Jordan Silic was the new kid. He was the new kid every one or two years, so by now he was used to it, and within two weeks at Whitegate Secondary he’d already established himself. On the morning of his third week he walked into class an hour late, sat at the far back with Ray and Jimmy, and ignored the teacher.
He nudged Ray. ‘You bring anything today? I’m buzzed, man. Not enough, though.’
‘You’re buzzed? Shit, it’s ten in the morning,’ Jimmy said.
Ray grinned at Jordan, not without admiration. ‘Fuck off, so are you, Jimmy.’ He kicked his bag under the table. ‘No drugs today, son, just your juice.’
‘Ah hell yeah.’ Jordan had been on steroids since the beginning of term, thanks to Ray’s connections. He was a big kid to begin with, six foot since seventh grade and plenty of genetic muscle. Why not push it as far as he could go? He was going to be a giant by year twelve. Ripped. He’d gained almost ten kilos so far, plenty in his biceps and chest, but it was all under a layer of fat that he was trying to get rid of. Frustrating, but he was getting bigger. In all his schooling life, he’d never met anyone with as much access to so many different drugs as Ray. He was going to miss this school.
He nudged Jimmy on the other side. ‘Hey brother, you bring anything?’ Jimmy was writing in his exercise book, red spiked head so close to the page he was practically touching it. He nodded. ‘Yeah, man. Bro got me some Jack.’
‘Nice. Lunch, yeah.’
‘Yeah yeah. Let me study, man, test in three days.’
‘You kidding me? They don’t care what you score, man. The school doesn’t fail anyone till year twelve.’
‘Is there a problem, Mr. Silic?’ The teacher’s monotone hardened as he spoke up. The whole class turned to look at Jordan and he rested back in his chair.
‘I said is there a problem, Mr. Silic?’
One of the kids, some retard that never stopped grinning and yelling all the time, was looking back at Jordan with a smirk on his face.
‘What are you looking at, dickhead?’ Jordan said.
‘Screw you,’ the boy said, smile widening. Jordan felt a surge of rage and he leaned forward, but the teacher thumped the front desk, making the class jump. ‘Hey!’ he said. ‘All eyes to the front.’ The kid lingered a few seconds longer than everyone else, than winked and turned back. ‘Please concentrate, Jordan,’ the teacher said, then went on.
He hadn’t had his roids yet, but he spent the rest of the class boring a hole into the back of the kid’s head while the kid tried to ignore him.
‘I forgot who that is,’ he whispered to Jimmy a bit later.
‘Matt Barrow,’ Jimmy said. ‘Bloody retard kid.’
A bit later, the kid ended it all for himself. The teacher asked Jordan for an answer to some chemical question, but Jordan wasn’t listening.
‘Fuck you, sir.’
The class laughed, and Jordan grinned, until the goddamn kid spoke up again. ‘Please sir,’ he said in an innocent schoolboy voice, ‘Jordan only just learned his alphabet yesterday, you can’t expect him to know chemistry.’
This brought a bigger laugh, and when Matt turned around, Jordan flicked a pencil into his face. ‘Lunchtime, bitch,’ he said, just quiet enough for him to hear. The bitch’s smile faltered and Jordan shot him a grin of his own.
He could tell they weren’t really expecting him to come after them in the yard, and the looks on their faces were especially gratifying. He took his roids at recess, skipped third period to pump some iron for an hour, then skipped fourth to help Jimmy finish half his bottle of Jack. Ray went home after that, so only Jimmy was with him when he went over, but that didn’t matter. He was feeling wild.
There were a couple of girls he’d seen around, Elyse and Steph, he was pretty sure. Both hot as hell. They nudged the guys as Jordan approached and backed a little way from the wooden benches, worried. Matt and the guy he’d been sitting next to in class, a weirdo called Brian Poole, were both there. Another guy Jordan didn’t know with dark hair left them as soon as he saw them coming, looking scared. ‘Hey, Dale!’ Brian called after him, but he didn’t turn around.
They were standing up, squaring off on the concrete and trying to look brave. Jordan kept walking full speed, like he was going to go right through them, and stopped just short, inches from Matt. ‘Hey, Fuckhead,’ he shouted into his face. Matt blinked, unsmiling, unable to keep the shake out of his voice. ‘What’s your problem?’ he said.
Jordan decided to be quick and forceful. There weren’t many fights in this school, so one demonstration was all he needed to keep everyone else from trying anything on him later. He grabbed Matt by the scruff of the neck and pulled him close.
‘My problem is you, wanker.’ With his other hand, he reached into his back pocket for the Stanley knife he always took to school, planning to hold it as close to Matt’s eyeball as he could. Knives were the best thing he’d come across for fear. You never even had to cut people. His hand felt nothing. His pocket was empty.
‘Looking for something?’ A voice spoke behind Jordan. He pushed Matt backwards as hard as he could, relishing the sound of his head smacking back on the concrete, and turned. It was the dark haired kid – Dale. He’d circled around and somehow got the blade from his pocket. He was holding it way out in front of him, terrified.
‘Magic trick,’ Dale said. ‘Want to see another one?’ Before Jordan could stop him, the bastard whirled and threw the blade across the yard and onto the roof of the IT classrooms. Jordan stepped forward and felt a bony fist hit his ear from behind, snapping his earring in half. He turned and grabbed Brian before he could get away, putting in two good shots before all three boys were on him and Jimmy, hitting and yelling.
Jordan was quiet. He was always quiet in fights. Everyone always yelled and shouted and screamed, like a bunch of little dogs barking at you, but Jordan just got the job done. He grabbed hold of Brian again, slamming him into the ground and smacking him several times before the kid finally stopped fighting, and then he stood up and helped Jimmy with Dale and Matt. Two teachers arrived in a matter of seconds, pulling them apart while the girls screeched and moaned and other people crowded around to watch the show.
The rest of it followed. Three day suspension for all boys involved. Teachers yelling and scolding, parents called, punishment promised. In the sick bay, Jordan high fived Jimmy and they talked about getting the bastards back later, but inside Jordan was seething. It wasn’t the fight – they’d have destroyed them in a minute more. It was that fucking kid, Matt, grinning at him with bloody teeth as they pulled him away. With an eye that wasn’t yet swollen, he’d winked at Jordan, and then extended a middle finger.
Jordan vowed, then and there, to break that finger, and a few other things to boot. But he’d have to be slow, and careful. Take them out one at a time, catch them when they were alone.
As he walked home, he thought these things, and others, and the hot fury that boiled inside him became a warm comfort instead of a pain. Something was going to be done, he reassured himself. He would just be patient, and smart. Hell, it might even be fun. In fact, he knew it would be.
The half smile vanished from his face when he reached his driveway. His parents would know by now. More importantly, his father would know by now. His car was there in the weed covered driveway, so he was home, and even if Jordan’s mum had answered the phone it wouldn’t have taken long for him to get the news out of her.
Jordan stood in his driveway for a long time, wondering if he should go in. The house stood, a leaning wooden structure with peeling pale green paint in an unkempt lawn, as if waiting for him to make the decision. The sun was still shining but a heavy cloud hung over Jordan. Some people, given the time, cooled down; Jordan’s father only ever heated up. If Jordan didn’t come home for two or three days, he’d return to a fury two or three times worse than it was now. Unthinkable.
He gritted his teeth and narrowed his eyes, imagining himself a brave hero about to face a hideous monster. It was the best way to think of it, he found. Then when he survived he could feel good, like he’d achieved something other than to bleed all over the carpet. ‘Let’s do this,’ he said. He wiped his eyes, marched over the cracked cement and pulled open the front door, dropping his backpack as he went in.
The house was dark, and the smell of cigarettes hit him as it always did, making him want a smoke or six straight away. He was going to need them pretty soon. He could hear his mother’s voice in the lounge room, where the TV was silently blaring. ‘Frank? Please don’t do anything.’
Jordan moved straight for the stairs and froze as his father’s voice cut the air. ‘Jordan!’ He closed his eyes.
‘Get in here, boy.’
He hated it when his father called him boy. He was more of a fucking man than he was. Still gritting his teeth, he backed away from the stairs and rounded the corner. His mother was sitting on the couch beside the TV with her face in her hands. She was fine, of course. Frank Silic had a thing about never hitting women. Unfortunately, he had no problem with scaring them to the point of paralysis. She wouldn’t be much help. The man himself was standing with the glass door to the back garden open. He was an inch taller than Jordan, and had a thick, dense build favoured by weightlifters and Rugby players. Solly the German Shepherd – and Jordan’s only real friend, he often thought – was tied up on the washing line outside. He started barking madly as soon as he saw Jordan.
‘How was school today, Jordan?’ his father asked, watching him closely.
‘Fine? You get in any trouble?’
‘You gain weight? You get fatter today?’
‘So why’s your face so fat today? What happened to your eye?’
‘Fucking kid stole my knife.’
‘Did you just swear to me?’
Jordan snapped his mouth shut. His father shook his head and pointed outside. ‘Come on, my boy.’
‘Frank, please,’ his mother whined.
Jordan walked stiffly past his father and outside onto the small patch of grass between the concrete and the fence. He patted Solly and let the dog lick his hands until he calmed down enough. ‘Good dog, good dog.’ His father came outside and slid the glass door closed behind him, but Jordan didn’t look around until he was standing right behind him.
‘Leave the fucking dog alone.’
Jordan turned around, and for as long as he could he glared into his father’s eyes. His father shook his head and stared back, disappointed.
‘You want to cause trouble at school? You want to get in fights and FUCK up your education?’ Jordan jumped at the sudden shout, but said nothing. He hated the waiting. He’d just noticed his father hadn’t taken off any of the twelve rings he wore. That was a very bad sign. The worst he’d ever had before was eight rings, after he’d hit a teacher at Morcolm secondary two years ago.
‘What you got to say for yourself, son? Huh?’
Jordan shook his head.
‘Nothing.’ Jordan said, and a moment later felt six rings strike his cheek.
He lay on the grass for a few moments, his head buzzing with a high pitched ring, not loud enough to muffle his mother’s distressed yelp from inside the living room. Goddamn bitch all worried, but not enough to say a word.
He got up. He ducked the next blow, and took a swing at a surprised Jordan senior, who had plenty of time to move, but didn’t. Jordan’s fist struck a stomach so dense with fat and muscle it was like striking rubber. He saw white as the next fist smacked his ear, then red as another followed through to his nose, and then a hundred other colours, one after the other, until he was lying on his back on the lawn. Solly sniffed his face and licked some of the blood trickling from his nose.
‘Alright, my boy.’ His father said at last. ‘You bloody get in line, alright? I’m gonna give you a week off school, and you’ll do every bloody worksheet and homework they give us. No more trouble for the next three months and I’ll buy you a KFC meal, okay?’
Jordan opened his mouth to tell him to go screw himself and instead swallowed a mouthful of blood. Solly licked his ear.
‘Go get cleaned up and get some sleep.’
But Jordan lay out in the garden with an arm around Solly and stared at the sky for a long, long time. Thinking of Brian Poole. Thinking of Matt, with his bloody smile and his middle finger extended. Thinking of his knife.