Westpoint Tales

by Kiwi

Flight of The Toucan - Pt 8

High Schools are notorious breeding grounds for gossip and rumors, and Westpoint High School was as good as any. Observant eyes soon noticed that the popular Bryce Hartigan and the quiet outsider, Robbie Keenan , were constantly together, and they put two and two together. By the end of the day, everyone knew that they were an item. They didn't confirm it, but they didn't deny it either. Why should they?

After school they both went to Robbie's home and told the family that they were together. No-one was surprised. Bryce couldn't stay long. He had lawns to catch up on. They parted with a private clinch and see you tomorrows. Life was sweet.

There was a bit of a commotion in the locker room at school. This was nothing new, but when Bryce looked over and saw who was involved, his temper flared. Robbie was being shoved up against the wall of lockers by one of the worst bullies in the school - Graeme Stephens. He walked up behind him and hissed in his ear.

"Get your filthy hands off him, Stephens."

He dropped Robbie and turned to face Bryce,. "Or what? Scared I'm going to hurt your little girlfriend are you?"

"Don't you know the difference between a girl and a boy? Robbie is my friend. He might be smaller than you, but I'm not. You touch him again and I'll rip your head off and shit down your neck."

"Yeah. You'd like that wouldn't you? Pansy-arse. I'm not interested in your girlfriend or boyfriend or whatever the hell it is." He swaggered away with as much dignity as he could muster.

"You okay, Robbie?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks Blondie, but you don't have to fight for me."

"Of course I do. If anyone hurts you, well it hurts me too. I love you, you know."

"Great. I love you too, my Hero. I'll deal with him in my own way, I'm just sick of that bloody Stephens. I'm gonna destroy him."

"How's that, Little Boy? He's bigger than you, you know."

 "Only on the outside. Listen to the radio tomorrow night. Toucan's going to chew that bully up and spit him out."

They parted at the Square after school. Bryce had football practice, Robbie couldn't be bothered. He'd phone him later.

Wednesday, they got through school by holding their heads high and ignoring the insults and nasty comments. People would get tired of it soon enough. Bryce came back to Robbie's after school, he was staying the night.

After changing out of their school-clothes, they lay on the bed for half an hour, just holding each other and soothing away the hurts of the day. Words can hurt.

After dinner, Robbie went out to his shed, alone, for his two-hour radio show. Bryce joined Michael and Liz to listen to the radio in the kitchen.

After the introduction, Robbie screeched on to the airwaves, then played a song, "This is for my 'B', I know you're listening. Donny Osmond's Puppy Love."

("What color's Red, Bryce?")

The song finished, adverts followed, then, "Screech!  Toucan. Toucan! Toucan!! Evening all. How's everyone all over the Coast. I hope you're being nice to each other. We'll start the show with a blast from the past. This is a boss song, but it's old. It's so old it's got whiskers. It's older than me, I'll tell you that much. So, Kiddies, here's a song that your parents used to groove to way back when. Or maybe it was your grandparents. This is not the original, this is the version by Ray Stevens. He's brought it back from the dead, as you do. Here's Alley Oop."

"Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop. Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop.

There's a man in the funny papers we all know -

Alley Oop, boop,boop, boop boop. Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop.

He lived way back a long time ago

Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop. Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop

Yeah. He don't eat nothing but bad cat stew

Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop. Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop

Well this cat's name is Alley Oop

Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop. Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop.

Alley Oop - He's the toughest man there is alive

Alley Oop - Wearin' clothes from a wild cats hide

Alley Oop - He's the king of the jungle jive

Look at that caveman go!

Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop. Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop. . . ."

"Oh yes! Boss song. He's my Hero - Alley Oop. Do you want to know a secret, people. Well listen closely and Toucan will tell ya. Alley Oop didn't just live a long time ago, he's alive and well and attending Westpoint High. He hasn't graduated yet, you see.

Here's our first give-away for the night. We've got Ray Stephens' Greatest Hits and we're giving it to the first person who can ring Toucan and tell us who Alley Oop really is. No clues now, but if we're really lucky we might get Graeme Stephens to autograph it for you.

Up to date now. Here's the Bee Gees, and just like Alley Oop, they are Staying Alive."

Liz, Michael and Bryce looked at each other. "What the hell is he doing?" Michael asked. "Graeme Stephens is his hero? Graeme Stephens is a thug and a bully.'

"Yeah, he is. He's a caveman," Liz answered "Just keep listening; Robbie's going to destroy Stephens."

"Yeah," Bryce agreed. "Toucan's going to chew him up and spit him out. Graeme Stephens is going down. Live - on air."

"Good job too. Go Toucan," said Michael

The song finished and Toucan screeched. "Oh yes. Staying Alive. You listening yet, Graeme? Graeme Stephens is staying alive too. That's because he's so tough. He doesn't wear clothes from a wild cat's hide anymore. Graeme Stephens wears school shirts and he's so tough, his mummy irons them while he's still wearing them." He played 'I'm Too Sexy for My Shirt.'

And so it went on. All through the two-hour radio show, Toucan kept slipping in references to, and jokes about, Graeme Stephens.

"Graeme Stephens, he's so tough. He's so tough he goes down to the North Beach and kicks sand in his own face."

The three listeners in the kitchen were rolling around laughing and they all agreed that they never wanted to be Toucan's targets. He was funny but he was vicious. Stephens was looking like a laughing stock - a thug, a bully and a drooling idiot.

At the end of his show, Toucan signed off with his usual, "Be nice to each other." Then he added, "Especially you, Graeme. You do know what 'nice' is, don't you? Ask your mummy, she might know. Maybe."

Robbie came bouncing into the kitchen. "Hey Fans, What did you think of that?"

"Good show, Robbie," Liz said. "Really good. Stephens is never going to hold his head up in this town again."

""Yeah, Robbie," Michael grinned. "You really did a job on that bully and he deserves it."

"Robbie Keenan," Bryce stood and put his hands on his shoulders. "Remind me never to piss you off."

"Not going to happen, Blondie. You'd never piss me off." They hugged each other.

"Hey. Get a room, you two," Michael protested.

Bryce answered, "We can't. You're sleeping in it."

"Yeah. You two just remember that too. Behave yourselves."

"Shut up, Michael. Come on, Bryce. Let's go for a walk - somewhere private."

"Sounds good to me, Little Boy."

They spent the night, sleeping together, in Robbie's narrow bed. Nothing sexual happened. They couldn't with Michael and Bruce sleeping in the same room. Granny would kill them if they did. They just kissed a bit, cuddled together, and slept happily in each other's arms. It was good.

Next morning, Liz and Michael went off with their own friends and Robbie and Bryce walked to school together. When they arrived there, no-one took any notice of them. They were old news now, there was only one topic of conversation that morning - Graeme Stephens.  "Alley Oop, boop, boop, boop boop."

It turned out to be Graeme Stephens' last day at school. Everywhere he went, people were laughing at him and singing that stupid song. Even the teachers were doing it. By lunchtime he'd had enough of the ridicule and he left the school. He never went back and he left shortly after to go and live with his grandparents in Nelson.

"Must not piss Robbie off. Must not piss Robbie off."

"Shut up Blondie. You couldn't."

Secrets don't stay secret forever, especially not in a small town. In the week after Toucan's successful demolition job on Graeme Stephens' reign as the school bully, people, again, started putting two and two together. Robbie Keenan had been heard to say that he was going to destroy Graeme Stephens and, also, "Loose lips sink ships." There were too many people in on the secret and somebody blabbed. Whatever the reason, it was soon common knowledge that Toucan and Robbie Keenan were one and the same person.

Toucan's gleeful flight, messing up the airwaves, was over. Robbie's reaction was to give up. He didn't need the job anyway. He had everything he needed now, he had his wonderful boyfriend. Family and friends, (he had lots of friends now), all tried to convince him to carry on, but he wasn't interested.

Colin and Linda Warwick called a meeting of all the staff and they announced a plan to save Toucan. He could interview Robbie Keenan on air about this latest, ridiculous rumor. Robbie said no. He was tired of the lying and he'd rather just let Toucan die a natural death. The game was over.

Saturday night's show was done by one of the other jocks, Toucan had the night off. The message said that, "this time, Toucan really can't be arsed."

"So, tonight's show will be hosted by me - Ivan Williamson. Toucan may or may not be back next week. It's entirely up to him, but, personally I hope he does. We need you, Toucan. In the meantime, let's make the best of it with lots of great music. Keep those requests and dedications coming in, People."

Ivan did his best, but it wasn't the same. People missed Toucan and his cheeky humor. Most of the dedications were for Toucan, ("Come back, Toucan."), or to Robbie K.

Bryce was away for the day, on a football trip, and wouldn't be back until late that night, so Robbie spent the evening alone, at home, and lying on his bed listening to West Radio.

'You're a nice guy, Ivan, but you ain't no Toucan. Hell, even I miss Toucan and I am him.'

On the bus, on the way home from the rugby, Bryce grinned proudly at  the cheers and applause when the driver managed to get West Radio's Saturday night show on the radio. Then he frowned at the "boos" when they realised that it was Ivan and not Toucan on the air tonight. ('What are you doing, Robbie?')

The coach of their team came back to speak to him. "Bryce?"

"Yes, Bill?"

"Toucan's not on the air. They've got Ivan on."

"Yeah, I can hear that. So?"

"So you've got to fix it. Bryce, you make sure that Robbie comes back. We need him."

"I'll see what I can do. Thanks, Bill."

"No, thank you. Fix it, Bryce." He went back to his own seat.

Bryce sat quietly, thinking and looking at his own reflection in the bus window. How could he fix it? He didn't want to be responsible for the loss of Westpoint's one and only radio star.

'Wait a minute. Mr.Green told me to fix it - he said to get Robbie back, not Toucan - Robbie.'

He came up with a plan.

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