Joe pushed his hands to the bottom of his pockets. He knew where to look, more importantly he knew where not to. The other boys were direct, not fast, but they closed the distance between them. Chins lowered, they whispered. Joe’s leather jacket protested when he raised his shoulders and dropped them again. So? What? Do I not have it right? I’m I not allowed here? The three boys were almost there on his toes. His palms were hot, damp, out of sight. He blinked. Too often. Too soft. He couldn’t let himself fall apart, so he held himself together.
“You’re not from round here.” said the boy wearing his shiny black tie loose and pulled low.
“No. Not normally.”
“Where you from?”
“North. Near Manchester,” said Joe.
“Right. Explains a lot,” said the tallest boy.
The other boys stood shoulder to shoulder. Looked alike.
Joe had expected trouble. He had cursed himself for being an idiot. For going there. For this being the wrong place. For it being too late. He shrugged.“I just came.”
“Over there. Near the tree. Everyone else is going, already.”
The smaller boy curled his hands into fists. The one on the other side narrowed his eyes, wouldn't look that way. This one, the spokesman, was oldest. Not as old as Joe, but taller.
“Sure, why not?” Joe asked.
“We brought scarves. Do you want one?”
“I’ve got my own,” said Joe as he took it off. He wrapped it around his fingers, couldn’t let it go.
“Gotta love football,” said the smaller boy.
“Go on,” said the other.
The scarf curled, caught by the breeze as it dropped. Down. Then lower. Into the unfilled hole. Landing whisper-soft on hollow wood.
Joe's hands were tight fists, he bit his lips, raised his eyes to boy who took a step closer.
“It’s OK Joe. He was your Dad too.”