Jimmy had transformed, toughened by circumstance. The All Saints stripped his innocence, tainted his outlook, was it a good thing?
They sat in the Bulls Head, the local pub at the top of the road just down from Rowntree Secondary. Kael, Marvin, Simon, Pra and Jimmy assembled teasing manhood. School was drawing to a close the 6th form loomed.
“I was born in 1966, that makes me 16 years 3months and 14 days old,” said Jimmy.
“You’re a big man ay? Get a round in then,” ushered Kael.
“I can’t they know I’m under,”
“Losing your school tie won’t fool them.”
The pub had an under age license which meant they were free to enter and sip coke and juice. Kael collared an 18 year old, he got the drinks and in return drank for free. They played darts, looking across at the teachers; analogous to an inmate sharing the same bar as the guards on the outside. They felt spied on but could do nothing.
“You know Noaks is gay?” said Marvin.
“Yeah that’s his boyfriend, Dave in Drama. Kelly told me,”
After a second cruder hint it sunk in. Noaks came over.
“Alright sir” said Jimmy trying to illicit response.
“Alright Jimmy, Mum know you’re here?”
“We all got our little secrets?”
Jimmy hinted bold, vaulting the divide to look good. The boys were proud of their little protégé. Noaks and John sat with the boys for a full 5 minutes talking eye to eye. Jimmy felt mature, empowered; no longer a kid but a man with views, opinions. He had found his voice and felt respect for the privilege.
Simon chirped up in a lame attempt to keep things risqué “Mr. Watkins is a kiddie fiddler,”
“What, are you nuts?”
“That’s what they say?”
Simon recounted the time he sprained his ankle and was taken by Watkins, limping to the nurse.”
“Just because he squeezed your waist don’t make him a peado. He was propping you up,”
“Well I wasn’t haven’t it,”
“Think for yourself Si, will ya? Anyway your 16 and give the man credit. What would he want with an ugly git like you,”
“While you’re spanking the monkey over Mayfair he’s banging miss Noye” said Kael.
“What big jugs,” They bellowed laughter in chorus.
“Everyone knows Si, where ya been?”
When the mood ran dry they’d play games; the loser to perform a forfeit, a dare that would appear as fits of lunacy to the uninitiated. If you had the balls to carry it you was “a Boy” if you did not you were “nowhere.”