Maxie and her new gay friend return to their ex school to confront a gang of skinhead bullies…

************

Act one

Chapter nine

Sliding thru Walls

 -‘I’d just spoken the unspeakable in public.’-

Maxie narrating

I slept really badly on Barney’s lumpy sofa. Woke up a few times and finally got up for a piss.

It was still dark, only for the streetlights. I put on all my clothes and my wooly hat, quietly as

I could. I did feel bad about disturbing old Barney, since he had hardly slept, but he didn’t even wake

up. I got a bowl of cereal, with water for lack of milk, and headed for the back of his wardrobe. My chance to go surfing!

Okay it took me five minutes to figure out how to switch the fecking thing on, but finally it warmed up and I clicked open the Wiki.

Then I heard footfalls. Plodding louder up the stairs. A neighbour who worked nights, why not? Or my dad with the cops, coming to take me home!

I pulled the stool in among the jackets, as, sure enough, the lock clicked, the high black door opened with a slow creak, and a figure came silently into the dim room. Came straight towards my hiding place.

Hands came through the clothes.

Icy fingers touched my neck.

I squawked like a trod on chicken, and so did he. Both jerking away

It was young Jerry, who else, then we were both gasping with relieved laughter.

The light came on. Barney had woken up and rolled out of bed. Crouching behind the chair. Maybe with his little pistol.

-‘Sorry Barney. Sorry, we scared each other.’- I said, as he groaned

  -‘Yeah, s-s-sorry man.’- Jerry added. –‘G-Go back to sleep, the dawn h-hasn’t even cracked yet.’-

Jerry showed me how to use the computer. Quicker than the confusing tutorial. He would be in fifth form, if he still went to the school. Now he did Free Uni online with the Clan and he knew plenty.

 [see Glossary]

  -‘Here listen to this.’- he whispered, passing me one of the earphones. -‘The new one from The F-Floppies.’-

There was hardly room for two on the stool. Our backsides sticking out through the jackets. But I didn’t feel scared of him at all, since he was a famous Gay runaway, I mean..

-‘What’s it like, to be gay, then?’- I asked           [ref.22a,22c. P.455]

    -‘You’re n-not supposed to ask things like that.’- he sounded surprised.

    -‘Why not? I’m curious.’-

-‘For me b-being gay is just normal, only if I have a crush on someone it’s, uh. it’s always a boy.’-

    -‘What about er, sex?’-

I just thought I’d ask.

     -‘Wh-wh-what.. Well. I haven’t actually g-got much experience.’- he admitted quietly in his trembly voice.

-‘And I’ve actually got about zero.’-  I replied.

            -‘I fell in love with that g-guy G-Gary. In fourth form, but it was a disaster. We were caught k-kissing, twice, it was really bad luck. So stupid.’-

            -‘Didn’t you get badly beaten up?’- I remembered.

            -‘Later, by the Young Hoods, plus we got expelled instead of th-them. My father went m-monkey-shit and got me locked up in a p-private rehabilitation clinic. It was horrible.’-

            -‘Barney told me about it.’- I whispered. –‘It’s shocking, I mean like.. ‘-

            -‘Course I escaped after only three days.’- he said, brightening up.

            -‘How did you know where to go and, and what to do?’-

            -‘I knew B-Barney. From the projects.’-

            -‘Me too.’- I gave him a side hug on the stool. -‘We’re in the same boat you and me.’-

            -‘There’s loads of yunkers dropping out these days, and schools c-closing up.’-

            -‘Why, why is that?’-

  I was quizzing him like a kid.

            -‘Search me… Because the place is b-bankrupt.. Coz the sea is too rough for ships..’-

            -‘Do you have a crush on Barney?’- I whispered, making him catch his breath.

            -‘S-Sorry.. Oof.. Well, I fancied him last year, something rotten, on the p-play project.’-

            -‘Oh yeah, and did you, er, have it off, um.. ‘-

I’d popped the golden question.

            -‘No no no, he’s a f-fake gay, I mean..’- he said in my ear. -‘He’s never had a g-gay lover, since I knew him. Okay I do fancy him still, a bit but…’-

So maybe Barney wasn’t really gay. I didn’t know that.

            -‘Me too, kind of… ‘- I was still whispering. -‘He has some big hang ups, and me too, gigantic ones.’-

            -‘Oh yes he’s totally screwed up alright. But harmless, more or less, and sh-shy like me..’-

            -‘Did you see his long, er, yoke?’-

            -‘His w-w-willy! Ha ha. He’s real embarrassed about it.’- he exclaimed. But very quietly.

            -‘Looks like a long nosed anteater to me.’-

 

That got him. He nearly fell off the stool trying to suppress his giggles so as not to wake up Barney. He was sixteen but just a big boy really.

            -‘You’re right, you’re right.’- He whispered, wiping his eyes. -‘They g-gave him this Dumbo tattoo but he wouldn’t stick it on.’-

 Remembering that finished him off. I fiddled with the mouse while he died laughing.

We were waiting for the website of the Brother-Hood, that my dad is in, or really for their youth section the Young-Hoods. They had a ‘missing kids’ section, and he showed me his photo in it.

            -‘Don’t worry. It’s nothing like you look now.’-

I spoke into his free ear, the next track had come on our earphones.

            -‘But maybe my dad will put me on it as well.’-

            -‘That’s why I’m sh-showing you. Look at this..’- he said. And clicked on ‘Latest News’.

 

My photo flashed up on the screen.

It was two years old, a long time ago when you’re fifteen. We were looking at a tubby little blonde with an angry grimace. That shitty snap was taken at some horrific family picnic on the beach, but in this case it served me well.

             -‘Oh crap Jerry they’re after me all right.’-

            -‘Nobody would g-guess that was you, honestly. And there’s really just a few of them, they p-pay people to do all this… But you’re right, you should move out of this place, ASAP.’-

            -‘Oh God no! Look here, no here, it says ‘She stole money, damaged property and assaulted her baby sister.’ My dad wrote that for sure.. What a liar, what a shithead, what a pig!’-

How could my own father write total vicious lies about me? I saw now he’d always thought of me as his private property. I’d exposed him, just with rumour. But he replied with total war!

            -‘I can’t believe it! He’s just making up lies, like.. off the wall!’-

            -‘That’s nothing, they once said I threatened to b-bite off Killian’s dick.’-

 

I almost exploded with fury and laughter at the same time. I was slipping off the stool, half kneeling in the wardrobe.

Before I could recover he’d flashed to a photo of Killian Bate in a shiny suit.

-‘Killian!  He’s the one that called me ‘filthy slut’- I gulped. -‘He thinks he’s some kind of Rambo hero or something.’-

            -‘He wanted to k-kill me. His stepdad trained him as a nazi, to k-keep his brothers in line. He hates me because I know how to shame him, and he has a thing about g-gays.’

Just thinking about that creepy guy made me boil and shiver.

            -‘That’s why I came early.’- Now he was really whispering. -‘Finally today the C-Clanners are gonna take over their Youth R-Recreation Center.’-

 It took me a moment to take that in, with so many surprises.

            -‘What? The old church hall club by the school?’-

I had never even been in it. Girls needed to be invited, and only girls they liked, that is, Barbie type dead heads..

            -‘That’s it. The Hoods hardly use the p-place at all. It’ll be a caff and a free shop and a disco and, uh, a P-Projects Center, for the Clan Groups and..’-

            -‘How brilliant! Right by the school. There’ll be holy war.. but won’t they just send the cops and throw us out?’-

I pictured dozens of Sister Bernies with the police.

            -‘I dunno. But they’re not expecting that. Some of the p-priests support us, you know, and teachers too. Then there’s the old desaintified ch-church behind it and..’-

            -‘Unsancticrated you mean. But wow..the Hoods will go haywire.’- I was holding in a giggle with my palm.

            -‘I only wish I could see Killian’s face.. Nothing happens there for donkeys’ years, I leave, and three days later wow. Just my luck. But when will all this happen?..’-

The stool was too small so I squatted beside him, pushing back Barney’s shirts. A little light was filtering in, the dawn was breaking.

            -‘They’re meeting at lun.. at lunchtime in the gym. There’s a whole l lorry-full of g-g-gear for a party.  I was asked to help, to show up those nazi boys.’-

            -‘You’re joking of course, you can’t go back in there Jerry, they’ll kill you.’-

 He must be mad.

            -‘You know the side doors of the gym?’-

            -‘No, there aren’t any, oh yes the fire emergency doors.’-

            -‘That’s the idea, we all denounce them in the school y-yard.’- .

            -‘Very easy to provoke. They’ll beat you up on sight.’- I warned.

            -‘I hope not. They say it’s too p-p-public. The SOFAS will make a video.’-

But he looked very unsure about that.

            -‘Oh great. We can watch the replay of them massacring you.’-

            -‘The idea is.. Killian says, ‘You and who’s army?’ We click our f-fingers, and a hundred crazy Clanners come out the f-fire doors..’-

            -‘I’d love to see that! But they could stab you or.. or anything.’-

 

He was clicking songs on a cool music site, with one earphone each. Then just when I was jigging into the music he’d switch to another.

            -‘Yeah you’re right. Um y-yeah well.. They’ll give me a b-bullet proof vest but.. Okay I won’t do it if I’m the only one. The rest are ch-chickening out.’-

            -‘They are really scary fellas..’-

            -‘Yeah..They’ll just have to d-drop the shaming part.’-

             Now I’d persuaded him not to do it I was getting into the idea myself.

            -‘Maybe I gotta help you then, I can’t miss this, I mean. They did call me a stinky whore and nearly ruined my life.’-

Why do I say these things?

            -‘Well if you want. We do really need someone, I can get another v-vest.’-

            -‘A stab proof vest!’-

            -‘Hey.. and I got c-coloured contact lenses for you, I’ll show you, here, on m-me, they’re just glass, like, they don’t change anything, but you look so different.’-

  He slipped one in, looking awfully odd, in the glowy computer-light.

            -‘L-Look, then I put in the jaw guard and..’-

            -‘Hang on, I can’t see you, is that you in there?’- I asked.

            -‘Hey I forgot. I’ve got croissants… and milk. Come on out Maxie, let’s have breakfast!’-

            -‘Let me try the lenses first.’- I elbowed him aside. Forgetting to whisper.

            -‘By the mirror… How cool.’-

 I yanked back the blanket curtain

With brown eyes I was really someone else.

            -‘Look. Look. I’m brown eyed Maxie. Bye bye Linda, bye bye blondie blue..’-

                                        ***

The SOFAS came and picked us up in one of those new ammonia vans. We sat on a hard bench, oh yes, SOFAS refers to the ‘Shit On Fascists And Sexists’, I think. Barney didn’t want me and Jerry to go along, but he didn’t say anything in public.. They gave us a little megaphone, a zap wand attached to a motorbike battery in a back-sack, plus a written bit. And good advice that only made us nervous.

            -‘So should I wear the contacts or not?’-

            -‘I will anyway, and the g-gum-guard. Some teacher or p-prefect might harass us going in.’-

 Jerry was happy I was going along.

            -‘Or a Young Hood with a long knife!’- I said dramatically.

            -‘Don’t say that, I’m sh-shaking already.’-

Not diplomatic. I forgot that he’d almost been stabbed to death by them.

            -‘They say the assembly should finish in twenty minutes.’- said Sammy the driver, as we arrived at the school. -‘You can just go straight on in.’

Now I was suddenly scared shitless. I wanted to grab onto Jerry’s hand, but that’d be idiotic.

I could see he was literally quivering. In fact he was crying.

We ducked our heads and raised our collars, and headed in, with the milling kids.

Through the still missing school gates where I nicked the daffodils just a few days before.

The runaways were coming for revenge.

              -‘Th-thanks for coming Maxie. I c-c-can’t turn back I…’- he spluttered.

            -‘Piece of piss pal.’- But my voice broke as well. –‘We denounce these creeps, then we hit the party. We’ll be flying.’-

 

Up the graveled drive. Feeling very odd to be back in my drab uniform. Jerry was trying to disguise his limp by walking slow.

But that was even more obvious. Shooting furtive glances behind him.

There were prefects, and monitors as well, but they didn’t know everyone. I saw Sister Bernie, already lining up first formers.

A regimental saint. We were coming through into the big yard.

            -‘Linda? Is that you?’-

My friend Keera was kissing me. So much for my dark eyes and red short hair.

            -‘Sshh. I’m in disguise. We’ve come back to denounce the Hoods, we’re gonna squat their Youth Club..’-

            -‘Sorry. What? Lin..um.. you’re crazy..They got big steak knives!’-

            -‘We got a p-p-plan.’- Jerry stuttered conspiratorially. -‘We’re gonna turf them out.’-

            -‘Oh my great giddy aunt.’- said Keera. Eyes popping. -‘You’re the gay guy they tried to chop up.’-

She was hurting my arm, gripping so hard, as we stopped by the ancient slide.

But fair play to her, she didn’t just leave us.

A first drop of rain splashed off my cheek. Oh no not that!

            -‘You’re the public okay. Wait here by the slide, and run if.. if..’- I told her.

            -‘Cheer us if you dare.’- Jerry added, but it came out squeaky.

The yard was big and square, just cracked concrete and empty but for the slide. Yunkers chatting and throwing shapes. Waiting to go back in, after waiting all morning to get out.

Somehow that yellow slide had remained in the playground. A solid iron thing, high and too well made, with generations of coats of paint and names scratched into it. I stepped onto the first rungs of the ladder.

Then I slipped out my gum shield and my false stomach, which was just a wooly, and kissed Keera goodbye.

Jerry handed me the little megaphone from his rucksack.

            -‘I thought YOU were going to start.’-

            -‘I c-can’t speak. Let’s go up the slide’- he whispered.

            -‘Killian Bate is a stupid bollix!’-

I yelled into the megaphone, from three steps up.

So what the hell.

It just came out a shocking feedback screech

              -‘Who do we h-hate?’- Jerry just spoke into it, not touching.

              -‘Killian Bate! ‘-I half whispered his name.

But it came out loud. Everybody looked around and stopped what they were doing.

I’d just spoken the unspeakable in public.

            -‘Who do we hate? Killian Bate.

              Who do we hate? Killian Bate!’-

We moved a quick step higher up the slide.

              -‘The Hoods are bullies and sadists and get paid by the fascists to divide us and destroy innocent people…’-

In principle we just had to keep reading the text..

            -‘So we’re all scared of them and ashamed to be black or female or gay and….’-

People were not rushing over. Just watching cagily. All the activists were in the meeting, it seemed.

But a couple of skinheads were approaching all right.  Keera was clapping and now a few older blokes, maybe Jerry’s mates.

            -‘They called me a filthy whore and got me punished just coz I laughed at them.’-

            -‘They almost k-killed me for being g-gay. Then they got me expelled.’- said Jerry bravely.

            -‘Now we’re all going to denounce them okay?’-

Now I knew this wasn’t going to work.

              -‘We need all the girls, the black kids, the gays and dykes and anyone who feels afraid. Or even you skins if you want to change sides.’-

             I was reading and adding a bit. Glancing down to see what happened.

            -‘We need you all to line up here, pass over the slide, and say something in the megaphone.’-

            -‘Like ‘I won’t date with Killian Bate’.

The three big lads were lining up. They were the ones who’d chickened out, and a group was gathering.

Then Killian appeared. Cool and hairless.                                                 ref 12 anti fascist

Along with two more skins. Much too arrogant not to swallow the bait.

                -‘You little stuttering cocksucker what brought you back here. Get down till I give you a kicking.

                  Barry, get him down, and that little frigid cunt..’-

                 -‘Come up and get me K-Killi d darling, I know you’re g-g-gay as well.’-  Jerry crooned into the megaphone. Really winding him up.

That’s when the yelling started. We retreated to the top step of the slide, wobbling together. The two skins were coming up, teeth bared and brandishing black socks, supposedly with their butcher’s knives inside.

While Jerry wiggled the tiny electric wand in front of them, and I plied the megaphone.

              -‘Don’t let him grab it. Give him a zap’- I screeched.

But the zapper didn’t work. Colin was jabbing at our ankles.

All of us shouting mad things.

I was hurling any insults I could think of.

            -‘Go learn to wank. You squirt. You stinky fart.’

That’s when the stupid skinhead got a shock and fell off.

With just a yell, no flash or sizzle as I had imagined.

But Killian himself was climbing up the slide side.

Jerry was hiding behind, and now it was me he was raging at!

              -‘We’re gonna cut your tits you filthy slut…‘-

A stone from Keera whizzed between us.

‘           -‘No girl can stand you coz you got no heart…’-

Jerry managed to touch Killi’s cheek with the wand.

He jerked, slipped, twisted and slid back down.

Shaming them didn’t quite work, but we had electric backup.

Four thousand volts, but only milli-amps.

He shot off the slide and landed, badly on his bottom..

            -‘Killian Bate..Out The Gate.. Who do we hate……?’-

I looked up and they were coming out the fire doors. All the black and yellow Clanners from the Assembly. Sauntering across the yard. Clapping and jeering.

Master Bate sat on his butt, silent with shock and awe.

Others had grabbed the two skinheads and taken their knife bags. The rest had disappeared.

            -‘Hurray just in time.’- I said in the megaphone. -‘This is the end of the Hoods and Killian Bate’s rule.’-

It wasn’t like the dramatic sting I’d visualized, maybe a lot of kids were just confused.

But for the bullies, and all the bullied, things did change completely.

Because now everyone was joining in the chant, as Jerry’s friends climbed the slide and came out with their comments.

Jessica, one of the organizers had climbed up, and spoke, or rather squawked, into the mini megaphone. On the video they had to re-do the sound…

            -‘Let’s denounce these sickoes then, so that their power is gone. When you slip down this  slide, imagine you smash through the invisible wall, and come out in tomorrow’s world!…‘-

            -‘They wouldn’t let me in the club because I’m black and have dreadlocks.’- said Joanna, next in line.

            -‘They said they’d cut Jerry’s balls off and they’d do me too. We were too scared to fight them.’- said Jerry’s skinny friend.

            -‘I had to do the cleaning and they wouldn’t let me play.’-

            -‘Killian said I’d be raped if I wore my headscarf.’- said that Muslim girl.

That was just the start of it. All the gay and black kids climbed the slide. Though most of them didn’t comment. Then another gang of the girls tried sliding through..

            -‘Me too. They scared me too. They ordered us about.’-

            -‘He called me a monkey and a prostitute.

            -‘I’m just slipping down…..’-

 

Jerry had taken the slide, so I was left holding the megaphone.

            -‘Thanks everyone for saving us. Let’s never let those nasty Hoods come back again.’- was my comment I think..

Then I closed my eyes and slid down through. It’s still a thrill, though I felt no invisible wall.

            -‘Let them g-go. Let them run away. . No no don’t hurt them that’s their g-game.’- said Jerry.

            -‘We’ll do you slowly for this.’-  Killian snarled at me and Jerry. –‘You’ll suffer till you die.’-

Pretty idiotic, as Jerry was trying to protect them.

He and his last skin were backing away from the shaming clapping crowd.

            -‘And you, stupid Linda cunt,’- he was pointing at me! –‘We’re going to saw your head off.’-

I’m not sure he really said that. The fireworks were exploding behind us.

Then a rocket whooshed right past us.

The occupation had already begun.

Everyone turned to see the big banner unrolling, it got tangled up, down the side wall of the ex Church hall.

You could only read ‘Occup…. ..lan Center’ which was good enough, with some Warrior doing a dance on the flat part of the roof.

A superior sound system crackled into life.

            -‘On behalf of the Clan Assembly we declare afternoon classes to be hereby canceled. Teachers, take a break. Everyone is invited here and now, to a hot chocolate smoothie and cakes party. Starting now and prepared by the amazing Wallabies group. Applause please.

            And one more thing from the Assembly.. Disgraceful fascist behaviour will no longer be tolerated from anybody.’-

            A bit of a cheer went up, I got a rush of emotion as I saw we’d really won.

I’d been in favour of publicly beating up Killian Bate and his gang. They said maybe later. But finally the SOFAS were right after all. More than revenge we needed to really win. To make them give it up, not provoke them to be heroes.

Tears of relief were streaming down my face. I saw how shaming works, if you got enough support. Next in line those pigs who tried to rape me!

I saw all those people just turn the other way.

The stink of fear and threats just faded out.

Just like that… everyone just turned their backs and walked away.

Preferring a chocolate smoothie.

Keera was hugging me, I wiped my chubby cheeks and sniffed.

Killian’s power in the school was gone. He turned into a pathetic twirp, his few thugs suddenly irrelevant.

It was my hard luck that the Hoods got rich and grew, and I now had a mortal enemy.

The Brother-Hood would soon come back to haunt me.

Jerry was being carried through on his friends’ shoulders, looking pleased and shy.

Me and Keera dived into the crowd, hand in hand.

They had crowbarred open a rusty iron gate, between the high school wall and the now occupied former church grounds.   ……. ref 25 squat the lot

The freezing rain had begun to shower us in earnest.

But everyone was laughing and hopping up and down, while queuing to get through.

Keeping each other warm.

And slipping through the high black wall.

************

NEXT EPISODE HERE              Serial of The Free, Ch 10. Horny, Bossy and Wild

PREVIOUS EPISODE HERE:    Serial of the Free: Ch 8. Christo joins the Anarchists

            Serialization of ‘The Free’.. Ch 1..Smashing my Aquarium- (thefreeonline.wordpress.com)