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Pigeon Englishby Stephen Kelman
You could see the blood. It was darker than you thought.
It was all on the ground outside Chicken Joes. It just felt
Jordan: ‘Ill give you a million quid if you touch it.
Me: ‘You dont have a million.
Jordan: ‘One quid then.
You wanted to touch it but you couldnt get close
enough. There was a line in the way:
POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS
If you cross the line youll turn to dust.
We werent allowed to talk to the policeman, he had
to concentrate for if the killer came back. I could see
the chains hanging from his belt but I couldnt see the
The dead boys mamma was guarding the blood. She
wanted it to stay, you could tell. The rain wanted to come
and wash the blood away but she wouldnt let it. She
wasnt even crying, she was just stiff and fierce like it was
her job to scare the rain back up into the sky. A pigeon was
looking for his chop. He walked right in the blood. He was
even sad as well, you could tell where his eyes were all pink
* * *
The flowers were already bent. There were pictures of the
dead boy wearing his school uniform. His jumper was
My jumpers blue. My uniforms better. The only bad
thing about it is the tie, its too scratchy. I hate it when
theyre scratchy like that.
There were bottles of beer instead of candles and the
dead boys friends wrote messages to him. They all said he
was a great friend. Some of the spelling was wrong but I
didnt mind. His football boots were on the railings tied up
by their laces. They were nearly new Nikes, the studs were
proper metal and everything.
Jordan: ‘Shall I tief them? He dont need em no more.
I just pretended I didnt hear him. Jordan would never
really steal them, they were a million times too big. They
looked too empty just hanging there. I wanted to wear
them but theyd never fit.
Me and the dead boy were only half friends, I didnt see
him very much because he was older and he didnt go
to my school. He could ride his bike with no hands and
you never even wanted him to fall off. I said a prayer
for him inside my head. It just said sorry. Thats all I
could remember. I pretended like if I kept looking hard
enough I could make the blood move and go back in the
shape of a boy. I could bring him back alive that way. It
happened before, where I used to live there was a chief
who brought his son back like that. It was a long time
ago, before I was born. Asweh, it was a miracle. It didnt
work this time.
I gave him my bouncy ball. I dont need it anymore, Ive
got M ve more under my bed. Jordan only gave him a pebble
he found on the floor.
Me: ‘That doesnt count. It has to be something that
belonged to you.
Jordan: ‘I aint got nothing. I didnt know we had to
bring a present.
I gave Jordan a strawberry Chewit to give to the dead
boy, then I showed him how to make a cross. Both the two
of us made a cross. We were very quiet. It even felt important.
We ran all the way home. I beat Jordan easily. I can
beat everybody, Im the fastest in Year 7. I just wanted to
get away before the dying caught us.
The buildings are all mighty around here. My tower is
as high as the lighthouse at Jamestown. There are three
towers all in a row: Luxembourg House, Stockholm House
and Copenhagen House. I live in Copenhagen House. My
flat is on floor 9 out of 14. Its not even hutious, I can look
from the window now and my belly doesnt even turn over.
I love going in the lift, its brutal, especially when youre
the only one in there. Then you could be a spirit or a spy.
You even forget the pissy smell because youre going so
Its proper windy at the bottom like a whirlpool. If you
stand at the bottom where the tower meets the ground and
put your arms out, you can pretend like youre a bird. You
can feel the wind try to pick you up, its nearly like flying.
Me: ‘Hold your arms out wider!
Jordan: ‘Theyre as wide as I can get em! This is so gay,
Im not doing it no more!
Me: ‘Its not gay, its brilliant!
Asweh, its the best way to feel alive. You only dont
want the wind to pick you up, because you dont know
where it will drop you. It might drop you in the bushes or
In England theres a hell of different words for everything.
Its for if you forget one, theres always another one left
over. Its very helpful. Gay and dumb and lame mean all
the same. Piss and slash and tinkle mean all the same (the
same as greet the chief). Theres a million words for a bulla.
When I came to my new school, do you know whats the
first thing Connor Green said to me?
Connor Green: ‘Have you got happiness?
Connor Green: ‘Are you sure youve got happiness?
Connor Green: ‘But are you really sure?
Me: ‘I think so.
He kept asking me if I had happiness. He wouldnt stop.
In the end it just vexed me. Then I wasnt sure. Connor
Green was laughing, I didnt even know why. Then Manik
told me it was a trick.
Manik: ‘Hes not asking if youve got happiness, hes
asking if youve got a penis. He says it to everyone. Its just
It only sounds like happiness but really it means a penis.
Connor Green: ‘Got ya! Hook, line and sinker!
Connor Green is always making tricks. Hes just a confusionist.
Thats the first thing you learn about him. At least
I didnt lose. I do have a penis. The trick doesnt work if
Some people use their balconies for hanging washing
or growing plants. I only use mine for watching the
helicopters. Its a bit dizzy. You cant stay out there for
more than one minute or youll turn into an icicle. I
saw X-Fire painting his name on the wall of Stockholm
House. He didnt know I could see him. He was proper
quick and the words still came out dope-fine. I want to
write my own name that big but the paint in a can is too
dangerous, if you get it on yourself it never washes off,
The baby trees are in a cage. They put a cage around the
tree to stop you stealing it. Asweh, its very crazy. Whod
steal a tree anyway? Whod chook a boy just to get his
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