WALKING BACK TO HAPPINESS
GR knocked on the door of the neat terraced house, "Can Vernon come out to play?"
The tubby little girl giggled and shook her mop of carrot coloured hair, "He's in the garage."
Two more carrot heads appeared, "Who's that?"
"GR after Vernon."
"He's in the garage."
"I wonder if he's in the garage?"pondered GR as he headed for the wooden lock-up across the road. He opened the double doors and peered in. "Tell me Mr. Vernon Walter Lewis-Lavender; how come all the other kids in your family have red hair and you ain't? Did they have a different milkman in those days?"
"What do you want?" Lew wiped the sweat from his forehead and left a black greasemark in its stead.
"Coming out to play?"
"Playing with your mechano set then?"
"Putting a new engine in the bike."
"Is this the third or fourth engine?"
"A combination of the second and third" Lew fell to tightening a nut, the spanner slipped; he swore softly.
"Are you sure you ain't coming out to play?"
"See yer" GR left and headed for the house next door to Lew's. He knocked on the door. It opened and a bright eyed urchin looked him up and down.
"Can Graham come out to play?"
The child moved out of the way, "'e's in ver front room wiv 'is mates."
GR stepped over the bits and pieces in the hall and forced open the stiff door to the front room. Totter, Foxy, and Jesus were lounging on the dilapidated settee. Graham sat in an ancient armchair, his feet resting on the mantelpiece.
"Evening GR" Gra fished behind his ear for a fag. "Where's the bike?"
"Which one? The fifty's sold, the Velos' being repaired, and the new Honda hasn't arrived yet."
"You forgot the BMW, the Harley, the Rolls-Royce, and the Mercedes" Jesus popped yet another biscuit into his gapping mouth.
Totter stretched his lanky frame.
"Where are we going tonight lads?"
"Well there's the kaff, or there's the kaff, and if you don't fancy that there's always the kaff."
"We ain't got enough transport. Even Gra's bike is off the road."
"It needs a new battery, and I don't get paid till Friday."
GR looked out the window at the oil stained machine; Graham's care and maintenance of his motorcycle was the local byword for neglect.
"I'm surprised that's all it needs."
"Well we'll go by public transport, bus then underground, that's how we'll go." Foxy stood up to emphasise the point, but the attempt failed due to his lack of height.
"Why not!" Totter also stood up, emphasising Foxy's lack of stature even more.
"You coming Gra?"
"Nah, just breathing heavy."
They left the room as untidily as they found it and trouped out the house onto the pavement.
A cyclist weaved up the road towards them. An ex-army greatcoat flowed behind the dishevelled rider who appeared to be examining his front wheel by leaning over the handlebars. The lads watched with fascination as he weaved an intricate pattern all over the road. Finally the rider pulled into the curb in front of the lads, stopped, and majestically fell over.
Totter looked down at the rider. "Evening Mr. King."
A bewildered and bewhiskered face looked back up at him. The bloodshot eyes tried, unsuccessfully, to focus.
"Nice weather, eh Mr. King."
At last the eyes seemed to stop working independently of each other. The figure lifted a hand in recognition, found it too much effort, and dropped it to its side again. "Eh, aarh,arh eh arh" cider fumes wafted over the lads with each word.
"Yes it is warm for the time of year, still, can't hang around here chatting all day." Totter smiled at the prone figure "I can see that you're a busy man."
"Mum. Dad's home" shouted Gra as he and the other lads headed for the bus stop.
GR ran his hand over his golden hair "Feel naked without me crash helmet."
"Who'd want ter see your ugly, naked, body?" exclaimed Cecil as he arrived alongside GR in a shower of sparks.
"Do you think the walk will do your fat figure any good? You know, like removing twenty pounds of ugly fat without having to have your head removed Ces?"
"When you ride a machine as powerful as mine you need all the weight you can get to stop the excess wheel spin."
"By the way. Where is it? Don't tell me you've broken its rubber band again."
"Hey Cecil" Jesus joined in the fun, "Don't you know you have to put spaghetti not petrol in those Itie machines?"
Cecil was about to enter into a spirited defence of his beloved, if highly strung and temperamental, bike when a bus pulled into the stop and prevented any further discussion on the matter. They boarded and settled themselves on a bench seat.
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