PASSION 4 PROSE or P4P! A fun laid back short story, and article Blog , the home for the author Chris Wilson, and a home for those who prepared to , or like to think differently and exercise their mind
By Chris Wilson
“Go on Simon, play chicken. Run Simple Simon, run, run, run!”
They were all there, his so called-classmates; all laughing, all shouting, and all chanting out his name. Simon didn’t want to run- the low benches and coat hooks of the cloakroom hurt his knees and shoulders. Too many people, too much noise, and worst of all, at the centre of the mob, stood Kevin and Peter. Simon was afraid of Kevin and Peter. They were the biggest school bullies. They hurt him, and they were a double act. Everybody was afraid of them, they were in charge of the run.
Simon knew he was slower at learning than the rest of his school year group. He knew he was different from other around him, but why was it only him that played chicken, why couldn’t others share his confusion and pain?
“Simple Simon, Simple Simon, run, run, run”
Stumbling over the low seat, and catching his head on a chipped enamel coat hook, he felt blood on his cheek, all hot and sticky. He wet himself through panicking, and hot tears of confusion and misery streamed down from his eyes.
What had he done to earn such treatment?
Why did everybody laugh at him?
Why wouldn’t they just leave him alone?
Simon Shawcross, now aged 22, closed his old school diary, patted it’s cover, smiled, and put down the book on the table beside him. He turned round to look at an immaculate model train layout that lay proud and gleaming by his side. It was a lovely little flat the council and village had given him, and he was very grateful. This model was his real world and he loved it, for even though it was an exact replica of the real train tracks upon which trains continually rushed past his bedroom window, there was no dirty oil, no teasing, and no pain. Best of all, no Kevin and Peter.
Within this world everything ran to a preordained summer and winter timetable, everything was controlled, and nobody screamed or shouted. Simon knew that the village laughed at him and his train set, but he liked control. Control meant safety and, safe within his own little kingdom, and he was well away from the villagers’ sometimes kind but often inquisitively mocking eyes.
In the distance he heard the warning “I’m coming through” trumpeting horn of the 11.10 express from Oxford. He looked at his watch and checked the date. Using a 5b soft pencil carefully marked the 11.10 service within a copy of the railway timetable that was by his side. Looking out of the window to check the barriers at the unmanned level crossing, he operated a model train set which, just like the real train , would soon sweep round the bend. He looked at his train and his layout carefully. The barriers were down, and a red topped plastic model man, who he had named K.P Red, stood by the crossing waiting and waving. Simon listened attentively as the rails outside his flat humed and then sang.
Both trains passed each other at the crossing, trumpeting their presence loudly, and telling everyone who might be in the vicinity to stand back and get out of the way, but Simon only had eyes for his train set. He would wave to the Oxford bound train from the level crossing when it came back later, and the driver, looking out for Simon, would wave back to him but now, as he looked at the model rail tracks before him, that was unimportant, as the red topped man jumped high in the air.
“Too late K.D, too late.”Simon murmured.“ You can’t stand there, when the barriers come down!
But K.D Red said nothing . He never said anything; rather like Simon, when he was outside or in company. He had his bright red football shirt, though, and he always looked pretty as he twisted and spun in the air.
Simon looked again at his watch, the calendar on his phone, and his trusty timetable. Then he got up, put on his coat, and moved away from the model railway. The locals would cross the tracks back into the village before the next train going to London came through , but there was always one local who left the pub after lunchtime closing, so Simon had to see the Oxford train return.
He had to stand at his post by the barriers, and to warn people of a fast train coming. It was his job, and he had bought himself a shiny pocket wtch and an old staionmaster’s uniform. Although and unrecognised by the railway company, he was important. Car drivers had to wait for him. Train drivers always waved at him, and the trains needed his assistance as they rumbled or hurtled by. Stationmaster Si, the kinder villagers humorously called him, but he knew his trains and his timetable, and he always did his job with pride. Checking his watch once more, he put on his cap and uniform, ad walked outside and over to the barriers.
As he looked around him, his face broke into a malicious smile. There was no-one around him, the train would soon be rushing through on its way to Oxford, and one last trackside adjustment was still needed. It was a small job that Simon hoped nobody would notice; yet a job that was important.
It was trick he was used when he went out catching Rabbits. Rabbits wanted to run. Rabbits didn’t like chicken wire , and this was one job one that simply had to be done.
“Oh, bugger, those pickled onions!”
Kevin Openshaw burped loudly and, after a quick slash in a hedgerow just planted by the local council, he began to strolled towards the railway crossing.
Seven pints was quite enough for one lunch time, the pub landlord had told him, but when kevin threatened to punch him, the landlord had given him a free bag of crisps and a couple of onions.
As far as Kevin was concerned, anything was good if it was for free. He was a scrounging bully and an ardent Manchester United Supporter, and he wore their football shirt with pride. That was his life really. An unbroken line of free fags, booze, crisps, got by threats, violence, intimidation, and unemployment benefit. If anyone objected his fists, did the talking; so long as his victim wasn’t bigger than him, or too strong.
He missed Peter though. When he was around life had been even easier. Peter was a tough bugger, and a good mate of Kevin, but Kevin was stronger than Peter, so he could tell Peter what to do and say. That meant a free ride for Kevin. Peter did all the dirty work for him. If the coppers came calling then it was always Peter who took the blame.
Kevin knew all about violence. Being belted as a kid by his father, and .survival of the fittest, meant bullying came quite naturally to him, but he didn’t understand its real value until he thumped his pathetic broken old workhorse of a father. His dad was on long term disability benefit,and an alcoholic. As Kevin watched his dad slumped and whimpering on the floor, after a well directed kick to the stomach, he suddenly realised how much power he had, and how much more power could be gained.
From that point on life was easy. From then on power and domination were important and, a decent school education was of no interest to him. “A lazy thug and a cowardly bully”, was how his old headmaster described him. “A disgrace to the community,” he had added, before Kevin and Peter had thumped him, and sent him to hospital. They got six months for roughing up the old toe rag, and Peter got another six months , on Kevins behalf, for attacking a prison screw and another inmate, but as far as Kevin was concerned, such sentences were the mark of a survivor. Now he was the undisputed village hard man, locals respected him, and he wore his crown with pride. Now having served his sentence, he could reassert his authority within the village. As he strolled down towards the railway lines, his face broke into a cruel and vicious smile.
Life was sweet, life was simple, and, joy of all joys, Silent Simon, Simple Simon the village idiot, and aptly named village Stationmaster Si was standing by the lines. Simon couldn’t move, he had to take whatever Kevin gave him. This was going to be fun!
Eagerly he picked up his pace, so as to get hold of and then beat up Simon, but as he walked forward the gates began closing and he began to frown. Like everyone else in the village he knew the railway timetable to the last second, and the barriers were coming down ten minutes early. He checked the train timetable that he always kept in his pocket, and he swore. He was right, the gates were closing early, and Keith didn’t like waiting, but at least Simon was there, and he wasn’t going anywhere, so leaning casually on the single bar barrier, Kevin looked at Simon carefully, before holding out an overly inviting arm.
This was going to be easy, thought Kevin, as he looked at the empty tracks before him. No one in sight and just a couple of lightweight single bar barriers. Kevin liked it when there was nobody around to challenge him, although even with such safety and security he still wished that Peter was standing by his side.
“Come on Simple,”He called out invitingly. “Come here my little stationmaster, cross the tracks and play chicken. It’s fun playing chicken isn’t it, and you know it’s only a game!”
Simon didn’t move though. He just pointed towards the tracks in front of him.
“Cat got your tongue Simple; what’s up with you, are you scared? Come to Papa, cross the railway lines now, or cross the lines when you hear the train coming. Come on Simple, you know I’ll make you play chicken in the end!”
There was still no movement though, and still no sound from Simon.
Just a shake of the head, a raised timetable, and Simon’s outstretched arm pointing towards the rails. Kevin rechecked his own timetable carefully, still ten minutes, so he slipped under the barriers and put a foot on the Oxford bound rail.
“Ok Simple, the jokes over now. I’m coming over to get you. Prepare to feel some pain!”
Yet Simon just smiled.
Kevin swore again and began to cross the tracks towards Simon. Now he’d catch it. Now he’d pay for his defiance How he’d make him…
Then his foot caught on the rail below him. A strand of metal. That’s all it was. A thin strand of metal, with a loop at the end, but as he tried to clear his foot the loop tightened around his ankle. Kevin realised that he couldn’t break free. He panicked. As he looked despairingly towards Simon, the rails beat out a rhythmic drumming. Then they began to sing!
“Simple, help me, I can’t break free!”
Simon wasn’t looking though, and Simon couldn’t hear him, for Simon was waving at the train.
“Help me Simon, for God sake’s help me, I’m trapped, and I don’t want to…!”
Simon couldn’t help him. It was too late, and he had to stay by the barriers. He was Stationmaster Si and he had to be responsible, but he still smiled and laughed quietly ,as bloody portions of Kevin’s sliced body spun wildly in the air.“Too late my friend, too late,”
Simon murmured.“You can’t stand there, when the barriers are down!
Two trainer clad feet, one outstretched hand, an old timetable, a mobile phone, and a stolen IPod was all that Kevin amounted to, for the rest of his upper body, as well as the thin metal snare which had trapped him, were crushed beyond recognition, and mangled underneath the train.
Nobody in the village blamed Simon. He may have been the village idiot, but he was their village idiot. They comforted him, and consoled him. Then they gave him large mug of hot sweet tea, a double chip chocolate muffin, and promised to buy him a lovely new model train pack for Christmas.
A tragic accident, one or two villagers called it, and good riddance to bad rubbish, more cried in tune, but Simon, now back with his train set, just lay the red topped man on the tracks before him, and grinned.
“No more Kevin, no more bullying,” he sang to himself softly, ” and no more summer timetable!”
It was the winter timetable now. The train came ten minutes early. Simon liked the new timetable, it had proved very useful. Peter would be out pf prison soon.
He had hit and mugged a disabled old age pensioner.
Peter still had the old timetable. Peter didn’t like to be kept waiting, and like his now ex mate Kevin, Peter liked to see Simon run .
Now Simon wanted to stop running, yet he liked being the Village Stationmaster. He also liked being Silent Simon, Simple Simon, and the village idiot; as idiots like him never got the blame for anything. Idiots were slow and stupid and they needed support and protection. Idiots were treated like backward children, and idiots were left alone to play.
He stroked a small coil of wire that lay beside him, and turned away from his train set as the 3.10 power station coal train came over the level crossing, and then past his open window. He lifted his cap and smiled at the driver, and the driver grinned and cheerfully waved back in return.
“Peter says Simple play chicken,” he murmured, as he then looked at the gleaming wire and the new winter timetable, “But Simon says Peter play chicken!” he whispered,”and Simon says Peter must die!”
He moved closer to his beloved model railway and, checking the man in the red jumper was in place by the trackside, his grin turned into a low malicious chuckle. Carefully powering up and moving his London bound model train set towards the crossing, he methodically, and meticulously, rehearsed, and then re-enacted his plan.