Part 2 – Sinclair Manor

David had said tomorrow, and he stood by it. The next day, as soon as the bell rang after our last class, he picked my shoulder.

“How do you want to do this?” he simply asked.

“Let’s find ourselves a bench outside, we have such good weather today,” I said. He seemed to hesitate, but followed me outside. A lot of study groups had found themselves a nice spot of grass, and a few couples were snogging under trees. I managed to rush to the last empty bench before a group of boys my age got to it. They looked like they were going to come anyway and push me away, but when they saw David sit on the opposite side of me they changed their minds and settled for a piece of grass.

“I think it’s best we just do our homework together. It’ll take us about the same amount of time, you perhaps less, and maybe you’ll be more encouraged to do it if you’re not doing it alone,” I said and took out my French book. He gave a large but rather silent sigh and dug out his own book. It looked a little dirty, like his hands, but no worse of a French book for it, although Mrs. Young might have thought differently. We both opened our books at the same page and began reading the instructions. I started writing. Then stopped. He wasn’t writing.

“Oh, come on, the world won’t end if you do your homework!” I said a little annoyed. He looked up, and I thought he looked a little less serious as usual, almost like he was on the verge of grinning. Then he took a pen out of his bag with a heavy hand and began writing. I smiled and continued.

It didn’t last long, though. We had barely been writing for a minute when he stopped abruptly. I looked up. He was looking at something on the lawn. I looked in the same direction. Mrs. Young was walking towards a couple very enthusiastic about their snogging, looking very harsh. She was wearing an unnecessarily thick mink cote, considering it was the beginning of April and the weather was so good, and a lady like hand bag. She had obviously been on her way home when she saw the monstrosity happening on her school lawn.

We both watched as she slammed her hand bag at the couple and started shouting at them. At first they looked surprised, then they were on the verge of laughing, but finally it dawned on them exactly how big of a deal Mrs. Young considered their behaviour. She was insisting on them giving her their names so that she could call their parents and let them know what they were doing, and she mentioned something about a month of detention, and even expulsion. They had the sense of starting to show some sort of regret and apologised and said all sorts of mean things about what they had just been enjoying so much just moments before, and even went as far as promising never to do it again and going to see a priest (separately, of course) as soon as they could. This seemed to calm Mrs. Young enough down for her to settle with just getting their names. They were, of course, lying, but she was none the wiser.

“I can’t concentrate here,” David said as he looked at me. “Do you mind if we go to my place? It’s a little far to go, about a half an hours walk.”

Since I had nothing else to do I agreed, and we set off towards the bad (liberal) part of town.

This part of town was called the bad part of town because about a hundred years ago a band of gypsies had settled there, and they had built that neighbourhood. A few of their original houses still stood there, but now it was mostly the usual concrete and brick blocks built in straight lines. Although some of the neighbourhood was still occupied by the gypsies’ descendants, they were no different than the usual people of Dale, and were not considered the bad ones any more. They had been replaced by the artists, writers and university students that were now in majority in that part of town. Mrs. Young would certainly never be seen there.

David was his usual, quiet self as we walked past the beautifully graphitised walls, some strangely built houses, a little market of fake gypsy memorials around the site where the gypsies had first built, and where their first house was a historical site, past a street of café’s and restaurants, and one very smelly bar called the Growling Tiger. The front window had a big, black pad of a tiger painted on it, but it was so dirty I could barely see it.

We had been walking for twenty minutes when I noticed we were reaching the end of town. I wondered if David had just said thirty minutes to give me a good idea of how far away he lived, but when we reached the end of the last block he continued to walk on, towards the countryside, and the farms at the edge of town.

“Do you live at a farm?” I asked surprised. He shook his head.

“Not really,” he added, but didn’t explain what that meant. I decided to just see for myself when we reached our destination, and kept walking in silence.

We reached the edge of a small forest I knew was called Little Dale, because there used to be a small village on the other side of it called Little Dale. There was no village any more. Most of the people there had died of tuberculoses, and no one had lived there since. It was Dale’s ghost village, completely in ruin.

David turned north, up a gravel rode that lay at the edge of the forest. At the beginning of the road was a sign that read: Sinclair Manor. When I saw the word manor I thought this was a rather strange place for one. I soon discovered how very misleading that sign was. There was no manor there. There was, however, a farm. An old farm, with a big, wooden barn on the left and a big cottage on the right. But now I understood why David had said “not really”. It was a farm, but it hadn’t been used as a farm for a long time. The fields were overgrown with trees or weeds and the only farm related building left was the barn. There was, however, an old, wheel less and rusted tractor on the right side of the road as we walked towards the cottage.

“Why is it called Sinclair Manor?” I asked in curiosity.

“Sinclair Farm was taken,” David said. “And my father thought it was funny.”

“It is funny,” I said and smiled. David grinned a little too. I stared at him.

To my surprise, he took a turn and headed towards the barn. I thought perhaps he had a private place there. Then I noticed another sign above the entrance. It read: Sinclair Auto Mechanics, the Best Mechanic in Dale. It was a little weather worn, but newer than the barn.

“Is your father a mechanic?” I asked surprised.

“He was,” David said. He took hold on the barn door and started pushing it to the side. It slid smoothly along the outside of the barn. “He’s dead. Now I’m the mechanic.”

Suddenly I understood why his hands always looked so dirty. They weren’t, they were greasy.

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