Don’t pull us apart
Tony was still on a cloud about St Charity’s Primary School, Parable Lane. It was old world, set among trees, full of people he liked; Wayne the tame thug, Jason, Lee and Trent his followers – all babies compared with life in Basham Street. Tony had also taken to Horatio Small who stammered a bit but really liked books and who had to be protected from irritating Wayne! Tony respected Mr. Thomas, his form master, who, unlike his teachers at Basham Street did not think the pupil was always wrong. He adored Sister Charitas who came in on Thursday and Friday to do what the school timetable called ‘Religious Studies’’ and Sister called ‘Think and Act’.
He had never seen anything like Sister Charitas in his life. She wore an ankle length grey-brown dress and sandals, had a rope round her middle and a black veil hiding her hair. Like his friend Horatio, Sister looked as if she needed someone to look out for her and somehow reminded him of Michaela.
Then there was Lucy. She was in his year. Her hair was long and black, her eyes brown, her small mouth like a pursed butterfly; her grandparents had been cousins and they escaped on a boat from Vietnam. She was sitting on the glass window side of the library gallery and he was half watching her over the top of a tattered but really interesting book: ‘Stories of Ancient Greece’.
The sound of voices coming through the wall behind him crept up on Tony so quietly, that he had been listening to a conversation not meant for him for some time without realizing it and it had got too interesting for him to stop listening. Not that anyone had told him not to listen to talk that wasn’t meant for him, he just had a twitchy feeling in the back of his stomach.
Mr. Roland the headmaster was speaking.
“…I agree that there has been a big change in Wayne Down’s behaviour. Three months ago I would have expelled him.”
“Do you expect it to last?” This was the voice of Miss Elsie McClure, the only teacher at St Charity’s Tony did not quite care for. “After all” the voice went on “we have only had the Morgan boy for a few weeks.”
With a shock Tony realized that he was the Morgan boy. He inched closer to the wall.
“Yes,”; It was Tony’s form master, Mr. Thomas speaking “but look at the result, Wayne likes him, he wants young Morgan to like him back. Yesterday Wayne and Jason Towers had Small by the bushes. I was about to go over and break it up but Tony got there before me and Wayne let go of the wretched lad as if he burned; he doesn’t want Tony to think he’s the monster he has been. He wants Tony to like him.”
“Is Horatio Small a ‘wretched lad?” Mr. Roland inquired anxiously. It was Sister Charitas who answered
“No. He just has wretched parents who called him Horatio.” There was laughter. “I’m convinced,” Sister went on “that we have to prepare these kids for a world of peace or I would say he needs lessons in wrestling.”
“What about judo or kungfu?” said a voice Tony did not recognise.
After the laughter Mr Roland said,
“Alright Sister, you find an instructor.” But don’t teach Wayne. Can we get back to Wayne? I take it that now you don’t want to expel him?” General noises of agreement followed.
“As I see it, headmaster, Mr. Thomas said, “Wayne is improving, for now, but young Morgan is also improving. He’s happy here. He was at Basham Street CP.” Several of the staff groaned. “He told me we didn’t know how good we had it here! Morgan’s a popular lad and he is extremely bright.
“He likes Wayne because he finds the boy light relief after real full-scale punishment, bullying and yes, abuse. If you pull our Wayne out now it will unsettle young Morgan. We don’t want to pull the wheat out with the weeds and I’m not sure Wayne is a weed…”
The bell went for the end of break.