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Where’s the bike?

‘And I hate do-gooders worse,’ Babe said, finishing the dregs of his lager and crushing the can. ‘I hate social workers. I hate anyone who looks like they might want to offer a helping hand.’

He went on, ‘All those people who don’t know you, telling you that they care about you. Shit.’ He spat onto the wooden floor and rubbed it in with the toe of his boot.

‘When I was about fourteen, I had this social worker. Teri. She took a shine to me. Used to invite me round to her place for tea and stuff. Show me off to her friends. Social Worker. Success story. That sort of thing.’

He shook his head, ‘Me. Underclass- savant: eating Italian bread and drinking red wine. Fourteen years old with all these do-gooders congratulating themselves that I was going to be just like them.

‘I started stopping over. It was all above board.’ He glanced at me, smiled a little, ‘But I knew what was coming.

‘One night, and I’ve been invited to a dinner party; they’re all getting drunk and Teri, she follows me into the bathroom and gives me a blowjob. Then we spend the night together. We do it all night. I’m fourteen and I’ve got more energy than anyone she’s ever been with. Not having fucked many fourteen year olds. So she says.

‘The next day I come home from school, tired all day, eyes like piss holes. Back to where I live with my foster parents, and there’s a present for me standing in the hall. A bike. I know what it’s for, and who it’s from, and I know what it makes me.’

He paused to open a fresh can of lager; he took a long drink. ‘Children’s homes provide a steady supply of whores anyway, without the social workers getting involved. But my foster parents, they’re really proud of me. They think I’m doing well, which means, of course, that they are doing well. Fuck them, I thought.

‘I took the bike into the shed and I hack-sawed it into pieces. About twenty five pieces. This takes me two hours. I miss tea. I won’t let my foster dad come in. Stupid. He thinks I’m in there polishing it.

‘I come out of the shed with this whole bike in my rucksack, wheels and all. My foster dad goes into the shed to check on the bike and sees it’s not there. “Where’s the bike?” he asks me.

‘”Where’s the fucking bike?”’

‘I go into the house while he’s still looking around the shed for the bike, and it’s thirty pound of scrap metal and rubber in the rucksack on my shoulder. I hear him shouting, “Where’s the bloody bike?” so I steal some money from his wallet and leave by the front door while he’s still in the shed looking for this gift I’ve been given by my social worker.

‘I get a bus into town, go to the Social Services department in the Civic Centre, and leave the rucksack there, in Teri’s office.’

Babe paused to take another long mouthful of lager. Then some more. Then he looked at me and said, ‘Now you might think my reaction was extreme. You might think I should have went on stiffing the old girl and just kept the presents she gave me. Or maybe I should have done all that, and grassed her up too.’

‘But I didn’t want to be the victim in this. I didn’t want to be the focus. I wanted to be normal. And being normal doesn’t mean getting fucked by your social worker, no matter how sexy and pretty and helpful and kind she may have been.

‘And she was. All that.’


From Urban Pastoral

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