to go to. I'll ring you tomorrow about lunchtime; gotta run. Bye." Shutting my phone off, I sat down suddenly, and felt as if a part of me had disappeared. After such a short time, and thinking I had found someone special to help me through losing Billy, I was losing someone else, and it was of my own doing. I had given Joey the go ahead to be with someone else if he so wished. How stupid can a man get? Someone opened my bedroom door and called to me, and I couldn't see who it was for the mist in my eyes.
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