At the bus stop it’s pissing down. Belly’s waiting with us. He’s been home and got his farahs on and a lacoste jacket. I’m still wearing me school uniform and am getting drenched. I see the bus coming round the corner, when Belly shouts ‘Wa hey!’ and I look round to see Gary Thomson bombing down the road.
I say to Belly ‘I never knew he was coming like’
But Belly’s already away jumping up to grab Gary and get him in a headlock. They’re wrestling and laughing with each other and they barge into a granny with her shopping bags. As the bus doors open, Gary gives us a massive tit nip, then shoves us out the way and him and Belly get on, leaving us to push me way through the rest of the crowd.
I follow them upstairs, still rubbing me chest from where Gary got us. The bus is all steamed up from the rain, but I see Belly and Gary in the front seats. They’re writing their names on the windows with their fingers and laughing. I shove in behind them and tap Belly on the shoulder but he doesn’t look round.
Gary says. ‘How far’s it?’ He doesn’t smile or nowt.
I tell him it’s just 5 stops. I thought Belly would have told him already. Belly used to come to swim club with us all the time, but since he started knocking round with Gary he’s not been once.
Gary’s kneeling up on his seat now. He’s grinning over my shoulder and nudging Belly.
A few seats back there’s Avril Parker and Tricia Stone from our class. Tricia’s wearing her pink Kappa kagoul. Avril’s chewing bubbly and brushing her hair.
Tricia’s in swim club an all. She used to win most the races, but she’s not been for ages either. I try to catch her eye by nodding, but it’s not working and I stop in case I look like a spakker.
Gary’s drawn a big cock on the window, with a massive bell end. Him and Belly are laughing and I hear Avril giggling and screeching ‘stobbit man, stobbit’, but I can tell she thinks it’s funny.
When we get to the swimming pool, I see Gary’s holding hands with Avril. He stares at us when he catches us looking. I say to Trica ‘You doing swim club?’
Her face goes the same pink as her kagoul, and she shakes her head. Before she can say owt, Gary says, ‘Na, we’re not deeing that. I divent need anyone to learn me how to swim. You get ya sel inside son, with teacher.’ And I hear him and Belly laughing behind us.
I go down to the changing room, where it’s hot, and the smell of chlorine stings.
Mr Graham is already in and changed. His back is black with hair, and you can see his arse crack peeping over his Speedos like a slug.
He turns round when he hears us. ‘You’re late.’ I mumble something about the bus and says to hurry meself up and get up to the pool.
Then I hear Belly and Gary round the corner. They’re laughing and then there’s a massive slap. For a second there’s silence, then more laughter, and Belly’s running past me, with nowt on, being chased by Gary who’s flicking out his towel. Both of them are shouting. Belly’s back is covered in spots but his nob is geet thick and hairy. I move into the corner to put on me trunks and goggles away from them.
When swim club starts Mr Graham gets us doing lengths. The water’s warm, and me arms relax quickly. I do front crawl. Mr Graham says me legs splash too much, and me left foot kicks higher than me right – but I’m still easily the fastest.
Tonight we’re practicing turns to get us ready for the race this weekend. I’m coming to the end of the length. On the twelfth stroke, I put out me right hand, then push me head down and kick me legs up, all in one go. I go down below the surface, then use the speed I’ve built up to flip meself round. I feel me fingers brush the end of the pool, just hard enough, then I switch me weight, like Mr Graham taught us, and I’m away. It feels mint.
When Graham whistles for the break, I take a walk over to Belly and Gary and the lasses. Tricia is sitting with her long legs hanging over the side. She’s got a bright red swim suit on. I’ve not seen her wearing that one before. Avril’s sitting along from her, playing with her hair. She turns away when she sees us looking at her.
On the edge of the pool are the weights that we use for underwater practice. Mr Graham makes us swim to the bottom and bring them back up. It’s good for our breathing and concentration, he says. Tricia picks up one of them and taps it on the metal steps that come up from the water. It’s about the size of one of them big bars of fairy soap you have for the bath. It makes a clanging noise, which makes Avril laugh.
At bit further along from her, a little lad is crying, while his mam fiddles with his trunks. I watch as he keeps pulling at them, and when she turns away he takes them right down and crouches at the edge of the water.
I ask Tricia ‘You going to race this weekend?’ but Gary spots us talking to her, and dive bombs into the pool splashing water all over us.
When he comes up he says. ‘Tricia’s not going to no race. She’s coming round mine. Us four are watching Nightmare on Elm Street while you’re swimming with the bairns.’
I feel meself going beetroot, me whole body burning. I try to grin and catch Belly’s eye but can’t. Along from us the little lad is crying now, and his trunks are round his ankles. His mam’s pulling on his arm, and he looks like he’s trying to say something but with all the noise of the pool I can’t hear what it is.
Tricia flicks out her hand and pushes the weight she’s been playing with into the water. It makes a geet big splash then sinks quickly, the bubbles rising up.
Without thinking, I pull on me goggles and hoy myself in after it. It’s a mint dive, and I’m soon deep down underwater.
I reach out and grab the brick then breathing out through my nose I turn geet smooth, and push meself back up. The light is making rainbow patterns above us, and I can see Tricia’s legs hanging in the water.
I get out and let me goggles hang loose, then look at Tricia, and I am sure I see her smile. I’m about to says something, when Gary shouts ‘How, Joe 90!’ and charges up behind us and gives a massive yank on me goggle strap and twangs it off the back of me neck.
It whacks us hard and mental stings me back. I feel me eyes well up, but Avril’s cackling away saying ‘Stobit man, stobit’ so I try to grin and just turn round to sort meself out.
It’s then I see the woman and her kid again. He’s now crouching on the side of the pool. His trunks are right down, and his face is geet red.
As his mam grabs him to pick him up, a long stalk of shite slithers out his arse and drops
with a plop into the pool.
The woman, mouth opens and she looks round. There’s loads of noise, and it looks like no-one’s even noticed. She pulls the kid up, hard, and drags him quick as she can away from the pool toward the changing rooms.
I look for the shite. I can see it sinking deep into the water, holding together but leaving a little trail of yellowy smoke behind it. I think ‘I’ve got to tell Mr Graham’, but before I can there’s a whack on me arm, and Gary’s onto us again, waving the brick at us.
‘Think yasel a big man like, picking these weights out the pool, eh?’ He’s staring right at us, looking geet radgy. I can see Tricia and Avril watching behind him. Then he chucks the brick back in the water and says to the lasses ‘Watch this, I’ll get it twice as quick as he did.’
Gary dives in after the sinking brick. He does a massive belly-flops and struggles to make himself go under. I can see the brick, but without goggles, I don’t think he can. He’s splashing about and it’s hard to see what’s happening.
After what seems like ages he comes up punching the air, his eyes squeezed closed, holding something in his hand shouting ‘I got it! I got it man! It was soft as shite!’
Belly points ‘It fucking IS shite man Gary!!’
Avril shrieks. Gary’s hand and arm are covered in brown. He opens his eyes and looks at what’s he’s holding. It’s not a brick. Avril screams again, louder this time, like she’s just seen someone dying. Other people are now jumping out the pool, shouting and looking like they’re gonna hoy up
Mr Graham charges over to see what’s happening. Gary’s windmilling with his arms, splashing himself like a mental case, making the water around him go all dirty yellow and brown. The smell’s making my eyes water.
Graham whistles, and shouts to Gary to get out, and for everyone left to clear the pool. The woman and her kid have long gone.
I slope off downstairs, and get changed quickly in a cubicle.
After a bit I hear Belly and Gary coming down from the pool. Mr Graham is telling Gary he’s got to wash himself down with disinfectant. I think Gary might be crying.
When I hear them turn the showers on I hurry out of the changing rooms and head to the bus stop.
As the bus pulls up I feel a poke in my back. I look round. It’s Tricia. She gives us a little nod.
‘Where’s the others?’ I ask.
‘Waiting for Avril’s mam. She’s coming down to play hell with the swimming pool manager. I said I had to go.’
I nod. Then she starts giggling and says quietly. ‘Avril got that kid’s shite in her hair.’
I giggle too, and then say ‘Stobbit man’ in my best Avril voice. Tricia laughs louder and punches me gently on the arm. When she stops laughing, she says, ‘Oh aye, and Mr Graham asked us to swim in the race at the weekend.’
I say ‘And?’
She puts her bag on her shoulder, and says ‘See you there,’ then climbs onto the bus.
I smile and follow her inside.