“Oi, look it's that baldy one's kid from the posh car. See the yellow jacket? Let's show him who's useless. Let's have some laughs.”
Tim came back down to earth with a thump. He could vaguely see in the dark alley opposite a group of teenagers, pretty tough looking, watching him in the light of the floodlights in front of the closed cinema. Tim thought he'd better ignore them, and they might find some other amusement. But their taunts and yells became more pointed as they began to realise that he was alone and there was no sign of his dad's car. Tim looked nervously around for help or for ways to run. But there was none. The only way out of the dead end was down past the alley with the gang of five, working up their courage with the clink of bottles.
“Let's get the little bastard, he's probably got money as well. His old man's late comin' for 'im and he can't get away. It's gonna be easy, you get 'is money first, Jacko, then Shanks and Twister can do what they like with them bottles.... “
Tim felt violently sick to his stomach. He wanted to run but there was no way out. He wanted to plead, but knew these people were out for blood. The five sauntered casually over the floodlit parking space in front of the cinema. They looked even more vicious in the light than they had sounded in the dark. The leader definitely looked half drunk, and the four others sniggered at Tim's well- dressed appearance, between threats of what they were about to do to him. Tears of fear spurted uncontrollably from his eyes as they closed on him. In all his ten years Tim had met no circumstance which could prepare him for this. Tim had never felt so utterly alone, mouth dry as dust so he could hardly swallow, and hands sweating. He was absolutely terrified, and began to wet his own pants. The warmth on his cold legs on this frosty night was something he would remember all his life
. He began to plead and shake, and he knew they would have no mercy. Jacko came closer holding a small knife in his right hand......
Suddenly from the alley another shadowy figure burst out and rushed at Tim. It looked like one of those awful gypsies , with longish staggly hair and smelling of cigarette smoke. In a flash the big gypsy placed himself between Tim and Jacko and roared in a voice to terrify a burglar's dog,
“Get away yeez pests or I'll split the skull o' yez,.... now leave the wee one alone, or ye'll feel me fists across yer faces!!”
“What, you again'st us all? Come on then, you knacker, you can feel my bottle first,” snarled the leader of the pack as he lurched drunkenly two steps forward and stood next to Jacko. The big gypsy's hand went to his hip and whipped out the biggest knife Tim had ever seen.
“All right if it's that ye want! Liam! Muxer! Are ye right there?!”
From the alley another two huge gypsies sprang out, brandishing glittering blades.
“That we are. Michael, that we are!”
“Here, Jacko let's get the hell away before we get hurt,” slurred Shanks. Shanks was a man of action, not words, and he was running as fast as he could away from the floodlit cinema. Twister's nerve cracked, and he raced after Shanks. Only the leader and his sideman were left, now outnumbered by the gypsies.
“Ah, sure, that little bastard's not worth it , we don't want any trouble with our “travelling friends”, now do we?” sneered the pack leader, and the pair sauntered away into the dark, their footsteps quickening as they went.
The big gypsy breathed out heavily and relaxed his aggressive posture. He slipped the knife back into its sheath.
“Are ye all right lad?” he growled.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .