Marty and Crispin

Marty turned his back on the Tower.  He would miss it, and Miss Smithers.  He missed her already.  She had shown him more kindness in the past month than anyone else had in the fifteen years he had been on this planet.

He did not really want to go home to his mother and father.  They had never even contacted him while he'd been away. 

But he had to.  What was the alternative? 

Miss Smithers had given him enough money for the bus, and while he waited at the stop, he thought about Jeremy.

Oh Jem, he thought, his eyes filling with tears of pain and frustration and shame.  I thought you loved me, but if you really did you would have stayed.  I wish I'd gone with you.  But you didn't even give me a backward glance when the others said it was all right for us to go... The tears overflowed and he swiped at them with the heel of his hand.

Marty had considered following, but despite his youth he had the wisdom and sensitivity to know that it would be all over when they were free of the Tower.  He would just be setting himself up for more humiliation and hurt.  Jem hadn't cared one tiny little bit.   For a second or two, his damp eyes blazed with an anger very rare for him.  He didn't deserve to be treated like that.  He was good, and kind and loving,  He couldn't quite bring himself to tell himself that he was clever and talented.  Nobody else had ever said so, so it couldn't be true, could it? 

By the time he reached his seat on the bus, he was already defending Jeremy to himself.  He didn't mean it.  He'd been scared,and he'd missed his mother and his sister Jemima.  He was probably even waiting for Marty - might even have left a message at his house.  Yeah - his mum would say as soon as he got home, to ring Jeremy.  His heart lightened at the thought.  Then he was back to being desperately sad again.  Who are you trying to kid?  He leaned his head against the window, lost in misery...

And spotted... Crispin Drummond.  He was standing outside the 38-screen multiplex cinema, wearing a long jacket, and combat trousers with at least twenty pockets.  He leaned against a framed poster advertising the forthcoming Shrek 9 film, in which the donkey was dressed rather like Batman.  

The bus stopped.  On an impulse, Marty dashed out through the open door.  And immediately wanted to get back on again.  But the bus was already moving off.  What had he done that for?  He'd used the bus money Miss Smithers had given him, and it was still a couple of miles to his house.  And he was tired.  Tired and hungry and very, very sad.

He walked slowly in the direction of the place he had spotted Crispin.  If not for him, he and Jem would still be OK.  A few more weeks and they would have been accepted as a couple ,and everything would have been fine.  Maybe they could have lived happily ever after.  Maybe not.

Crispin was still in front of the Shrek poster, watching as if for someone he knew.  Marty ducked round the corner of the building and positioned himself so he could watch the older boy without being seen.  He was shifting from foot to foot,and occasionally lifted his arm to look at his watch.  Once or twice, Marty saw him patting one or another of the pockets in his combats. 

Marty sighed a deep sigh.  This was totally pointless.  He turned in the direction of home, resigned to the long, weary walk, with little hope of a loving reception at the other end.  He looked back.  And stopped.  Two boys and a girl, around his age or maybe a little younger, were hovering near Crispin.  Marty watched as Crispin beckoned them over.  One of the boys, an overweight, slow-looking type with an acne-ridden face, crept over and seemed to be talking to him, but without even making eye-contact.  Weird.  He handed something to Crispin, which disappeared into a pocket.  Crispin then turned his back on the boy and was opening another pocket on his trousers.  He took something out, covering it with both hands, and slipped it to the boy, who joined his companions.  The three walked towards him and round the corner.  He looked after them,

Marty thought.  And suddenly realised what he had seen.  He had heard rumours that a Year 11 pupil was a tobacco dealer, but nobody had ever said who it was.  Jeremy had hinted that he knew the identity of the boy.  Come to think of it, he and Jemima were messing about one day, saying they had a surprise planned for whoever it was.

He decided to follow the three kids.  They disappeared round the other corner behind the multiplex, and, following slowly, keeping close to the wall, he watched as they disappeared into the bushes.  A minute or two later, he saw it.  A thin haze of smoke emanating from the patch of woodland behind the cinema.

He walked as fast as he could back to his original hiding place and poked his head round the corner.  Crispin Drummond was still there.

He knew what he had to do next.  He walked into the foyer of the building and picked up the payphone.  He listened.  Good.  A dial tone.  It hadn't been vandalised.  He dialled 999 and asked for the police. 

''Yes it is an emergency.''  he said in reply to the dispassionate enquiry on the other end of the phone.

''I've just witnessed a crime.  Cigarette dealer selling to underaged children.   Yes.  Outside the multiplex at the Leisure Park,  Yeah.  He's by the Shrek poster.  Come quickly.''

As he walked along the road leading away from the Leisure Park, he watched as two police cars approached with ''blues and twos''.

He still felt miserable, but not nearly as miserable as he had before.

The End

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