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The Rag n Bone Man.

Being pushed too far.

By Simon MorrellPublished 3 years ago 4 min read
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“Can you shift them,Rag n Bone man? Can you?”

Not the most welcome of welcomes I’ve ever had, but I’ll take any I can get. My first job for months and all. So I move the sticks, I push the stones, I paint the walls. I do what they ask of me.

My frame is brief, it is little, no fat, no muscle just bone. Clothes? Can’t afford the good stuff so I make do. I make do with whatever falls out of my wardrobe first thing I see in the morning.

Talk about mornings, they are grim too. A bed sit not even big enough to swing a cat so good job I don’t have one.

“Oi! Dopey. Are you moving the, bricks or just admiring them.” And this breaks me from my daydream.

Dreaming of a life where I am brave enough to have a voice, but for now I’ll make do. I’ll make do and be quite. What other option do I have?

My luke warm tea in the break room is made less tolerable by the thug in the black boots. Big time Charlie he is as he marches past me, stops, hurls a glob of spit into my mug before moving on. Moving on to his adoring crowd who, by the way, I get the feeling that deep down, in the moments that matter, despise him almost as much as I do. No one likes a smart arse.

“Enjoy Rag n Bone man!” he shouts from the safety of the other side of the room. His crowd claps and laughs but as break time ends and we shuffle back out into the yard, one of them gives me a wink.

“Keep your chin up kid,” he whispers with a friendly pat on the back.

Shovel this, shovel that, shovel the shit and shovel it right. I do my best, but it’s not enough for Charlie boy.

“Jesus rag, can you go any faster? I’m laying bricks faster than you can say fast bricks and my wage depends on it so get going!”

Now a bit of encouragement, well that I can handle but his tone takes no prisoners and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

“Give it a rest will you Charlie, he is doing his best,” a good sort says.

“Pay for my party this weekend will he? Not going that slow he won’t,” snarls your worship and everybody’s heads go down. Coke and booze, that’s Charlie’s party, so less said the better.

The end of the day can’t come quick enough for me and it’s a quite pint, a good book and a bag of crips for my evening meal. It will do. It will have too because my pennies go on rent, electric and water. And of course the tax. You don’t know what the tax is? Well it’s what Charlie demands of me. ‘Lucky money,’ he calls it. “Lucky I don’t wrap this shovel around your head,” he tells me as the others look away. Something has to give something has to stop this. And it does.

Joe is only a slip of a thing. Smaller than me, smaller than most but a huge personality. He joins our crew and announces his arrival with wit and hope.

“Hey Charlie!” he shouts. “Give me a name. Any name at all and I’ll sing you a song with that name in it.”

The others stop to watch, but Charlie is nobody’s fool. “Shut the fuck up and shovel,” he growls.

“Only going the sing happy birthday,” says our Joe with a grin.

The brick misses him by inches, but I get the feeling Charlie boy makes it that way. A fair warning he would have called it.

Smoke time comes and goes, days pass, weeks as well and every day he is at it.

“Hey, rag n bone man, rush the shops will you poppet,” he shouts. He doesn’t ask nicely, knows not how to play with others toys, but I do as I am told. I rush to the shops for his precious ciggies and paper. I am not prepared for what happens next.

Only one day later. Imagine, one day. A day to change all others.

“Oi! Rag n bone,” but I already know the script and so I down tools ready for my mission to the shops until a voice stops everybody in their tracks.

“No,” the voice says. “He won’t. Get your own fucking goods.”

A stunned silence follows before Joe continues. “Get your own fucking goods and leave him be.”

He moves to stand in front of me and I am embarrassed that he has to do so, but we can’t stop what happens next. Only I can.

Charlie moves fast for a man of his size, too fast for Joe. Poor kid is in a choke before he can think straight and Charlie’s eyes? Well they are red, angry red.

“ You fucking poof!” He screams and the I realise that not only is he a bully, but a homophobic one at that. “Talk to me like that will you?” and the first punch is sickening.

Joe hits the floor but Charlie isn’t redeemed, not yet he isn’t.

He grabs poor Joe by the throat again and lifts him into the next punch, but that punch never lands.

Before it can get there I see Raul, the kid in school that took a lighter to my blazer, I see Barry, demented and raging, his punches cutting my eye to bits, I see Davey and his demands for my money and of course, of course I do. I see Charlie.

You see, before his last punch ever can land, he is hit by a shovel and I am surprised as everyone that the shovel is in my hand.

He slumps too the floor and cowers before me as Joe takes his next breath.

“Rag n bone man, yeah.” I whisper to him. “Rag n fucking bone man? Get to the shops yourself you piece of shit.”

And get to the shops he does.

Simon here

fact or fiction
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About the Creator

Simon Morrell

I am the author of the award winning book From Bullied to Black Belt telling ofjourney from an agoraphobic, panic attack sufferer to award winning fighter & writer. My mission? To help people beat fear into submission & win at life!

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