Westpoint Tales

by Kiwi

Lost Years - 1

Nicholas & Conrad

Saturday night, the night of the Party in the Park. All of the town was there, in the Square, eating the weird and wonderful Wild Foods, (Mountain Oysters anyone?), enjoying the amusements dancing to the music and waiting for the awesome, annual, display of fireworks and laser-lights that would start after dark.

It was only 5 years since the first Party in the park, on the day that Billy's Burgers were launched, but already the Party had become a dearly-loved tradition in the town.

In the midst of all the noise and laughter, one quiet boy sat in one quiet corner and watched all of the gaiety around him. Nicholas Awatere sat alone in the crowd. Fifteen, dark-hair and blue-eyes, he was a striking-looking boy but totally lacking in confidence. And it showed.

He was gay, but that was not the huge problem that it used to be, not in this day and age, and not that he was going to do anything about it anyway. No, his main problem was that he was 'a bit thick'.

Nicholas was not stupid, or simple, but he was a slow learner, things didn't come easily for him and he never saw the point of a joke until far too late. This showed in his speech - slow, careful and almost drawled. Ever since he'd been in school he was always in the 'Special Needs' classes - commonly known as the 'Vege' or Vegetable classes.

This, of course, meant that he was known to the kids around town as 'the Dummy'. Kids can be nice like that - honest and cruel. That did wonders for his self-esteem. Now he had almost none.

So he sat, alone, under a tree near the entrance to the Square and quietly watched on the outskirts of the crowd.

"Hello Young Nicholas. What are you doing here all by yourself?"

"Umm. Hey Superboy. I'm okay, thank you."

"You're okay? You don't look okay. Why aren't you having fun with your friends?"

"I haven't got any friends."

"Really? You've got no friends at all? Well, you have now. I'm just going to get a hot-dog. Do you want to come and get one with me?"

"With you?"

"Yes, with me. Look, Nicholas, I know that I'm years older than you and I'm not a kid anymore, but we can still be friends, can't we?"

"I guess so. You've got lots of friends, Superboy. Why would you want to be friends with me?"

"Because I do. You're a nice kid - one of the good guys."

"Nobody else thinks so."

"They're wrong then. Look, once upon a time, many years ago, I was 14 myself and I had no friends, not a single one."

"Now you've got lots."

"I have, and do you know why?"

"Because you're Superboy?"

"No, and I'm not Superboy, I'm Justin. Now I've got friends because someone once reached out and said, "Come and be my friend." Now, I think that it's time that I paid it back by reaching out to you."

"To me?"

"Yes, to you. Do you want to be my friend or not?"

"Oh yes! I'd love to be your friend, Superboy."

"Well you are then, but only if you call me Justin. Let's go and get a hot-dog."

"But I can't. I haven't got any money."

"Not a problem, I've got plenty. Come on, I'll buy you a hot-dog or whatever you'd like."

They made their way through the crowd - or, Justin made his way through, continually exchanging smiles and greetings with people. Nicholas trailed along behind him. More than a few people looked at him like they were thinking, 'What are you doing there?'

They joined the queue at the hot-dog stand and stood there waiting. A little boy with a huge mop of strawberry-blond hair came running out of the crowd, laughing, and threw himself at Justin.

"Daddy, Daddy. Save me, Daddy!"

"Whoah! What's up, Scamp?" Justin caught the boy up in his arms and hugged him.

"He's in big trouble again. That's what's up." Billy appeared and caught hold of the boy's arm. "Come on, Jeremy. You come right back and apologise to your cousins, and to your grandmother too!"

"I won't. I won't! Save me, Daddy," Jeremy squealed. He wrapped his arms around Justin's neck and clung on tight. Both he and Billy were laughing so he obviously wasn't really in that much trouble.

"What's he done, Sunny?"

"Marty and Andy were holding their ice-creams up to each other's mouth, to taste the other one's flavour. This scamp pushed both of their hands and mashed the ice-creams into their faces."

"It was funny!" Jeremy protested.

"Maybe it was for you, but they're both roaring. Grandmother told him to say sorry and he said, "No, I won't, Old Dragon." She got up and he took off and came looking for you to save him."

"Now that's not nice, Jeremy My Love." Justin peeled the boy off and handed him over to Billy. "You go and say sorry to Grandmother. She loves you and it hurts when you speak to her like that. You can please yourself whether you apologise to the twins or not, but I would if I was you. There's two of them and there's only one of you. If you don't fix things up, they'll get you back. And you know they will. Tell Billy that you're sorry to him too."

"Sorry? What for?"

"For running away and making him chase after you. He's an old man you know."

"Oh, okay. Sorry, Old Daddy." Jeremy hugged Billy and kissed him on the cheek.

"Yeah, sure you are. You don't get out of it that easy." Billy hugged him and kissed him back. "Now you can come and fix things up. What are you up to, Justin?"

"I'm just getting some hot-dogs for me and my friend here. Do you know Nicholas?"

"Nicholas Awatere, right? I've seen him around. Hey Nicholas."

"Hey Billy," Nicholas drawled a smile. :"Superboy is my friend."

"Well, that's good. He's my friend too. Justin, I'm not coming up to the silos. I'd rather watch the fireworks here with the little ones."

"Are you sure? Well, I'm going. I'll take Nicholas, okay?"

"You'll take him up the silos?"

"Yeah, why not. The boy needs a friend, Sunny."

"Of course he does, and you're very good at being a friend. I'll see you when you get home, Sweetcheeks. Don't be all night."

"I won't. See you then. Jeremy, go and fix things with the twins. We don't want you fighting with your cousins."

"Okay, Daddy. I love you, Daddy."

"Yeah, I love you too, Little Scamp. I love you very much."

Billy carried Jeremy away and Nicholas looked at Justin. "You've got a nice wee boy."

"Yeah, we have. He's a bloody handful sometimes, but he's a great kid."

Justin bought hot dogs - 2 each, and then they joined the line for the free OJ drinks. Nicholas followed him around like a faithful puppy dog.

"Right, so what do you want to do now?"

"Anything you want to," Nicholas replied in his soft, drawling voice.

Justin looked at the boy. Looked at those big, come-to-bed eyes, and he grinned. 'Yeah, you'd probably do that too, but we're not going there!'

"All right, so I want to show you something. Come with me."

They left the Square, walked up to and across the main street and over to the river-side wharves. Along the quiet wharf, they passed through the wide-open security gate and walked over to the towering, twin, cement company silos. Justin took a key from his pocket and opened the door at the foot of the silos. He looked back at Nicholas.

"Come on, in here. We've got a lot of stairs to climb now."

"Are you sure that we're allowed? This is private property."

"It is, but it's okay. The manager, Mr. Crestani, gave me his key, just for tonight. Come on, Nicholas. We've gotta hurry or we'll be late."

They went inside, Justin locked the door, and then they rattled their way, up, up and up, the series of open, lattice-work, steel staircases. It was dark in there; the windows that they passed on the way up were too dirty and dusty to admit much light.

At the top, they came up into a long, narrow and bare, room which bridged the gap between the two silos. A line of windows along the long wall looked down over the town. A sunset was fading as the night drew in and the street lights had come on.

"Wow! What a great view!" Nicholas grinned. "Westpoint looks great from up here."

"It does," Justin agreed. "This is the highest point in the town - higher than the clock-tower even. We'll have a great view of the fireworks from up here."

"So that's why we're here. It would still be worth the climb up even if there weren't any fireworks. This is wonderful!"

"I think you're right. One day, I'm going to have a home with a view somewhere."

"Aren't you going to live in Westpoint, Superboy?"

"Oh, we'll be living in Westpoint. We'll just have to build a very tall house."

"It'll have to be really tall to beat this."

"Maybe it will be, one day."

Justin slid a window open. It was dry and dusty, but it worked. That improved the view no end and they stood, side by side, leaning out the window and enjoying the vista before them. The streetlights and shop-lights all went out, momentarily, and when they came back on the Christmas lights all around the town were switched on. The Christmas, and Summer, season had officially begun.

They couldn't hear the words from that distance, but they could definitely hear the music begin. Whozzat's version of 'Simply the Best' played and Tones' voice growled the opening words. Rockets streaked skywards and fireworks flared above the town.

When the air was full of smoke, laser-light beams danced across the sky, synchronized to the beat of the music and punctuated by the pyrotechnics. It was really awesome, as promised and as usual.

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