On Chuck Wendig's blog he has a Friday Flash challenge weekly. I decided to take part, since I'm doing a Friday Flash anyway. This week he created 5 random sentances. I had to pick one and use it in the story. I cheated a little bu changing the tense of the sentance!
We were the Thunder
There were large black clouds overhead, heavy, dark and pendulous. I’d joined the group roaming the estate because there was nothing better to do. We were all charged up, looking for mischief, looking for something to take us away from the boredom. Awaiting the thunder. There was a place near the estate, you had to go through the posh end to get there, a piece of woodland. Named after a Greek place it was, Thermopylae, but why that was I never knew, or bothered to find out, we called it “The Mops”. It was the adventure playground of all the kids of the estate and a place that you could cut through that was more interesting than the long road to the bus stops.
They were a poor family, not that anyone on the estate were rich. The crueller amongst us called them Gyppos. Casual racism that wasn’t even true. There were 4 of them, the eldest was a girl, being probably about 14 or 15. I was about 12 at the time, at the younger end of the 10-15 strong pack.
We discovered them walking through the Mops and I don’t know who started it but it started with name calling. We followed behind them, they clotted together, these siblings, they tried to walk faster but not run, not yet. They must have instinctively knew that if they run it would have been worse. As it was the mob smelled fear and it excited us, god help me I’m ashamed of this even now some 30 years later. The guilt afterwards was instructive, I never joined in anything like it since, and never will. It started with a few pieces of mud, a stick or two, then stones and soon we were chasing them whooping, bloodthirsty, like furies, like a Dionysia. Thunder rolled across the sky like drums calling us to battle. We were the thunder, loud, scary, a presentiment of danger.
When we got to the Estate we approached near to my house and suddenly I dropped out of running along, dropped out of hitting the poor children, dropped back afraid that my mum, or worse my Nan would see this, see me. At the time the adrenalin was like wine and I was drunk on it, afterwards I was shaky and utterly repentant. I heard later they chased them back to their house which wasn’t too far from my own. Next to the School playing fields. It was obvious in retrospect where they’d live. It was the one with the garden full of detritus, their mother notorious for stealing from the church jumble sale.
The family didn’t seem to have a fixed concept of a father. There were a number of men that could possibly have been the father of one or more of the children. The mother was a larger lady and frightening to us kids. There would be repercussions, of that I was sure. Perhaps I would escape the worst of it as she won’t have seen me? The children may not remember each and every one of us that was there? The family were gathered. They asked the children to describe everything writing everything down to make sure that they got the full story. Got names of the kids they knew, descriptions of the ones they didn’t. When did the family document the thunder? When did it record the Dionysia? Soon the roll of dishonour was complete.
Over the next couple of weeks there was much coming and going from the house by the playing fields. Men and older children we’d never seen before. A gathering of the tribe, like a murder of crows. Nothing good could come of it. I burned with shame but was that partly because I was afraid? I’d like to think not, that even if there were no prospect of being caught my nature would be such that I would be ashamed of my actions on that day. I was caught up in the moment, an unthinking but functioning part of the mob, a contributor to the thunder.
One of the older kids was beaten badly. He wouldn’t say to his parents, or the police, who had done it. We all knew, the men of the tribe down the road, that the family had called, were suddenly everywhere on the estate, easily spotted in their old fashioned black suits, shiny with grease. They appeared to be consulting a list, a document of our misdeeds. I needed to know if I was on the list but how could I possibly have got my hands on one of their documents? I was in an agony of suspense. One by one most of the others that had been there had visited upon them what they had done to the family and worse. I, though, escaped, it was the longest week of my life. When the men ceased arriving at our end of the estate I was in a paroxysm of paranoia. Living in fear of running into the black suited avengers, avoiding going out when I could, scurrying about the estate trying to look in all directions at once and get back home as quickly as possible when I couldn’t stay in. The family, despite living next to it, did not go to the school I went to, perhaps they didn’t go to school at all, I don’t know. It meant they must not have identified the 2 or 3 of us that escaped our deserved fate. We never spoke of it, we avoided each other, shame forced us apart. It was months before I started to feel like I had got away with it. I’ve never told anyone about this, until now. As you get older you accumulate regrets, people say that you regret less the things you’ve done rather you regret the things you didn’t do. Do I regret being part of the pack more or regret that I never sought to make amends?