The Cool Kids

A fragrant plume hung in the air at the back of the public toilets in the park only a few metres from where the students waited for their school buses to depart of an afternoon. Here, on the other side of the grimy walls which enclosed a facility no-one ever used because it was beyond endurance for even the desperate to spend any length of time inside, the bad boys congregated in their small bunches of two and three and smoked and made sure that law-abiding boys were kept away. Lookouts were posted: boys who wished to be bad boys when it was their turn first had to put in an apprenticeship, and so they watched and issued an alert if a teacher should chance to come near, by some coincidence.

All teachers were stupid. The bad boys knew that and they told the younger boys who planned to be bad one day. It wasn’t even completely their fault. All adults were pretty stupid and seemed to go through life as though they were half-asleep and were only partially paying attention. They never caught anyone smoking, even though there were regularly fifteen boys who smoked in the same spot every day, at lunchtime and after school and occasionally during free periods. It was almost as if the teachers were trying not to catch them; that’s how slow they were. As if they didn’t care or had something better to think about. But that couldn’t be right. Teachers were the law. Teachers could get you in very deep shit if they busted you (you didn’t want to get busted, even if you pretended that you just weren’t bothered), and with power like that the only possible option was to wield it.

The bad boys were good at not getting caught. They knew this. They chose to avoid certain periods taught by certain teachers who were too stupid to notice the difference when they were gone. Hughesy told his mates that Mr. Jennings had sent him out of art class the other day. He said the teacher told him he didn’t want him in his class: “Don’t bother coming back. I don’t want to see you again, Hughes,” Mr. Jennings said. “I only want students in my class who want to learn.” Hughesy’s mates laughed their coughing, mirthless smokers’ laughs at this. The very idea. Want to learn. It was school. School sucked and you had to be there. That was all.

“What a dickhead,” said Christopher Hughes, spitting, and his mates all laughed again. “He must think we’re all retarded or something. He’s retarded. What’s the point of art class?”

When all the school buses had departed, and the bad boys and apprentice bad boys had gone home to their parents and their comfortable residences the public toilets again became a meeting place. This time it was an older demographic, and they came and went after lingering inside the foul smelling cubicles for some time. The clientele was gaunt, as you often find with intravenous drug users, and none of them thought it was cool to hang out at the public toilets in the park.

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Published in: on October 31, 2012 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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