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By Phil Thornton
Back at the office, Johno, who’d fixed the whole farce up in the first place asked Stoney how it had gone.
“Fucking waste of time lad.”
Johno nodded a bit guiltily, as Stoney took out his files from the cupboard.
“Who’ve we got in today?”
He wasn’t in the mood for any more analysis but Stoney could tell that Johno wasn’t gonna let him off the hook that easily. His body language spoke volumes, and he dropped five or six heavy files on his desk and stared menacingly at his workmate, who was intrigued by his former life, always asking questions, wanting to know how did what to who and why. Johno averted his eyes and began feigning interest in his laptop screen. Stoney decided to have a bit of fun with the whopper. He sat down then kicked over the waste paper bin next to his desk.
“It’s your fucking fault Johno.”
Johno looked up anxiously.
“I never wanted to meet the prick in the first place, I told you I didn’t.”
“I know but..”
“But fucking nothing you soft cunt.”
Stoney stood up and was now leaning over Johno sat cowering opposite him.
“It’s not healthy for me to keep raking over the past OK?”
“OK, sorry” Johno whimpered
“My CPN told me I had to let go of all that, concentrate on the future, and this prick starts asking me all these questions, I’m telling him shit I’ve kept buried inside for fucking years but he kept fucking pressing me….”
Stoney could see Johno becoming more terrified as his tone went from anger to almost tearful. Jan and Sheila in the next office were stood watching them through the partition window. Stoney stared at them and while Johno was desperately trying not to catch his eye, winked at them. He decided t up the ante a bit while he had Johno dangling. He kicked his chair over and walked around to where Johno was sat. Jan and Sheila had now got the rest of their office watching the performance. Johno stood up and held his skinny freckled arms out. He was about the same age as Stoney but looked a lot older, as if he’d been born forty years old. He had the physical appearance of a man who’d spent thirty two years sat at a desk, filing away reports on juvenile delinquents. That’s why he got such a buzz off Stoney and his tales. He’d missed out on all that. For such a massive Liverpool fan, he’d never been to a match in his life. He was never off the Liverpool FC websites, the fan forums, had Steven Gerrard as his screensaver, You’ll Never Walk Alone as his mobile ring tone, always wore his replica top to the pub yet had never been inside Anfield. His dad wouldn’t let him. Too many ruffians. Too many ne-erdowells. Too many lads like Stoney. Dads!
“I’m gonna go back inside now thanks to you!” Stoney yelled.
“Why what happened?” Johno asked, still holding his arms out to stop Stoney getting any closer.
“I gave him a dig, cheeky cunt, asking me about me dad, no-one’s asking me stuff like that, do you know what me dad did to me?”
Johno shook his head and began to move around Stoney trying to make his way to the door but Stoney blocked him and lunged at him, getting Johno in a headlock.
“Get off me, I’m sorry mate.” Johno squealed in a pathetically high pitched voice. Stoney began laughing and released Johno from his grip. Jan, Sheila and the others from the admin office were all pissing themselves as Johno broke free and stood red-faced, trying to regain his composure.
“I had going there didn’t I?” Stoney laughed ruffling what was left of Johno’s receding reddish, grey hair. He moved back to his desk, picked his chair up and sat down but Johno continued to stand, comically straightening his shirt and trousers.
“Fucking cunt!” he whispered under his breath.
“Oh, sit down Johno, fuck’s sake lad. I was only having a laugh.”
Johno looked around into the next office. Only Jan was stood there, still smiling at Stoney and seeing this, Stoney now felt a bit guilty for making a show of Johno. OK, he was a bit of a tit, but he was harmless enough. What pissed him off though was that whilst he was doing this as a volunteer, getting a few bob expenses and that was it, whereas Johno was on over thirty grand a year. Thirty fucking grand for sitting on his arse all day making up bullshit statistics for the Department of Lies. Take yesterday for example. Johno had fixed him up with four separate meetings with young lads in and out of nick, lads on the persistent offenders register, thought they knew it all. Stoney had got through to one of em but the others weren’t interested, they were just trying to please their POs or evade a stretch by playing the system, meeting people like Stoney to make it appear as if the government were attempting to tackle youth crime in positive and innovative ways, when all it boiled down to was trying to save dough on prison bills.
Stoney knew the score and fancied himself as a bit of a social worker stroke mentor stroke community leader, the usual positions that former yobs and crims tended to occupy in the post-industrial landscape. He’d spent six hours trying to get these cunts to listen to him, spent a bit of time with them, listening to their all too predictable life stories and offered his brand of no bullshit guidance. He wasn’t their dad, wasn’t their teacher, wasn’t their screw, wasn’t their PO, he was just letting them know that they all had options. They were all still young enough to get off the gear, give up their petty criminal activities and make a go of their lives. And after it was over and he was back in the office with his reports, what did Johno do but file them in his drawer to type up in a mad rush a day before the deadline for his monthly management information report. No, he far too busy typing his never-been-to-a-match-in-his-life opinions on various fan platforms with all the other Sky TV armchair bores.
“Look mate” Stoney cuddled Johno “I’m sorry lad, didn’t mean to show you up.”
Johno ignored him and picked up the phone, as if he’d been distracted from urgent business. Johno could fuck things up for him, if he wanted. He was still on trial with these pricks, still trying to work his way in, see what the score was and carve out a position for himself, maybe even launch his own graft, a charity maybe for reformed hooligans and tearaways. He just needed a bit of respectability, a few months, a year maybe to prove he was ’cured’ that he could hold down a steady job, discipline himself. Johno was talking to his mate.
“Yeah got a few days off, thinking of going over to the Dam, d’yer fancy it? No, I’ve cleared it with em here, no probs mate. Yeah, just me at the moment, get the Easyjet over, book a room when we’re there…..”
Stoney sat at his desk and looked at Johno opposite him. He was childishly blanking him now, putting on a show. The Dam! Who was he fooling? Probably no fucker on the other end. He switched on his PC, went straight to his emails. Usual shite. This meeting’s been cancelled. That meeting’s been moved to a different room. This report’s overdue. That report needs completing. Then a message from someone called firstname.lastname@example.org. He opened it.
I’m sorry we appeared to have got off on the wrong foot today. It was my fault entirely and I can only apologise. I now realise that I should have been more professional and explained in more detail the project I am planning and hope that you can still play a valuable role not only in bringing your own experiences to a wider audience but also help shape how the project develops. I am In Liverpool again on Thursday 15th June. I hope you can meet me again and we can continue our interview. If not, I entirely understand your feelings and wish you well for the future.
Professor Michael Johnstone
Soft twat must’ve emailed him on the train home. Maybe he’d been a bit harsh on the prick. Maybe he wasn’t gonna go all Freudian on his ass anyway. It was true though. He didn’t have anything to say about that cunt. Not to some professor anyhow. He’d kept it all bottled up for years. Maybe that was the problem. Who was he fooling? He was as self-deluded as Johno there. He KNEW that was the problem. One day they’re sharing chips and meat and potato pie outside The Kop, the next he’s moved out and left them for some slut from Winsford. That was that. All that shite he’d told the professor about the car getting robbed. Well, it WAS true, it did get robbed outside the ground but they’d continued going for another season or so. Then, fuck all. No birthday cards, no Christmas presents. Not a peep for seven years. So, no two ways about it, he had what the Yanks called ’Issues!’ Issues he still hadn’t resolved or even attempted to resolve if he was being honest.
Maybe he would meet the professor again after all. He knew it wouldn’t get all that simmering hatred out of his system but atleast it did him good talking about the match, triggered off a few memories he’d filed away for years. He’d actually enjoyed the interview until the old bugbear, his dad had come into the frame. He mailed him back.
He scrubbed that. He hated using the word ‘Dear’ especially if it was going to a man. Pathetic he knew but still, that was the way he’d been brought up.
Was that jokey? Ah, fuck it!
No worries mate. Think I was a bit hard on you but as long as we keep it to the football then I’ve got no problem with meeting you on the 15th.
Just put Stoney.
Stoney pressed ’send’ and relaxed a little. He sat back in his chair and looked at Johno who was still blabbing shite to his non-existant mate. Johno nervously looked across at him and Stoney smiled. Johno gave a tentative half smile back.
“OK mate, gotta go lad, I’ll get on Easyjet now and book the tickets.”
“Going the clog are yer?” Stoney asked.
“No, Amsterdam” Johno replied looking puzzled.
“Yeah, I know,” Stoney smiled and shook his head, “doesn’t matter.”
“Nothing mate. You been before?”
“No, well we went to Holland once with school but never actually got as far as Amsterdam. You been?”
“I lived there more or less for three years.”
“Did you?” Johno’s face lit up at the prospect of more tales of larceny and daring do.
“Knew these Ajax lads over there, top lads they were.”
“I’m Feyenoord meself” Johno said rather cockily. Feyenoord! Never been to Anfield never mind the stadion.
“Are ya?” Stoney asked with a dismissive tone that Johno picked up on.
“Yeah, Ajax’s boys are all fucking Yids aren’t they?”
Stoney just stared at his colleague. He now looked embarrassed.
“I mean they’ve got a lot of Jewish supporters haven’t they Ajax” he spluttered.
“Yeah they have. One of the lads who I stayed with was Jewish, why Johno have you got a problem with Jews?”
“Me? Have I fuck, I’m not Mel Gibson, just saying I prefer Feyenoord that’s all.”
Johno returned to his computer screen again. ‘Tit!’ He thought.
To be continued.
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