Jed whistled a few bars of “Rainin’ Hearts’ as he walked towards the corner shop on his way to school. He was meeting Jim and Jessie there, and with a bit of luck between them, they’d have enough change for a bag of sweets. The road was streaming with uniformed children, and while he recognised most, he acknowledged none. Not that they were interested in him that is, other than to snigger at his coiffed hair from behind his back.
The shop was close to school, and this time of the day a lot of shoulder shoving took place as children shouted out orders for gob-stoppers and sherbet-dips. Near the back were racks of magazines where groups of girls ogled the celebrity magazines, and the boys tried to sneak a peep at the men’s girly magazines stacked discreetly on the top. Not that they could see anything, what with the sealed packaging and amount of neck straining required. It didn’t stop them jabbing at each other to reach up and pinch one though.
Jed stood at the door and was joined by Jim, who was filing his mouth with a bacon sandwich. Jed declined a bite and could tell by Jim’s smile it had been the correct response. With only a few minutes before school started, Jed thrust his hands into his pocket and frowned as he looked out for Jessie. He didn’t know why he got so agitated with her lateness, considering she did it every day. Jim came up behind him and together they stared at the end of the road willing her to appear.
“Two minutes and I’m going,” Jim said. “If I’m late again, I’ll be for the high jump.”
Jed nodded and pulled his school bag up onto his shoulder readying himself to go. “Here she comes,” he grinned as he saw her appear around the corner, her tie around her arm and her jumper dragging on the floor.
Jed didn’t waste any time when Jessie reached them and held out his hand to show his coins, “How much you got?”
“Nothing, me dad said he’s broke,” Jessie said. Jed shrugged and looked at Jim. Jim continued chewing and offered a few coins. Jed counted the stash. It wasn’t much, but at least they’d have a couple of suckers for break.
“Have you got enough for some fags,” Jessie said.
Jed frowned, “Serious?”
“Forget it, I’m not wasting my cash on those, give me mine back,” Jim said and went to grab his coins. Jed snatched his hand back.
“Yeah, you’re right, Jim. Anyway, Jessie, you didn’t put anything in, so you can’t tell us what to get.”
“Please yourself, I’ve got a couple in my pencil case. Pinched them from me dad.” She pulled open her pencil case displaying the cigarettes.
“Put it away,” Jim said, checking over his shoulder for adults. “I don’t wanna be nabbed for those.”
Jessie laughed and made out she was smoking. Jim and Jed turned away and headed for the shop. If they were late, that was one thing, but being caught with cigarettes could mean detention for a month, something neither of them wanted.
Careers class was in full swing and it was Simon’s turn to share his career expectations. He made his way to the front, taking a route past Jed. As he neared, he slowed his pace briefly and thumped Jed in the back. It was quick and deliberate, and he knew Jed wouldn’t say a word.
Installed at the front of the class, Simon lapped up the awe-struck faces of the girls and allowed himself a moment to smirk at Jed.
“When I leave this place, you’ll find me on the soccer pitch alongside my Arsenal teammates.” A squeal went up from the girls and Simon directed a kick at the empty rubbish bin, diverting the contact only inches away.
“OK, and how do you see yourself working towards this position?” the teacher said.
“Easy. Play a bit more soccer around this place, and then go up to London, show them my talent, and sign on the dotted line.”
“You think it’s that easy?”
“Course it is. Haven’t you seen me play?”
The class erupted in laughter and Simon made his way back to his seat. Somebody tossed a ball of paper towards him and he took a brilliant header. He turned to look at the teacher, “See what I mean, miss, a star before your eyes.”
The teacher laughed and waited for everybody to settle down. “Who’s next?” She scanned the room. “Jed, how about you? You’ve been quiet all term.”
Jed squirmed, he didn’t want to share his career choice but knew he couldn’t get out of it. He made his way to the front and tried to ignore the jeers coming from his classmates.
“So, Jed, tell us. What do you intend doing when you leave school?”
He knew of course what he wanted to do, but wasn’t sure about telling. He put his hands in his pocket and jingled a couple of coins there.
“Stop playing with yourself, loser,” Simon shouted. Jed blushed and yanked his hands out. The teacher warned Simon and told Jed to continue.
“I’m gonna be Jed Parsons’ bodyguard,” he blurted and listened as the class erupted with laughter. He looked towards Carmen and was gutted when she began pointing and mouthing loser, over and over again. Every face he looked at was laughing and he felt his face burning. Not waiting for the teacher to excuse him, he bolted back to his chair and dropped into his seat, his head down, humiliation flooding him, angry at himself for being so stupid as to share his dreams.
Suddenly Jim leapt up and barged his way to the front. “My turn miss, my turn.” He waved at the class, “Shut up you lot. Miss tell them to shut up.” He looked over at his friend and offered a slight nod. Jed knew it was Jim’s way of saying everything would be alright.
“I’ve got great plans,” Jim began and grinned at the glass, his extensive gap very clearly on display.
End of Chapter Six
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