Will Tony find a job and a place to call home?
I walked along the shore and headed to a random fish and chip stall. My stomach growled at the smell of fresh food, but I tried to be as businesslike as I could as I spoke to the man behind the counter. I thought he was looking at me suspiciously, but he said he might have something for me, and asked if I was hungry. I admitted I was, and he handed me a plate of freshly cooked fish and chips.
I was nearly passing out from hunger, and I fell on the food, almost forgetting to thank the stall holder. He asked me if I would mind watching his stall while he went to make a phone call, and I just nodded so content was I in eating my first real food for days. Only when I’d finished the food did it occur to me that I had no idea what to do if a customer came along, but luckily he returned before I had to deal with that possibility.
We talked for a while, and I watched him as he served a few customers and took their money. I was so engrossed in trying to learn what to do without being burnt on the hot stove, that it hardly registered when a motorcycle and sidecar came to a screeching halt nearby.
“On shit Tony, where have you been?”
Ruby’s voice shattered my composure, and I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming as I saw her running towards me. She grabbed me, and suddenly there was no doubt that this was Ruby, my Ruby in the flesh. When I became aware of my surroundings again, I saw that her brother Johnny was there, and I realized it had been his motorbike that had driven up.
“This is my Uncle Jake.” Ruby introduced me to the man who had fed me and looked after me. “I thought it was you so he called us. It was lucky it was us and not the police, or you’d be in all sorts of trouble.”
Johhny grabbed me round the shoulder. “What a fucking stupid thing to do!” He said. “Not that I’ve never done anything crazy like, but that was just dumb.” Although his words were harsh, there was the genuine warmth that I’d found with all his family, a sincere, caring attitude for those they called family and friends.
We were all sitting on the sea wall talking, when I noticed out the corner of my eye Dad’s car pulling up, and that both he and Mother were in it. I went white, and if I’d been stronger would probably have run away, but it was too late for that.
There was much crying and shouting, none of which I remember clearly, but I do recall how I was adamant that I would not be going back to the cottage. I also noticed that Mother never offered that I should go and live with her. We were ging round in circles and getting nowhere, when Johhny said:
“Well, if it would help you can come and stay with us for a while.” He turned to talk to Dad and Mother “He’d have to share with me and Billy, but we’d keep an eye on him to make sure he didn’t get into any more trouble.”
“But you already have so many in your house,” Mother said, echoing my own thoughts. I had seen the inside of that house, and there wasn’t a spare inch that wasn’t being used.
“Oh don’t worry about that, Ma always has room for waifs and strays,” Johnny smiled. “What about it Tone – wanna bunk up with us?”
I was really shocked, but so thankful to have a place to go that I agreed at once. Dad didn’t seem to like it too much, but Mother, for once, seemed to be on my side and said I should be given the chance.