Friday, August 27, 2004

Chapter 1, Beswick Winkles, an ordinary boy.

It had rained for almost three weeks now. The puddles had turned into ponds, the water in the gutters attempted to brink the shores of the road. The gloomy grey skies were overshadowed by a dark black ominous cloud. Beswick was riding his bicycle back from the store with a few groceries his mother had sent him to buy.
Beswick was eleven now, more than just a child but not quite a teenager. He wore a light nylon jacket, a few sizes too big and his jeans were torn at the knee. His canvas runners were soaked from the torrents of rain showering over him.
His bicycle had no fenders and a rooster tail of water sprayed up his back, not that fenders would have kept him any drier on a day like this. On the front of the bike was a basket that contained the milk, bread and soap his mother needed to do the laundry. The rain ran through his red hair and streamed over his glasses, it was a wonder he could even see the road let alone the boys on the corner.

A shout rang out from the corner. "BEESWAX, BEESWAX WINKY!"
As cold as Beswick was, his skin wrinkled from the cold rain, an even colder chill ran up his spine to the hairs on the back of his neck!

"BEESWAX, you running errands for your mommy?" The tall round shape of Cedric stepped off the corner. Cedric Whatmore was the biggest meanest bully Beswick had ever come face to face with. The first thought in Beswicks mind was to run Cedric over, but Cedric being the size he was would have probably even stopped a car!
Maybe he could steer around him and continue on his way.
As he started to veer to the other side of the road the rest of the boys stepped onto the road. They locked arms!
"Red rover red rover, BEESWAX come over" they all taunted.
Beswick had little choice, he pressed back on the pedals to apply the brake, the bicycle slowed to a stop just in front of Cedric Whatmore.

Cedric grabbed the bag from the front of the basket.
"what's in here Beeswax?" he said with a sly grin on his face.
"Just some things for my mom that's all, now give them back." replied Beswick.
Cedric just grinned. "Think you are big enough to tell me what to do?" he sneered " Your just a little worm, a worm in the ground just like your daddy!"

Beswick could feel the rage starting to overtake him. He had never really known his father who died in a mining accident when Beswick was only two.
"You take that back!" he shouted. His anger had far outstripped the fear he felt a few minutes earlier.
Cedric would have no backtalk from anyone he was challenging so he punched Beswick square on the chin. Beswicks head snapped sideways and his glasses flew into the gutter. The boys all cheered Cedric on. "Smash him! Grind the worm into the ground!"
Beswick lunged up at the hulk of a boy. Cedric stood his ground and threw him into the gutter right on top of his glasses.
Then he tore open the soap and sprinkled it all over Beswick and the gutter.
"Time to clean up BEEZWAX". The boys all laughed, poor Beswick was soaked, his lip was bleeding, he couldn't find his glasses and the soap his mother needed to do laundry was scattered in the street.
As if this wasn't enough, Cedric and the boys smashed the front wheel of the bicycle, threw the bag with the bread and milk at him and turned and ran away.

The rain did a good job hiding Beswicks tears. He wasn't crying because he was hurt, he was crying because he was angry.
He was angry at the bullies for picking on him. He was angry at the mine for taking his father. He was angry at the town for only letting his mother do laundry to try and make ends meet. But mostly he was angry at himself for being an ordinary boy!

If I was stronger, I could have stopped Cedric, he thought. If I was faster I could have gone around them! If we had money then I wouldn't have to go to the store and buy soap.
The soap! Oh No! How could he go home without the soap. His mother had no more money, she needed the soap to make more money.

Beswick decided he would go back to the store and talk to Mr. Ridley, surely he would give Beswick some more soap till he could pay for it.
He fumbled in the gutter, water up to his elbows feeling for his glasses. He found them, twisted, one lens missing. He twisted them back and put them on. Closing one eye he continued to look. The other lens was there on the sidewalk, chipped but still usable. He slipped it into the pocket of his nylon jacket and scooped up the soggy bag of bread and milk.
The bicycle wheel would turn and catch on the brakes where the boys had warped it. It couldn't be ridden but he could push it back to the store.
Beswick looked over his shoulder at the whirlpool of suds slipping down the drain.
He could hear the laughter of the boys in the distance as the dark cloud drew closer.
A flash of lightning made him look up into the driving rain.
He was wetter than he had ever been before. His shirt dripped water down his back, his jeans clung to his legs as he walked, making it harder than ever to push the broken bike.
He had six blocks to go before he reached Ridley's Store ad the bottom of the hill.
He just rounded the corner of Pine Street when he heard the first crack of thunder.
His mind was playing the same thoughts over and over again." An ordinary boy, if I had only done this... or even that..... if I wasn't so small I could have..."
The water was running into his ears, he tilted his head to let it trickle out.
"Young Master Beswick" a voice called out from the street.
He looked around to see if he had heard someone or if it was his mind playing tricks on him.
"Young Master Beswick!" the voice echoed, this time with more urgency "Come in out of the rain!" "I hardly think you mother would be too happy with me if I was to let you drown"

Beswick squinted through the one wet lens at the doorway across the square. A short man wearing a flat cap and a tweed jacket was waving him over. As Beswick came closer he could see the woolen plaid scarf around his neck, the grey trousers were too long and had been rolled up in cuffs around the ankles. A black cat with the bluest eyes Beswick had ever seen was snaking around the mans legs. Beswick swore he could hear the cat purr, but that would be impossible with the rain dancing on the tin roof.
Beswick pushed the bicycle over to the door and rested it under the eaves.
He recognized Mr. Featherstone as one of his mothers customers. She had been doing laundry for him as long as he could remember.
Mr Featherstone ushered Beswick in taking the soggy bag of bread and milk from him and placing it in the kitchen.
"Here are some dry clothes" he said "get changed in the bathroom and I will call your mother to let you know you are alright."
Mr Featherstone patted him on the shoulder with a smile. "Once you are cleaned up you can sit down to a nice bowl of hot oatmeal and we can talk about your glasses and your bike." "Don't you worry none, Young Master Beswick, I will tell your mom you are fine and we will have time to chat and maybe even discover what an extraordinary young man like you is doing, pushing a broken bike out in the rain!"


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