Rover

By Todd Sharkey

We all went round to Steven's house that afternoon. Me, Dario, Craig and the twins Derek and Brian. It was 2003 and we were all ten years old apart from Craig who was not only older but taller too. Even at such a young age we all felt the seriousness of the situation. It was the day of Steven’s dads' funeral.


It was supposed to be summer but the weather had a Scottish sense of humour. It was the kind of rain that hit you on the way down and splashed you on the way up. We walked in silence around the corner of the terraced house to Steven's front door.
That’s where we found him, sat on the doorstep in a black suit and tie, head hanging as he stared at the concrete. He heard us splash towards him and looked up.


‘Are you okay Steve?’ I asked, knowing damn well that was a stupid question.


‘I’m fine, just tired, want to go for a walk?’ He said, trying to shrug off the enormous elephant.


We all agreed to go for a walk through the park. It was our favourite place to be when things were good but on this day, the rain drenched national park seemed to be a cold and unforgiving shadow of the past, creeping over our shoulders and whispering into our ears that life would never be the same again.


Steven's dad was one of those people that could make anything fun. He was a bricklayer by trade but a comedian by nature. He always treated us as family. We all felt a pain as we watched the cancer eat him alive, we could never have imagined how it affected Steve.


Steve stopped and leaned against a twisted tree trunk, the rain got heavier so we all huddled beneath its branches. Right then I wanted to hug my friend, I wanted to tell him that everything was going to be okay, it wasn’t, but damn it I would lie to him until he believed me.


I found out recently that we all had that same instinct, hell, Dario actually went in for the hug but patted Steve’s shoulder instead. I couldn’t muster that embrace, boys don’t cry, fair enough.


‘Mum gave the car away,’ Steve said. It was the first he had spoken in a while and it took us all by surprise. ‘A big lorry came this morning and took it away.’


I looked around at the others, they all had the same look on their face, trying to look concerned but being totally confused at the same time.


‘I liked that car, it was a nice colour.’ Craig, simple Craig bless him, at least he said something.


‘Beetroot, dad said it was the colour of beetroot, he hated beetroot.’ We all saw it, the small smile appear on Steve’s face, but as quick as it came, it vanished. ‘Dad and I left something in the car, I wish I could have got it back before they took it away.’


Derek jumped on the spot. ‘Let's go and get it.’ He said excited. ‘Do you know where the car is?’


‘Banks Scrapyard, or that’s what the lorry had on the side.’


It was Brian’s turn to jump. ‘Come on! Let's go.’


The next thing I knew we were loitering around outside the fenced off scrapyard. Dario was the smooth talker so we sent him to the office to explain the situation to the owner. He returned with bad news.


'He said we can’t go in and your mum should come along if she wants something from the car. If he catches us sneaking in he’s calling the police’


I took a leg up from Craig to get a better angle at the yard. There it was! A Beetroot coloured Rover 416. I read out the registration plate to Steve and he confirmed it. We needed a plan.


The twins were the fastest runners so they would stay outside and distract the man. Craig would give Dario, Steve and I a leg over the fence. Dario said he could pick locks so he was the locksmith. Steve was going to grab the treasure and I was the lookout because I had elf eyes like Legolas.


The twins did their part bashing on the windows of the office with sticks and rocks. The man flew out and chased them, they booked it for Main Street.


I put my foot in Craig’s hand and he threw me over the fence. Steve came next, then Dario. Craig stayed by the fence as the rest of us made for the Rover. We all did our best James Bond impression, rolling around in the mud, leaping over scrap metal and sliding over the bonnets of cars. This was serious work but god damn it we were having fun.


We collected at the car and it was time for Dario’s bullshit lock picking skills. He picked up the nearest brick and smashed the driver side window. The alarm began blaring instantly. Steve opened the door. I kept my eyes trained on the gate.
Steven pressed the tape eject button and the cassette popped out, he pocketed it and we sprinted to Craig. I could hear the yard owner screaming above the alarm behind us. We scaled the fence ourselves with the miracle of adrenaline and ran all the way back to Steve's.


The twins were waiting on us when we arrived. We went inside and upstairs to his room. He found his dads tape player and snapped the cassette inside. He pushed play.


The first thing we heard was John Wayne shouting 'Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!' then it went straight into Bob Dylan's 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'. Steve put his head in his hand and broke into tears. We huddled around him and joined in, arm in arm we supported him and each other. Sometimes boys do cry.


childhood rebellion, grief, best friends, challenging stereotypes