News always seems to travel fast in small towns like ours. It always has, and I guess it always will. Whether it is good news or bad news it simply doesn’t matter; the old gossip trail can always be depended upon to start up quite quickly when something is afoot.
Usually by nightfall of the first day you can be sure that anyone who matters will know the ins and outs of what is going on. By the end of the second day it can be guaranteed that everybody else in town will have an idea that something has happened. Not only that, they will have already formulated their own ideas as to who was right and who was wrong, or who was guilty and who was innocent.
It was one of the very few things about our town that I actually disliked. For the most part, however, and largely only because our little group lived outside the town boundaries and tended to stay somewhat isolated from the rest of the community, I think, I could put up with it.
There were times, though, when no matter how hard we tried, we found it impossible to isolate ourselves from the gossip and innuendo. It came with the territory I guess, all a part of being who we were, and whether we liked it or not we would often be drawn into the web of intrigue and gossip simply because of that.
It wasn’t hard to imagine what some of them might be saying about us.
‘Them boys in that Gay House! I dare not think of what must be going on out there!’
‘Orgies all night I bet.’
‘And drugs too, no doubt.’
‘I don’t know . . . what’s the world coming to? This was a nice little town once. Now look at it . . . all sorts of undesirables every which way you turn!’
* * *
That afternoon when I called into the corner store after work for a few supplies I soon found out that the gossips had already set their tongues in motion.
When I entered the store there were two ladies at the counter talking. One of these was the owner of the store, Mrs Hamilton, who was always more than friendly toward us and loved a chat, while the other lady was one of the locals I had seen around town often.
As soon as I pushed on the door, ringing the little bell that was attached to it, I noticed them stop talking and look my way. The expression on the face of the customer as she turned and walked away, told me all I needed to know.
‘Hello, love,’ Mrs Hamilton cheerfully said to me, while rolling her eyes behind the other woman’s back as she walked away. Mrs Hamilton had been the one who had given us all a friendly warning when we had first arrived in town and so we always thought kindly of her.
‘Hi there, Mrs H.,’ I happily replied, heading toward the refrigerator for some milk, along with some bread and margarine, which Luke had asked me to pick up that morning.
The other customer was standing in front of a display stand of chocolate biscuits (which, by the look of her, she really didn’t need to be buying), but seemed to be watching me as I made my selections.
When I glanced at her and caught her staring at me I gave her a nod and a smile, then on an impulse I picked up the last packet of Tim Tam chocolate biscuits from right in front of her as I walked past, hoping that it was the packet she had intended for herself. I could be a real bitch like that when I wanted to.
Mrs Hamilton gave me a knowing smile as I sidled up to the counter where she was standing. I gave her a wink as I placed the groceries on the counter.
‘How are you, today love?’ she asked me.
‘Fine thanks Mrs H.,’ I answered. ‘How are things with you?’
‘Ahhh, you know . . . no use complaining,’ she replied.
I smiled at her and packed the items into a bag as she finished ringing them up on the old-style cash register.
‘That’ll be twelve fifty thanks, love,’ she said to me. I handed her a twenty.
‘Sounds like there was a bit of excitement down at the beach today,’ she said as she placed the change in my hand.
‘Really?’ I replied, deliberately acting dumb and hoping she might fill me in on what might be being said. ‘I hadn’t heard anything, I’ve been at work all day.’
‘Yes, some pervert up to no good apparently.’
‘Geez, that’s no good,’ I remarked. ‘What happened?’
‘Don’t really know just yet . . . but give it time,’ she answered, giving me a wink as she did so.
‘I’ll keep my ears open and see what I can find out,’ I said, with a chuckle. ‘You just can’t be too careful these days!’
I heard a muffled, ‘Hmmppff,’ from close behind me, but didn’t turn around. Instead I picked up my bag of items and shoved my change into a pocket.
‘See you later, Mrs H.,’ I said and turned to make my way outside.
‘Of course he knows what happened, Kayleen,’ I heard the other woman say in a forced whisper as I pulled on the door, making the little bell jingle again.
‘Now, now, Mavis. You can’t know that.’
‘You go girl, Mrs H.,’ I thought as I walked out into the sunshine. I may have been chuckling to myself as I went outside, but deep down inside I was worried. I knew exactly what people would soon be saying in town (if they weren’t already) . . . that whatever happened would have something to do with us.
It made me madder than hell, but what could I do about it? Abso-fucking-lutely nothing!
Or could I?
* * *
It was only a few minutes later when I arrived home, to be greeted by the smell of wood smoke, and meat and onions cooking on the barbeque, as I stepped out of the car. Walking over to where the barbeque stood in the garden, I found Tim and Guy there along with Aaron and Tony.
There was no sign of Luke yet, but when I glanced at my watch to see what time it was I knew that he wouldn’t be far away. Even though Tim, Guy and Luke all attended the same University, and often travelled together, their schedules were quite different, which meant that Luke often caught the bus back to Thompsonville rather than always travel with Tim and Guy.
Everything had been set up for the night by the look of things, with a table beside the barbeque carrying some food items, some chairs scattered about and an esky containing some beers on ice. I placed the bag of grocery items on the table and pulled a cold beer from the esky.
‘We having a party or something?’ I asked as I took in a mouthful of what was a bitter tasting brew. Though at least it was cold and wet.
‘Nah, nothing special,’ Guy answered.
Tony and Aaron were also swigging on a stubbie each, but they were both just taking small sips.
Guy noticed my raised eyebrows.
‘They’ll be okay,’ he said to me. ‘They’ve got to start some time. And at least here we can keep an eye on them.’
For a moment I wondered what their mothers might think, but then I remembered my own father giving me my first taste of the stuff at about the same age.
‘So . . . you’re just in time for a family meeting,’ Guy said to me as he turned over some sausages on the barbeque.
‘Errr . . . if it’s a meeting you want then Luke’s not here yet. What’s up?’
Even as I said this I was smiling inside at Guy’s use of the word family to describe our little group.
‘Have you heard about what happened today?’
‘About Thompson, you mean? Down by the beach? Yeah, I had lunch with Justin and he mentioned it,’ I answered. ‘Funny thing was, Thompson showed up just as we were leaving the pub. And what was even funnier, was that our old red-headed mate, you know, the guy that bailed us up that time and caused us all some grief, was with him.’
‘Yeah. Odd. But what’s that got to do with this meeting?’
Tim and Guy both looked down at Aaron and Tony.
‘Do you want to tell him?’ Tim asked.
Aaron set his beer on the table that was beside their seat, while Tony leant across and placed an arm around his friend’s shoulders.
Whatever it was that was coming was obviously pretty serious, as Aaron looked pale and nervous.
‘What’s happened?’ I asked. ‘It wasn’t you that was involved, was it?’
‘What?’ Aaron squeaked. ‘No way! Me and Tony were with Justin. We saw Thompson there, that’s all. It’s just . . .’
‘And?’ I urged.
‘We heard in town today that it was some kid. Thompson tried the same thing as he tried with me that time . . . only this kid wasn’t quite as lucky as me . . .’
‘What do you mean? What happened? Do you know?’
‘The kid is in hospital,’ Tim offered. ‘He was knocked around quite a bit apparently. Seems like our friend is changing his M.O. and upping the ante with it.’
M.O.? Now there’s something I haven’t heard in a long time. Not since I watched those re-runs of Hawaii Five-O and Starsky and Hutch on the Golden Oldies channel back home.
I grabbed a plastic garden chair and pulled it across to where it was in front of the two boys, placing the back of the chair facing them and then sat down, straddling it, with my arms folded across the top of the backrest.
‘Do you know who it was?’ I asked gently. Aaron simply shook his head.
‘We’re going to try and find out though . . . one way or another,’ Tony said.
I raised my eyebrows at him questioningly.
‘If it was Thompson again that’s some pretty serious shit,’ Guy said. ‘It sounds like he hasn’t actually gone this far before.’
I looked at Tony, who was looking grim, clearly concerned for Aaron, but I could also sense an underlying anger that appeared to building up within him.
‘Do you know what happened to Aaron previously? Have you been filled in?’ I asked him.
‘Yeah. I found out today. That’s why I said he should talk to all you guys. You’re as good as any family he’s got,’ Tony replied. ‘This fucker has to be stopped.’
‘What do you think he should do?’ I asked Tony directly.
‘I think he should tell the cops what happened to him,’ Tony ventured. ‘If he did the same to Aaron it stands to reason that this kid and Aaron aren’t the only ones. If he’s trying this same shit on with other kids then it’ll only be a matter of time before he does something really bad. Like I said . . . he has to be stopped.’
‘You could be right,’ I answered.
‘Look, I know I’m no brainiac or anything,’ he added, ‘but even I can tell you that if there is more than one person fingering someone for doing something, then the greater the chances of the charges sticking.’
‘Yeah. And what do you think, Aaron? Do you think you could do that?’
‘Yeah, well, it’s the right thing to do, isn’t?’ he said.
Tim and Guy and me all looked at each other. Our expressions were stony faced. We all knew what Aaron had gone through, so this would be a huge undertaking on his behalf.
I noticed that Tony reached across and placed his hand over Aaron’s hand, rubbing his thumb back and forth across the top of his hand, as if trying to offer some reassurance to his friend.
‘Have you said anything about this to your folks?’ I asked him gently.
‘No. Not that I think they would care.’
‘What do you mean?’ Tim asked, the concern in his voice obvious to everyone.
Without saying a word Aaron got up and walked away from us, going over and leaning on the wooden fence railing and looking out into the scrub in the direction of the distant beach, from where the sound of waves rolling in could easily be heard.
‘Things aren’t good at home,’ Tony whispered, as he got up and went to his friend. We all watched as he placed a caring hand on Aaron’s shoulder, which was followed by Aaron turning toward Tony, then being pulled into Tony’s arms. We watched as Aaron’s body shook with heavy sobs. Tony glanced back at us, the expression on his face one of almost total helplessness, though we could all see his affection for Aaron and his desire to help his friend.
‘Has anyone thought to call Scott? He might have some ideas,’ I asked Tim and Guy. They both shook their heads, then at Aaron and said, ‘Is that okay with you Aaron?’
He could offer only a pained expression that I took as being consent, so I then dug my phone from my pocket and dialled Justin’s number.
‘Hey, bud,’ I said when he answered. ‘Are you at home? Is Scott there?’
‘Yeah,’ Justin replied. ‘Do you want him?’
‘Yes please, if I can.’
A few moments later Scott came on the line.
‘Hey, Matt. What’s up?’ he said.
‘Did Justin fill you in about today?’ I asked him.
‘Yeah,’ he replied. ‘Bad news that was. I heard the kid is in hospital.’
‘I’ll say. Listen, we were just wondering if there was any chance that we could drag you away from watching Home and Away and you could duck out here to the house for a quick pow-wow. The barbeque is fired up, so if you haven’t eaten yet then you and Justin are more than welcome to join us. We’re just talking with Aaron about what has been happening and an . . . ummm . . . elder statesman might be useful. Would you mind?’
‘Elder statesman? Is that what I am now?’
‘Well, you’re no spring chicken,’ I laughed.
‘Whatever you reckon. Anyhow, yeah, we’re on our way. We’ll see you in a few minutes.’
Just as I disconnected Luke came around the corner of the house, having just walked from where the bus would have dropped him at the turn off up the road. To the others I said, ‘They’re on their way,’ then got up off the chair and greeted Luke with a hug and a kiss.
‘Wow. This looks heavy,’ he said, taking in the scene. I nodded to him as he looked from one of us to the other.
I saw his eyes settle on the bottles of beer that were back in Aaron and Tony’s hands, then narrow.
‘They’re okay,’ I said to him. ‘We’ll keep an eye on them. There are other things to worry about at the moment, though. Scott and Justin are on the way as well. There was a bit of an incident in town today and Aaron wants some advice, so the barbeque is more a family meeting.’
‘So. How was your day?’ I asked.
‘Dull,’ he replied. ‘I’ll go and take my stuff inside and be back out in a sec.’
‘I’ll come with you and fill you in,’ I offered, then taking his hand in mine I let him lead me inside.
After the door had closed behind us and we were heading down the hallway he said, ‘This almost sounds serious.’
‘Yeah. It is actually. Some kid got bashed up pretty bad near the toilets by the beach this morning. Justin and Aaron and Tony saw that Thompson guy, the one that bashed him that time, near the toilets shortly afterward. They reckon it might have been him that knocked the kid around today.’
‘Oh, shit,’ Luke said as we reached our bedroom.
I sat down on the edge of our bed as Luke dumped his bag on the chair by his desk, before then coming to me and standing before me. I reached out and wrapped my arms around his waist, pulling him closer to me, resting my head against his abdomen, as he placed his hands on my shoulders and leant forward and kissed the top of my head.
‘I’ve missed you today,’ I whispered to him, suddenly hungry for the feeling his touch, his warmth.
‘I’ve missed you, too. You have no idea how boring some of our lectures can be sometimes. It’s times like those that I think about you . . . about us . . . and about how lucky I am.’
‘That sounds just like me, when I’m stacking shelves,’ I remarked.
‘So, tell me about today. What else did you hear?’ he asked, as he sat down on the bed beside me and took my hand in his.
‘I don’t know much more than that, other than the kid is in hospital apparently. Tony thinks that Aaron should tell the cops what happened to him that time, so that’s what we’re going to talk about. That’s why we asked Scott to come out and join us.’
‘That sounds like a good idea.’
Just then we heard the sound of a vehicle somewhere outside, so I got to my feet and dragged Luke back onto his.
‘That sounds like Scott’s on his way,’ I said. ‘We better get back out there.’
‘In a sec,’ Luke replied, then without saying anything further he pulled me to him and placed his lips over mine, which was something I had been day-dreaming about all day.
* * *
Scott and Justin were sitting in the back yard with beers already in their hands when Luke and I made it outside a few minutes later.
‘Hey. Thanks for coming,’ I said to Scott when we joined them.
‘No problems. I just hope we can help,’ he replied.
We both looked at Aaron and Tony who were appearing unsure of themselves.
‘So,’ I began, ‘how do we handle this? I know that Aaron didn’t want to have anyone find out about what happened to him, and I can understand that, but Tony thinks Aaron needs to tell the police about it. Especially if that helps put a stop to Thompson.’
‘What do you think, Aaron?’ Scott asked. ‘Do you understand what will happen if you do speak up?’
I watched as Tony placed his hand over Aaron’s and gave a reassuring squeeze.
‘I . . . I don’t know,’ he answered after a long pause. ‘I know I probably should, but . . .’
‘Aaron, it’s okay,’ Scott reassured him. ‘What Tony has suggested is absolutely the right thing to do, of course, but it’s really all about what you want to do; not what anybody else thinks you should do. I understand what your fears are, but just remember that you’re a part of our little family here, and no matter what you decide we’ll all support you in whatever way is needed.’
Slowly he lifted his head and looked around at us all. The angst. The fear. The uncertainty. It was there for us all to see.
‘Do you really mean that?’ he finally asked, when his gaze eventually settled back on Scott.
‘Absolutely,’ Scott answered. ‘And I’m just as sure that your own family would support you as well.’
‘You don’t know them like I know them,’ he said simply.
‘Maybe you should just give them that chance?’ I said. ‘Sometimes family can really surprise you.’
As I said that I felt Luke’s hand squeeze mine. I looked across at him and saw him smile.
‘So . . . what do I do then?’ Aaron asked.
‘First things first, I think,’ Scott said. ‘How about I talk to the local sergeant and find out what I can. I know him and I’m sure he’ll understand if I explain the situation to him . . . without mentioning any names of course.’
‘Can you actually do that?’ Tim asked. ‘I mean, without giving any details? I would have thought that they’d want to know it all if there was a crime committed.’
‘Like I said,’ Scott said, smiling. ‘I know the sergeant.’
‘What about the other kid?’ I asked. ‘Should we find out how he is first? And can we find out if it was actually Thompson that did it? I mean, if it wasn’t, then there’s no point in Aaron saying anything at all, is there?’
‘I . . . I think I should talk to him,’ Aaron said.
‘Are you sure that’s such a good idea?’ I replied.
‘If I mention Thompson by name he’s bound to react, isn’t he? I’ll know straight away, then.’
‘If he’s a local kid then that might work,’ Scott said. ‘But don’t go there or do anything until I find out what’s what from the sergeant, okay? My guess is that this kid won’t have fingered Thompson, otherwise the police would have already, at the very least, picked up Thompson. If that’s the case, then your visit to the hospital could be a good idea.’
‘If Thompson gets named by the kid,’ Justin added, ‘and then the three of us can truthfully say we saw him near there, plus with Aaron saying what happened to him last time at the same place, that would nearly be enough, wouldn’t it?’
‘I’m sure of it,’ Scott replied.
‘But what if the kid doesn’t say anything?’ Justin asked.
‘Then neither will I,’ Aaron quickly said. ‘I’m not going to make a total dick of myself unless there’s a fuckin’ good reason.’
‘Fair enough,’ Justin replied.
‘So, that’s it then? That’s the plan?’ I asked, then turning to Aaron and Tony added, ‘Are you guys both okay with that?’
Together they nodded their accord.
‘All right then,’ I said, while at the same raising my beer. ‘Here’s to us, and to ridding the town of one oversized pest!’
‘Hear, hear,’ Scott responded, while raising his beer to the evening. ‘Now, are those steaks done yet?’
* * *
The rest of the evening passed by with not another word of Thompson or the events of the day being said. Despite the circumstances by which it had been brought about it proved to be an evening of friendly companionship, with fun and laughter, and the sounds of more than just the occasional mosquito filling the night air.
Thankfully Aaron and Tony didn’t let the occasion get them down and they seemed to be enjoying themselves, even though we did limit them to just the one beer each, despite their half-hearted grumbles. They both knew that we were looking out for them and accepted their boundaries with good grace.
As darkness descended we continued to drink and chat, at least until it became obvious that we were about to be invaded by mosquitoes and sandflies, so we started packing up everything and taking it inside.
Scott and Justin were the first to call it quits, saying their farewells once the cleaning up had been done, but not before inviting us all for a gathering at their place the following night to discuss the situation further and assess what progress we might be able to make tomorrow, to which we all readily agreed.
Before they left Scott walked over and squatted down in front of Aaron, putting one hand behind his neck and leaning in close to him.
‘Don’t go getting yourself worked up over this, Aaron,’ he said. ‘It’s going to be okay. Okay?’
Aaron looked up at him with eyes wide. ‘I know,’ he replied. ‘Thank you.’
Scott smiled at him and then reached forward and gave him a quick kiss on the forehead, before turning his attention to Tony, placing a hand firmly on his knee.
‘Tony, you just make sure you look after this boy,’ Scott said to him.
‘Yes, sir. I intend to,’ Tony answered, which brought smiles to all our faces, not the least of which was Aaron’s, who cast Tony a long and admiring glance.
‘Come on SIR,’ Justin said, as he began dragging Scott away. ‘Leave these kids alone. It’s time we went home so that someone else can stand to attention!’
We all laughed and said goodnight and watched them as they headed to Scott’s truck, hand in hand, a perfect couple, despite their obvious differences in age.
After waving them farewell, we watched from the front steps as the tail lights of Scott’s old Ford pick-up bumped their way down our road and disappeared into the night. Then when they were gone, Tony got to his feet and dragged Aaron up from his seat as well. They didn’t say a word, just headed inside, hand in hand. We saw the light come on in the window of Ben and Samantha’s old room, which was now Tony’s room; then a few moments later it went out.
It wasn’t the first time that the pair of them had retreated to the privacy of the room, but Aaron would always head home a short time later so as to not annoy his parents any more than he had to. This time it looked like he would be staying for the night, for the very first time.
Luke looked at me in surprise. I winked back at him. ‘It was only a matter of time,’ I said to him.
‘Yeah, I guess you’re right.’
The rest of us had all discussed the situation with the boys amongst ourselves a few times and had come to the conclusion that the boys would eventually reach this point. We also believed that whatever happened behind the bedroom door could stay behind the bedroom door, but both Aaron and Tony knew that we were there for them if the need ever arose.
As for either of the boys’ parents knowing what was going on, well, we all agreed that that was a matter for the boys themselves, and sadly, from what both of them had told us, none of their parents seemed to be taking a great deal of interest in what either of them got up to anyhow. I know that in Tony’s case he had virtually been disowned by his mother, Luke’s aunt, while Aaron’s parents, from what I could find out around town, spent most of their time, and money, at the local sports club drinking beer and playing the poker machines. All things considered it was hardly surprising that both Tony and Aaron were as independent as they were.
After Aaron and Tony disappeared the rest of us sat watching the television for a little while, before eventually Tim and Guy decided to call it a night as well, leaving just Luke and me alone in the lounge room, cuddled up together but not really taking much notice of what was on the television.
Eventually we both fell asleep, with Luke leaning back against me on the large lounge and with my arms wrapped tightly around him, and that was where we stayed until sometime in the very early hours of the morning when I woke to total darkness, with someone obviously having turned off both the lights and television for us, while letting us sleep on.
When my eyes adjusted to the dim light I glanced around the room but it was still and quiet, so I closed my eyes once more and tried to drift off again. Luke stirred in my arms but didn’t wake. I kissed him on the cheek and felt him snuggle in closer to me; then we both let sleep take us once more, at least until daylight, when the bright morning sun blasted into the room, almost setting fire to the pale lemon walls and blinding our sleep-filled eyes.
* * *
If this were a perfect world, a place where justice could take its true course, then Andy Thompson would already be in a place befitting his deeds. My only hope, as Luke and I showered and shaved this morning, was that today would bring with it exactly what he deserved.
The new day was a Friday, bringing with it sunshine and a promise of change in our small town; even though he who would be most affected still had little idea of what was about to be brought down upon him.
Much to our surprise Aaron and Tony came out of the bedroom together as Luke and I were having breakfast, looking somewhat sheepish and dressed only in their shorts, which barely seemed to hide their morning wood. With their hair all messed up and while rubbing sleep from their eyes they said good morning to us, before retreating to the bathroom together. It looked like it may have been quite a night; although we never heard a thing.
Tony had settled into the routine here quite quickly and it appeared that Aaron would as well – assuming, of course, that their relationship developed to that level. Of course it seemed somewhat premature to be thinking along those lines, considering both their ages, but deep down I was secretly hoping that they had both found true love and that this wouldn’t be just another teen romance that starts brightly, burns fiercely and eventually fizzles out to nothing. Maybe that was just the romantic in me, but I figured that everyone deserves to live in hope that true love awaits us all.
The day progressed as normal, with all of us going about our usual routines and heading off to wherever we needed to be. It was sometime shortly after lunch when I had a visit at the shop from Scott and Justin, both of whom looked rather glum. I took a break and we went outside to talk for a few minutes.
‘Well, how did you go? Did you find anything out?’ I asked them straight up.
‘At first, not a lot,’ Scott replied. ‘The Sergeant couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me who the kid was. Nor would he say if there was anyone under suspicion.’
‘So what does that mean?’ I asked.
‘Exactly that. It’s a closed shop as far as they are concerned. They said that the case is still under investigation, but you can guarantee that unless they come up with some cold, hard facts then it won’t go any further.’
‘But . . .’ Justin said, ‘we did mention that we thought that someone else may have had the same thing happen to them and that it was suggested that Thompson was involved! Plus, I mentioned that I was with some friends near there yesterday and we actually saw Thompson hanging around there.’
‘And?’ I urged.
‘And you should have seen the Sergeants eyes light up when we said it,’ Scott added. ‘We also said that this other someone might be willing to talk to them if it meant being able to stop it from happening again.’
‘No names mentioned?’
‘No. None,’ Scott replied. ‘He did give us a lecture about withholding information and hindering a police investigation, but quite frankly, by the sounds of it, I would say the old Sarge would be happy for any information he could get. When Justin said that he saw Thompson there he started walking up and down and scratching his chin, like he was deep in thought.’
‘Well, let’s hope then that he goes back to the kid and lets him know he’s not the only one around that it has happened to. If they all speak up then something might actually get done.’
‘That’s what I’m counting on,’ Scott replied. ‘Anyhow, we’ll still see you guys tonight, right?’
‘Yeah, of course.’
‘Okay then. We can talk about it some more then. We’ll be seeing you.’
They left after that and I went back to unpacking stock and filling up racks of car seat covers. I was constantly amazed that this little shop in this little town always seemed to sell so much stock, but I didn’t care much about that today. Today I was only on auto-pilot, not giving a lot of thought to what I was doing, instead I was just going through the motions of doing what I had to.
A short while later I heard the buzzer go off that indicated the automatic sliding door had opened and someone had come into the shop. I didn’t look up, as I knew my boss, the store owner, was at the counter but moments later I sensed someone walk past me and glanced around to see who it was.
My heart sank when I saw Red and one of his mates walking down the aisle toward the display of oils and other fluids that are used in vehicles.
He looked directly at me and sneered as he passed me, then mumbled something to his goon.
‘What was that?’ I asked him.
‘I said, some blokes around here should be more careful who they hang out with.’
‘Yeah, they should,’ I said, looking straight at him, before shifting my gaze to his mate.
The two of them shared a little laugh and kept on walking down the aisle, stopping directly in front of the oil section.
I watched as he picked up a bottle of motor oil plus a small bottle of brake fluid and said, ‘Yeah, this should do,’ then headed to the counter and paid for it, before leaving.
After they had gone my boss looked across at me with a curious expression. ‘Friends of yours?’ he asked.
‘No fucking chance of that, Dave,’ I replied, before turning my attention back to the job at hand.
To be continued . . .