On The Other Side Of The Road

The road wasn’t much to describe. It certainly wasn’t anything which would really stand out or be memorable. It was just a road, with traffic, but not too much, cars going through the suburb from somewhere to somewhere else, but not really a main road either. Just a road.

But the two sides of the road were very different.

Until the boy started learning karate at the local Police Boys Club he knew nothing of the other side of the road, and then there was a kid called Norm in his life, and Norm was a tough kid, but that’s a good thing when you are learning a martial art. Norm did what he was told too, he was a good kid, and he was the best in the class, or so the teacher thought. A physically robust kid, without being too big, and strong without being too strong – strong from work, the teacher thought – but it was the attitude: single-mindedness and obedience are so important when you have a class of eleven year-olds, and Norm showed all the good signs the teacher had learned to look for.

The boy was impressed with Norm too. Norm was quiet when they weren’t training and practicing and sparring, but they had a lot in common. They found themselves sitting and talking in the gym before and after class. Talking about nothing in particular, asking each other what they liked and what they didn’t like, the way kids do, and they had a lot in common. Superficial stuff maybe, but important when you are eleven. They both really liked Harry Potter and Norm had only read one of them but seen all the films, and the boy said he would lend Norm the second book if he liked, and Norm said he would like that, very much, and thanked him. They also both liked to ride bikes, but were a bit scared to go out alone, so they planned to go to the BMX track together one Saturday. There were older kids at the track, usually, and some of them were bullies, but together the boy and Norm would be OK. They convinced themselves of that. Although, in truth, they weren’t completely sure. Not deep down. The boy told Norm he didn’t need to be scared of anyone – he was tough enough to look after himself, the boy said. But Norm said no. He said there were a lot of people tougher than him, that his older brother’s friends were a lot bigger and stronger and meaner and they beat him up sometimes and he could not fight back at all

People were different on the other side of the road, Norm said. They weren’t as nice.

The boy took Norm to his place to lend him the Harry Potter book, and because he knew his mum would give Norm a Kingston and a glass of strawberry milk. He guessed Norm didn’t get afternoon tea at his house very often, and he was right. He was beginning to learn about how people did things on each side of the road and the differences between them.

Norm enjoyed his milk and his biscuit and was thankful for the lend of the book.

On a Saturday at the bike track the bigger bully kids tried to do what they do when Norm and the boy arrived with their bikes, but they lost interest in bullying when the two boys road faster and jumped higher than the rest of them. They wouldn’t admit they were impressed, the older boys, but they sat and watched, and didn’t say much.

Published in: on June 12, 2014 at 8:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

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