I sat down to write a chapter for my work in progress, ‘Somebody’s Hero’ and this wee tale came out instead. It feels quite similar in tone to my debut novel, Bobby’s Boy available here so I think I might carry on with it and see where it goes.
It’s called ‘Head Boy’.
What a fucking week, and here I sit in a community centre hall waiting for the guy who runs this anger management course to arrive. Collin Bottomley, there’s a name that has ‘target’ ingrained in it, is late as usual. I can absolutely guarantee you that his tardiness isn’t due to his being in the bathroom combing his hair or adjusting his clothing with loving pride. Collin is a loser’s loser. Dressed baldy-head to athlete-infected toe in Matalan’s finest polyester, Collin emanates beige through his every pore. From his Crocs and socks combo (beige) to his wee pocket protector that valiantly holds his pens and protects his short-sleeved shirt pocket from any wayward ink; every fibre of this guy screams out ‘I’m a forty year old man who shares a bath with my mother and still wets the bed’. Even his haircut looks like a tea-towel over the shoulders, pudding bowl on the head, mother’s cut. I imagine the kids in his street making his life a misery, throwing toilet paper at his house and chasing him along the street calling some imaginative nickname. Little kids are good at those.
The community centre is permeated with the stench of old people, babies, incontinence, Dettol, shite and death. I spot the leftovers of a poorly cleaned shite-stain on the wall by the door and peer closer to make out the faded message, written in excrement, long ago cleaned (poorly) but still visible. ‘Wullie shat here’. I sit wondering if ‘Wullie’ delivered his writing material fresh into his hand before leaving his touching prose, or if he brought his shite, wrapped neatly in some newspaper, ready for his next artistic project. I’m finding it difficult enough to believe that I have to attend this meaningless course, without having to read ‘Wullie’s’ philosophical musings whilst I wait for my counsellor. I mean, anger management for fuck-sake, what the fuck do I need with anger management? I’m the coolest fucking guy I know.
This Collin’s late again. Every fucking day he keeps me waiting here for up to an hour, like I’ve got nothing else to be doing but wait on this plastic-covered social incompetent deciding which coloured pen he’ll be using to note down my deficiencies and/or progress before coming to meet me. Part of me knows of course that it’s part of the process, a test to see if I can be patient. I can, on the outside. Inside I’m raging; I could’ve put another hour in on Call of Duty in the time I’ve spent here sitting staring at the formerly cheery, faded purple, woodchip walls adorned with quite literally the shittest graffiti man could produce.
When he does get here, this Collin, I’ll nod, look thoughtful and agree that I really should think things through before I act, that I should consider others’ feelings. I’ll tell him that I’ve been really upset since the incident and have thought of nothing other than how to control my temper. I’ll say all the things he wants to hear, tick all his ‘the offender has seen that there are consequences to his action’ boxes, and get the fuck back to school before this wee dick decides that he wants to be my boyfriend. Imagine my mates saw me sitting here wi’ this wee poof spewing phrases like ‘ thanks, Collin, that’s a big help’ or ‘Yes, Collin, I see how that technique would be a huge help to me’, through a haze of red hatred. Not that Collin would spot the venom in me; he’s lapping up my act of penitence. This guy lives to be needed, to be useful, to ‘fix’ people. What a fuckin’ loser.
Guys like Collin are all the same. They take comfort in the belief that people like me have a damaged background; that we don’t know any better or don’t understand society’s rules. We do, we just don’t give a shit. Collin and his type believe that with education or therapy we can be ‘rehabilitated’; that we can be fixed. We can’t, or more accurately, we won’t. Here’s the truth. People like me just enjoy being bad bastards. It’s quite simply great fun for us and we love how incomprehensible our actions seem to you. To us, you, the normal folk, are the walking dead and a source of endless amusement, to be manipulated, used and discarded by me and mine as the whim takes us.
Collin and his type take comfort in the belief that we have demons lurking, guys like me. Not true; I had a wonderful childhood. No deep-seeded angst hidden under my ‘fuck you’ attitude. No hidden pain forged in the furnace of some creepy uncle’s or some priest’s unwanted sexual attentions. No divorced parents, or violent incidents or sibling rivalry, or any of that shite. Nope, no-one tampered with me or beat me or called me useless or put unrealistic pressures on me to succeed on me, or ignored me, or over-indulged me; I was disciplined fairly and consistently by two parents who loved me and each other unconditionally. An ideal childhood really.
My mum’s a teacher and whilst I love my old Mammy, I can’t stand teachers. What a bunch of self-important wankers the teaching profession is riddled with. These people spend so much of their time talking down to those in their charge that a thin-lipped scowl and accusatory stare over reading glasses perched at the end of their alcoholic noses are as standard on most teachers faces as the ubiquitous mug of coffee in their hands and nicotine stains on their trembling, fingers. It’s impossible for someone like me to take a teacher seriously. Most of these people are straight out of school, into University, back into school again; and they stand there with a straight face giving the young team advice on how to succeed in life. They aint ever lived one, a real, full life that is, but it doesn’t stop them from telling other folk what they should be doing with theirs. Honestly, it’s like a nun giving Sex-Ed to a hooker. Imagine my despair that I’ve had to spend the best years of my life, so far, in a school surrounded by the torn-faced arseholes.
Dad’s the only thing worse than a teacher. A fucking copper. Good guy though my old man…for a copper.
It’s true that I had a very ordinary, and if being honest, boring early childhood. Happily for me and my monochrome wee world, I discovered by the age of around 9 that I find great enjoyment in fucking with and fucking over people at every opportunity. Vandalism, kidnap and shaving of small family pets, urinating in letter boxes, all innocent enough fun for a lad and a great way to learn the trade. These days, as an experienced torturer of the general populace, I have a vast array of strategies at my disposal, each designed to bring a little misery into my chosen victim’s day and a wee smile to my lips. Everyone’s fair game for my attentions. Pensioners, kids, teachers, polis’; all have provided me with my fun over the years. I’m usually pretty careful to maintain a sweet exterior though. I’m a fly bastard y’see. Never get caught. That bastard Bowie, though, he got under my skin. I let my temper get the better of me there. That was stupid, but I can’t beat myself up too much, ‘cos he had it coming and by Christ it was fun.
The bottom line is that I don’t want to change and no great tragedy has made me this way. I choose to do the things I do because it makes gives me a thrill to watch daft cunts squirm.
Thinking back, I maybe shouldn’t have hit Bowie with a chair, but he really had been asking for it for months, always on my fucking back ‘Have you finished this assignment yet, Diller? You have to take responsibility for your work, David. You’re not dressed very smartly, are you David?’ The guy’s voice went through me. He sounded like a cross between David Beckham and auld Jack Duckworth. Over the course of that one week I stupidly gave the fucker every excuse he needed to get me sent here with Collin. And here sits said Matalan-boy telling me how to live, when the prick’s still living with his mum.
Aye it’s been a hell of a week.
End of Excerpt