Chapter 2 – Extract 6 from The Paradise Induction!
As I played the game, the other boys whispered and chuckled to each other behind me. The name Marlow kept breezing into my peripheral hearing.
“What’s so funny?” I said, my voice still sounding out of place among their cooler, laid-back accents.
“Nothing star,” one of them replied. “Play da game innit.”
“Is he coming down then?” mumbled another.
“Yeah, any minute bruv.”
I paused the game and turned around, sensing that all the teenagers were laughing at me.
The biggest of the guys I’d ever seen stepped into the playcentre. His bloodshot eyes fixed on me. He had a thick, protruding bottom lip, a large nose, wore a thick anorak and heavy boots that thudded with each step. The creases around his eyes and on his forehead told me he could have been in his 30s, maybe even 40s. He sniffed through his wrinkled nose and immediately stepped up toward me. He snatched the controller out of my hands and took a seat next to me, pushing his leg right up against mine.
“What’s your name cous?” he said with his deep, lagging voice.
I didn’t answer.
“Aint you got a name cous?” he said and smiled a grin of overcrowded teeth. “Listen, play the game man. Don’t be scared.”
He threw the spare controller into my lap and allowed me to continue playing the game. The other boys sniggered.
“So I hear you punched out Wayne,” he said. His tone appeared relaxed, like he approved.
I smiled. “Yeah, I punched him in the jaw.”
The other boys laughed and I joined them.
“Wow!” he exclaimed. “You punched him in the jaw? Well done little man.”
“Yeah, I punched him in the jaw.”
“You tough then bro?” His voice amplified. “Innit!” Your real tough, aren’t you bro? Right? Right?”
I smiled. “Yeah I -”
He grabbed my throat, his fingers gripping in between the tendons on my neck.
“Listen!” he shouted so close to me I could smell the stink of his body odour and breath all at once. “Listen good! Wayne’s my bro. You get me. If a little coconut like you hits him again, you know what I’m gonna do to you little man?” He shoved his forehead against my temple. “I said, do you know what I’m gonna do to you little man?”