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The Oak Tree (standard:other, 2031 words)
Author: Andrew RAdded: Jun 10 2002Views/Reads: 3395/1270Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
It's strange how an experience from childhood can be so insignificant yet so significant at the same time. It can put a stamp on the rest of your life, how you view the world and how you act. The oak tree is a symbol of this.


By Andrew Rough 

I was fifteen when I met him.  He was twelve and getting beaten up by
some older kids for looking poor or something like that.  They were the 
sort who didn't really need an excuse to pick on you.  When I think 
back to it, it makes me laugh, the sort of crap they would come up with 
to find a reason to be insulted by you, their depth of imagination was 
embarrassing.  'What you looking at?' Or 'you a jewboy or a fagot?'  
They never really picked on me, I was skinny back then but had a mean 
face, and so they were never sure if I could handle myself or not.  
They weren't the type to test something out when it wasn't a sure 

My brother Dave was rock 'ard and had tattoos, no one fucked with him. 
He was well known in our little seaside town, a name, a face.  Never 
mind the fact that he died a junkie, alone in a bed sit in a pool of 
his own vomit. 

It's been two years now, I hadn't seen him in five; he was the only
person who ever gave me a beating and that was when he found out I 
nicked his dope.  Dave said "Don't you fukin dare you little shit.  
You've got the brains in this fukin family, don't fukin pickle em in 
this shit."  He always did have a limited vocabulary, and I mean talk 
about hypocrite, it was dope for Christ sake, it's hardly junkie 
status.  Course back then I didn't know about his habit, I didn't know 
to look for track marks on his arms.  I thought he'd caught a weird 
form of eczema. 

I was walking home from school, the day I met the boy.  He lived in a
caravan in the gyppo field by the seafront.  There was an old oak tree 
by his house; I guess his parents must've been somewhere else because 
no one was helping him.  There were three of them, two holding him down 
and one laying into him.  They were all about eighteen, I can't 
remember there names now, but they were the ones without enough brains 
to leave town, so they hung around popping fourteen year olds cherries 
and beating the shit out of wimpy looking kids.  I guess it made them 
feel big and important to make up for the fact that they were no hopers 
destined for factory work for the rest of their lives and marriage at 
twenty-two to their seventeen year old girlfriends who have already got 
two kids by different men.  Anyway, the weird thing was, the boy was 
just taking it, he wasn't struggling or even making a sound.  He had a 
weary look in his face like he was tired or something, almost like he 
was bored.  I shouted at them, "Hey, leave him alone."  They stopped 
and looked at me. "Or what?"  The tall one who was doing all the 
punching said.  I didn't really know what to do then, I'd only ever 
fought Dave and that was only for real that one time, "Never mind or 
what, just leave him alone.  Christ there's three of you against one 
weedy gyppo, hardly impressive is it?" 

I Don't know if my words got to them or if they realised I was Dave's
brother but they let go of him then, giving him a parting kick in the 
belly as they ran off down the sea front to cadge fags of the tramps. I 
went over to him and picked him up.  He pointed to his caravan so I 
helped him over there.  I didn't say a word, the only thing I could 
think of was 'are you OK,' and that sounded a bit lame.  He opened the 
caravan door and stood there shakily, looking at me. "Thank you," he 
said. "Sure, no problem."  I left feeling slightly embarrassed, like I 
should have said more.  He was younger than me, or looked it at least, 
but I felt like I should have made friends with him that day.  A part 
of me felt ashamed, he was a gyppo kid, three years younger than me, it 
shouldn't matter but it did.  I wondered what Dave would say when he 
found out; probably take the piss out of me for protecting Gyppo's.  He 
never did say anything though, I don't know if he ever knew. 

The real problem was everyone hated them.  The Gyppo kids only ever
appeared in school when the fair was in season, and even then they ran 
to their own rules.  They came and went at their own pleasure.  Nothing 
ever got done about it, they always moved away again before anything 
could happen.  This led to a lot of resentment with other kids, and the 
fact that they seemed so close and fucking in bred.  You fucked with 
one of them; they would fuck you back, and all of your family as well.  
They were like a seasonal mafia, here one day, gone the next, 
definitely not to be messed with. 

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