I came down from my bedroom hideaway one Saturday morning; a week after I had been up rooted from my school and friends in Haslemere. I had been having trouble making friends in my new school in Kingston and I was sulking. My mum and dad were waiting to surprise me. A small puppy sat on the tiled floor wagging his tail with excitement. He had shiny eyes, a dark brown coat and a white furry chest. I knelt down and stroked him gently.
“We bought him to cheer you up,” mum told me smiling at my delight. “He’s going to be your responsibility, all right? You’ve got to house train him and take him on walks. I’ll be at work all day and I won’t have time to look after him.”
After a family discussion my mum decided the dog should be called Monty.
The next few weeks I mopped up after Monty’s mess, breathing through my mouth trying to avoid the stink, until he was fully house trained.
I took him on walks, getting to know my new town in the process and I really appreciated finding Monty eager to see me and wanting attention, when I arrived home from school to an empty house.
The phone, next to my parent’s bed rang at eleven o’clock one night.
“Diane!” Mum yelled. “There’s someone on the phone for you!”
Who rang at this time of night?
“I’ll take it in the hall mum,” I called as I stumbled down the stairs.
“I’ve got a date lined up for you,” said my new friend Jenny.
My heart sank.
“What? My parents won’t let me go out now! Do you know what time it is?”
I heard giggles. “Bill’s dying to meet you. We’ve told him all about you!”
“It’ll have to be tomorrow night. I’ll say I’m just walking the dog. Bye.”
I hoped mum had not heard the conversation.
As I went back upstairs I heard both my parents snoring. So it was Ok. Mum would do her nut, I thought, if she knew I was going to meet Jenny’s gang.
Jenny had a very sweet, natural personality. At school she and her friend Jane wore their school uniform and conformed to all school rules. But out of school, they both belonged to a gang of rockers. I didn’t understand how they could make such a transformation just by putting on their leather gear. The week before they had told me merrily that they were going down to the “Ace of Spades” for a rumble.
The last thing I wanted was to be involved with people who thought violence was fun. But Jenny and Jane had been such good friends to me since I started the new school. Most people had their own cliques and did not want new friends, but they had been open hearted.
The next evening at 8 o’clock I finished the washing up and called out to my parents,
“I’m just taking Monty for a walk. I’ll be back in 40 minutes. Don’t worry if I take longer, I’ve got the key.“
“Ok,” mum responded, not taking her eyes off the television.
I was very nervous. I did not want to let my friends down but neither did I want to be part of a gang. It was bad enough wearing a uniform at school let alone one to advertise what gang I belonged to.
I crossed the bridge over the railway lines and saw the rockers assembled outside a large house on the main road.
“Hi Diane. Bills not here yet,” Jenny told me brushing her long blond hair out of her eyes.
My dog pulled at his lead, wanting to carry on walking and wagging his tail, happy to be out.
“Here he is,” called Jenny.
I looked up and saw a large motor bike roar up the road to us. Man and machine were one. He steadied the bike, hopped off and walked towards me wearing tight leather stretched across his powerful looking legs and arms. He took off his helmet revealing a thin face with bright red spots vying for attention round his long pointed nose.
“..Ello Claire,” he said in a high pitched squeak.
I tried to summon up at least a tiny bit of attraction for him for Jenny and Jane’s sake but I just felt scared. I was only fourteen.
Say something intelligent. I told myself.
“Hi,” I said blushing. “I’m just walking my dog.” Monty growled at him.
“That’s nice,” he said, “Have you just moved here?”
“Yes,” I answered trying to stop my hands from trembling.
“Well I’ve got to go now. He’s used to at least two miles walk every night.”
“Oy what are you lot doing outside my house! Move off,” A man shouted from the house behind us.
Jane and Jenny leapt on the back of their boyfriends’ motor bikes and zoomed off.
“See you another time” Bill told me and followed his friends.
I took Monty on his favourite walk down to the river to thank him for being my ally.
Two months later my mother yelled up the stairs,
“Come down. We need to talk to you.”
What’s going on now I thought?
I reluctantly switched off my record player, an heirloom from my Auntie Esther, halfway through a Beatles EP, and walked down the stairs and into the front room.
My mum and dad were sitting together smiling nervously.
Here we go, I thought. Once again they are conspiring against me.
“I’m afraid we had to give Monty back to the woman who sold him to us,” my mother told me.
My heart started beating faster.
“She came back last night after you went to bed. She desperately wanted Monty back because his mother had died.”
Tears sprung up in my eyes. I felt miserable and rejected. I did not believe a word of their excuse for getting rid of Monty. It was one of their feeble stories to cover up the truth.
“It’s for the best,” my father told me.
“Monty shouldn’t have been shut in all day whilst mum was at work and you were at school.”
It was no use arguing. It was no use asking why they did not tell me before they sent Monty away so that I could say goodbye to him.
I ran up stairs, threw myself on my bed sobbing.
I put another record on.
Help, I need somebody
Help, not just any body
Help, I need somebody now!”
I sung along with the Beatles. Perhaps I will join Jenny’s gang after all.