When I was younger I wanted attention. Attention.
. . the closest I ever got to that was detention - just like they
said I would.
It was because we had grabbed him as he went past.
Grabbed him just as we had planned to. The battered brown box
had thudded to the floor. The cardboard had buckled. And we had
legged it. That day, the school shop was short on Mars Bars. Shorter
perhaps than it had ever been. We ran and hid. We ran and ate.
Laughing in the toilets. Faces sticky with strings of caramel.
Two chocolatey boys. And laughter was all there was. It was fun
once, I remember.
Just fun. And then we were caught. Marched down
to the office. We spewed up the stuff we had nicked. Right there.
All over the Principle's desk. I was twelve. And I was still laughing.
Then we went to that detention. The first of many. Only later
they ended up with bars added to them. No shoelaces. No belts.
But still detention. All the same.
'Why did you do it?' Neon striplights and tea
for the coppers. Not for me though, no. Time to wonder, 'Is the
bitch dead yet?'
I should love. I should adore. Sometimes I even
do. But so what? Where was she? And now where is she? Underground?
Hope so. Hope not. Dammit.
Impatience fills the room. Blue-uniformed and
grim. I spit it out, slowly and well chewed, 'No, no good reason.
Seemed like a good idea at the time, officer.' He repeats the
words. Puts a patronising fat question mark at the end. I see
my fist going through, flying out of this world into another.
Through the face. Through the wall. Shattering bone, breaking
teeth. It might carry on into a heart. Someone's heart. Perhaps
they would recognise the pain.
But how stupid it all was. I could've laughed,
even then. Standing in that warehouse with a hammer. And the Copper
says, 'What do you think you're doing?'
'I'm mending the window ....... what does it look
like?' Fat copper answers, snaps back, 'There's no need to be
Yes there is. Plenty of need - a stupid question
surely deserves a stupid answer.
In the cop car. Again always the same questions,
'Why?' Easy enough to tell them, 'So that you fat lazy bastards
have got something to do.You have to get paid for something. It's
people like me that keep your night shift busy'
Fury then. They hate while I smile. 'You can't
touch me, I'm underage.' Jammy. Until that birthday when I gave
it up. - for a while.
Banged up for yet another night. No change there.
Not even a bed sometimes. Like the night when that copper told
me I would never be anything but a delinquent and a thug. Fists
whirled. Down again. In the dock. Still underage.
'When will you stop this behaviour?' says the
judge. He frowns a frown longer than the room. I pick at the bits
of a broken hairband. Shredded strands clinging to one central
strip. I stare. Blank. Again the same question. Time to answer,
I suppose, 'Oh,' I say, 'Until I'm old enough for you to do me
for it. Then I'll stop.'
They talk to me of remorse. I feel none. Why should
I be sorry for any grievance I cause society? What has Society
ever done for me? I feel cheated. I feel the wooden and plastic
surfaces of a hundred desks cold against my fingertips as I slump
and sigh, while others try to reassemble my life.
Psychiatrists take on my anger. Social workers
take on my family. I take it on myself to get some money. That's
all I do it for now. I hate being skint. What else is there? Why
else would I?
Through the dark warmth of the summer nights my
friends and I flit from car to car like bats, out with the hanger,
in with the hand and out with the stereo. Neat. Smooth. Still,
remorseless. Still, my heart. It hardly even beats.
Again the questions, blue and ignorant, begging
'Why are you a copper?' or 'What's it to you?'
Useless. Endless. But if I want I must get and I must get now.
Beans and bread and possibly toast. It's not food. Not really.
A few stereos are meals for a month. A few flits, fights and nights
make me a rich man. Empty hearted, perhaps, but not empty stomached,
not even empty headed - just young, and stubborn.
So many counts. I see the reports. I see the record.
It's longer than both arms put together. Badness on paper. My
badness. And as for the paper; it's flat, it's thin. It blows
in the wind and cuts like a knife. Like me. I cut with knives
and make paper like this longer with every stroke. Slash after
slash. Satisfying and wrong. But the bullies I target have no
paper records. Instead they have bandages. Nobody knows how bad
they are, how twisted inside in ways I could never be. They have
made me myself, and they are worse than I am. But their wickedness
remains unregistered, unwritten, unlisted. How can it count unless
it's on paper? Truths flowing from pens pushed by blue order.
I'll tell you something now, and that is that no, it doesn't count.
But I do. Adding up every insult, every slight. I'll pay them
back a thousandfold. One day. And soon.
©ESTHER LOYDALL 2000