As I’d predicted, mum had made more than enough for Maxxie. He ate his and Lucas’ dinners, and mum made her usual comment that Karen – Maxxie’s mum, by the way – must be starving him or something. Truth is, his lunch money got ‘lost’. See, I know I said no one bothers us anymore, but some kids still try to get at him. They gave up on physically hurting him, but it’s not like I could protect him much if they were doing stuff that I couldn’t stop. If I didn’t know who it was doing it, I couldn’t hit them. And I knew Maxxie was lying when he said that it didn’t bother him, but y’know. I did the best I could to look after him all the same.
There wasn’t much I could do about his dad, however. His family weren’t what you’d call accepting of his sexuality. Karen had decided that Maxxie was a failure and that it was all her fault. She also liked to tell him that his still born brother would never have turned out so shitty. His dad, on the other hand, told him he was a disgusting little faggot and that he would find a ‘cure’ if it killed him. His cure was usually smacking him around and yelling at him. I’d happily teach the guy a lesson, but y’see, Maxxie’s dad was one of these business men with his fingers in all the right pies: he’d have me thrown into juvenile prison if I so much as looked at him wrong.
So there you have it: that is basically Maxxie’s life. He gets harassed at school and at home, I do my best to look out for him, and he stays over at mine a lot.
He disappeared after dinner. I wasn’t worried. I knew exactly where he was; he had a habit of sitting on the roof when he needed to clear his head. I’d give him an hour, tops, before going up and joining him. I’d steal a joint from Lucas and we’d get stoned up there together. He’d calm down and chill out, and eventually, he would come back inside. Though I have to admit, there’s something about sitting up there, above everything with London sprawled out beneath you. I can see why he likes it up there. Hell, maybe with all this shit going on with Lucas, I’d start hanging out on the roof more often.
“Is Maxxie up on the roof again?” mum asked, glancing at me as she put the washing up away. I was sat at the breakfast bar, playing Super Mario Land on my Game Boy with a bowl of ice cream.
“Yep,” I nodded without looking up from my game.
“You two ought to be careful going up there. And don’t pretend like I don’t know what you two get up to out there,” she looked at me pointedly. I paused my game.
“Oh? What do we get up to out there? Do you think we have hot, rampant gay sex on your roof or something?”
“No. If you were having sex, I’d just tell you to use a condom,” she laughed faintly, “just don’t go down the same route as your brother, okay?” She actually looked kind of worried.
“Don’t worry,” I smiled, “anyway, it’s not like you didn’t smoke pot when you were my age.”
“Shut up. Just look after each other, yeah?” she patted my cheek and I nodded, half smiling, half trying to scowl at her. I was fucking lucky that she didn’t scream the place down at me. Actually, I was just fucking lucky that I had a decent family, y’know? I didn’t think of that at the time, slipping off my chair and heading off up to Lucas’ room. He scowled at me as I walked in, demanding to know what I was disturbing him for.
I just gave him the finger and went straight for his stash in a tin box he kept under his box. He actually looked surprised that I knew about it.
“I wondered where my weed was going,” he commented as I sat at his desk, rolling a joint. He covered his nose to try and block out the smell.
“Maxxie has it, mostly,” I threw a fiver at him. He watched as I rolled, pocketing the money. “I’m surprised you’re not mad at me.”
“Well it’s gone now, I can’t do much about it, can I? I’d always figured I’d smoked more than I thought but got too stoned to remember,” he laughed faintly, sounding suspiciously distant. I moved a little closer and looked at him properly. His pupils were tiny and his breathing was so shallow that his chest was hardly moving. The idiot was so high he could barely move. I whacked him around the side of his head.
“You’re lucky I don’t tell mum or dad that you’re using drugs in the house. You know what they said about that.”
“Fuck off,” he whined, rubbing his head. I did just that, stuffing the joint in my pocket as I climbed out of my window and pulled myself up onto the roof. Maxxie helped me up when he noticed I was coming up to join him.
We sat together, my arm around his shoulders as I pulled out the joint and presented it to him. He thanked me quietly and lit it, sharing it with me. As usual, I let him have most of it, waiting until he was calm before starting a conversation with him.
“So,” I said, playing with his hair as he leant his head on my shoulder, “what happened this time?”