Meeting the Opposition
Xavier was daydreaming out of the blacked out window of the limo as it edged through the rush hour traffic. Two Santalini guardsmen rode in the front, four in the SUV escorting them ahead, and another four behind. Professor Max Brunswick, his father’s Human advisor, sat in the back with the three of them.
“How are we supposed to blend in arriving like this?” Xavier said, tutting.
JJ nodded in agreement.
“We will be very early, and it’s just for your first day,” Max explained.
Xavier frowned. They’d spent the night at Jay senior’s hotel in Soho. He just assumed they would be based there while they were at school.
“No, you’ll live here. It’s simply not practical to do this journey every morning. Your father thought it not time efficient or safe.”
“Oh no, does that mean we’ll have to board with a load of Chavs?” Alexia said, pulling a face at the dirty shop fronts and grimy bricked buildings of south London.
“This isn’t a boarding school,” Max said without elaborating.
Xavier and JJ had googled the school as soon as they’d finished the meeting with their fathers a few days before. It was a regular everyday secondary school, ethnically diverse, and about second to last in the league tables for the whole of England. Their father was pulling their leg. They would go through this charade and pitch up in front of the posh boarding school in keeping with their royal status. Now Xavier wasn’t so sure.
JJ looked across their sister at him obviously thinking the same thing. “Where are we staying then?”
“With a local family just a ten minute walk from the school. Your father has arranged everything. Your bags will be taken there while you are at school, then when your day finishes you will go back there, okay?”
“Oh no!” Alexia whined. “Surely we’ll get lost or kidnapped in the ghetto.”
Xavier laughed and JJ shook his head. Their sister was so dramatic. She would make sure she was treated like a princess where ever they ended up.
“Don’t worry unduly, Alexia. The kind lady you will be lodging with has three children at the school. They’ll be able to show you about the place.”
They all looked at each other more uneasy by the minute. The whole thing was becoming a nightmare. Their old school in New Hampshire didn’t seem such a bad place after all.
“What’s her name – this woman looking after us?” Alexia asked on the verge of tears. “I guess she must have a big house with us three and kids of her own,” she said, looking at him hopefully.
“Her name is Valerie Johnson.” He said nothing about the size of the house.
“And the kids?” Xavier said, watching Max’s discomfort closely.
“Erm …” Max opened his briefcase and sifted through some papers. “Ah, here it is. Patrick, Latitia and Dwayne.
Xavier and JJ exchanged another look. Surely this must be some kind of Joke. It was fast becoming like some comedy sketch.
Xavier sat back in his seat and smiled to himself. This wouldn’t be for long. He knew his father. This was just a ploy to teach them a lesson. It was all to make them grateful and appreciate their old school when they’re sent back. “Chill out, Lexie. We’ll be out of here soon.” Yeah, two weeks – a month tops.
JJ sat and brooded as usual.
Their motorcade was waved by police into the staff carpark as if they were visiting foreign dignitaries. It was so conspicuous that peopled stopped in the street to see who it was. They stopped right in front of the steps to the main doors where they got out hurriedly and were ushered in by their guards wearing headsets and microphones.
A middle aged man in a tweed jacket and beard met them and introduced himself as Mr Lingham, Deputy Head, and Head of English. He led the way down the old parquet floored corridors that smelled of boiled cabbage and sick.
JJ bit down his hate for the place. It wasn’t that he was a snob and wanted a better school, he didn’t want any school. He knew who he was and what he was meant to become, and didn’t need all this bollocks. It was his two fathers’ way of brining him down a peg or two. This whole exercise was a waste of everyone’s time. To hell with it. He’d just go along with it and go his own way anyway. If they wanted to waste their money then let them. It made no difference to who he was wherever they sent him. He didn’t give a shit where he lived or who with. HIs life was preordained anyway. In short, there was no point in getting involved, making connections, or weighing himself down.
Mr Lingham knocked on the shabby door with a crocked ‘Head’ sign on it.
“Come in,” a deep voice said.
My Lingham held open the door and they followed Max into the office. A huge cheerful black man stood up from behind his desk and couldn’t look more like Professor Clump if he tried. JJ looked at Xavier who gave a small smile of recognition back.
“Please sit,” the headmaster said, indicating three chairs opposite him. Another was brought for Max. Mr Lingham perched on the edge of a sideboard. Four of their guards stood, arms crossed at the back of their room, which was ludicrous as they would leave them to fend for themselves when this meeting was over.
The headmaster smiled at each of them in turn. “Hello, I know who you all are, I am Doctor Henry, your head teacher. Your fathers have explained everything, and I understand you will be staying with a local family, which i’m sure will be fabulous. I want you all to feel right at home here.” HIs laugher boomed, even though there was nothing funny. The guy just seemed really upbeat and positive. Heaven knew why in this shit hole.
The headmaster narrowed his eyes on him, not missing a thing. “I can see we have an active mind here. We’ll soon have that put to good use. Can’t have you getting bored now can we?”
Alexia sniggered. Xavier hid a smile behind his hand. The guy was a smart aleck – so what?
“Let me welcome you, and let you know how pleased we are to have you all here.”
“Thank you Dr Henry,” Max said. “Here is the first donation to the school from the children’s father. I trust it is in order?” Max passed a small envelope to the headmaster, who took it with a smile.
The room was silent while he took out his letter opener, slit it, and took out what looked like a cheque. His eyes went wide before he could school his features. “Bloody hell,” he choked. Then rubbed his two chins. “Please pass on my sincerest thanks.”
“His Highness thought it would go some way to help in refurbishing the sports facilities here?”
“Of course,” Dr Henry said, still not believing his eyes.
Xavier and JJ exchanged a worried look. Suddenly the move here wasn’t looking that temporary.
A knock at the door brought their eyes back the the headmaster. Max took it as his cue to leave and the guards stepped forward. “We will leave you to your day, Dr Henry,” Max said.
“Very good, that will be the children’s new brothers and sister,” Dr Henry said, laughing.
JJ baulked. Not likely, this would be good. Time to suss out the opposition.
Max went out with the guards and JJ heard them come in, but he didn’t turn round.
“Come here where we can all see you?” Dr Henry said. The three joined him next to the desk.
JJ locked eyes with each of the boys straight away. There was no way he’d give an impression of weakness.
Both boys were black, with trendy shaved haircuts and light eyes. They were big good looking guys and knew it. Each wore a pair of Beats earphones left loosely around their necks. They had on large baggy jackets over low slung jeans showing the tops of their shorts. That was as far as his study of the boys got, before a bubblegum pop brought his head round to the girl.
He was vaguely aware of Xavier and Alexia saying hello. He was too busy taking in the girl’s long cane-rowed hair and hooped earnings the size of saucers. Her eyes were the lightest grey he’s ever seen and she had smooth skin the colour of caramel.
She looked him up down, blew another bubble and raised an eyebrow.
A small smile crept over his face. Well hello …
Copyright T Stedman 2016