A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

It's time to return home...


The week couldn’t have been over quickly enough for both boys. It wasn’t so much the weather but the fear they both found clinging to them, that the moment they took their eyes off their bikes they might go missing again. And clambering over the rocks that separated the land from the beach encumbered with bicycles was no great joy. In fact, it was a spoiler.

So the day for their return home a week after arriving at their first (and they decided their last) holiday without parents arrived, and they set off soon after it was light enough for them to be able to see when it came to dismantling the tent and packing their few belongings away ready for the long ride home.

During the week, the remaining exposures on Taylor’s camera had been used and the shots they took of each other on the beach were intended to make it look as though they’d had the time of their lives. They’d even made half a sandcastle between them, and the image taken at the right angle to make it look magnificent when the film was processed, would hopefully look as if they’d crafted a work of genius.

Come on then,” grunted Taylor when they were ready for the off, “it’s your turn to win the race!”

It’s not a race,” informed Ricky.

The make-believe race, then,” grinned Taylor.

You can call it what you like, I’m not going to knacker myself in the name of something that doesn’t matter,” grunted his friend, “I’m just going to do as little work as is necessary, and no more.”

Fair do’s,” agreed Taylor, and they were off. To start with, and because it was early morning still and because, too, there was far less road traffic in the nineteen sixties as there would be in years to come, they pedalled along two a-breast so that they could talk, though they were both of the opinion that there was little to be said that hadn’t been debated between them ad-nauseam already that week.

I wonder if I’ll ever see her again,” wondered Taylor after a huge silence during which the only sounds had been the crunch of tyres on a gravelly road and the gasping of two boys trying not to sound breathless.

See who, as if I didn’t know?” asked Ricky.

Taylor wobbled slightly as he replied. “The beautiful Angela. Angela of the lovely legs. Angela of the sparkling eyes,” sighed Taylor.

The trouble with you, mate, is you’re obsessed,” said Ricky.

Don’t you ever get obsessed?” asked Taylor, curiously. He hardly knew anything about his friend even though they’d just spent a week together, other than the curious facts that his father had drowned years earlier and his step father was head over heels in love with his mother, which he supposed was only to be expected. He’d met Ricky’s mum and remembered that she was far from being ugly. That might not seem much to remember a woman by unless you bear in mind that most of his friends’ mums left no impression on him at all after he’d seen them.

I like cricket,” replied Ricky to the obsession question, “my step dad takes me to it when he’s not shagging my mum!”

Taylor wasn’t quite sure what shagging might entail though he suspected it had something to do with a few of the intimate things that were supposed to go on between men and their wives, so he said nothing but passed a quizzical look in his friend’s direction.

Cricket?” he asked.

Ricky nodded, and that was that as far as conversation was concerned. Instead, Taylor set an even pace, gritting his teeth and making sure he didn’t fall behind, and found himself wondering why Ricky kept looking behind them, almost mysteriously as if he were a spy on a raid into enemy territory and didn’t want to be seen.

They had cycled for about ten miles and he was feeling in need of a rest, and he spotted a green area ahead where they could pause without being in the way of any traffic that might decide to come their way.

I’m stopping for a breather,” he said to Ricky, “we’ve got all day so there’s no point in making it into a race.”

Okay,” replied Ricky, and he wobbled as he took one final glance behind them, almost knocking into Taylor

What’s up?” gasped the flailing Taylor, “take it easy, mate!”

I think we’re being followed,” replied Ricky.

What? Someone on a bike?” asked Taylor, frowning, “how do you know whoever it is is following us?”

Because where we go, he goes,” replied Ricky, “I’ve had my eyes on him for a good two miles already.”

But who would it be?” asked Taylor, puzzled, “Anyway, who would want to follow you and me? After all, we’re only going home, and he can’t know where that is.

I think I recognise him,” said Ricky, pulling onto the green lay-by. “Now watch!”

The two dismounted and stood on the verge, holding their bikes. As they did so the diminutive figure, a hundred yards or so away, did the same, and seemed to merge with the hedgerow at the side of the road.

See!” pointed Ricky, “and I think it’s the thief who stole our bikes. Remember him? The vicar’s son who they said was a bit simple?”

Davey? Davey … what was his name? Davey Pickett?”

That’s the one.”

But he’s only a kid…”

That didn’t stop him from nicking our bikes and it hasn’t stopped him from following us,” said Ricky forcefully, “you hang on here, try to look as if you’re two of us if you can, and I’m going to sneak back and see what he’s up to.”

Okay, but go easy on him. He probably needs help rather than being bullied!”

Taylor, my chum, I never bullied anyone in my life,” muttered Ricky, “and I’ll certainly go easy on him. Now you stay here, spread yourself a bit, and I’ll sneak along the other side of the hedge until I get to him.”

Just be careful,” insisted Taylor, and watched as Ricky slid over a rickety piece of fencing and disappeared along the other side of the row of brambles that constituted the hedge.

It didn’t take him long to reappear, this time marching along the road and gripping the smaller figure of the vicar’s son by one shoulder. The younger boy looked terrified even though there was nothing particularly threatening about either Ricky or the expression on his face.

So this is our little shadow?” asked Taylor, “what’s on his mind?”

He wants to go home with us,” said Ricky, shaking his head, “he says his father told him that he’s earmarked for hellfire and damnation as an evil little thief, and he wants none of it. He says he wants a fresh start with new parents...”

We can’t be parents!” almost exploded Taylor, “we’re not much more than kids ourselves!”

I know that, you know that and maybe sooner or later he’ll know that,” said Ricky, “ but until then he’s got you a very special present.”

And the boy produced a tennis racquet. “I found it,” he said proudly, “I found it where the pretty lady left it!”

© Peter Rogerson, 09.08.19

© 2019 Peter Rogerson

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Added on August 9, 2019
Last Updated on August 9, 2019
Tags: camping, holiday, trailing, racquet


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..