Byron doesn’t turn but beckons me over. I find another gap in the board and peer through at the street outside.
“I’ve got them worked out,” he says. “They don’t come out till noon, and they come out one by one until there are hordes of them out there.”
There are maybe eight or nine of them out there, pale, thin, spotty. Dirty tracksuits hanging from malnourished frames, the peaks of Burberry caps jutting from under raised hoods. They’re standing aimlessly in small groups, smoking and spitting, shifting their weight from trainer to trainer. Occasionally one would break away and kick a nearby car, “Mess u up, shiiiite.” Or they would pick up a nearby brick or piece of wood and throw it at one of the nearby houses. “Braapp!”
“What are they doing?”
Byron turns to me and smiles. “What they always do.”
There are some females out there, too, baggy tracksuit bottoms and overtight T-shirts exposing flabby bellies, hair scraped back tightly, large gold hoops hanging from their ears. One of them stumbles over to a nearby wall, pulls her tracksuit bottoms down, and crouches against the wall, an expanding pool of yellow liquid forming beneath her. One of the males lurches over and pulling down his own tracksuit pins her against the wall. He lurches and grinds for a few seconds then turns and rejoins the group – “Fuked that fit bitch, innit” – and there’s a chorus of grunts, braaaps and safes, as the female reaches between her legs and scrapes out his mess with her hand and flicks it on the ground.
A younger one is sat in the gutter, mindlessly hunched over a brick, tapping it with his hands before growing bored and throwing it at a nearby house.
They yell out and shout at intervals, for no apparent reason, smoking and drinking cheap cider and vodka. A car pulls up, an old Corsa, but with bits of plastic and chrome hanging off it so it looks like a tank. Loud music blares out of it, thudding bass and clattering hi-hat, and some of them gather around it, jostling and grunting their appreciation.
Byron whispers, “This is just the beginning. It gets worse until three or four in the morning, then for no reason, they’re gone.”
“Where do they go?”
“I don’t know. But it’s like this everywhere.”
A small group are playing with fireworks, lighting them then throwing them at each other.
I see large groups of them streaming into the McDonalds and the nearby Job Centre. They’ve somehow managed to get the doors open and are loping in and out, shouting and swearing.
“What are they doing?” I say. “Why do they come here?”
Byron joins me at the window, still munching on his cereal.
I follow one group as it moves from the Job Centre to the McDonalds, kicking over rubbish bins as they do so, then another group split from the horde outside JGB Sports to go to the McDonalds. “Why the Hell are they just moving from one place to another?” The first group have now wandered from the McDonalds and are loping over to JGB Sports.
Byron follows their movements disinterestedly as he shovels Coco Pops into his mouth. “Partly instinct. Memory. What are they used to do. These were important places in their lives."
IT OCCURRED TO ME TODAY THAT...
3 weeks ago