Tell A Tale in 500 Words

The Worst of Nights By Mark Tissington

I never knew people had so much blood in them.

When Bozo stuck his blade in the bloke it was like he'd punched him; he just folded over and went down. Bozo ran around crowing, teeth clenched and savage, then kicked the bloke, "Get up you loser!" I pulled the hood from the bloke's face; the rain was hitting his eyes but he didn't blink. "He's dead Bozo," I said, trying not to shake.

Bozo paused... "Like everyone who crosses this crew eh?" His snarl didn't convince me.

As we stood, trying to read the future, the wet pavement down toward the subway began to run with blood. It was thick and looked black in the streetlights.

We split and met up later in the youth-club. I could see pale faces, hard eyes and clamped jaws on everyone. I thought that we must be screaming guilt.

"Man up you bastards," said Bozo. "Let's play cards." We all grabbed chairs but Jimmy, the guy who ran the youth-club, shouted me over for pool.

"You're quiet?" he said, lifting an eyebrow.

"Just cold." I cued off, the click of the balls and the thump as they hit the cushions of the pool table sounded normal, comforting.

Jimmy's eyes slid across to Bozo. "He's no good you know. You lads are of an age when a playground bully ain't what you need."

"Yeah well, he lives next door." I potted three balls on the trot. Glancing up, Jimmy was studying me.

"Fancy a game of snooker later?" he asked.

"Why not," I replied, "Always wanted to try that."

At ten the music went off and Jimmy went to get his keys. In the toilet Bozo said "Mine after?" I knew he wanted to talk, to plan.

"Yeah but later, Jimmy wants me to play snooker." Near enough to the truth I thought.

Bozo leaned toward me, "Not baling are you?" Our eyes met.

"Nah man, it would look odd if I said no."

As Jimmy drove I looked inside the car. "Nice," I said.

"Hah! It's knackered but it's mine. Gets us around though."

I noticed the picture of his wife and kids stuck to the visor. "How do you do this?" I mumbled.

"Do what?" Jimmy looked across.

"Family, house, car - all that. You were born on the estate too," I muttered.

"I went to prison. For 5 years," Jimmy frowned, "I took courses; English and maths, then when I came out I stayed away from here for a long time."

After our game Jimmy dropped me off, "Take care," he looked hard at me.

I couldn't go home, Bozo would be waiting on the stairs. I walked toward town, thinking about Jimmy.

The Police station smelled like school and the lights hurt my eyes. The guy on the desk glared.

"It was me," I said, "I stabbed that bloke earlier."

It was the best thing to do, for a better life than I had before.

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