Jake hammers down the stairs two at a time. Full
of excitement it`s visiting day. He jumps the last four steps
landing double footed next to his sisters push chair. His mum
struggles to strap her in. Courtney sees her brother, wriggles
in her seat with delight. Jake ruffles her hair playfully, turns
to check out his beloved Arsenal shirt, in the mirror that hangs
next to the front door.
“Cleaned your teeth, Jake?” His mum asks suspiciously.
Jake turns to his mum giving her that cheeky grin that usually
gets him his own way.
“I can see you haven’t now go quick, or we’ll
miss the bus, hurry up.”
Jake bolts back up the stairs. Two minutes later, he charges back
down the stairs and straight out through the front door. His little
sister squeals excitedly, kicking her legs wanting to get to her
brother. Jakes mum throws her bag over her shoulder, checks her
reflection one last time in the hall mirror. Pulls the pineapple
hair doo tighter to her scalp, Smoothes down her denim mini skirt
and hastily leaves the house slamming the door behind her. She
trots along as fast as she can in her wedge platform shoes.
“Jake, wait!” she shouts, but Jake is too far ahead,
“little sod” she whispers under her breath.
By the time Carol reaches the bus stop Jake is sitting on the
wall, banging the heels of his trainers against the concrete.
“Don`t do that.” she demands, clicking the break of
the pushchair with her foot and dragging hard on her fag at the
For Jake the bus journey seems forever. He stares out of the window,
remembering back to the day the police arrived to nick his dad.
The police where very happy with themselves as they lead his dad,
handcuffed to a waiting police car. They had all been sleeping
soundly in their beds when the front door burst open. Jake sat
bolt upright in his bed and listened to the pandemonium going
on out on the landing. His mum was shouting and screaming. Courtney
was wailing from her cot, and his dad was hollering and swearing
at the police, as he lay face down on the floor, wearing only
a pair of handcuffs. Jake sat in his bed, with his hands covering
his ears. His eyes screwed up tight trying to block the trauma,
stunned to silence. A police woman stood in Jakes bedroom door
way, sorrowfully looking at the young broken hearted little lad
as he sat in the safe protection of his warm bed, tears streaming
down his face. She walked away.
Everything had changed since that day. They don`t have visitors
popping round all day and night anymore. There used to be people
coming and going all the time. His dad had so many mates; drinking
beer, smoking, listening to music, chatting about the football.
The house was no longer full of laughter and banter. The only
time Jake heard his mum laugh these days, was when Uncle Tony
visited her, late at night with a box of beers.
The journey was not so bad today; the weather had definitely picked
up, summer had finally arrived. Jake was getting his grubby looking
tan back on his face and from his elbows to his fingers, from
running around the playing field, trying to shoot the ball between
the goal posts. Jake would get rid of a lot of anger and frustration
kicking the shit out of that ball.
Jake eagerly waited for the screw to unlock the door, the final
hurdle that was keeping him from his dad. He knew his dad would
be sitting at a table waiting for them, Jake didn`t like to see
his dad in that yellow bib, it reminded Jake of the girls at school
skipping about playing netball.
His mum was applying lip gloss, looking into her tiny mirror,
keeping the tube still, while moving her head from side to side,
in a nervous, frantic kind of way.
The doors opened and Jake charged to the front squeezing his way
through, stopping for a brief second, and scanning the room for
his dad. Jake spotted him, went tearing down between the tables.
His dad had watched as he wedged himself through the door, when
Jake got half way down the aisle, his dad jumped up held his arms
out, bending his knees slightly, as though he was about to save
a goal going in the back of the net at Highbury. Jake jumped onto
his dad’s chest and sunk his face into his neck, breathing
his dad in, savouring the moment before his mum reached them.
“Hello Son, bloody missed you, “he said as he stood
Jake back on his feet rubbing his hair.
Jake looked up at his dad, followed his dads gaze to his mum who
was walking towards them, he stepped to one side, allowing them
to have their moment. But this time instead of the usual embrace,
Jakes mum turned her cheek for his dad to kiss. Jakes smile turned
to a frown, worriedly looking back and forth at their reactions
to each other. Jakes sister was asleep in the pushchair; Jake
was pleased he only had to share his dad with one other person
and not two. Jake took his chance to sit at the table in the seat
next to his dad, wriggling himself comfortable, placing his arms
on the table. Watching his parents sit down opposite each other.
“You alright love?” Jakes dad inquired
“Yer, bloody great” she answered sarcastically, as
Courtney stirred from her sleep.
“Listen you two, this`ll cheer you up. His dad said enthusiastically.
“The parole board have been in touch, should have my hearing
in a couple of weeks, I should be home before you know it.”
Jake looked at his dad giving him a broad ecstatic grin. Noticing
the thick silence from the opposite side of the table, Jake waited
for a response from his mum. But instead she was reaching down
removing the now grizzling child from her buggy.
“Mum?” Jake pushed for a response.
“Take Courtney and get some chocolate from the machine”
she insisted thrusting the child in Jakes direction, slapping
two pound coins on the table.
“Now” she insisted.
Stunned, Jake looked at his dad for support, but all he got was
a wink and a nod in the direction of the vending machine.
Jake begrudgingly took his sister, held her hand and walked to
the chocolate machine, looking back over his shoulder trying to
imagine what they were discussing; he stood at the back of the
queue, ignoring his sister’s arms held high begging to be
Jake waited impatiently for their turn, glancing at the clock
racing round, as it always did on these visits. Finally it was
their turn. Once he had retrieved the goodies, peeled the milky
bar open as if it was a banana and pacified his sister. He walked
back toward his parents. Jake sensed trouble, his dad had his
forehead resting on the table, fists clenched, whilst his mum
stood leaning over him in heated discussion.
Jake reached the table, and Courtney was pulled from Jakes clasp,
dropping her back into the buggy, Jake watched his Dad look up
at him in pain and distress.
“Dad, what’s up dad, please?” Jake begged as
he flung his arms round his dads neck and held on for dear life,
the tears welling up in both their eyes,” you`ll be home
soon dad don`t worry,” Jake felt his dad squeeze him even
tighter. His mum ripping him away, Jakes dad let go allowing Jake
to be pulled along, whilst his mum dragged him with one arm whilst
pushing Courtney in her buggy with the other.
“But it`s not time to go mum, please” Jake begged,
“let me stay, mum please.”
His mum ignored his demands as she waited impatiently for the
door to be unlocked. She never looked back once; Jake never took
his eyes of his dad as he was pulled through the door. Once outside
the main gate, Jakes mum lit a cigarette, inhaling the smoke.
“Why did you do that mum?” Jake sobbed.
“You’re too young to understand,” she snapped.
“Anyway, Uncle Tony will be there when we get home; you
can have a pizza delivered.”