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Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

ym_76_oct19_kidsgames.jpg
Art by Keith Coates Walker 2019

Kids’ Games

by Tim Frank



Pavel was thirteen when he stabbed a boy for his iPhone in the skate park, near their school. He didn’t mean to kill him, but that’s the way things go, sometimes, and Pavel didn’t lose any sleep over it.

Before the murder, he suffered stark periods of loneliness and gloom, but afterwards, he was almost energized by the strain of becoming a killer. He didn’t know how he’d get away with it, though, as he had no one to help him, no friends, nothing.

As Pavel mulled over his situation on the park bench, a kid from school, Gollum, named because of his strange crouched stance and growling voice, caused by a rare spinal condition at birth, tapped Pavel on the shoulder, and said, “I can help you.”

“What are you talking about?” said Pavel, fiercely eyeballing Gollum, who was holding a graffiti can—paint splattered across his hands and face.

“I saw you. I know the kid you killed, Natty, and I can unlock his phone. I can get rid of the body, too. You know he was a dealer, right? We could take over his business together, storm London town, dominate.”

“Drugs?”

“Yeah, drugs and money,” Gollum hissed.

Pavel didn’t want to lose his high, so against his better judgment, knowing Gollum was trouble, he agreed to a partnership.

They found the drugs in Natty’s school locker. Gollum wheezed in delight as he handled the contraband and slipped it inside his rucksack. They were ready to go.

The first deal they set up was through Natty’s Instagram account, that linked them to a boy who walked with a fake limp, had burns across his arms, and was puffing on a cigarette, like he was inhaling laughing gas. He was called Benzo and must have been eleven.

“Who’s this freak?” said Benzo, nodding at Gollum. “Actually, it doesn’t matter. Look, I don’t know who you guys are, but this dust better be lit, or me and my crew will track you down.”

 

But Natty’s coke delivered, and the word spread, until they caught the attention of a crime boss called Ryno.

Ryno was known as the Acid King. A sixteen-year-old from Walthamstow, he would line up trips in a bandana, lie in a tanning bed, and wait for the sweat to help absorb the acid into his forehead. He was always far gone. But this didn’t hinder his business acumen.

“I want you to sell something for me,” he said, staring fixedly at a spot on the ceiling, as if the center of the universe was poking through. A burly man in a tie-dyed sleeveless T-shirt exposing his biceps dumped a brick of coke on the table. Gollum fidgeted uncontrollably.

“Play your cards right,” said Ryno, playing with a Rubik’s cube, “and the world is yours.”

It was left to Gollum and Pavel to divide the coke up into little baggies, ready to be sold on the street. They kept the drugs at Gollum’s place because his parents were always out, working.

Once everything had been prepared, they alerted the major crews around London. As the gangs converged on the meeting point—the skate park at night— Pavel noticed in the half-light that Gollum had blood seeping from his eyeballs.

“Oh, shit, Gollum, what have you done?” Pavel said, and then dug inside Gollum’s backpack and found handfuls of empty bags of coke.

Gollum gasped and began to hyperventilate.

Then, out of the blue, Pavel was grabbed from behind, and his throat was slit.

The perpetrator was from Pavel’s art class and said, “This one’s for Natty.”

Gollum hobbled away to safety, holding onto the bag of drugs for dear life.

Crews arrived at the park—the raggas from Stonebridge, the dreads from Camden, the Irish from Kilburn, and the Russians from Shoreditch—everyone ready to kick off.

Pavel bled to death where it all began. He sensed the last flickering light of his consciousness slowly fade.

Before he passed on, he felt as if he was soaring through the sky, never to land, his short life lived to the fullest.

 

 

Tim Frank’s short stories have been published in journals many times, including Bourbon Penn, Bartleby Snopes, Thrice Fiction, Foliate Oak, and Able Muse.

He is an upcoming writer, specializing in the comic and the surreal. He has written a semi-autobiographical novel, Devil in my Veins, and is currently writing a sci-fi thriller novel.


Keith C. Walker was born in Leeds in 1939. He studied Ceramics at Leeds College of Art and the Royal College of Art. In the late 1960s to early 1970s, he was Personal Assistant to Eduardo Paolozzi. Keith taught at Hull College of Art and Leicester Polytechnic, which is now De Montfort University. In 994 he retired from Academia.

Keith says, “Digital technology has made and continues to make big changes to all of our lives: the way we communicate, the way we are monitored, the way we entertain ourselves, and much, much more. 

We now leave a digital footprint wherever we go, and with whatever we do. 

Do we already have one foot in an Orwellian world?

 My collages are an investigation, with a small “I,” on the impact of digital technology and its possibilities.”



In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications 2019