THE ANGEL'S HEAD: CHAPTER 16 -- One the Crescent

The Nuttalls had stayed on the Crescent all Sunday. After they had got back from church it had been too hot to do anything else. Ma was in a good mood for once and she was busy cooking a proper Sunday dinner, although at this time it was more like tea. At church she had spent a long time talking to the priest after the service. Not in confession, just sat talking in the Lady Chapel. The brothers had waited in the shade of the big doors where it was nice and cool. There were biscuits and orange squash too so they didn’t mind hanging around. Frankie and Johnny were especially happy because this was the first time that they had been let off having to go to Sunday school. It had taken a lot of nagging but eventually she agreed that they were probably too old.

‘No more colouring in the Apostles,’ Frankie said under his breath, then quieter so that not even his brothers could hear: ‘Thank Christ!’

The mood lasted all through the day. Big Brother Conor was in Ma’s good books. He hadn’t been to church true but he had brought home a whole leg of lamb that he said he’d won in a meat raffle. Ma didn’t even give him the usual suspicious questions that she kept for when he brought home something expensive.

By the late afternoon it had cooled down enough for Conor to break out the tools and start working on his bike again. The younger brothers sat around watching. They were all starting to get hungry too and the smells from the kitchen were making it worse.

‘So, you all looking forward to school tomorrow?’ Conor liked to tease his brothers, and they were always happy to rise to it.

‘You had to spoil our last day didn’t you, you big idiot!’ Frankie shouted but his eyes were laughing.

‘Yeh, well, you lot need schooling. Frankie needs it more than any kid I’ve ever met.’ He grinned as Frankie started to twitch. ‘It’s just a shame Frankie that they wouldn’t let you into dog training school. Then at least they would be able to get you to sit down when you’re told.’ The others laughed as Frankie jumped up and started pacing.

‘I’m good at school. I never give teachers any mouth. Not in class any way.’

‘Why are you always getting into trouble then?’

‘It’s the other kids.’

‘You shouldn’t let them wind you up. Try not to get into so many fights this year, eh, for Ma’s sake at least?’

‘Okay, but I’m not the one you should be telling. Not today anyway.’ Frankie stepped away from Andrew’s attempted “Shut up Frankie!” kick.

‘What’s going on?’ Conor asked. Four months in prison had taught him to spot trouble well before it came on top and his brothers were not nearly that subtle.

‘Nothing.’ Andrew said and Frankie looked away.

‘Come on,’ Conor put his spanner down and turned to face his three brothers, ‘it’s okay, I won’t tell Ma.’

‘Promise?’

‘I swear upon the blessed virgin herself.’ He put on a stupid accent that sounded a bit like the priest and crossed himself. The boys laughed.

‘Alright,’ Andrew took a breath. ‘I’m going to have a fight with one of the posh kids from the Avenue tomorrow.’

‘Posh kids? What posh kids?’

‘The lads from the Avenue.’

‘The Avenue? They’re not posh.’

‘They’ve got more than us.’

‘Ha! Everybody’s got more than us. It doesn’t mean that they are posh though. It’s just an ordinary school that they go to you know, even if they do wear a tie and blazer.’ The others shrugged and Conor smiled. ‘But tell me about the fight. Who are you fighting?’

‘Turner.’

‘The builder’s son? He’s twice your size.’

Andrew nodded.

‘Good man! You’ll run rings ‘round him. Just don’t get too close or he’ll flatten you.’

‘No way!’ Frankie shouted. He’s a big fat pig.’

‘Oh, he’s big alright, but he’s not that fat. What are you fighting for anyway?’

‘His gang desecrated the graveyard.’ Andrew spoke with his most serious voice. He scowled when Conor snorted with laughter. ‘Hey! I mean it. What they did was really bad.’

Andrew told Conor all about the Angel and what they had done to her. He only mentioned the old football mask once and didn’t talk about why it had upset him. After a morning spent in church it was easier to talk about blasphemy and respect for the memories of the dead.  Conor listened without interrupting until Andrew finished, then he puffed his cheeks and let out a big theatrical sigh.

‘Well now, that was all a bit naughty,’ he said. ‘But it’s not as if it’s our family’s grave. Why did they think vandalising in the cemetery would be a good way to make you lot mad?’

‘Why? ‘cos we banned them from going in there!’ Frankie shouted and Andrew nodded.

‘And why did you do that?’

‘They banned us from the Avenue.’

‘Why did you want to go to the Avenue?’

‘To annoy them.’ Andrew said simply and then grinned as his brother laughed.

‘I see,’ Conor said eventually. ‘So in a way, it was you lot that started this?’

‘No way.’ Frankie and Johnny both shouted. ‘They’ve been getting at us for ages. We’ve just been defending ourselves.’

‘Yeah and tomorrow you’re really going to have to defend yourselves – against big kids with big fists.’

‘We’re not scared. We’ve got a plan.’

‘Oh, really? A plan is it?’ Conor was being sarcastic and that annoyed Andrew.

‘Yes. A plan. We’re going to get the fat boy on his own so that he can’t hide behind the rest of his mates.’

‘Then you’re all going to jump him?’

‘No!’ Andrew was offended. ‘Then it will be one against one. Just me and him.’

‘He might beat you, you know?’

‘As long as I get a few good ones in myself then I don’t mind. At least that will make him think twice about doing something like this again.’ There was a pause while everyone let these words sink in. It was the first time Andrew had admitted he might not win and Frankie and Johnny were horrified.

‘Do you want me to come along? I could make sure that thing stay fair.

‘Thanks but then they might say I was hiding behind my big brother.’

‘I wouldn’t get involved.’

‘I know, but still…’

‘Okay then.’

‘You won’t tell Ma?’

‘Of course I won’t tell Ma. If I did, it would somehow end up being all my fault.’

‘Probably.’ Andrew said and the younger ones whooped and howled to banish any thought of defeat.

More about the author

About the author

Russell McAlpine abandoned his polymath ambitions to concentrate on writing and living a quiet life on the South Coast.

The Angel’s Head is his second novel.

He is also working on the screen play of a low budget zombie movie for children and writes poetry that will go to grave with him.

He spends the rest of his spare time watching the horizon.

Follow Russell on Twitter.

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