The child, lopes down the street, easy movement, box fresh trainers eating up the distance, pumped with righteous rage and just a tiny bit of fear.
Proud to be chosen, proud to be trusted, his chance to show that he can do this thing and afterwards, he knows that it will always be with him, his rep will be secure.
In LE2, he will be a legend, a man.
The man, the man who torched the house, sent a message, this is our place, this is our LE2,innit.
He’s carrying a Primark bag, nobody ever notices a Primark bag, just knows that it’s full of cheap shit clothes that will fall apart 2 days after you buy it.
He doesn’t buy his clothes there, got swagger, knows his labels, hangs his shirts, his jeans up carefully in the bedroom he shares with 3 smaller brothers, little dogz.
This bag is heavy with what he needs to do the job, just him on his own, walking past the mosque, behind the park, towards the address he’s stored in his phone.
The street is confusing, the numbers don’t make sense, he checks his phone, face twisted in concentration…
Fuck it, this must be the one.
The street is empty, no lights, he’s glad of the can of Red Bull he swigged down on the way, stoops, places the carrier bag on the floor and reaches in to pull out the little can of petrol, the rags, the lighter.
And at that point, from the alley between the terraced houses that snake down the hill to the park, steps the biggest clown and there is a pause…….
The boy, the man, the man/boy is like
WTF, eyes on stalks and they both stand, in front of the white, UPVC front door, as if, at any second, they will knock the door and somebody will come and let them in and offer over sweet chai and chocolate biscuits and then the clown, slowly, carefully, bends down and picks up the petrol can, unscrews the lid and pours the petrol into the gutter.
The child, all 6’2 of legs and headphones and anger that has no words, just innit and safe and bro and bloodz just stands and stares and then the clown reaches across and wraps his arms around this child and it should feel bare gay, but it doesn’t.
It feels safe, proper safe and the child rests his head on the biggest clowns shoulder and then they turn and walk down the hill, towards the park and from nowhere the clown dog appears, trots at their heels and when, without words, they pass into the park, through the metal gates, he runs ahead, scuffingly in the early autumn leaves as they make their way towards the little kids play area.
They sit, clown and boy on the wooden roundabout, the wood splintered, covered in layer upon layer of tagging.
Somewhere, amongst the layers, the boy knows that his tag is part of this almost art work,from back in the day, when he was 12 or 13, somewhere if you look carefully, you can see his name.
They sit, waiting for the sun to come up, for the night to end.
And then, across the grass, come the other two clowns.
The clown dog sees them, hurls himself towards them and the biggest clown stands,nods and gently, lovingly, gives the roundabout one last push.
The clowns process.
And at their side, the clown dog, mouth opened in a joyous bark to greet the morning.