With a little help from my ….

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Friends….three boys meet in Speke Liverpool early summer 1981.

Chapter 2               All for One

Friday 3rd July 1981

Macca built the tension, like a magician, he began to draw the chain out of his pocket, teasing his audience. Golden links appeared one by one.

“C’mon what is it?” Vinny asked. “A necklace?”

“No.” Macca was grinning.

The chain was six… seven… eight inches long, and it kept coming.

“Fuckin’ell we’ll be rich,” Vinny said. 

It was nearly twelve inches long. They were thick links too, not the tiny ones you’d see on a girl’s necklace. Finally shiny and smooth, a golden watch.

“Wow. It must be worth hundreds, thousands,” Vinny said. “Can I hold it?”

“Yeah, but I’m not letting go of the chain.” Macca carefully placed the watch on Vinny’s open palm. Vinny’s hand lowered to accept the weight.

They were huddled in a dank stairwell, opposite All Hallows Secondary Modern,  in Speke, an estate of the edge of Liverpool. The maisonettes had a common doorway and entrance. In the grey drizzle on this Friday morning, it was the first point of escape. They met just before school, Macca and Vinny came from the same end of Speke, so usually, met on the way to school. Instead of going in the yard today before the bell rang, they waited here.

“That’s amazing.” Vinny meant it, he had never seen or touched anything gold, not real gold like this. The whole thing was shiny and smooth, he could run his hands over it, feel the weight of it all day long. He moved his hand up and down enjoying the sensation.

“Giz it back.” Macca didn’t want to let it go.

“Does it open?” asked Vinny.

“‘Course, it does. We should wait for Sammo, though.”  

The bell from the school rang out across the road, its dull tones reverberated through the damp air.

“Why?” asked Vinny.

“He was keeping dixie for us. The bell’s gone, where is he?”

Vinny opened the door slightly. “Here he is.”

Macca popped his head out too, and they could see Sammo running across the road. His school tie flew over his shoulder, his head down against the morning rain.

“Alright?” Sammo pulled the door open.

“Yeah. What happened to you?” asked Macca.

“Mister Thomas saw me. I had to pretend I was going in.”

“He’ll notice if he doesn’t see you all day,” Vinny said.

“Nah. We don’t have him today. He won’t know.”

“Let’s have a look at it then,” said Sammo.

Macca again, keeping hold of the chain, allowed Sammo to hold the watch.

“Here, let me open it.” Macca slid his thumbnail in a groove that ran around the edge of the watch. He gently prised open the cover to reveal a curved glass face that covered a white background.

“What are those numbers?” asked Sammo.

“They’re Roman numerals,” said Vinny.

Two intricate black hands pointed out the time. Inside the cover of the watch, there was an inscription. “tempus rerum imperator.”

“Is that Roman as well?” Sammy asked Vinny.

“You mean, Latin? I don’t know.”

“I thought you were a smart arse? You passed the eleven plus, didn’t you? You went to a posh grammar school. I used to see you coming home. Getting off the bus with your little briefcase.”

“Piss off.” Vinny was embarrassed.

“Shut up, knobhead,” said Macca. “At least he knows something. What was your school called?”

“Cardinal Allen,” Vinny answered.

“And who kept dixie for you? While you screwed the house. Eh… made sure no one was coming?” Sammo answered his own question. “Yeah me.” Indignant Macca had praised Vinny. “Where’s the dosh?” he asked.

“I hid it, we can get it later.”

“How much did you get?” Vinny asked.

“Not sure we didn’t count it the meters weren’t that full. They must’ve been emptied.”

“Anyway, that school was shit,” Vinny insisted. “They didn’t want me and I didn’t want them.” This wasn’t true but it had become Vinny’s way of rationalising his failure.

“OK. Right, are you ready?” asked Macca.

“What for?”

“We have to swear.”

“Fuck Off… Bastard… Twat…” Sammo had a lot more, but Macca cut him short. “Not like that, like a promise.”

“An oath,” said Vinny. “Like in court.”

“I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Sammo had placed his hand over where he thought his heart was.

“But not that,” Macca said. “Vinny you make up the words.”

“What for?” asked Vinny.

Macca uncovered the watch again and held it in his palm in front of the other two. “We have our treasure, and we have to swear to stick together, and we will split it three ways.”

“Ok, let me think,” said Vinny.

“You robbed it,” said Sammo. “I kept dixie. What did he do?”

“He’s my mate,” said Macca. “And he’s going to make our oath.”

“And I’m going to find a buyer,” said Vinny.   

“Ok, what do we say?” asked Macca.

“Put your hand on the watch,” Vinny directed. “I swear that I will protect the treasure, and my mates, against all enemies and obstacles.”

Macca held the watch, Sammo and Vinny placed their hands on top, then Macca sealed the clasp with his other hand. Their hands on the watch, they repeated Vinny’s words in unison. “I swear that I will protect the treasure, and my mates, against all enemies and obstacles.”

“All for one and one for all!” said Sammo. “Like the three muscleteers.”

“Musketeers,” Vinny corrected.

“Who gives a fuck,” Sammo replied.

“And we split the money three ways,” added Vinny.

“That’s not in the oath,” said Sammo.

“It is now,” said Macca. “I will split the money three ways,” he said. “Your turn.”

“I will split the money three ways,” said Sammo reluctantly.

A regular click echoed through the stairwell. “What are you lads doing here? Sagging school?” A woman came down the stairs, the wheels of her shopping cart clicked as they bounced down each step. Macca quickly put the watch back in his pocket.

“Nah, we’re just on a message,” Sammo said. “I’ve got to get some things for me mam. My mates are helping me.”

“Well, you’d better get on with it then, or I’ll be right over to that school. You shouldn’t be hanging around this doorway – You don’t live here.”

“Alright, missus,” said Sammo. “Don’t get your knickers in a twist.”

“Don’t give me any of your cheek. Go on, out.” Her wheels clicked as she came down the last few steps.

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