The small pit under the tangle of briars was barely visible to the naked eye. Sometimes a thin wisp of smoke gave away the hiding place. Frankie & Alex were fierce wee boys and they guarded that dank, rotten hole with everything they had.
“C’mon Frankie boy, let’s head to Mexico” Alex would joke. And they’d make for the canal, bold as you like, strutting out of school to cross their border.
No more than a rut in the ground, really – a place to smoke, to stash contraband – some porn, their dad’s tobacco. I saw them with a bottle of thunderbird there once. We were nine at the time. It could have been water.
The autumn that Frankie died – was killed, they spent a good bit of time in that hollow, cut off. There’d been a fight at school. The boys, messing, had torn through Mr. Seabourne’s art room.
“Boys, stop fucking around.” He didn’t need to look up, to see who it was. Paint, clay, brushes. They didn’t stop. Everything thrown about. Old Seabourne lost his rag, of course. Started throwing things back – stuff from his drawer, a coin I think, a pencil sharpener. Then his big, chalk-dusty board rubber.
When the papers reported on the enquiry, they left most of that out – made it out like self-defence. Maybe, but I reckon old Seabourne knew what he was doing.
Frankie and Alex headed to Mexico then, the back of Frankie’s head split, bleeding. They marched out of school, down to the canal to their tiny fortress.
Alex patched up his friend’s head with bracken and twine. Frankie thanked him for the job he’d done, “Wicked. It’s like something out of MASH. Something old Hawkeye might have done”. Then he lay down and slept.
Down Mexico Way was written by David Horn. To view all pieces by this author you can view their profile page here