The Cup Bearer
The older officer glared down at Gypsy. "You've got some explaining to do, or I'll have you down the station so fast you'll meet yourself coming back."
"Why don't you ask that lot back there," Pete said angrily. "They started it."
"What lot is that then?" There was no sign of Marty and his gang.
"Typical," Pete remarked, and got a hard look from the younger officer.
The first officer looked down his nose at Gypsy and waited for an explanation, and Sandy had to do some fast talking, before the officer was satisfied they hadn't started the rumpus. Then he said, "What about the karate lark? You have to have a licence for that, you know."
Gypsy reached inside his jacket and drew out a small wallet. The officer took it and scanned the card inside then handed it back with a look of respect, but he wasn't finished. He wrote Gypsy's, Pete's and Sandy's names and addresses in his note book and wanted the names of anyone who could vouch for them. Sandy and Pete gave their father's names and that of Miss Wayne but Gypsy frowned before saying anything. "James MacCaffrey, Headmaster of Trentham High School."
Gypsy looked down at his boots. "Grafton, Grafton and Kearslake, solicitors and attorneys at law in London."
The officer's eyes narrowed. "Oh Yes? Have you been in trouble then?"
"No, I have not. The Graftons are my guardians."
The officer wrote busily then said sternly, "Right then, off you go, and keep out of trouble. If you're stopped again we'll have to call these people, understand? Now go on, hop it."
Gypsy turned away feeling miserable about the run in with the police and, a few yards along the prom, the group surrounded him for an explanation.
"Hey, long face! We're supposed to be enjoying ourselves, remember?"
"Yeah, nobody takes any notice of the 'Blues'."
"Well I do," Gypsy snapped. "I have to."
"Why?" one of the girls asked.
Looking at Pete, Gypsy asked. "Will they really contact the people we named?"
Pete shrugged. "Maybe; why?"
"If they do, I stand to lose a lot of money, and I don't mean a couple of hundred quid. There's a trust set up in my name, but if I don't keep my nose clean, that's it. No trust, no cash. I have to keep right out of trouble."
"Well why did you give the 'Blue' those names then?" Sandy asked.
"Because I couldn't think of anyone else; the same as you. Think of the trouble you'll in if they phone your dad? He'll probably ground you for at least twelve months."
Sandy's face fell at the thought, then his broad face cleared and broke into a smile as he said, "Well, no use bein' miserable. Come on; let's not spoil the day, isn'it?"
"Tell me something," Pete said with a frown. "Why do you Welshies always finish a statement with "Isn'it?"."
Sandy looked blank. "Dunno, man; just a habit, isn'it?" The gang fell about laughing. Sandy didn't mind because it took their attention off Gypsy and their determination to learn more about his street-dancing prowess. They marched along the prom to the Pleasure Beach and had hysterics in the house of mirrors; and Sandy had his first sight of his mate with tears of laughter rolling down his cheeks as he surveyed his own distorted image. They dared each other to take the stomach churning rides and when another group of youths spotted the blue badges and offered them a friendly challenge at riding the cages, Gypsy stayed with the girls knowing his hands would not grip the bars safely. They won easily, Sandy's strength sending them over the top twice before the others had even reached the top of their first try. They viewed the whole place from the monorail and the girls ganged up on Gypsy and tried to get him into the Tunnel of Love. Three of them dragged him, protesting loudly, into one of the boats and received amused looks from the attendant. Pete took the fourth girl into the next boat, and Sandy and Trish had the third boat to themselves. Just as the boats moved off, Gypsy broke free and leapt from the boat and over the barrier to safety, leaving the girls yelling their disappointment in the darkness of the tunnel.
As the gloom claimed the boats, Trish sighed and rested her head on Sandy's shoulder and slipped one hand up inside his sweater and under his T-shirt. "You smell nice. You always smell nice but today you smell ... different."
Sandy smiled to himself. A new sauna had opened in Trentham the previous weekend and Gypsy had bullied him into spending the best part of this morning having a long session of sweating and massage after which Gypsy bought some expensive body lotion and told him to use it. It was just as well his mam and dad had gone to Manchester on a shopping spree. No wonder Gypsy's skin was so smooth if he looked after himself like that. He had laughed at the idea at first but if Trish liked the result maybe Gypsy had the right idea.
Out in the sunshine once more, Sandy and Trish watched the passengers alight from the boats in front. Pete and his partner were holding hands and looking a bit bemused with each other and Sandy hoped they had clicked. Of Gypsy, there was no sign and the girls were scowling with annoyance that they had lost their prize.
Gypsy was doing fine, having spotted someone who made his heart do crazy acrobatics. The girl with the red hair stood by herself, watching people climb aboard the big wheel. So, she was on her own, was she? Gypsy called to her and she spun round and smiled her welcome. Glad of a chance to get off his feet for a while, he took her on the big wheel and they chatted politely about this and that. Her name was Lorna, and she remembered him from school as the guy all the girls most wanted to be seen with. Lorna was in the brainy class.
He treated her to a seafood tea and had fun watching her eat what she wanted while he refreshed his blood levels with a granary bread sandwich. Boy was she a good eater! But while she guzzled all that fish stuff she wasn't going to get fat on cream cakes and junk food. Sensible girl! Maybe she would go steady with him? Crazy idea! She was going to marry him, wasn't she? She didn't seem unduly perturbed about the damage to his face, which was good. He'd take things nice and slow and let her set the pace. What were a few weeks when they were going to spend a lifetime together? When asked what she wanted to do, she said, "Well, there isn't much we can do till we meet up with the rest of the crowd at the theatre. Why don't we take a walk on the beach then go for a meal somewhere? I love a beach walk in the moonlight." Oh, wow! A romantic after his own heart!
She led him out of the Pleasure Beach and across the road to the prom. From there they went down on to the beach itself where they strolled, hand in hand, listening to the tide going out. Somewhere ahead of them, someone had a radio on, and they matched their steps to the rhythm of the music. They moved closer and put their arms round each other's waists, hips bumping gently. Gypsy was aware of the warmth of her body and hoped it would do something to him. Nothing happened. So what? He had grown a bit in the four months since he had first seen her, and he was glad they were the same height and could look into each other's eyes if they wanted to. There were other couples on the beach, some lying up against the sea wall, others in the shadows of the South Pier. So this was where it all happened! Was that why Lorna had brought him down here? That rather spoilt things for him.
Being a romantic kind of guy underneath his natural aloofness, he wanted to treat his intended bride as someone really special, not like a casual party pick up. Nobody at school could have told her he wasn't anything but a gentleman where women were concerned because he hadn't even dated a girl since arriving in Britain. In any case, there wasn't much chance of him doing anything just yet, and no way was he going to be revealed as a sexual failure by this gorgeous girl, and in such a public place.
They reached the darkness underneath the pier and, turning her back against one of the massive supports, she let him kiss her. Slowly he embraced her, and to his surprise she started moving against him, her lips opening slightly as they pressed eagerly against his. He felt a hand at his crotch and he felt a stab of panic; this was too fast for him. He started to pull away, to stop her going any further when he felt hot pain spread outwards from his crotch. He let out a yell as his knees turned to water. It was as good as a blow to the guts and it felled him to the shingle. Feeling terribly sick he was aware of Lorna running away across the sand. His head spun as waves of pain flowed unchecked, and he threw up. Bitch!
After a while he rolled onto his knees with tears in his eyes. He hugged his wounded pride and hoped she hadn't done any more damage; it didn't feel right down there. He struggled to his feet with the aid of the pier support, but it was a while before he could trust his legs to hold him up. A couple passed him, laughing quietly. At last, he felt just a throbbing ache and he walked unsteadily along the beach in the direction of Central Pier till he found another flight of steps. Climbing back onto the prom he didn't feel like going back to the Pleasure Beach and having to explain his embarrassing experience to Sandy and the gang, so he stood for a while by the railings and watched the receding tide. Bitch!
Half an hour later, he was still on the prom; angry and disgusted. He glanced at his watch and realised he had ruined the evening; it was seven thirty and he should have been sitting in the theatre with Sandy and Trish, His fun had ended before it had really started, and he wished he had never come on the trip. He just wanted to go home. Taking a deep breath he forced himself to stop feeling so sorry for himself and take stock of his options. He could go across the road and get a coke; how exciting. He could get drunk but he was too young to buy a drink. He could go back to the coach but it would probably be locked. He could find the station and take a train home, but Sandy would throw a fit and bring out the search and rescue teams. No, his first choice was the safest.
There were plenty of coffee bars and kiosks across the road. All the snack-bars and cafes he looked into were bursting at the seams so he joined the queue of the first 'take away' kiosk he found; deciding he was hungry as well as thirsty. In fact he was ravenous and knew he would have to get some food down him fast. He fished for a glucose sweet and popped it in his mouth, then spent the time waiting to be served watching the crowds strolling by with bags of popcorn, funny hats, and candyfloss. There was a street entertainer playing a flute with great dexterity and Gypsy was fascinated. Then it was his turn to be served and he looked up at the salesgirl and gaped stupidly, not at her but at the girl turning from the griddle to transfer a fresh batch of burgers to the servery.
The girl stared at him in surprise, her lovely eyes registering a second of pain at the sight of his face, before Shana smiled. "Hi there dancer; what are you doing here?"
Dumb-struck, Gypsy stared up at her till someone dug him painfully in the ribs and said in a shrill voice, "You might like imitating a fish in a bowl, but other people would like to get served around here."
1Gypsy whirled to confront the obese woman behind him and while she gasped in horror at his ravaged face, he said, "Hey, lady, that hurt! But I won't do anything about it because I'm a gentleman. The next person you do that to might not be so kind."
Turning back to Shana, he found her glaring at the woman in such a way that she pushed out of the queue and waddled off with her brood of kids trailing after her. "Does anyone else mind if I have a word with my friend for a moment?" Shana said sweetly to the rest of the queue, "I'm not the only one serving, you know." Just one more person left the queue and Shana smiled down at Gypsy. "My sister's boyfriend will be relieving me in about five minutes. If you'd like to wait for me we'll go somewhere and talk." She handed him a can of coke and he moved out of the way to stand against a nearby wall He watched her working while he drank his coke and marvelled at the coincidence, the way things had worked out. Twice he caught Shana's eye, and the way she looked at him she didn't seem shocked at his scars, and he wondered who had told her about them.
A few minutes later, a blue Vauxhall estate drew up behind the kiosk and six foot six of power packed ebony muscle got out and went into the kiosk. Gypsy had to take a deep breath as old familiar feelings sent a shiver down his spine. The man was a handsome guy with a wide, white-toothed grin. Just like Caroga and a match for Don in muscle any day. The guy chatted with Shana as she washed her hands and reached for her anorak. She indicated Gypsy with a jerk of her head. The man looked across at Gypsy and rewarded Shana with a smirk of amusement; then Shana was out of the kiosk and hurrying towards him.
"Well now, what brings you to Blackpool?" she asked as she zipped her anorak closed.
"I came on a trip with Sandy and Trish."
"Just Sandy and Trish? I don't believe that!"
"I had some female company till a while ago."
"I caught a crab."
"Would you like some supper?"
"All right, but you'll have to choose the place. Money's no object but I'm lost around here."
Shana smiled, slipped one arm through his. "I've got a better idea." Leading him to the car, she made him get in, and drove him away from the noise and bright lights to a quiet cul-de-sac of semi-detached houses with neat little gardens.
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