The Saturday Boy
Chapter 17 - Shaun's Master Plan
Spending a night in a cell at a police station was scarier than I was perhaps prepared for. A night of lowliness mixed with the drunk shouting of other people and the constant smell of urine. I felt like I was in another country… another world. I cried myself to sleep that night and I don't think it was just because I was locked in a cage, if you catch my drift.
It was all going to be so perfect. My mum had said Jack could come and stay with us, Roman was back and even with Dean being Dean and Shaun being Shaun I really felt like life was good. Upon reflection, which often happens after a traumatic or regrettable event, I should never have hit Shaun, it was stupid, immature and reckless. I knew that I was a better person than that, and I think that's what added to the sadness that consumed me in the cell. Joey Cork, the popular one at school with the good grades, friends with everyone… anyone. The person who will do anything for anyone, reduced to what? A sad lonely kid in tears, locked in a piss infested concrete box, his parents ashamed, friends lost and enemies made.
Like a caged rat!
I worried that night, worried until my brain shut down and sleep intervened, my face wet. The pathetic sound of my sobs being ridiculed by the other louts locked up alongside me. I had to redeem myself, I wanted my old life back, the life where I didn't feel my sanity was slowly slipping away from me.
It had to start right now!
"Joey Cork?" Came the low gruff voice of a police officer, tapping on the bars, bringing me away from my self-loathing thoughts. He must have been on the morning shift because I don't remember seeing him last night. "Your mother is here to collect you."
"Thank you," I said, deflated. Part of me wanted to stay locked up knowing she was outside. I feared facing her because I knew what was to come. She would either cry or shout at me. Please god let her shout, I thought.
The guard turned a large key in what looked like a lock from the eighteen hundreds and my cell door creaked open. I was led past a few still-sleeping crooks into a back room with a counter to collect my things. These consisted of a simple gold ring my parents had got me for my sixteenth birthday, my cell phone, my sneaker laces and belt, presumably thinking I might hang myself. Despite everything, it had not crossed my mind.
I put my belt back on and started to thread the laces back through my shoes, feeling suddenly emotional again. How sad this was, I thought as the officer looked on. To him I was just more paperwork no doubt, the scum of the earth.
I was given some information as to what would happen next and led round to the front where my stern looking mother was waiting, that was until she saw me of course and promptly burst in to tears, holding out her arms. I embraced her quickly and tightly, feeling her raw pain travel to me, I began to tear up as well.
"Are you ok, oh my god, are you ok?" she asked, between heartfelt sobs
"Yeah… yeah it was ok, I'm ok," I replied, relief setting in. "I'm just looking forward to a hot shower."
"Before you do anything young man you have some explaining to do," she stated, once again stern. Stern I could do, stern I wanted, better than tears, tears I didn't need, not from her, it got to me I was the cause of her crying… it affected me, it always had.
We got outside and I took deep lung-fulls of air, enjoying the clean smell that cleansed my protesting nostrils. I followed my mum over to where she had parked the car and stood looking back at the police station I had just spent the night in. I shuddered, vowing never to set foot in one again.
"Ok Joey, get in," she said, getting in herself. I did as she asked barely getting my seatbelt on before she pulled away out of the parking lot. "We need to talk," She said, not looking at me.
"Yeah I know."
I slowly became aware that she was heading away from the direction of the pub. I was about to ask her where we were going but thought any words that came from my mouth were likely to make her explode at me, she just had one of those looks on her face. Instead I remained silent, knowing that wherever she was going would soon be revealed when the car came to a stop.
She swung the car round a few turnings and pulled up in front of some park… a park where kids play; you know the ones with the swings and slides? The place was empty, just a man walking his rather large dog nearby.
My mum got out of the car and slammed the door, walking through a large metal gate which was the entrance to the grassy space. She headed over to one of the swings and sat down on it. Realising I was probably supposed to follow her I quickly exited the car and jogged towards the swings, sitting on the one next to her.
There was a warm breeze that blew up now and again making my mum's hair stick to her face, the same breeze that scattered ghostly sounds as it rushed through the surrounding fence. I waited patiently knowing that she would say something soon, after all there must have been some reason we were out here.
"Your grandad used to bring me here when I was a little girl," she remarked, gently swinging back and forward.
"Really, I've never been here." I replied, staring ahead.
"And when life got tough, as I got older, I used to come back here and sit for hours." She added. "When your dad and I first got together we never had much, no family support like you have, hardly any money… life was hard. But here… here I could get away from it all, and just be me again. Be that little girl my dad used to push gently on the swings, just like the one you're sitting on now."
"You can feel it too then?"
"Sometimes you need places like this Joey. It stops you doing things you might go on to regret… a place for reflection. Because Joey, life is hard and love is hard, friends will become enemies and sometimes enemies become friends. What's happened to you lately is just a glimpse of what's to come and it's how you deal with those challenges which will determine the person you become."
"I'm sorry for the way I have acted, I know that's not me, I've had time to think about that."
"Good, I'm glad to hear it, but what you have done Joey, no matter how sorry you are has consequences. You badly beat up Shaun and I had to spend over two hours on the phone to his mother explaining why after thirteen years of friendship her son came home with a broken nose and split lip, inflicted by you."
"I know, it was wrong, and a stupid thing to do and…"
"But..." she cut me off. "I have convinced her to drop the charges against you and put this down to a schoolyard fight, and she has agreed."
"Oh my god…really mum, oh mum wow, you are awesome, I…"
"Like I said Joey, you still need to face the consequences of your actions, and so you will."
"Ok, what are my options?" I said, stupidly.
"Options Joey... options, you don't get any bloody options … this is still serious. Just because you will no longer be facing criminal charges does not mean this is all over. Mrs Winters is still very upset and angry for what you have done to Shaun and I have had to reassure her that you will be severely punished, by her and by me!" She ranted, her voice starting to rise.
"So what did you and her have in mind?"
"Firstly you will apologise to Shaun, in person for the horrific act you inflicted on him. You will then conduct… a kind of community service for her and Mr winters. They need their shed and whole back fence painted and you will go round every day after school until it's done."
"Is that all," I said, huffing at the thought of having to apologise to Shaun more than anything else coming my way.
"All Joey? No that's not all! From me and your father's standpoint you will work for free for a whole month with the money you would have earned going towards a compensation payment to Shaun. You will not have access to a TV, internet or games console, also for a month, and you are grounded for two months. Although I should fully ground you for those two months I will allow you to continue visiting Jack for the sole reason being you are his only visitor. As much as I would love to go with your father we simply don't have the time."
"Jack coming to stay?"
"That was a difficult one, but I see no reason why he should be punished for your stupidity and I won't go back on my commitment to him."
"So he can still come and stay?"
"Yes he can still come and stay."
"Still in my room?"
"Don't push it Joey!"
"Just... Just don't hate me mum, I'm sorry ok, I can't take it back I know, but I'm sorry."
"You really think I hate you? Joey this is what I have had to trade to get you off this charge, I'm not doing this because I hate you, I'm doing it because I love you, Jesus!"
"I love you too mum and I'm sorry I've disappointed you."
"Yes you have, Joey, I can't deny that, your father too, and Roman. The only advice I can give you is to find your own park, so you can deal with life's challenges in dignity Joey. Now come on, I have a pub to run.
We pulled back up at the pub and I got out feeling like I had just got out of prison. Strange, I know but that's how it felt. I was being given a second chance, although part of me… the stupid part, wondered if the actual punishment would have been less severe.
I walked through the double doors expecting everyone to turn round and look at me like I was some murderer, but nothing, everything was normal, customers carried on drinking and I even got a smile off my dad as I walked through the bar.
Getting to the top of the stairs I was met by my brother who held out his hand. I took it, not really understanding why he offered it, but pleased nonetheless.
"I gotta hand it to you Joey, you sure know how to fall in a bucket of shit and come out smelling of fine French fucking roses."
"Roman I assure you, there are better days behind than there are ahead."
"Well, I think you should know, we got a shit hot diplomat living here, called our mother. She fought for you like you will never know, Joey. Never forget that."
"I won't Roman, trust me."
"I hope so." He said walking away from me.
"Wait, uh… Roman?"
"Thanks, you know… for not splitting on me."
"Bro code Joey… bro code," was all he responded with, and left me standing in the hall way.
I went straight to the shower like I promised myself from the minute I got out of that disgusting cell and got in straight away, not bothering to wait for it to warm up. It was my way of punishing myself for my own stupid behaviour. I flinched and shuddered under the cold jet of water that attacked every nerve on my body, making my nuts climb up into my body. "Shit!" I hissed.
I scrubbed myself red raw, wanting to get rid of every trace of that damn piss smell that hung over me since I came out. I felt like I was also scrubbing away the guilt, the stupidity, the anger and the remorse. Not remorse for Shaun, no, he could rot in hell. It was remorse for my mother.
"Joey, I have spoken to the school, I have said you will be in tomorrow and explained that you have been off because of what you saw at Jack's house. Not quite a lie, but if we can keep the thing with Shaun out of this then so much the better," my mum said standing in the doorway to my room.
"When do I have to go and apologise to Shaun?" I asked, begrudgingly.
"After school tomorrow, Shaun will not be at school obviously, so you will need to travel over to his house. While you are there you might as well get started with the painting, the quicker you get it done the quicker it's off your list."
"Right ok, so can I go visit Jack?"
"I guess that would be ok, how are you getting there?"
"I was gonna ask Roman, since he does nothing all day."
"As long as he's earning money to pay his keep here he can do what he wants, so before you start getting on your high horse about your brother, just remember you live here for free."
"Thanks mum, that's really nice of you to remind me," I said, feeling bitter at her comment.
I got up off my bed and moved passed her heading towards Roman's room. I watched as she pushed off my door frame and went downstairs. Before opening my brother's door and walking in.
"Roman would you mind… Oh shit, that is not something I was expecting to see." I cried, as my brother pulled the covers over his naked lower half.
"Fuck Joey, ever heard of knocking?"
"Well I didn't expect to find you KNOCKING one off," I retorted, covering my eyes.
"Jesus, and I was almost there then, and you totally ruined it."
"Too much information Roman, anyway you can finish that off later, I need you to run me to the hospital."
"You mean you wanted to politely ask if I wouldn't mind running you to the hospital. I might be your brother but learn some fucking manners."
"Call it punishment for what you just subjected my poor eyes to." I retorted. We both tried to keep serious faces, but it was in vain and before long we had both broken into stupid grins.
Roman sighed. "Ok squirt, let's go see lover boy so you can get wet."
"Oh don't get your knickers in a twist; I'm just playing with you."
I went back to my room and pulled my sneakers on; again all I was starting to think about was Jack. Forget everything else, it was just him on my mind once more, god I had it bad. Roman led me over to his car and we drove away at typical Roman speed.
"What time do you want picking up?" he asked as we pulled into the hospital grounds once more.
"Can you come back in an hour?"
"I'm gonna go see Brian then, apparently he's written a new song for the band, I'll see you back here in about an hour."
"Thanks Roman, you're the best!"
"Yeah I know, don't remind me, hey, and try to stay out of trouble."
"Like I have a choice, one more peep out of me and I think mum will disown me."
"I'll see you later," he said chuckling. I watched as he backed out of the space and I waved.
Walking into the main entrance I bypassed the desk and went straight for the lifts now I had familiarised myself with Jack's location. Splashing some gel on my hands, I pushed through the doors to Churchill ward as I wiped my alcohol laden hands down my jeans, walking straight up to the desk to check in with the staff nurse.
"Hello, Joey isn't it? I remember seeing you a few nights ago."
"Yeah that's right."
"Here to see Jack I'm guessing?"
"No problem my love, just go on down," the female nurse said, gesturing her hand towards the end of the corridor. As I approached his room I peered through the blinds to see a better looking Jack sitting up in bed looking like he was watching TV. I didn't go in straight away; instead I just stood there looking at him. I knew the trauma and hurt he had been through, but couldn't help thinking how cute he looked laying there, his head in a bandage and his cute smooth pecks peeking out from under the white hospital bed sheet, his deep set ocean blue eyes blinking every now and again.
I gently tapped on the window causing his head to look my way. I was expecting a smile to follow maybe, but he was… expressionless, neither smiling nor frowning, happy or sad. I slowly opened the door.
"Any chance of a visit?" I said, smiling at him.
"How are you Joey?"
"Never mind me, how are you?"
"Aww, why is that?"
"They keep lying to me Joey."
"Those doctors, out there, and the police." I started to feel my gut twist, something wasn't right with him.
"Ok… well what are they saying Jack?" I asked, probably looking suspicious.
"They keep telling me my mother is dead, can you believe that?" he said, matter-of-fact.
I sighed. "Jack, are you ok?"
"Yeah I'm fine, why?"
"Don't you remember the conversation you had with me about your mum a couple of nights ago?"
"And I told you that how nice she was when she smiled and how happy she was when my dad wasn't around etcetera, etcetera."
"Yeah you did Jack, but you also told me that you hoped someone was looking after her, you told me she was dead Jack."
"Yeah Jack, and I'm afraid she is."
"Why is everyone trying to hurt me Joey, why are you trying to hurt me?"
"I'm not Jack, fucking hell man I seriously am not," I said tearing up. "Jack you gotta try and remember, please remember!" I added putting my hand up to my mouth. I didn't know what to say to him so I left the room bursting into tears once I was out.
"What's wrong?" asked the nurse as she came running down towards me.
"What's wrong with him, why is he being like this, he keeps saying his mother is alive and he wasn't before."
"Joey, Jack has had trauma to his head, quite badly, plus he is still on a lot of pain medication. His brain is trying to repair itself and it's not uncommon for some patients to act like this in times of great stress. In order for a brain to repair it can put up a defence mechanism and sometimes this results in complete denial of traumatic events. Try not to worry and just go with him on this."
"Go with him on it? You mean like agree that his mother is alive?"
"If he needs you to, yes. He will soon become aware of the truth and will learn to accept that over time."
I took a deep breath and blew it out. "I'm sorry, he just freaked me out a bit, it was like he had kinda gone mental."
"Don't apologise, I expect his behaviour came as a shock. I used to work in a military hospital Joey, some soldiers that came in were totally different people before they went to war, and yes it can be heart breaking to see, but its people like you that can help those with trauma. Now go back in there and just be yourself." She said with a reassuring smile.
"Ok thank you." I did as she asked and went back in Jack's room and again he turned his attention towards me.
"Where did you go?"
"I just needed a minute Jack, I'm sorry I left, are you ok?"
"Yeah I'm fine, just watching a repeat of Frasier."
"What year is it?"
"Who is the current Prime Minister?"
"Uh… David Cameron? Why the questions Joey, I'm not insane you know, I don't have Alzheimer's."
"Yeah I know, I'm sorry. So do you know when you can come home?"
"Pfft, home, where is that?"
"Well I hear you have an offer on the table to go and stay with Shaun."
"Yeah true, I do I guess… Joey, why did you kiss me the other day?"
I was taken aback with the question and stumbled about like a lovesick schoolboy… which I was, I guess. His question sent butterflies through my stomach, he remembered, he remembered the kiss.
"I told you why, because the stuff Shaun has been telling you about me… about me not liking you is bullshit. My kiss, I had hoped would convince you of that."
"Will… will you kiss me again, just to make sure?" he shyly asked. I went over and gently pressed my lips on his, pushing my tongue past his ice white teeth until I found his tongue. It was a soft but long lingering kiss in which he responded. I opened my eyes to find his closed, then I pulled back staying close to his face and smiled.
"Not quite," he replied pulling me in for another sample. I didn't put up much of a fight enjoying the sweet taste of him, our wet tongues gently dancing."
"Now are you convinced?" I asked again, pulling away.
"Yeah, I think I am."
"So, no school again Joey, how did you get off another day?"
"Jack, has Shaun been to see you or called you since I left yesterday?"
I felt sick all of a sudden but I needed to tell him, but how?
"Jack I need to be honest with you about something. Something I did that was really stupid, something which considering what you have been through was really unacceptable."
"Is this the part where you tell me Shaun is somewhere in a bed down the hall from me?" He asked, looking at me expectantly. "Please Joey, tell me you didn't."
"I was angry and…"
"How bad?" he asked cutting me off. His heart monitor started to beep faster.
"I didn't mean to do it, it was just a heat of the…"
"How bad Joey?" The heart rate jumped another notch.
"Jack you gotta settle down it aint good for you to get worked up, please."
"I'll ask you one more time Joey… hoooow baaaad!"
"I broke his nose and split his lip." Jack turned away from me, laying his head sideways on the pillow. "I was angry Jack, he was feeding you lies, he was supposed to be my best friend."
"And you were supposed to be his Joey." Jack replied, turning and glaring at me.
"Yeah I know but how long was I supposed to put up with him screwing me over like that and telling you lies and…"
"Don't you get it Joey?"
"Get it, get what?"
"How come I can get bashed in the head and work it out but you can't?"
"Jack, I don't know what you are talking about, should I get the nurse, you aren't making sense." Jack just rolled his eyes.
"Remember the Spanish kid you both talked about when you were on vacation?"
"Yeah, the one that Shaun screwed you mean?"
"Joey, Shaun never screwed him, he was just sounding you out."
"But why and how do you know?"
"Why because he wanted to know how you would react, and how do I know? Because he told me at school and made me promise to keep it a secret."
"But…" I started, but was cut off.
"Did he seem jealous or uneasy to you when he found out you got that letter from the kid pinned to the fence and was dying to know what you were gonna do?"
"Your guess is right, and yeah don't look surprised, I know all about that too. And do you know why he has been so desperate in his tactics between us?"
"Yeah, because he wants you and he is willing to screw me over to have you."
"No Joey. I'll tell you what's really going on here which is why it makes it so bad what you did to him." Jack closed his eyes as if to prepare me rather than himself. "Joey, Shaun hasn't been trying to keep you away from me because he wants me, he's been trying to keep me away from you…because he wants you!
My Jaw dropped open, but I was unable to speak.
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