Westpoint Tales

by Kiwi

John and Bob's Tale - Pt 4

With a rap on the open doorway, Bruce and Brian came into the room.

Bob, guiltily, tried to pull away but John wouldn't let him. His leg clenched tight around Bob's and held him still until he relaxed. Then he let him go.

"Hello Williamson, hello Bob. What the hell are you two doing?"

Bob was blushing furiously and too embarrassed to speak. John wasn't phased at all.

"We're listening to Tchaikovsky's 3rd. movement from Suite no.4 in G, on Bob Lyon's radio. Do you want to listen in too? One of you can put his head against mine to share my earpiece; the other can share with Bob Lyons."

"No, I think we'll give that a miss," said Brian emphatically.

Bruce, still suspicious, asked, "Since when do you listen to that high-brow stuff, Lyons?"

"Well. There, ah, there's nothing else on and John wanted to hear it."

"John's welcome to it as far as I'm concerned. We just came to see what's up with you. Why weren't you at school today?”

"I was at school this morning."

"Yes, for about five minutes, and then you disappeared. Where did you go?"

"I went down and watched them digging out the Saltwater Creek lagoon. I just couldn't be bothered with school."

Brian nodded. "The Saltwater Creek lagoon, that's cool. It's amazing what they're doing down there. But what a stupid time to start on it - they're messing up the river in the whitebait season."

"So, Bob," Bruce asked. "That's all it was? You're not sick or anything?"

"No, I'm fine. Just sick of school. Don't you tell them that though - as far as the school's concerned, I was sick."

"You'll need a note from your mother."

"That's no problem. I've signed so many notes from my mother, if she was to sign a real one, they'd probably think it was a forgery."

Thanks to John's skillful diversion, Bruce and Brian had completely forgotten about what they'd seen when they came in. (What did they see?)

"So, John Williamson, what sports do you play?" Sports-mad Brian wanted to know."With a build like you've got, you'd make a great runner."

"Sports? Nothing really. I'd rather watch than play."

"Come on, Man. You must be good at something. Do you play rugby? Cricket? Softball? Do you run?"

"I do run. When I have to, when I'm in a hurry to get somewhere, or to get away from somewhere. I don't play rugby or anything else that involves a ball, sorry. My hand-to-eye coordination is really bad. Shockingly bad in fact."

"You swim though," Bob said. "That's a sport. John swims like a fish."

"I do. I could probably swim further and faster than anyone else in town, but the trouble is I do swim like a fish - underwater. Again, it's my lack of coordination, I can't swim and breathe at the same time. I'd be disqualified from any races because I don't swim in any approved style. I just fly, underwater," John grinned.

"What about your brother then? Does he play sports?"

"Oh yes. If you're looking for a sportsman, go talk to Paul. He's good at everything."

Bruce said, "But you must be good at something. Everyone's got their own talents."

"No, Paul got all the talent in our family and Em too of course."

"They got all the talent? What did you get?"

"Oh, I'm the good-looking one," John grinned again.

"You look exactly the same as your brother, Dork!"

Bob just smiled to himself. It was a sure sign of acceptance in their world when people started insulting you.

They hung around talking for a while, then John stood up and announced that he was going home. "PJ knows where I went, but if I don't get home, Mum will be sending out search parties. I'll see you guys at school tomorrow, and, Bob Lyons, go to school."

Then they, almost, had their second fight.

John went to leave, but Bruce stopped him before he reached the door. "Wait, John, I almost forgot. We've got something for you."

"For me? What have you got?"

"For you and for Bob too. Five pounds three shillings each, your share of the money for the whitebait. I hope we can do it again soon. If we keep catching it like that we'll be rich."

The smile dropped from John's face and his eyes hardened. "Go to hell Adams," he snapped. "Go to hell and take your blood money with you. I am no paid killer. Go to hell the lot of you."

He stormed away out of the room and was gone. Bob leapt to his feet.

"Damn Adams! Why couldn't you keep your big mouth shut?" He ran out after John and caught him just outside the house.

"Don't touch me," John snapped. "Don't ever touch me. Go to hell with your bloody hands."

"John, wait, please," Bob pleaded. "Don't walk out like this, please. I won't touch the money, not if you don't like it."

"I don't like it. You know I don't."

"I know you don't. Bruce didn't know. I don't want the money, John. I want a friend. I want you. Please John."

John looked angrily at him, then he sighed and smiled. "Can I have a hug?"

"Oh yes! Anytime," Bob grinned in relief.

They stood and hugged each other, tight and long, each clinging to the other. Then John backed off, and he kissed him on the cheek!

"Thank you Bob Lyons, you're a good friend. You take your money; it's not up to me to tell you how to live."

"Thank you John. You're a good friend too, an excellent friend. I don't want to lose you."

“That's not going to happen my friend. I think I love you, Bob Lyons."

"I, umm, ah, I love you too, John James Williamson. See you tomorrow?"

"You can count on it. Goodbye my friend."

They parted, John went home and Bob went back inside with a big smile on his face. He soon lost the smile when he got back to his room and Bruce started.

"What the hell was that all about? Bloody Loony!"

"Don't Bruce, he is not."

"Bloody is. What was he on about? Paid killers and blood money!"

"He's not a loony, no more than you or I are. He just doesn't like killing things and getting paid for it."

"Killing things? Getting paid? The whitebait? He helped us catch them. What did he think we were going to do with them? Take them for a walk? Bloody Loony."

"He thought we were going to eat them of course - take them home and feed them to our families."

"So it's all right to eat them but not to sell them? He's bloody nuts."

"Shut the hell up Adams. He is not!"

"Anyway," said Brian the maths genius." If he doesn't want the money, that's all the more for us - Six pounds eight and nine pence each."

"Divide it up again, Brian," said Bob. "I don't want it either."

"Eight pounds, eleven and eight pence." (Brian couldn't resist a maths challenge.)

"Drop it, Brian," Bruce snapped. "What do you mean you don't want it either?"

"It's simple enough isn't it? I - don't - want - it."

"I can hear what you're saying. I want to know why - why don't you want it?"

"Because I don't that's all. Keep your money."

"It's not our money. It's your money - your share. I know why you don't want to take it, it's because of him isn't it? Because of the loony."

"Shut up Adams. John is not a loony. He doesn't like it so I'm not taking it either. I'd rather have a friend than five pounds three shillings."

"Six pounds, eight shillings and nine pence," said Brian.

"Whatever, Brian. I don't want money, I want a friend."

"You want a friend." Bruce laid the cash down on Bob's table. "You've known this Williamson for what? Two days? You've known us all your life. This is your money and you are taking it. If you refuse it then you are refusing us. Do you want to lose three old friends to gain one new one? Is that what you want?"

"Hold on, Bruce," said Brian. "Don't count me in that - Bob's my friend and I'm not walking away from him over just six pounds."

"Exactly Brian. And I'm not losing John over just six pounds either."

"Well, I am," said Bruce.” It’s not just the money, there's a principle here. I'm going home. You think about it, you think really hard. I'll see you at school tomorrow. If you give the money back then we can't be mates anymore. Keep it and you'll keep us."

"No Bruce," Brian objected. "I'm not with you and Bill won't be either. If you walk away then you walk on your own."

"Fine then, I will, and screw you too Reynolds. Goodbye."

Bruce walked out and Brian turned to Bob. "Take the money Bob, please. Don't split up the group. The four B's are worth more than six pounds too. I'd better go and try to talk to him, see you tomorrow."

Next day Bob walked to school alone for once in his life. This was really strange, the four B's always walked to school together, always had ever since he could remember. Bugger Bruce. It would be a shame to break the group up, but he was determined that he wasn't giving up his new friend, no matter what the others said. No way. Funny, he'd always thought that it would be girls that would split the four B's, not a boy. But, what a boy!

Around into Russley Street, he was approaching the school when he saw something alarming. Something really bad. Bruce was there on his own, he was backed up against a fence and he was being harassed by a group of the town's toughs and bullies.

"Look at the frightened little boy - all alone aren't you?" Bob heard one say as he approached.

Bruce looked up at the bully. "I'm not frightened, Taylor."

"He's not alone either." Bob pushed through the half-circle of youths to stand alongside Bruce.

"Oh, wow! Now we're scared, aren't we guys. Two frightened little boys."

"Two? Can't you count to four, Taylor?" Bill and Brian joined Bruce and Bob. Now the bullies backed off, nobody messed with Brian Reynolds or with Bill Carver either.

The respite was short-lived, however, as reinforcements arrived for the wrong side. Two small groups of bullies seized the opportunity to take down the four B's, and they came running over to join the others.

Now the four friends were surrounded by a group of about twelve posturing bullies threatening them. Bob and Bruce were shaking in their shoes, but trying not to show it. Brian was not about to back down.

"Bring it on, Taylor. Got any more helpers you can round up? You'll need them."

Bill just grinned evilly. There was nothing he liked more than a fight. He expected that they'd lose this one, but they'd give them a run for their money.

John arrived. He pushed through the crowd, put down his school bag and took a place in the line up between Bruce and Bob. "Great! A bully-bashing. Just the way to start the day."

He was immediately joined by his brother Paul who was grumbling. "Damn, JJ. Why do we have to get involved? I'll probably bruise my knuckles here."

Paul stood in the line and a tall girl with a long mane of straight black hair, joined in too. She stood between John and Paul.

John glanced sideways at her. "Go away, Em. This is nothing to do with you."

"It bloody is so. If my brothers are in a battle, then I'm in too. For every one of these clowns you thrash, I'll do two, and you know I can."

“What? You need a girl to fight for you now?" One of the toughs sneered.

Em focused on him and smiled, "You're mine, Sugar. I've dropped bigger men than you with one hand behind my back. Bring it on."

"Pffft !" another one snorted. "A girl. You're all talk, Little Girl. Run away and play with your dollies."

"Dollies? I don't think so. Leave that one for me, Boys. I'm going to kick his arse."

Now there was a stand-off as the two groups stood eyeballing each other. The group against the fence was still hugely outnumbered, but they included Brian Reynolds who could probably take on, and beat, three or four of them. Bill Carver was known as a hard and enthusiastic fighter. Adams and Lyons weren't considered to be much of a threat, but then there were the new kids. The Williamsons were an unknown element and no-one knew what they were capable of.

The two blond boys stood quietly waiting, their faces impassive. One was flexing his fingers like he was practicing making fists. The black-haired girl stood between them, grinning. She looked like she was enjoying this. That was a worry.

"I'm not complaining, JJ, but explain to me why we're doing this?"

John didn't move, didn't even look at her as he replied, "I'm standing by my friend and he's standing by his friend."

"Oh, right. Good. Dad will understand that. So it won't matter if we hospitalise them?"

"It won't matter if we kill them, Em," the other brother replied.

The three of them looked straight ahead as they talked and not at each other. That was scary somehow. Scary enough for several people to move quietly to the rear.

A couple of the bullies muttered something and walked away. Seeing that the odds were changing, the group quickly melted away and the four B's and three Williamsons were left standing there, alone.

"Umm. Thanks guys. I was going to get a hiding there," Bruce said with a red face.

"You're welcome, Mate," Brian replied. "But you should thank Bob first - he stepped up first."

"You're right, and I do. Thanks Bob."

"Anytime Bruce. All for one and one for all, that's us. Nobody hits my friends. John, thanks for joining in too."

"Nobody hits my friends either,' he replied.  "Let's go to school. See you at lunchtime, Em."

"You'd better," she replied, then turned to look at Bruce. "And you. You be more careful in future. That face is much too cute to get it smashed up."

"Me? My face?" Bruce stammered. "Umm. Thanks, I think. Thanks for everything, you were awesome."

"I always am, Doll. See you around." Em tossed her long hair and walked away to the girl's school.

"Wow," Bruce watched her walk away. "Your sister's truly awesome, Guys.I think she's smashing."

"Careful, Boy," Paul grinned. "It would take a bigger man than you to cope with that one."

"Leave him alone, PJ. I think Em likes you, Bruce, but be careful, she can be a bitch."

"There you go again, JJ. Are you trying to marry our sisters off or something? Forget it, Boy. Em's never going to settle for a small town boy. No offense, Bruce, but when Em does settle down it won't be with a boy like you."

Paul was wrong actually. Emily Jane Williamson did settle for a boy like Bruce Adams. Exactly like Bruce Adams. They dated through High School and after. They were engaged at eighteen, married at nineteen and they lived and worked in Westpoint. They raised a family and had a long and happy life together.

Their oldest son, John Robert Adams, was born six months after they were married. He also had a “shotgun” marriage as a teenager. His new wife had complications in the birth and they only ever had the one child. They named her Kathleen, and she eventually married Bob, the youngest son of Brian Reynolds. It was a small town. But, that's another story.

Back to school. Bob handed in the note saying that he'd gone home sick yesterday. His form-room teacher, old Mr.Kynnersley, accepted it but he obviously wasn't fooled for a minute.

He scrutinized the note, then asked, "Has your mother been down to check out the works in the new lagoon, Lyons?"

"No Sir, I don't think she has."

"Tell her that she should. It's all very interesting and well worth a look on a nice day. Only once mind you, Young Lyons. Once is enough to check it out."

"Thank you, Mr.Kynnersley. I'll tell her that."

John grinned and winked at him as he walked back to his desk.

Their entire class was kept in at the morning recess thanks to the old, stupid, bucket-of-water-on-top-of-the-door trick as performed by Keith Stephens. The bucket fell and narrowly missed the teacher, Mr.Craddock. He was not amused.

At lunch time John and Paul went home with their sister. Her new friend, Cissie Carver, went with them but no-one asked Bob if he wanted to go too, (and he did.) He sat and ate his lunch with the other B's and a couple of others.

There was no afternoon recess at their school, and they couldn't sit in class together - seats were allocated - so Bob didn't get to talk to John again all day.

After school he caught up to him outside the gates. "John, wait."

"Hello Bob Lyons. I've hardly seen you all day today."

"I know, and I really wanted to. What are you doing now?"

"I'm going home of course, and then I'm going swimming."

"Swimming? Can I tag along then?"

"No. I'm sorry, Bob Lyons. I really need to swim; I need a good workout, down the river and out to the sea. You couldn't keep up."

"Oh. Okay then. How long will that take?"

"I don't know. Three or four hours, maybe. Until after dark anyway. I'm sorry but I have to do this."

"It's okay. If you need to, then you need to. I'll see you tomorrow then. Bye John."

"Yes, tomorrow. Goodbye then, Bob Lyons, stay out of trouble."

"Yeah, you too, John. Take care.'

They parted and Bob walked off home, alone again.

('It's okay? No, it's not okay. How am I supposed to build any sort of relationship with you if we can't spend any time together?')

He arrived home in such a grumpy mood that he was soon banished to his bedroom, where he gladly stayed.

About two hours after dark, Bob was half asleep, lying on his bed and listening to his radio. He was suddenly snapped wide-awake by tapping noises on the window.

Somehow, he knew immediately who it would be. He got up and opened the window.

"Hello Bob Lyons."

"John. What are you doing here?"

"I wanted to see you of course. Can I come in?"

"Yes, please do - come in - of course."

John scrambled in through the open window while Bob stood back at smiled at him.

"What's so funny, Bob Lyons?"

"You. You don't have to come in through the window. The door's not locked."

"It's not? I thought it would be."

"No, it's never locked. Nobody locks their doors in Westpoint."

"Well they should. You never know what might come in out of the night."

"I like what's come in so far. You can come in here any time you like, but use the door next time, it's easier."

"The window works fine for me. What are you doing tonight?"

"Nothing much. I'm just listening to the radio. How was your swim?"

"It was terrific. I like to swim. Can I listen to the radio with you? What is on now?"

"I was just listening to some music. It's not your sort of classical stuff, just songs from the shows. Maybe we can find something else."

"No. There's no need to change the station. I like all sorts of music really."

"Good. Well, umm, how are we going to do this? I was lying down on my bed."

"I would love to lie down If that's all right with you?"

('Lie down. On my bed. Together? Hell, yes! ') "That's, ah, that's fine by me John. We can do that."

They lay down side by side, on the bed, with a radio earpiece each. Bob was really enjoying this, but he was careful not to actually touch him. The last time he did that John had snapped at him "Don't ever touch me."

The song on the radio, whatever it was, ended and the announcer came back on.

"Now we have a song which is a particular favourite of mine. From a musical show which was a big hit in Chicago in 1902 and finally made it to Broadway in 1912. I understand that there is a new film version of this show, though why anyone would make a silent film about a musical show is beyond me.

I am talking of course about 'The Wizard of Oz - An American Fairy Tale'. This song is my personal favourite. It is not, as you may expect 'Follow the Yellow Brick Road', which was the big hit from the show. I think this is much better. Have a good listen to the words and see if you do not agree with me. Here then is -' Somewhere Over the Rainbow.'

Somewhere over the rainbow.Way up high,
There's a land that I heard of. Once, in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow.Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true.
Someday I'll wish upon a star, and wake up where the clouds are far, behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney pots,
That's where you'll find me
Somewhere over the rainbow. Blue birds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow, why then oh why can't I?
Somewhere over the rainbow. Blue birds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow. Why, then why, oh why, can't I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh why can't I?

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