Rod has always been the writer I wanted to be. We have known each other since we were eight years old, we know each other with a depth and experience that is hard to match. Below is a section that Rod wrote for my novel Blind Eye, that I hope to publish soon.
Mr Ford is standing in a bush. A boy is kneeling in front of him; the boy is giving him a blowjob.
We froze. And we did that Red Indian thing that 13-year-olds did back then in the ’70s. And we saw it. And the boy was Corky. And we knew he would never be a friend again. He had been when we were 9, 10, 11, you know, holidays with each other’s parents and now this. Robb and I did not move. We crouched. At my feet was a stone. A stone. A stone that would never leave my mind. A stone I can see over 40 years later. Smooth and flint and the size of a tennis ball. I think I must have meant to throw it over their heads to make them look the other way. Like in Westerns. To make them stop. To stop it. I don’t know; I have never known. But it sailed in a perfect arc. Twenty adult paces. It hit Mr Ford on the crown of his head.
He fell. He did not raise his hands or swear. He just fell.
I remember Corky looking up, then wiping his mouth on his blazer’s maroon and black striped sleeve and running. He ran.Corky ran. I can hear him when I close my eyes; I can hear the bushes as he ran. He may have looked at us. He may have seen us. I do not know. We never asked.
Mr Ford did not move. Robb and I looked at each other, and Robb snuck forward. Braver than me, or maybe his lack of guilt gave him freedom. I have known him all this time, and I think, braver, more curious. I bravely followed my bigger friend.
Mr Ford did not move. It had stopped. The stone had stopped it. The paralysis that held us cannot have lasted long.
Robb just said “Shot” as in good shot, as in well played, in a mock posh voice. Like an old man at a Cricket match. And we stared. And then Robb said, in a louder voice, “Sir”, in the voice we used in class to ask to go to the loo or to ask if it was all right to use green ink.
Mr Ford did not move. We used a branch to turn him over. I robbed him of the cash in his wallet and his cigarettes. I was not as brave as Robb but more venal. I found the stone and lobbed it into a swampy bit of ground, and we watched it sink. Then we ran to the road, to the top of Wildwood road. And we stopped and smoked one of the Benson & Hedges I had stolen, and we didn’t laugh, and then Robb said “Shot” again in that voice, and we could not stop laughing.
“He’s going to have a hell of a headache.”
“He can’t tell, though, can he?” And we walked home smoking