I could never believe the end of this story. It was told to me three days after the events leading up to the end had happened. I believed that the previous occurrences took place before the inevitable end happened because I was there. I saw all of them take place; I even played my own part in this little tale, it was just the twist. The twist was the one thing I never saw and couldn't believe. I was a stubborn 13 year old boy at the time and my lack of belief pretty much ended a friendship.
It was summer in 1994. One of my best friends, Elvis Lewis (yes that was his first name, his father was a massive fan of the king) had just moved house. They had finally gotten out of their tiny flat and somehow got hold of an old council house on the estate where I lived. The estate that I lived on was in the shadow of the block of flats but it didn’t matter; my friend was now only a couple of doors down from me instead of thirty floors up. We had begun spending this summer around each others’ respective domiciles as the weather had been terrible. We had amused ourselves by playing Super Nintendo games to death. Every game each of us owned, we played and completed. We were becoming bored.
One Thursday afternoon we saw another boy from the estate walking down the road. This boy was only one year older than us but he had been caught in the sweaty, clammy grip of puberty. He had acne populating his cheeks and chin, long greasy blond hair, a flannel shirt, torn jeans and Doctor Martin boots. Kids had many names for him: Grunger; Dyke; Tramp; Queer; Hippy; Greaser; but myself and Elvis new him by the name of Nigel Fenton. Nigel Fenton was picked on by the kids who were spending their days listening to the music of rave, populated by such artists as DJ Sy or DJ Druid; and he was worshipped by the kids who were listening to Nirvana, Guns N Roses and Pearl Jam. He had insisted that his name was ‘Soundwave’ at 12 and by thirteen could already play ten chords on a cheap old acoustic guitar. No one called him Soundwave though. It was either the insults or the standard name of Nigel.
Elvis and I were standing on the corner crunching on blue ice that had been sold to us under the guise of ‘Mr Snow’. It was a long ice pole that was dyed a variety of bright chemically colours, and though the day was not particularly hot, and the sun had been fighting with the clouds like a small man at a rock concert trying to get a view of the stage, Elvis had insisted on buying a range of these poles. I was eating a blue one and Elvis was eating a green one when Nigel walked by. We called out his name and he looked out from under his slick of blond hair and clumped his way over to us. We offered him a red flavoured ice pole and he took it. We began talking with him and he said that he had been on holiday with his parents to
and had had a
‘fucking shit’ time. He peppered his sentences with expletives as if he had
just discovered them and needed to catch up on fourteen years of not using
them. As we were ending the conversation I spied the one and only Goth girl we
knew walking down the road. This girl was strange. Julia Wesnick-Wilson. Though
some people liked Nigel Fenton and others hated him, the one person who brought
everybody together was Julia. No one liked the Goth girl. No one understood the
Goth girl. Dressed in black, face white, black lipstick; black and pink hair
and huge boots she lumbered around the estate like a lost dinosaur. Rumours
were abound that she was a slag; frigid, or worse (this was spoken only when a
chosen few were listening) a witch. Cornwall
I cannot tell a lie. I started it. I raised my melting ice pole and pointed it towards this beast and said ‘Look! It’s Julia!’ Elvis turned and looked and so did Nigel. First it started with just cat calling her name. She ignored it. Then it became sarcastic wolf whistling, at which she threw a few dozen choice hand gestures our way, the finally Nigel shouted a long string of obscenities that described in glorious teenage detail what sexual practices he would do to her mum and what Julia let her dad do to her. This was the final straw. Julia’s mother was dead and her father was a raging alcoholic. Julia slowly turned and stared at our triumvirate. The clouds started to cheer and rain started to fall. Julia started moving towards us. It was like a train picking up speed. We turned and ran towards the safety of Elvis’ parent’s house.
We made it inside and started laughing, blue, red and green tongues lolling out of our stained mouths. We all walked into the living room festooned with King Memorabilia and looked out of the main window (hidden behind the net curtain). She was there. Julia was just standing in the middle of the street. The rain was coming down in sheets, plastering her lifeless hair to her streaked black and white face. Make up was running and she was there. Staring. Through the double glazing, through the safety of the translucent net curtain, through me and Elvis right to Nigel, who was sitting on the sofa scratching his belly. There was trouble in the air. Nigel saw that myself and Elvis had not left the window and made his way there. He stuck his head under the net curtain and saw her. The strange sight obviously did not shake Nigel as it did us; for he flung open the windows and over the white noise of the rain hitting tarmac shouted another string of choice phrases her way. She smiled as he said them and told him to come outside. Nigel shut the window and uneasily sat back down. We started questioning him about why he did that. He said he didn’t know. We started wondering how long she was going to be out there for. We began checking in ten minute intervals.
Two hours later she was till there. The rain was till lashing down and Elvis’ parents still had not returned home. We were all feeling on edge. We didn’t know what to do. This girl was not giving up and when the power went out on the street that was when the witch rumour began to creep into our young, teenage heads. At first everything in the house stopped. The TV went blank and the fridge stopped regulating its temperature. There was silence. All we could hear was the rain not giving up its barrage on the streets and houses of the estate and also (though it seems stupid now) Julia’s breathing. She had gradually moved closer to the window until her face was just staring in. It looked like it was melting. We had tried to pretend it wasn’t there but every now and then one of us would sneak a glimpse and see this dilapidated teenage girl’s face staring, dead eyed and corpse like into the blur of the living room.
Now just a quick break to either remind people of what goes on in the minds of teenage boys or to explain what goes on. Not much. There is generally crippling guilt about things you do privately or things you have done. The odd thought process on how to get drunk or feel some girls’ breasts; or how to get the high score on a new computer game. That. Is. It. It is a strange mix of still being a child and yet wanting to start more adult activities. Often you have completely irrational and nonsensical plans that have formed in your head and you carry them out, not really thinking about the consequences. These happen throughout a teenage boy’s life. One such plan occurred in Elvis’ living room about how to save Nigel; for it was he that she wanted.
It seemed to make complete sense at the time. We had begun talking of the rumours of her being a witch like boys round a campfire. Many stories came up. She had killed her own mother with a spell and punished her father by making him an alcoholic with another spell. Friend’s of friends were mentioned and their run ins with her and the strange things that had happened to them, like a pet suddenly dieing or an injury suddenly happening to said friend of friend. We needed a plan and we needed one quick to save Nigel. She had begun tapping on the window within the last ten minutes and we could hear a muffled sound leaking through the rain, window and curtain that said ‘Soundwave’.
We moved into the kitchen to follow through with our plan. We began to hack off Nigel’s hair. We first tentatively grabbed hold of the greasy rag and held it like a pony tail. We snipped our way through it and the piece came off in one big chunk. We carried on cutting Elvis and I were trying our best now not to laugh. The terror of Julia had vanished as we became embroiled in our new task. Nigel I think was maybe crying, but I was never sure.
Once we had cut his hair we then entered the second part of our plan. We went into Elvis’ brother’s Aaron’s room. We dressed Nigel in some of Aaron’s ill fitting clothes. The point of our plan was to make Nigel as unlike Nigel as possible so he would be able to walk past Julia un-noticed. He was standing in the hallway with short hair and the stain of the early nineties culture, the shell suit. I glanced at the window and saw that the shape of Julia had gone. This was Nigel’s big chance. With myself stationed at the living room window and Elvis by the front door Nigel ran as soon as the door was open. I watched him scatter himself across the street looking everywhere at once and at nothing. That was when I saw her. I banged on the window and screamed. Elvis relayed the message from the rapidly closing front door out into the no longer empty street to Nigel. He saw her and ran. She chased after him a few steps and stopped. Nigel carried on running. Julia only slowed down to her usual lumbering steps and walked off round the corner in the rain and out of sight.
Three days later with the day’s events already fading into memory and myself and Elvis already assuming that it was Nigel Fenton who was scared, not us, we saw the new Nigel with a freshly shorn head. He told us that on his run home he saw Julia standing on every street corner laughing and holding the remains of his pony tail in her hand. We laughed and said that he was just scared and that it was all nonsense. He protested and then we picked on him. He went off and soon I never saw him again. He just drifted into the background of school life like so many others. The story made its way around and more people openly mocked him. Soon he stopped coming to school. Julia still came and we often saw her though she acted like the day had never happened. Though no one believed Nigel’s story more people avoided Julia and no one said a word to her.
Apparently soon after, Elvis was walking along the corridor and as Julia brushed past him she placed something in his hand. It was a lock of blond hair. They paused and looked at each other for the most fleeting of moments and then she carried on down the corridor head held low and though they must have only looked at each other for two maybe three seconds Elvis sticks by what he now claims he saw. She smiled. She definitely smiled.