Thursday, 31 July 2014

Rolling Around the Park

Rolling Around the Park
Gill James

A couple of flat whites

Baz felt warm now despite the earlier frost. The sky was a cloudless blue and the sun was getting quite strong. It was warm for September, even for London. Besides they’d been round the park twice and had just spent twenty minutes practising slaloms between the brightly coloured mini-cones Carlo had given Baz for his birthday.
‘Shall we go and get a coffee?’ asked Carlo. 
‘In a bit,’ said Baz. ‘Let’s have a couple more goes first. Put them a bit closer together.’ It would have been a shame to gather them up now. They’d taken quite a while to put out.
Carlo nodded and started moving the cones. Baz started doing the same from his end. Then he felt someone grab his trouser leg.
He looked down to see a little boy with big brown eyes and soft black curls staring up at him. He’d noticed him earlier. He was wearing what looked like fairly new rollerblades. He’d kept falling over but every time he’d got up and tried again. The kid had got some courage. He was probably covered in bruises.
‘Will you teach me how to skate like you?’ the little boy asked.
I’d love to, thought Baz. But I’d probably be crucified if I did. He could just imagine the headline. ‘Two gays caught in Hyde Park attempting to abduct and corrupt a young boy.’ He just didn’t dare go there. Unless… if his parents were about and they said it was okay…
It struck him then that the boy might be lost. Oh, that would be good as well. Whatever they did then would be wrong. It wouldn’t be right if one of them went and reported it and the other stayed with him. Nor would it be right if they just left him on his own.
‘Aren’t you here with your mum or dad?’ said Baz.
The little boy shook his head. ‘Me big brother brought me. But he’s gone off to do a circus. He told me to wait here.’
A circus? thought Baz. What did he mean by that?
‘I think he means a circuit,’ said Carlo, putting his hand gently on Baz’s shoulder. 
Ah. ‘Well, can’t he teach you?’ said Baz.
The boy shook his head. ‘He’s too mean. Anyway, he’s not as good as you. He’s not even as good as him.’ The boy pointed at Carlo.
Carlo laughed. ‘See, those skate-dancing lessons weren’t so poncy after all. They did you some good.’
It was true, Baz supposed. He now had a really good sense of balance. It had taken him less than a couple of hours to get the roller-blades under control. It had seemed so natural, even though the movements he had to make were considerably different from the ones he’d used on the ice. 
‘Come on,’ Carlo whispered. ‘Best leave it. We shouldn’t even be talking to him.’
Baz nodded. ‘Sorry mate,’ he said. ‘We’ve got to go.’
‘You won’t teach me?’ The little boy looked as if he was going to cry.
Baz pursed his lips and shook his head. ‘Sorry,’ he whispered.
The boy stomped away towards a nearby bench, falling down a couple of times on the way. He pulled his roller-blades off and started rubbing his eyes.
The poor kid.

‘How old do you reckon he was? said Baz as they drank their coffee.
“Five? Six?” 
Baz nodded. ‘It’s a blooming shame.Why shouldn’t I teach him how to skate? It doesn’t look as if his parents or his brother care very much.’
Carlo sighed. ‘Baz, you know the answer to that one. You know what they’d do to us if we as much as touched him. And you couldn’t teach him without touching him, could you? It’s probably bad enough that we even stopped and talked to him.’
‘Nah! Guess not.’ Baz shook his head.
‘Come on then. Let’s go and do another circus.’ 
Baz smiled. ‘I just hope he’s not still sitting on that bench bawling his eyes out.’
‘If he is, we’ll go and report it to the Information Centre. But we don’t go near him, right?’
Baz nodded.

As they sped round the track later Baz was relieved to see that the boy was no longer there. He hoped he was safe with his brother and he hoped he’d stopped crying.    



About the Author
Gill James writes fiction for young and old and has published several novels for young adults alongside short stories and flash fiction for all ages. She lectures in creative writing at the University of Salford, where she is the Programme leader for English and Creative Practice. She is the founder of the Creative Cafe Project, http://www.creativecafeproject.org/p/about-project.html CafeLit supports and is supported by the Creative Cafe Project.    
Visit her web site at www.gilljames.co.uk
Her blog is found at http://gilljames.blogspot.co.uk/
Read all about her latest book at http://www.thehouseonschellbergstreet.com/p/blog-page.html         

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