Nature Boy: Chapter Five

Nature Boy: Chapter Five

A Chapter by spence

The wisdom of his elders has mixed results for Paul during a particularly bad day at school.


Paul held his breath then closed his eyes as he heard the aluminium handle squeak as it turned above his head.

The sucking sound of a vacuum forming preceded the flushing swirl of the deluge that drenched his head and shoulders.

The soaking was maximised by the able hands of Bryn Brunswick that dunked his head in and out of the toilet bowl before holding him face first as far down as was possible.

The tip of Paul’s nose actually touched the porcelain at the very bottom at one point, although Paul was actually a lot more concerned by the prospect of drowning. Or perhaps he was more concerned still by what might happen if he didn’t drown. Paul was certainly no fighter whereas Bryn, the 16 year old, 6 foot tall, muscular ‘chav’ with ‘learning difficulties’, was very obviously the violent type.

‘You’re not so funny now are ya Paul? Cheeky little s**t bag!’

Paul couldn’t hear what Bryn was saying because of his flooded ears and the laughter of Kai, Kieran and Aiden that reverberated around the boys’ toilets.

Not that that mattered.

Paul already knew how Kai and his crew had manipulated Bryn into attacking him while he was at the toilet. It had been explained to him, (in terms and expletives I would not like to repeat here), prior to the head butt to the nose that sent Paul sprawling onto the tiles.

The nose bursting blow occurred mere seconds before he was dragged into the nearest cubicle and ceremoniously dunked into a fortunately, thankfully pre-flushed toilet.

In this moment he was pulled free by his assailant and dragged, coughing and spluttering, but still unbowed. Paul panicked when Bryn came into view and almost cried. Not because of the older boy, but because his sight was blurred and for a moment feared that he had lost his miracle before Bryn came back into focus.

‘Have you had enough?’ Bryn asked him, quite seriously.

Paul nodded as he tried to push and squirm himself as far into the wall behind him as he could.

‘Yes- I didn’t s… say an… anything ab… ab... bout you,’ he stuttered.

In avoiding Bryn’s cold stare Paul focused on the tribal patterns shaved into the sides of the elder boys’ short hair then the chav’s trademark red and yellow ‘Boghouse’ jacket and finally the brown wood of the cubicle, anywhere but at the leering faces of the three conspirers. He didn’t want to give any of them the satisfaction of seeing the fear in his eyes.

‘I w… wouldn’t say that about anyone, m… my parents w… would kill me,’ he continued as the grip on him loosened.

He met Bryn’s eyes now, almost certain that his line of reasoning was having an effect. So it was.

‘Why would my own brother lie to me?’ Bryn asked.

Paul glanced toward Kai who was pointing at him threateningly. Kai looked afraid that Bryn could be convinced that he’d lied to him. This gave Paul confidence and he spoke with barely a pause.

‘Kai’s been bullying me, Aiden and Kyle as well- and taking my m… money, and they said if I didn’t meet Kai for a fight last Friday they’d get you onto me and…’

Paul was interrupted as Kai lunged at him, throwing a coward’s punch, (that luckily only grazed Paul’s head), while Bryn had the target pinned against the wall.

‘You lying scrawny Geordie b…’ Kai screamed, cut short by his brother who shoved him out of the door before a second blow could be attempted.

‘Oi! You shut your mouth and keep your hands to yourself Kai!’ Bryn ordered with a pointed finger gesturing toward his little brother before turning back to Paul.

‘Go on- I’m listening, but if I think you’re lying to me you’re going in there again.’

Bryn nodded toward the toilet and Paul swallowed hard. He allowed gravity to peel him from the wall and stood almost a foot below the menacing chav. He had time and space to think now, but that seemed to make him more nervous than ever, (anticipation of suffering is often worse than the suffering, but people usually don’t think about it like that until afterwards), and he took his inhaler from his pocket to help catch his breath before he carried on the story.

‘I… I d… didn’t sh… show up f… for the f… fight so I think th… they told you that I said that so you w… would attack m… me.’

‘Why do you talk like that?’ Bryn asked, apparently bored with the name calling drama his brother had concocted.

‘I stammer w… when I get nervous,’ Paul answered, suddenly more confident again as his breathing stabilised.

Because of the school rumour mill Paul not only knew that Bryn was ‘the toughest boy in Sunnydale High’, but also that he was on pills to help his concentration and behaviour and so he was happy that Bryn was no longer focused on the blatant lie.

Even the thought of calling another person ‘a retard’ made Paul feel slightly ill and he thoroughly resented the accusation, but right now he needed to concentrate on getting out of the toilets in one piece.

‘Why do you get nervous?’ Bryn asked.

There was genuine confusion etched onto his features.

Paul looked to Bryn blankly and gestured to his bloody nose, dripping wet hair and clothes.

‘Oh yeah,’ Bryn said, recalling his actions of a minute ago, ‘well that was just in case you did call me a retard.’

Bryn then turned and walked toward Kai who backed off into the line of sinks in an unsuccessful ploy to avoid the stinging slap his brother delivered deftly to his cheek.

‘And that’s in case you was lying!’

Kai screamed as if shot, began to cry and ran from the toilets, the disciple duo close behind.

Bryn sighed dejectedly and looked around to Paul.

‘You shouldn’t be scared of those three Paul, they’re just sheep and you look like a wolf to me.’

Paul bowed his head, ashamed that he was nothing like a wolf.

‘Don’t doubt it kid- you didn’t cry or beg for mercy or anything even though you’ve got asthma and you looked me in the eye and answered me straight even though you have a stammer. Look at what a wimp my fat little brother is, even with his mates to back him up. I only stick up for him cos if I don’t my Dad…’

Bryn stopped speaking mid-sentence and blinked as if waking in confusion. He exhaled as if relieved that he hadn’t said more, saluted his victim respectfully and left the toilets leaving Paul to clean the blood from his nose and try to dry off.


The bell to signal the beginning of the afternoon’s lessons rang then so Paul lost the opportunity to escape the school again during dinner break. He grudgingly attended the next lesson, maths, meaning to escape during the afternoon break at a quarter past two in avoiding any further confrontation.

Due to cleaning himself up he arrived in class late and had to explain to Mrs Teesdale why his hair was spiked out at all angles, why it, his blazer and shirt were wet and why there were drops of blood about his person. Paul quickly fabricated a story that involved him playing football and taking a shot in the face.

‘I was really hot so I drenched my head while I was getting cleaned up. Sorry I’m late- my nose wouldn’t stop bleeding.’

Mrs Teesdale seemed to accept the excuse without doubt, although she berated him for forgetting to address her as ‘Miss’ and for being ‘over-exuberant’ with the water. He made his way to a desk at the back of the room, passing Kai and his cronies on the way and sat ready for the lesson.

Kai waited for the teacher to begin teaching and turned to Paul.

‘You’re dead for that,’ he silently mimed while pointing from an angry expression. Paul shrugged in retort. Somehow he wasn’t as frightened of the bully any longer.

Maybe it was because he was pre-occupied with his planned escape from school and his appointment with Brithomar.

Paul had to either return to the woods before nightfall or go back to wearing ‘jam jar goggles’ again. It had been a question that had bothered him since Brithomar offered to train him, ‘should he trust the man who had saved him and had somehow turned his glasses into a sight enhancing magic dust, or was he walking headlong into danger?’

Paul had tried to ask his granddad’s advice, in a round about way, the evening before, as his parents made supper out of earshot by the kitchen stove.



‘Yes Paul?’

‘What would you do if someone asked you to join a special group of people?’

Granddad rubbed his chin while he rocked in his chair.

‘Do you mean a gang?’

Paul skewed his face in contemplation,

‘Well- sort of, but- I don’t know- more grown up than a gang I suppose, but I’m not really sure of anything yet, that’s the problem,’ he said eventually.

‘I don’t suppose you’re gonna tell me what this special group is?’ Granddad said, his eyes sparkling with the wisdom of life experience.

Paul didn’t know how to answer and so stayed silent, to which his Granddad said,

‘You know Paul- all people in gangs think they’re part of a special group, that’s why they join gangs, to feel special, accepted and protected.’

‘That’s a good thing right?’ Paul asked guardedly.

‘It can be yes- groups or gangs can be harmless and even helpful things. All we people are is a load of tribes and even countries aren’t much more than a really big gang if you think about it, but…’

Granddad paused, twirling his fingers through his thick moustache as he thought of how best to say what he wanted to say.

‘It all depends on what the group’s intentions are and that depends on the influences the group is exposed to and what their beliefs are.’

‘I’m not sure I follow you Granddad.’

Granddad shook his head despairingly,

 ‘I warned ‘em not to shelter you from normal life,’ he muttered then breathed deeply as if summoning strength from somewhere before looking Paul directly in the eye and making a speech of sorts.

 ‘First off you have to decide whether the group is good or bad. Ask yourself things like, ‘what sort of things does the group do?’ and ‘Is the will of the gang to dominate other groups or individuals?’ A bit like bullies at school or a warlike country, I suppose. ‘Or are they peaceful?’ ‘Who are the most powerful members of the group’ and ‘are the leaders good or bad people?’ ‘Is it a useful or a helpful group?’ or…’

Paul took in key parts of the advice and replied as best and quickly as he could before his Granddad became obsessed with his rolling thought patterns and he couldn’t get a word in edge wise.

‘Yes- it is a helpful group, I think so anyway, they help others so I’m told- but I’ve only met one person and…’

‘And is this person an influential member of the group?’ Granddad said in counter-interruption.

‘Yes- I’d say so, it was him who asked me to join,’ Paul answered.

‘Obviously if he was the only one you met Paul, but was he threatening in any way?’

‘No- he helped me as it happens.’

Granddad nodded his relief, but continued his line of questioning.

‘Have you got plans to meet the rest of the group?’

Paul paused to check his breathing, his windpipe felt tight. The questioning was making him nervous and his heart was racing. He was worried he’d say the wrong thing. He felt like a TV criminal about to crack under interrogation conditions.

‘Britho… h… he wants to start the group again with me and him. He’ll be like a mentor while I learn… stuff.’

Granddad had looked impressed at this,

‘Sounds interesting. Is this ‘Britho-he’ character the same age as you?’

‘A little bit older, but he seems alright.’

Granddad frowned below the handlebar of hair on his upper lip.

‘If he’s a lot older than you, and by that I mean anything over 16, then I’d have to advise your parent’s to forbid it I’m afraid.’

Paul had nodded his complete and utter understanding as he lied, ‘Oh no- he’s only a year older than I am,’ then happened to remember a helpful truth to supplement the deceit,

‘I think he only asked because he’s got long ginger hair like me.’


Granddad had bought Paul’s twist of fact and fabrication, but when his parents returned to the living room armed with hot coffee, warm ciabata bread and cold butter on a tray the secret conversation ended abruptly.

For all Paul knew his Granddad believed he’d been invited to start up a fraternity of red heads, or wanted to take up ballet, but it didn’t matter as long as Granddad believed he was simply adjusting to school life and did not alert his parents.

Then was the question of his sight. Paul could not deny that he was enjoying being able to see without glasses immensely, but equally he had been amazed at how many of the school kids treated him far more respectfully without them.

It was only just passed one p.m. and already many of his class mates, (Kai, Kieran and Aiden excepted), had spoken civilly to him. Even Anne-Marie Heslop, head of the ‘beauty queen bully confederation’ had accidently smiled at him before she realised who he was. That she had scowled and pranced away in a dramatic show of disgust upon realising her mistake was of no consequence. It proved to Paul that the glasses had caused all the trouble in the first place.

‘Paul? Are you still with us Paul?’

The shrill posh-ness of Mrs Teesdale’s voice dragged Paul from his thoughts and into reality.

‘Yes Miss,’ he began to lie, but then squinted as the teacher became blurred.

Mrs Teesdale was one of those teachers that stay’s in your mind long after you have left school and grown up. They will still be in there when you have kids of your own to send to school to laugh at strange and unusual adults. Sunnydale High had its share of such teachers, cursed as they are to stand upon a platform to impress their unfortunate idiosyncrasies into fertile young minds forever.

For example, at Sunnydale High there was Mr Thurkettle the kindly, but eccentric headteacher. He would always be remembered by pupils as an impossibly old man who, with his wild tufts of grey hair and steel rimmed spectacles resembled a mad scientist.

Then there was Mr Balmer, the history teacher. Because of his pristine dress sense and immaculate side parted hair the girls at Sunnydale referred to him as a ‘Ken Doll’ while the boy’s considered it more appropriate to name him ‘Action Man’ or refer to him as television football pundit ‘Alan Hansen’.

There was also Mr Gerald, geography teacher, who had a terrible nervous twitch that had his arms flying above his head whenever he got excited or agitated and Mr Walton, physical education, who had a neatly combed golden moustache and wore a blue tracksuit with yellow piping almost permanently and Mrs Sayers, music, who cried beneath her false eyelashes whenever she heard or sang opera in class.

Mrs Teesdale’s particular uniqueness’ were her exceptionally small size, the half-moon spectacles she looked down at the kids through whenever they were seated low enough and an unsightly wart right on the end of her nose. The wart, a weird purplish blue in colour always had three jet black hairs protruding from it that the teacher did not trim nearly often enough.

It was the wart that Paul tried to focus on. His eyesight had improved so much he felt confident that he should see it, but when he looked he could scarcely make out her glasses.

‘Was the spell wearing off earlier than Brithomar supposed?’ Paul thought in panic.

‘Had the toilet water somehow diminished its power?’ he considered.

‘Are you alright Paul?’ Mrs Teesdale asked on seeing him rub his eyes.

‘Yes Miss- I’ve just got a bit of a headache. Must be from my nose’

Paul hadn’t noticed how naturally lying came to him, all he could think about was getting back to the woods to see Brithomar.

He would do anything so that he didn’t have to wear glasses again.


When the lesson ended at 2:15 p.m. Paul followed the rest of his classmates into the corridor then down the winding staircase of the two storey building and out into the playground. He strolled toward the science blocks keeping an eye out for Kai, Kieran and Aiden as he did so. He had no doubt in his mind that Kai meant him harm because of the humiliation he had suffered, but he couldn’t let anything stand in his way.

Even outside of the class his vision was failing him. The colours of the objects around him were blurring at their edges while the centre of his sight remained crystal clear. It was like looking through the bottom of a misted drinking glass. Still Paul could see enough to get him where he needed to go and once he was free from school the rest would be relatively simple.

Satisfied that the terrible trio had sloped off to play their never-ending game of school yard football Paul made his way to the narrow gap in the fence as before. Again nobody had seen his scampering run across the campus and he squeezed through the gap as easily as he had the first time.

Paul sidled alongside the brickwork of the corner shop until he set foot on the grass embankment between school and road. Down the bank he jogged, the angle of the slope taking his weight down over, until his feet landed on the pavement by the shop.

‘Hello Paul.’

Tingles of terror shot throughout Paul’s body at the sound of his name and the tone of the voice who had spoken it. He knew who it was before he turned to see that Kai, the spokesman, Kieran and Aiden had guessed his plan of action and made their way to intercept his get away.

© 2012 spence

Author's Note

I am aiming to make the plotlines of two worlds equally thrilling to read so that there are less gaps in the drama. It's a bit more difficult to do so in real world scenarios, but I'm giving it my best shot.

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Added on January 6, 2012
Last Updated on January 6, 2012



Grimsby, United Kingdom

Just returning to WritersCafe after a couple of years in the wilderness of life. I'm a 40 year old (until December 2013, at least) father of two, former youth and community worker, sometime socio-pol.. more..