Jazz was waiting outside the pub when Josh finally left the dining room. He was just standing there, a cigarette perched on the corner of his mouth, looking for all the world as if he did not have a care.
But Josh knew him better than that. He had known Jazz since their misspent school days at Newtown Comp. He knew his old school friend of old – he certainly held grudges. Josh’s heart gave a leap in his chest as he crunched his way across the car park towards him. Jazz had finished his cigarette and now had his head down in the bonnet of the car. He pulled the oil stick out of its holding, and peered at it as if his life depended on it.
‘Alight?’ was Josh’s greeting.
Jazz stopped what he was doing and slowly replaced the oil meter. ‘Alright? Is that all you can say? After last night’s performance? You need your head read mate.’
Jazz slammed down the bonnet of the van, and climbed into the driver’s side.
‘Get the others will you?’ he growled. ‘We have to get to the next venue; we’re running late as it is.’ Josh swallowed quickly. He felt as nervous as a school boy in his first day at school. He looked down at his hands; they were shaking. How ridiculous! he thought. I have known this guy for years; he’s a mate! What am I scared of?
But he could not get that image out of his head. The one image that had left him feeling a sense of wariness towards Jazz, however much that he had covered it up in the pretense of friendship all these years. Now, the image forced its way to the front of his mind – Jazz standing face to face with another student, pointing at him because the lad had spoken to Annabelle Forster, whom Jazz had had his eye on for quite a while.
They had been at the back of the tennis courts, by the dilapidated shed that was rarely used except as a venue for smokers and lovers. Josh had stood at the back of the small gang gathered around the victim, and had watched as Jazz had thumped the boy, and then kicked him when he was down. The others had walked away, but Josh had never forgotten the mean look in Jazz’s eyes, or the way that he had kicked the boy as if he had been a useless object to use and abuse.
Jazz had never gone out with Annabelle Forster. She had learnt of the incident and had given him a wide berth.They had all left school at the same time, and Josh had heard that she was studying Art at uni.
He turned and went back into the pub. This was not finished by a long chalk.