Natterjack are proud to announce the electronic publication of a new book by Peter Street. This time, it’s a novel.


A Kind of Village is a most unusual book. It is a story about adolescence and growing up; about disability and bullying; and about teenage romance. On one level it is realistic, but on another it is about fantasy and the supernatural. It is entertaining and humorous, but it is also stimulating and inspiring. It has an ending that nobody would expect. It is short, very readable, and should appeal to teenage and adult readers alike
. There's a short extract below - scroll down ...


Click here  for more details about Peter Street’s earlier ebook, Rite of Passage.


The Natterjack Shop is here


 by PETER STREET - extract from Chapter 3

*

Thomas walked into the kitchen where Mum was about to start lunch.  She asked what was wrong. He shrugged his shoulders.

For two days she’d watched him walking around with a strange look and not talking. Something was wrong. She knew. Of course Thomas knew it, but he wasn't for telling.  She wondered if that Billy Cartmel had been bullying him again. 

She freaked every time she thought about the Cartmel gang and why they weren’t in prison.  She started ranting about how the system was wrong and how they could get away with bullying everyone she knew.  Yet they did, and nothing was ever done about it. Yes the police had been round to talk and warn them: “Next time.” Next time never came because no one would make an official complaint against Cartmel and his cronies.

Thomas knew the timing was wrong but his mouth was stuffed with everything he wanted to say, yet how could he tell her? It wasn’t like saying, “Mum I’ve just made a new friend in school.” She would be OK with something ordinary like that. She would even be OK with, “I’ve met this other kid who’s a Man United fan.”
 
Those were the things he might have said. Should have said. That’s what he had planned. Then right at the last second his gob took over and out flowed the whole story.  Slow like, then it came out in super jet style revealing everything; every little detail. It was all out, the truth as he had seen it. That was his first big mistake of the day, not watching his own gob.

“What have I told you about eating cheese before bedtime?” 

It wasn’t the cheese. It wasn’t a dream. It was real. They were real. He kept shut now. Besides, he thought of the cemetery as his village, the one place where he felt safe.  

“Well, what about the Cartmel gang?” She had gone for the jugular and he had no answer for it.  So it came down to him promising he wouldn’t leave the big beech tree.  He wanted to shout out something about being nearly fourteen, but deep down he knew if he was nearly forty she would still be treating him like a baby. 

Two days later turned out to be another of the hottest days of the year. Bees were humming and feeling good. Thomas sat against the main branch of the beech tree playing with his Game Boy. He was relaxed, unaware of a gang of five boys walking towards him. “ Conroy. Fit Face - you swot.” they shouted.

Keeping his balance he got to his feet the best he could.

“You, teacher’s pet!” they shouted, picking up stones from the cinder path. The first two or three missed. Their aim got better and the stones got bigger. They started chanting, “Conroy is going to fit. Conroy is going to fit, ee- aye-addy- o, Conroy is going to fit.”

Thomas wanted to shout something back but his mouth couldn’t move. His fingers stretched for the hole in the tree trunk where there was a foot-hole. It wasn’t there. He stretched further round and closer to the tree as though he was somehow trying to squeeze himself into it. He scraped his face on the trunk. Stones were drumming against the trunk. The bullies’ laughter sounded weird ... high-pitched, like animals. His legs were beginning to tire. The feeling in his fingers was going. His Game Boy was slipping from his fingers. Arms were stretched up waiting. The gang’s jeers were loud, frightening. He started crying. He shouted something about leaving him alone. They took no notice. They could sense a win. They laughed even more, teased even more and they threw more stones. They knew it was a matter of seconds before they brought both him and his Game Boy crashing down to earth. His fingers were slipping. His legs were numb. There was a loud silence as they watched his grip weaken and then let go.

Spread-eagled, he caught a whiff of his late nan’s apple pie. Then, as he lifted his head, the boy and girl he had been on “watch out” for were walking towards him. The gravestones in the background were dissolving and turning into doors and people of all shapes and sizes were walking out of those doors: front doors with knockers and bells on them. As the people walked out, they seemed to be walking and talking to each other like people in any village would. It was, after all, a village, and Thomas believed he was the village keeper.  That’s what a cemetery is, it’s a kind of village. He knew then; this was his Village. 

In the far distance, an oom-pah-pah  band was playing. He could see other people walking out of their front doors. The people were clean and real; some were wearing posh evening clothes. A window cleaner was carrying a ladder. Two Police Officers were strolling along. He could see a butcher’s shop with rabbits and birds hanging outside. His head fell back and he closed his eyes again. There was now a grass verge where earlier there had been a tarmac road, with boys and girls riding their bikes, happy, easy, with no traffic or anything adult. His head rested on the floor.

“Thomas, Thomas.” he could hear in the distance. The voices were getting closer.   “Come on, Thomas. Welcome back,” he heard a grown-up voice say.

He wanted to open his eyes but was too afraid. The voice sounded familiar, but how could it?  There was something old about it, yet at the same time it was young. He didn’t feel cold or hot, he just felt normal like he always did.  There was no pain, just a kind of pleasant tingling, and through his eyelids he could see shadows of people gathering above him.

“Welcome back, Thomas, you rascal,” he heard someone say again in a posh booming voice. They were clapping. Everyone seemed so pleased to see him.

“Welcome back,” the voice said again. He knew that voice, but he couldn’t put a face to it.
 
How did they know his name?

“Where am I?”

“I get it,” said the man. “It’s a new game. You’ve brought back a new game for the village. You always bring back a new game.”

The big man turned and shouted: “Thomas has brought back a new game for us …”

“No. I’ve not!”

“I get it,” said the stranger.  He turned to everyone and lifted up his arms and shouted: “Now all together!”

“Oh yes you have.” And there was laughter all through the cemetery: his village.

Then, “Oh no I’ve not.” 

“Oh yes you have.”

Thomas asked them to stop it.

“Hold the fort,” shouted the big man. “Thomas is having a strop.”

He declared he was not having a strop. He just wanted to know where he was. 

“Home,” was the answer that came back.

Home … it couldn’t be.  There was no smell of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, or Mum's freshly made bread, or her famous, best in the world apple pie. There was none of that and that frightened him more than he already was. There was a long silence while people looked around them, asking each other questions about Thomas, his visits and his leavings.   

“Give him space,” someone shouted. Shadows faded. He felt the warm sun on his face. There was a large elderly man in an evening suit, curling his handlebar moustache. “Good day, Thomas, how good it is to see you again.”

“Who are you?”

The elderly man stood to attention, shoulders back, chest out. “Colonel Anthony Simpson,” he boomed while saluting, “formerly of the Grenadier Guards.”

Thomas wanted to know how they all knew him.

“Another game, Thomas, eh? By Jingo, you are a one. We all know you’re back,” he boomed.

“Thomas is back!” he could hear someone shout in the background.

Thomas finally stood and looked around. People of all ages were whooping and clapping him. People he had never seen before were coming up to him and shaking his hand.

Gravestones a couple of minutes ago, were now doors to houses with people stepping out of them. Some houses were bigger than others. There were bright multi-coloured ones and black and white Tudor houses. 
 
“Hello, Thomas,” a girl’s voice said. “Hello Jessica,” Thomas said without thinking.

“We said we’d come and look for you, sorry we couldn’t stop. It was Kevin. Newcastle were playing.”

“Aye, they were. It was an important game,” said Kevin with a Geordie accent.

“Is that your mum shouting you?” asked Jessica.

They stopped talking and listened. The brass band suddenly stopped playing and everyone in the village stopped whatever they were doing and listened.

His mum was calling him.

*


Also by Peter Street:

Excerpt from Rite of Passage - a gravedigger's memoir

a day in the Day Centre


Special offer - 2 Peter Street ebooks now reduced to 50p each - only at the Natterjack Shop


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