The Saturday Boy
Chapter 5 - Finding Jack
I walked into school depressed; it was the way I always felt on the first day back. Not only that, my first lesson was Mathematics, a subject that I loathed. I wandered towards my locker and placed my books for the day inside.
My next task was to try and find Jack; I really wanted to speak to him, to see he was ok. I had around thirty minutes until I was due for roll call, so I had time to find him…that's if I could. Walking down the corridor I caught up with Maddy, who was a friend of Jack's.
"Maddy?" I called. She turned round and gave me an evil look.
"On your own Cork, your homophobic friend not hiding somewhere?"
"If you mean Dean, no he's not with me, and for your information, Dean's views do not impress me either."
"But your still friends with him," she stated, venom in her voice.
"Look, Maddy, Do you know where I can find Jack?"
"What's it to you?"
"He happens to work at my parent's pub and I want to see if he's ok."
"He doesn't need friends like you Cork, nor the people you hang around with, and why would he not be ok?"
"Well I would have thought that was obvious." I said, looking at her perplexed.
"Joey, I don't know what you are talking about."
"Hang on…have you even seen Jack today?"
"No why?" she replied, looking at me curiously. "What's going on?"
"Maddy, he has a black eye."
"Oh shit, please don't say this is starting again," she remarked squeezing the bridge of her nose.
"What…what's starting again?"
"Nothing, I need to find him." She closed her locker and walked off with me following her.
"Do you know where he is…where he might be?"
"Jack has his places to go; you have to have places to get away from people like Dean Wilmore."
She went to the main assembly hall and lifted herself onto the stage and disappeared behind the curtains. I followed her through as she continued to walk down the back corridor. It was where the students who were in plays would come through. At the end there was a room which contained the costumes and a small makeup stand. She went through it and sure enough there was Jack trying to cover his eye discoloration with a powder.
"Right, what in the fuck has he done to you Jack?" Maddy snapped. Jack looked at me as if it was information he would rather I didn't know.
"Maddy, its nothing, and why are you here Joey?"
"I wanted to see you were ok! Shaun said he saw you yesterday and that you had a black eye. I was surprised because I only saw you Saturday and you were fine. Who did this?
"No one Joey, I just fell that's all."
"Bullshit," Maddy said, her voice raised. I went over to Jack and looked at his eye closely.
"Did the thing you fell on have a fist by any chance," I said, looking at the shape of the bruise.
"If this is happening again you gotta do something about it Jack, it can't go on." Stated Maddy, now annoyed.
"Will one of you just tell me what the fuck is happening?"
"Maddy, no, please, no one needs to know about this." Jack said cutting her off.
"What don't I need to know? Jack if someone is hitting you need to tell someone," I declared.
"Joey just leave it alone ok, everything is going to be fine." He walked off and left Maddy and I standing there watching as he left the room.
"Look I care about his injury, and if someone at school is…"
"It's nobody from school Joey, this time."
"Well that then?"
"I don't think he wants you to know, it's best if I don't say anything."
"Please Maddy, I need to know, he works at my pub and I have a duty of care to him."
"He's not at work so I don't think that counts." She said. She was right and it was a long shot to try and get her to help me, but I had to try. "It was his father ok?" she admitted.
"His father did this?" I repeated, shocked. "But I know his father, at least my dad does, he drinks in our pub."
"The guy is a loser and a wife beater."
"He hits Jack's mum as well?"
"Fuck Joey, that guy hits anything that is in range when he gets drunk. As for Jack he probably just looked at him the wrong way. You know, it stopped for a while, the police were involved and he stopped beating him. I don't know what's happened to cause this again but it can't keep happening"
"I wish I could help." I said, feeling… helpless
"You can, just stay away from him, he needs his friends right now, and we'll take care of him." Maddy said, walking away from me. I started to follow her.
"Wait!" I called following her. She turned round obviously annoyed I had not let it go, but I couldn't, I really felt for him.
"What Cork, we have roll call soon and it's our first day of term, we can't be late."
"Will you just tell him…uh…just tell him I'm sorry ok?" I said, sounding pathetic. I could see the reason she didn't trust me, why would she, I hung around with the very person she despised, and me? Well I never gave Jack the time of day up until recently, mainly because of what had happened between us.
"I'll tell him Joey, but coming from you, I doubt it will mean much." She left me standing there again and walked off, this time I didn't follow.
I finally got through Math, nearly falling asleep twice. My mind was on Jack, poor Jack. He had been so happy working at the pub and I felt guilty for being off with him at the start. I thought about my dad and what would happen if I was in a situation where he beat me. Would my mum do anything? Could she do anything? I was so lucky to have my parents, it never dawned on me that the sort of person Jack had for a father would ever exist.
The bell went for second period and I met Shaun outside the classroom. "Hey Joey, how are you, I didn't see you this morning, where were you?"
"Shaun, hey, sorry yeah I just wanted to see what happened to Jack, where's Dean?"
"He's in another class, didn't you know, he's been moved down a grade in English."
"Really? He never said anything to me." I said, confused.
"Well, don't bring it up but I think he was slightly embarrassed about the downgrade."
"Hmm, I never knew he had problems with English last term, but yeah don't worry I won't bring it up."
"So did you find out what happened to Jack then?" Shaun asked, getting back to the reason he didn't see me.
"Oh, yeah fuck Shaun, his dad has been beating him, it's terrible."
"His DAD!" Shaun blurted out, incredulously.
"Your reaction was the same as mine mate; I dunno what's going on. I see his dad in my parent's pub sometimes. I mean yeah he gets drunk, but he never struck me as someone who throws their fists around. Apparently he hits Jack's mum as well."
"What a fucking asshole, Joey."
"Yeah bad aint it?"
"Fucking right that's bad, is he ok today?" Shaun asked as we were led into the classroom by the teacher.
I lowered my voice to a whisper "I think he was a little embarrassed I saw him like that. It was Maddy White who spilled the beans, but I get the feeling he didn't want me to know about it"
"Mr Cork and Mr Summers, do you have something you would like to share with the class today?" Miss Byrne said, causing the whole class to turn round and look at us.
"Sorry Miss," I said, my face going red. Shaun kicked me under the table sniggering.
Miss Byrne sat down at her desk and called out our names one by one. Shaun and I tried to talk but the room was so quiet it was impossible to get away with saying anything without being heard. We gave up in the end and just concentrated on her lesson, which was the reason why we were there, I guess.
Lunch time rolled round and I had a plan. I was going to meet up with Dean and Shaun for the first half hour, and then I was going to try and see Jack again. I went to meet Dean and Shaun at our usual place, which was just outside the main entrance to the school. We had been meeting there since we were eleven years old, and none of us knew how it all started or remember why it was that particular place we started to group up.
"Corky, listen…uh, Shaun had a word in my ear and I realise that…well I just want to apologise for being such a dick about Stanton." Dean said, with Shaun winking at me.
"It's cool Dean, I just really don't know what you have against gay people."
"I don't know why you are so pro-gay either Joey," Dean replied.
"Dean!" Shaun snapped at him.
"Sorry, what I mean is…well I don't know what I mean, I just wanna know why you have become so friendly with this guy all of a sudden."
"Dean, he works at my parents pub, he's the Saturday boy, what am I supposed to do, ignore him?"
"I'm just worried about you that's all."
"Worried about what Dean?"
"You know, if he…well, attacks you or something."
"Attacks me, what are you talking about, why would he attack me?" Shaun and I were just looking at Dean, wondering what he meant. I think Shaun got it before I did.
"Oh for fuck sake Dean you can't be serious," Shaun said, clearly irritated.
"What? You hear about these sorts of guys, I mean what if he overpowers you and you get raped or something?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
"You're joking right Dean, you really think that Jack is some sexual deviant waiting to pounce on me any opportunity he gets?"
"Dean I think you better shut up mate, you're digging yourself a hole." Shaun added.
"I'm sorry guys, I just say it how I see it." Dean stated, folding his arms.
"Well don't! Have you ever spoken to the guy, ever got to know him?"
"Why would I want to? It's not like we have anything in common, he likes boys for fuck sake."
"Oh, you know what Dean, I've heard enough of this. Ever since that Spanish guy said he fancied me on holiday you have been acting like a right prick."
"Oh I'm a prick am I?"
"Yeah you fucking are, and the way you speak about a person you don't even know proves it."
I felt a sharp pain in my jaw as I fell to the floor. All I could hear was Shaun screaming at Dean and Dean walking off. Shaken, it suddenly occurred to me that one of my best friends had landed his fist on my chin. Shaun got down on his knees and asked if I was ok. I was speechless really.
"Did he just actually do that?" I asked, spitting blood from my mouth.
"Yeah, I'll sort it out later, open your mouth."
"Your bleeding, I'm gonna report him for this, it's what he deserves."
"No, just leave it Shaun, I need to get to the bottom of this, something has clearly pissed him off."
"There is no fucking excuse to hit you, now open your mouth." I did as he asked and let him look inside. "You have bitten the inside of your lip, it looks worse than it is, are you ok to get up?"
"Yeah…yeah I think so."
"Let me handle Dean, Joey, I'm gonna fucking burn him bad for this."
"Its fine Shaun, you know what he's like, I just backed him into a corner, and with both of us berating him, plus the way he feels and all that shit, I should have seen this coming."
"His fucking temper…grrrr, it really annoys me Joey, and you always forgive him."
"He's our mate Shaun, thick and thin yeah?"
"You're too forgiving; if that was me I would of…"
"He'll apologise, once he realises what he's done." I said cutting Shaun off.
"He can't just keep losing it with people and then just apologising, you know as well as I do it's not a solution." Shaun ran his hand through his hair and huffed. "Anyway, you wanna eat?"
"Yeah, and then I need to find Jack."
"What are you gonna say to him?"
"I don't know; just tell him that I'm there if he needs a friend. From what he said, I don't think he has many."
"Well I know he hates Dean but I dunno what he thinks about me, but let him know he can count me in too Joey. A friend of yours is a friend of mine."
I patted Shaun on the back. "Thanks pal."
We wandered back inside and went to the cafeteria and grabbed two trays. I half expected Dean to come back already… like he normally would. He and I had got into a lot of fights over the years, mainly because we have such different personalities, but he has always been a good friend and I was not going to give up on him like you're all thinking I should. He just had a short fuse and I know that's no excuse, but I know he regretted doing what he did immediately after doing it. That was Dean, fists first, think later.
Shaun and I got some food and sat down together at an empty table. "Good start to the school term," Shaun said grinning.
"Yeah you could say that." I chuckled. "Shit, you know this really hurts when I chew, that fucker."
"Rather the chin than the eye right?"
"Your right there Shaun." I replied, rubbing my chin.
"Have you erm…have you had any more thoughts on your predicament?"
"My predicament?" I said, turning to look at him.
"Crisis of identity, I think you described it."
"Pfft, I don't know Shaun. It makes me cringe thinking about it, and talking about it for that matter."
"Because everything I have ever felt feels like it's been flipped on its head."
"You're not making sense again," He smirked.
"No, probably not." I replied,
"Can I ask you something, and promise me you'll be honest with me?"
"Always Shaun, I think I know what you're gonna ask anyway."
"Oh yeah, why is that?"
"Because I have been asking myself the same question, so come on, get it over with."
"Ok…uh…well, are you…"
"Am I attracted to Jack Stanton?"
"How did you…"
"Because that's the question I have been asking myself stupid!" I said, burying my head in my hands.
"It's not wrong you know, whatever you may think about it, it's not wrong, there is no right or wrong." Shaun remarked, softly.
"It's just I have never had these feelings before Shaun, it feels weird, and I can't even say it's a nice feeling. It actually makes my stomach feel all knotted."
"So are you?"
"Attracted to him? I don't know. I feel sorry for him is the closest feeling I can get to explain it."
"No...no nothing like that, I just feel like it must have been really hard for him at school, being the way he was. I always blame him for the blowjob thing in the past, but if he likes guys then why would he pass that up regardless of whether I was straight or not. I mean if it was a hot girl and you had the chance to…well you know, would you?"
"Hmm, I guess I would."
"Of course you would Shaun. I never saw it like that before but that's probably how it was for him. He had an opportunity for something he liked and he took it. I don't think he set out to humiliate me or embarrass me."
"And the girl you fancied?"
"Yeah well that's different; I think she did get a kick out of it."
"So what are you gonna do?"
"Yeah about Jack."
"I dunno Shaun, my head is fucked. I feel mixed up."
"Well you know I'm always here if you wanna talk, and no matter what side of the fence you fall, I won't feel any different towards you."
"Yeah you won't, I know."
"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it, but if you're looking for acceptance then you have my blessing mate."
"Thanks, that means a lot to me, now I need to find Jack, you don't mind do you?"
"Go for it pal, I'll see if I can find Dean."
"Yeah ok, don't be too hard on him will you?"
"Are you kidding, I'm gonna slap his sorry ass for what he did."
"I'll leave it in your hands, just tell him I'm cool, but I expect him to make it up to me," I smirked, getting up from the table.
"I'll have him begging for your forgiveness, you mark my words."
We parted at the cafeteria doors and I went to find Jack. I had seen him sitting in the school grounds on a few occasions. There was a huge oak tree that he and his friends used to sit under the times I walked past, so that was my first port of call.
I arrived near the tree and as luck would have it, he was there, but with Maddy. I almost changed my mind and walked off but Maddy spotted me and nudged Jack, which then made him look up at me. I smiled like a stupid prick and moved closer.
"What is it Cork?" Maddy wined at me.
"Uh, I just wanted to talk to Jack."
"Well he doesn't want to talk to you, so get lost."
"Maddy, please!" Jack said looking back at her. "It's ok Joey, come and join us."
"What? Jack, are you mad? This asshole is friends with Dean Wilmore and…"
"And that's none of my concern." He retorted, cutting her off.
"Can we have a few minutes alone please Maddy?" I asked, politely.
"No, anything you have to say to him you can say to me."
"Look, um…you know what never mind. I hope you're ok Jack and I'm sorry about what happened." I began to walk away frustrated when I heard his voice.
"Joey wait…Maddy can you give us some time?"
"Your funeral Jack," She said before huffing and walking away.
"That looks pretty painful." I remarked looking at his face. Gone were the smiles in the pub, the bouncy Jack I had worked with just two days ago. He looked pale and shaken still.
"Looks worse than it is." He said, brushing his eye lightly with his finger.
"Does this happen a lot?"
"Joey I really don't want to talk about this."
"Right, ok I'm sorry, it's none of my business. Do you want to take next Saturday off, I mean if you don't feel up to it or in the mood I can cover the day."
"Are you kidding? No way, I'll be there. Just don't tell your parents what happened ok?"
"Jack they will ask as soon as they see your face, what are you planning to say?"
"I haven't thought of anything yet."
I moved closer to the tree and sat down next to him, our knees briefly touching. He smiled at the contact, while I flinched at it.
"He doesn't mean it you know; he just gets drunk and lashes out."
"Don't excuse it Jack, there is no excuse, none whatsoever."
"It's probably me, Joey, it usually is."
"Why do you think that?"
"It's just whenever he gets drunk I always say the wrong thing, or do the wrong thing."
"Haven't you ever thought that it might be your dad who has the problem?"
"Sometimes, but when he's like that and shouting at my mum I feel like I have to say something."
"Does he ever beat your mum?"
He remained silent at this question, but his lack of answer confirmed to me what I already knew from Maddy. It made me shudder. He was still quiet and I looked at him only to see his face wet with tears. I wanted to hug him, but in the middle of school and the fact he was gay I couldn't afford the rumours. Fuck, I felt awful for being so shallow.
I looked around to see who was about and placed my hand on his knee and squeezed. It was as much as I could offer, and I felt so shit for not just putting my arms round him. I think he appreciated the gesture as it made a smile appear on his otherwise sad face.
I sighed "Look Jack, you probably have closer people around you than me, but erm…well if you ever feel you are in danger or just need to get out, you can always come to the pub, but I expect you have real friends who will take care of you, I just wanted to uh…well, you know, offer…"
"That's very kind of you Joey, thank you." He replied, interrupting my babbling. "I'm sure it will be ok."
"Hmm, well the offer is there. So, I had better get back, lunch is almost over and I have swimming."
"Well knowing that has cheered me up," He said teasingly. It was nice to see him smile again.
"Hey watch it Stanton." I waved, and walked away from him. I turned round to see him in a thoughtful pose. Being left alone with his thoughts probably had him thinking about the beatings from his dad, I felt helpless!
School ended and I met Shaun at the gates ready to walk to the bus stop as we normally did. The only difference was that Dean, who was always with us, was nowhere to be seen.
"I gather he's still being a prick then" I asked Shaun as we walked.
"He feels shit about it, I'm sure you'll get a text later."
"So where is he?"
"Probably waiting until we're out of sight. He's really embarrassed about hitting you."
"So he fucking should be."
"Did you speak to Jack?"
"Yeah I caught up with him under Oakie."
"Oh the big tree you mean?"
"Yeah, he was there with Maddy, god she hates me!" I declared, shaking my head
"Cos I'm friends with Dean."
"Figures. So what did he have to say?"
"Well he confirmed his dad did the damage. I told him if he needed a place to come if things got bad, the pub was available. He cried a little bit, and I wanted to hug him but…"
"Well you know, he's gay and I didn't want people to start thinking stuff. And yeah Shaun I felt totally fucking crap about that."
"Rock and a hard place mate, but I'm sure he knows you care."
"Yeah maybe, so what are you doing tonight?"
"Same as I always do, have a shower, jerk off and then play video games until bed time, Oh I might eat in between." He said bursting out laughing.
"Just a thought but why not jerk off and then have a shower, surely that works better?" I replied grinning.
"Hmm I never thought of that. Anyway I'm playing GTA online right now, it's so cool."
"You know what Shaun; I wish I had the time."
"Working on a Monday?"
"You forget, I don't really get a day off. I'm hoping it will be quiet in the pub tonight, but the beer order would have come in so that's one thing I know I'll have to put away."
"Something tells me you need more than a Saturday boy."
"Yeah I wish, it's not like my parents can't afford to hire someone to help me in the week, but then again why would they, they have a slave who will do it for cheap."
We got to the bus stop and waited. I saw Dean walking along on the other side of the road. He never looked up and I didn't bother to call him over. I wanted him to stew for a while and think about what he had done. Shaun had also noticed my lack of intervention and decided to stay silent too.
"Do you have a theory about his attitude lately?" I asked Shaun as we watched Dean disappear down a side road.
"Either he's a closet gay or something about you and Jack has affected him."
I giggled. "Could be either then?"
"Well they do say that people who are most uptight about gay people are usually using it as a cover for their own sexuality."
I laughed at that. But something told me Dean was definitely not gay. "Why is he so hostile though Shaun? Has he ever said anything about it to you?"
"Nope but it does seem strange that he is the way he is, I mean it's not like Vince and Sarah are homophobic or anything. Most people are pretty accepting of gay people, especially people our age. Yeah sure you get the average bully that torments everyone at school, even if their nose is shaped wrong, but Dean's never been a bully, it's just this whole…"
"Shaun, don't you remember, like I said earlier, he's been like this ever since we played volleyball with those Spanish boys on the beach."
"Yeah I remember you saying that but what was it about after, why has be gone all gung-ho about it. He never had much to say about gay people before all this. In fact I never heard him say anything about gay people.
The bus pulled up at our stop and we both got on, taking a seat at the back. We sat and talked as the bus went from stop to stop. Finally it was my turn to get off and I said goodbye to Shaun as he had a few more stops to go.
I really wanted some me time, it had been a while and I decided to pack some trunks and go down to the lake on my own. I got in to the pub and crept upstairs relieved that I was not seen by my folks. Stuffing a towel and dry clothes I left through the side door, and out down towards the lake.
It was late afternoon and I lapped up what heat the sun still had to offer. It was peaceful, the only sounds being from a family of Swans that lived on the island in the middle. The lake had been an old clay quarry and was really quite deep, but when the sun was just right I'm sure I could see the bottom.
I loved it here, especially this time of day, most people had gone home and the place was still. It was hard to believe that just mere metres away, the hustle and bustle of South East London raced on by.
I pulled off my socks and shoes and dangled my feet in the water. It wasn't exactly warm but after a moment I got used to the temperature and sat there comfortably beginning to get lost in my thoughts.
I could hear the sound of shoes on dirt as I sat relaxing. Thinking it was just a dog walker or naturist I continued to stare ahead until hearing a familiar voice.
"Thought you might be here!" The voice said. I didn't bother to look round, instead a sly smile started to appear on my face. "Well aren't you even going to look at me?" The voice asked again frustrated.
"Come to apologise?"
"If I did would you accept it?"
"Ok then, I'm sorry."
I heard a sigh. "Ok, I'm really; really sorry I acted like a wanker and struck you, please forgive me."
"Can we talk?"
"We were doing that today and look what happened." I stated still unwilling to meet his gaze.
"Joey I need to tell you something."
I finally turned round and looked at him and drew breath sharply. "Don't tell me, you're gay?"
"No... It's more serious than that." He said. I couldn't help but feel a little pissed off that he considered being gay a serious thing, but I let his statement slide and gestured him to come and sit next to me.
"So what's up?"
"Well, before I start, I have never told anyone about this, not family, not Shaun, not anyone. If I tell you will you please keep it between us?"
I looked at him curiously. It was Dean, but serious Dean I never saw very often. All I could do was just nod, my eyes fixed on his worried face.
"I mean it Joey, even if we have a massive argument and fall out, this must remain a secret."
"Ok Dean, my lips are sealed, you have my word."
"It's good enough Joey."
"So go ahead."
Dean cleared his throat, and I got the feeling whatever he had to say was hard for him.
"Well, when I was fourteen…"
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