Sidney did not fare well at school. Whenever he tried to talk to the other children he would stammer and his droopy eye would twitch. Yet, he trusted completely when the older kids told him to do things that got him into trouble. He complied without question to their requests to scratch his name onto Mr. Turnbull’s car using his front door key, or to smear the art teacher’s chair with fishy smelling Copydex glue. At the end of PE lessons they would persuade Sidney to let them look after his clothes while he showered. He had fallen for this no fewer than five times, resulting in five mortifying sprints to retrieve them from the bottom of the sports field, his genitalia flapping in the cold air while his classmates squealed and pointed.
In one double history lesson, having overindulged himself at the water fountain at lunch time, Sidney felt the urgent need to pee. He wanted to ask the teacher to be excused, but the very idea of drawing attention to himself made his breath quicken and his back prickle with sweat. And so he sat in agony, his bloated bladder slowly stretching until, at last, gloriously and hideously, Sidney wet himself. His eyes burned into the graffiti on the school desk as the urine trickled down the grooves in his chair and cascaded onto the floor in eight identical yellow waterfalls.
This earned him the permanent nickname of Pissing Pickles and a position on the lowest level of the school social hierarchy.
In the latter years of school, a new boy joined. He was called David Thrumple. He was very tall and had lots of spots that he never squeezed, covering his face like a range of hard white volcanoes waiting to erupt. The other kids called him crusty Dave.
In Dave, Sidney found a friend. They would sit in the playground together and practice armpit farting. Dave could dislocate each of his fingers before pushing them back in with a resounding crunch. Together they would steal boxes of cigarettes from their parents and smoke them after school by the trolley-strewn canal.
Sidney showed Dave his origami cranes and plasticine collection. Dave said he liked them a lot. When Sidney went to the bathroom, Dave put plasticine boobies with great big nipples on all of the figures, even Inspector Gadget. Sidney wasn’t so sure that Inspector gadget would have wanted boobies.
A few years later, Dave Thrumple had too many beers and choked on his vomit in his sleep. Sidney went to the funeral. Dave’s parents had the word ‘SON’ spelled out in white and yellow flowers. Everybody cried.