1 CHAPTER 1-THE END

The school bell rang for the last time that school year and a swarm of kids descended upon the playground making their way out of the school gates. Tommy, a skinny lad of eleven, was grinning inanely as he turned around to look at the school for one last time and heard a familiar voice bellowing from within the crowd.

“FREEEEDDDDDOOOOMMMMM!” shouted Jake, a short, tubby kid the same age as Tommy, bouncing amongst the crowd like a pinball and running towards Tommy.

“Tommy!!!! We’re free! No more school! Can you believe it?” he roared.

“I can’t,” replied Tommy smiling at the school.

“What are you looking at?” asked Jake looking behind him.

“Just that,” he gestured his head towards the school, “I’m going to miss that place you know.”

Jake turned around to look at the school before turning back in disbelief, “What that? Are you mental?”

Tommy turned away from the school as Jake walked alongside him, “We’ve spent so much time there.”

“ And now we’re free,” Jake interrupted before turning back to the crowd and shouting.

“FREEEDDOOMMM!”

The crowd shouted back,

“FREEEEEEDDDDDDOOOOOMMMMM!”

Jake laughed and returned his attention to Tommy “So you want to watch some TV in ours?”

“I can’t my Mum said to be home early, Tommy explained as they strolled lazily up the path. “Did your Dad get that promotion yet?”

“I think so, they still don’t know I know, but I heard Dad tell Mum he was going to speak to the Organ grinder and not the monkey. Whatever that means!” Jake shrugged his shoulders.

“Beats me” replied Tommy “sounds good though.”

As Tommy and Jake walked through the school gates, they turned back one last time for a look at their past.

“I’ll give you a knock tomorrow then.” said Jake turning right.

“OK,” said Tommy heading left, “not too early though. My Dad likes a lie in on a Saturday.”

Both boys headed off in separate directions, Jake bounced all the way home, clearly elated at the thought of never having to return to primary school again. Tommy was more subdued, feeling a mixture of happiness at the idea of six weeks off, sadness at leaving his old school behind and slightly apprehensive at the thought of what his new school would really be like.

The early morning sun was beating down on the row upon row of terraced houses, whilst all of the children, who had yesterday celebrated their last day in school now began to make the most of their holidays by sitting in front of the television, and Tommy, like the rest of them failed to notice how nice it was outside. Eddie, Tommy’s dad waltzed into the living room and began half heartedly looking for something above the fireplace, then under the table, then around the room in general as his wife came in with a cup of tea.

“Have you seen them?” Eddie asked.

“Seen what?” answered Jenny as she sat down on the chair, knowing full well what he was looking for.

“My keys !” he replied.

“In your jacket?” Jenny responded, as she shook her head and made a point of not having the least bit of interest in his search.

“No, I’ve checked.” said Eddie, feeling slightly distressed. And looking horrified at his wife’s lack of interest and apparent laziness to help him look.

The TV blared out a piece about the 50 greatest premiership goals. Startling the entire house the door bell rang continuously. Followed by the slightest of pauses before ringing again, this time with more urgency.

“Does he always have to ring the bell like that?” asked Eddie, looking at Tommy who was engrossed in the tv.

“Well the quicker you answer it the quicker he’ll stop.” Jenny replied.

Eddie stomped out of the room and down the hallway to the front door. Opening it he saw a young boy with spiky hair and a cheeky look upon his face. “Is Tommy in Eddie?” Jake asked.

“He’s inside Jake. You should have rang a bit louder. We hardly heard you!” Eddie said sarcastically.

“Okay I’ll remember that next time.” said Jake unaware of Eddies sarcasm. Eddie stepped aside to let Jake in then began searching his jacket on the coat hook. Despite the fact that he knew they weren’t there. They were never there! Jake went into the living room and joined Tommy on the sofa as Eddie followed behind, scratching his head.

“I still can’t find my keys.” he said.

“Well where did you leave them?” Jenny asked him in all seriousness.

“Really! If I knew that why would I be standing here?” he replied, exasperated.

Jenny raised her voice “Don’t get shirty! Where is your phone? Your keys are always with your phone.”

Meanwhile on the TV, a sports programme showed Peter Crouch scoring a goal from outside the area and celebrating with his trademark robot moves. Tommy, immersed in the programme and unaware of his Dads preoccupation with his keys. Or even the fact that he was in the same room as him shouted. “Dad! I don’t want to be a doctor any more I want to be a footballer when I get older.”

Jake jumped up from the chair and began to badly mimic Peter Crouch’s robot move.

“I’m going to be a footballer too look! “he laughed as he continued moving around the room. Eddie looked at the pair of them in disbelief. “Oh good, we’ll save plenty of money on your education then!” he said as he began a new search for his phone.

“You’re supposed to encourage him remember,” said Jenny.

“Right. A footballer eh!” Eddie said frowning and half heartedly looking amongst a pile of magazines in the corner.

“And me” said Jake sitting back down “ I’m going to have a dirty car and a fast woman.”

“A fast woman Jake?” said Jenny nearly choking on her cup of tea.

“I’d rather have a dirty car,” said Tommy.

“I know what I’d have,” grinned Eddie.

Jenny stood up and nudged him in the ribs as she walked out of the room.

“So when was the last time you two played football then?” asked Eddie.

“Last Saturday at Jake’s” Tommy replied nonchalantly.

“Yes last Saturday, Rooney scored an overhead kick. Do you remember?” asked an animated Jake.

“Was this on your Playstation Jake?” asked Eddie.

“Of course, I don’t even know Wayne Rooney do I Tommy?” laughed Jake.

Tommy shook his in confirmation.

“Of course, well don’t you think you might need to practice a bit? I bet you don’t even know where your football is.” said Eddie, struggling to recall the last time he had seen Tommy playing football.

“Yes I do,” said Tommy defensively before shouting “Mum, Where’s my football?”

“It’s under your bed covered in dust.” shouted Mum from the kitchen.

Tommy looked smugly at his dad before repeating. “It’s upstairs under my bed.”

Eddie stared back in disbelief “Well as soon as your mother finds my keys I’m off to help your Uncle John move into his house. So put your trainers on and you can both play in his new garden.”

“Does he have a goal in his back garden then?” asked Jake.

“No but he’s got plenty on jumpers.” said Dad smiling at his own little joke, which was clearly wasted on the boys as Jake and Tommy looked at each other with a puzzled expression. “Go and get your ball.” he continued

Tommy ran upstairs as a mobile phone began to ring somewhere in the room.

Eddie began to follow the sound to under the sofa. “Phone, phone, phone where are you?” he called out before picking it up.“Hello?”

“Where was it?” came the voice from the other end.

“Under the sofa.” Eddie mumbled.

“And are your keys there too?” asked his all knowing wife.

Eddie brushed his hand under the sofa again. “Yes, thank you.” he said before ending the call and getting on his feet again.