“‘fraid it won’t be ready till tomorrow,” say the overalled knees poking out from under my silver Fiat Panda.
“But the receptionist said four thirty?” When I panic my voice goes all high and warbly. The mechanic is probably picturing some slip of a thing, half my age.
“Somebody’s had a go at your wheels. Nicked half your nuts. Some proper scum about, I tell ya. Lucky I spotted it.”
I sigh out a forfucksake. The blister on my right heel throbs softly, as if in sympathy. Monday is not a good day to leave work early and these are not good shoes for running after buses.
“What time tomorrow then?”
“Gis a sec…”
I replay the bus ride in my head; the meandering diversion through my old neighbourhood, past the youth club where I used to work. I’d kept my eyes fixed on the playing fields out the opposite window, breathing to the count of five until we were two blocks clear. You can spend years avoiding something but life will always find a way to bite you on the arse. Anxiety sufferers carry this truth like some people carry umbrellas in case of a hurricane.
The light is fading now, stealing the colour from the garish signage and broken-down cars on the forecourt. A band of cold damp air has wrapped itself around my neck. At the thought of the return journey, it tightens to an icy stranglehold. But I’ve got no cash for a taxi and –
The gang are outside the youth club. It’s been going on for months. Last week they dented the minibus and set fire to the wheelie bins. Our girls are being followed home.
Tonight’s game: shouting obscenities into the sports hall. They take turns to pop up at an open window.
Here’s Trevor Creevy, leader of the pack. He teeters, half in, half out.
“Alright, gay boys. Who wants fingering?”
Empty laughter from outside. The smack of trainer on concrete as he drops back down. I hoick myself up to threaten them with the police. A rotten lot, these lads; fruit too bruised to salvage. They’re so off their faces, so used to me ranting at them, that my presence barely registers. Pale green phlegm splatters the glass as I lower myself back down onto parquet.
And I’m walking away trying to look strong, thinking: our funders want the numbers up…. a safe space… greater ethnic diversity… if it weren’t for these arseholes we could turn it around… I could turn it around.
So I turn around.
And there’s Trevor’s head again.
And twenty-six pairs of eyes on me.
And Gemma Parry’s rabbit-in-the-headlights face saying I’ve got nowhere else to go, Chrissie.
And something snaps.
And I’m marching – nineteen again – skinhead, black bomber jacket, cherry red DMs.
And I grab the window and it pivots, heavy in my hands.
And I slam it down on Trevor’s head with all the rage I can muster.
Glass at my feet as Trevor hits the concrete and inside a shriek from Louise Gapper and gasps of shit and fucking hell and scrambling for a view and everybody out the hall now and running to the entrance whilst checking my fleece pocket for keys and shouting at Trish to call 999 and Trevor’s blood spilling out onto the gravel and fag ends and already it’s next week’s supervision and Gentle John’s saying I’m in a tricky position Chrissie and naturally we’re all protective of the young people and – I’m screwed.
But the gang never came back.
And the kids declared me a hero and called me a ‘badass’.
And I got off with a slapped wrist.
And the club went from strength to strength and even bagged an award or two.
But it’s been six years, a house move and a boring desk job and I still see that blood.
And sometimes, instead of stitches, it’s a funeral… reprisals… a heart-thumping phone call from school.
– Trevor Creevy’s scarred bald head slides out from beneath my hapless motor.
I look for a window to jump out of but realise I’m already outside.
And Trevor unleashes his trademark smirk.
And there are names laced round his bicep and a fat gold ring.
And he’s stretching up an oily meathook.
But then he just takes my hand softly and says, “Fair play, Chrissie. Fair play.”
And his other hand touches the place on his head where our lives crossed over as Trevor lifts himself up from the ground.
Lucy Goldring is based in Bristol (UK) and writes short and shorter fiction. She is also developing her comedy writing. An earlier version of Trevor’s Head was shortlisted by Flash 500. You can read more of Lucy’s work via her Twitter at @livingallover.