© 2011 Norman Samuda-Smith

Respect is featured in Britannia’s Children – A Collection of Short Stories by Norman Samuda Smith

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Tony rolls onto his stomach and is spread-eagled across his bed.  It didn’t feel as though he had a good night’s sleep, more like he’d just finished playing two hard fought basketball games in succession and lost.  He rolls onto his back and tries to get up, but fatigue weighs him down and prevents every twisted sinew and all his aching limbs from moving.  What makes things worse is the splitting headache hammering between his eyes and spreading to the back of his head. The heat from the radiator doesn’t help matters; it slowly sucks the oxygen out of his bedroom.

The pirate radio station operating from the flat next door is in full swing, giving it large.  The drum and bass penetrates his bedroom wall as the MC’s verse their concrete jungle psalms, free-styling with anger, joy and passion – wailing – “Wheel and come again selecta!” – Ecstatic when a wicked lyric is thrown down.  Then there is the knocking, banging and stamping from the neighbours above and below him; their way of complaining about the up-tempo rumpus that’s going on.  Tony stretches and grabs the spare pillow and covers his head; trying to smother the noise…

             “I should complain ‘bout dis…” he moans.

The inter-com in the hallway begins to buzz.  It buzzes again, continually for what seems like forever.  Forgetting his aches and pains, Tony springs out of bed drags on his nearby track suit trousers and heads for the receiver to cuss the individual who is causing the disturbance…

             “Hello…HELLO!”  –  No answer, he places the receiver back in its cradle, cussing while doing so.  In the bathroom he gazes into the mirror, the whites of his eyes are red.  He groans when he leans forward to wash his face and brush his teeth.  In the kitchen, he switches on the kettle.  While the water boils, he stares out the window of his high-rise block ten floors down and spots four children repeatedly slide up and down a huge puddle which is frozen solid in the middle of the car park; they’re having big fun.  Around and about them are the frosty residential rooftops, the frosty back and front gardens and the frost-covered parked cars in the surrounding streets, beyond that a clear view of the dual-carriage way.  His eyes follow it north as it spirals to join the motorway.  He sees the landscape of eight districts of Birmingham to the point where the horizon kisses the clear blue sky.  The sun is shining gloriously through the firmament and the frost lay as thick as snow on the rooftop of the tool making factory across the road.  Tony takes a sup from his cup of tea, which internally makes him feel better.

His road and the surrounding streets are almost void of cars on what is usually a bustling part of town.  Tony gives thanks to God and Sunday for this near stillness; cos only on this day does the roaring traffic which leaps out of the dual-carriage way and into his flat every day stop.  There is a knock at the door.  Tony steals a quick glance at the clock hanging on the kitchen wall which reads 10.30am.  Jehovah’s witnesses usually come sniffing around about this time and the idea of reasoning with them right now doesn’t appeal to him.  They bang the door this time and a voice shouts through his letterbox…

             “Yow! Open de door nuh blood!”

            “Definitely not Jehovah’s witnesses.”  Tony is vex when he peers through the spy-hole and scrutinizes seven black youths loafing around, donned in their baseball caps and hoods.  They pound the door again.  Tony hauls the door open…


            “Yeh, sorry t’disturb yuh big man, but me and d’mans dem jus’ come t’do our gig in dah studio – Y’get me?”

            “What?” fury almost chokes Tony.

            “Dah radio station star. We come t’do our gig.”

            “Which door do you usually knock when yuh do yuh radio gig yout’ man?”

The yout’ points to the next-door flat where the music was coming from.

            “So why yuh knockin’ my raas door?”

There is no answer from the yout’, his friends stand around with their hands in their pockets and their shoulders slouched forward, all of them waddling from side to side like restless Penguins…

            “Look, get one ting straight right,” Tony’s eyes convey the fury within him, “…don’t knock me door again, seen? And stop ringin’ de inter-com.  Yuh overstand?”  

            “Cha, no need t’gwaan like dat big man.  Like I said me and d’mans…”

Tony slams the door in the yout’s face.  In the kitchen he prepares the traditional Sunday rice and peas, roast chicken, baked potatoes and vegetables.  When his children come round later, they will eat, drink and be merry, he smiles at the thought of that.  While the kidney beans simmer, he makes his way to the bathroom, to have that long awaited soak in the bath; the phone which suddenly starts ringing diverts his route.

            “Ah shit what now? – Hello.”

            “Hello yuhself.  Where’s Michael?”

            “What yuh mean where’s Michael Marcia?  He’s at your yard enit?”

            “No he’s not.  His bed wasn’t slept in last night.”

            “Well perhaps he stop over at one of him friend yard or suppm.”

            “Just check yuh spare room and see if him in deh please.”

            “A’right, hol’ on…”

Tony drifts down the hallway with the phone in his hand and enters the spare room to see that Michael is curled up and sleeping peacefully on the bunk bed…

            “Yeh, he’s here…” Tony confirms in a whisper rolling his eyes.

            “Yuh see?  And I bet yuh don’t even know what time he come in last night, do you?”

            “Don’t start now Marcia…” Tony’s voice is courteous but patronising.

            “What yuh mean don’t start now Tony?  He’s only fifteen and him out til all hours!  I blame you fe dis!”


            “Yes you!  Yuh too laid back man.  Yuh don’t phone him and ask him wha gwaan in him life.  Some father you are!” she spits out her words contemptuously.

            “Oh, it’s like dat now is it?”

            “Yeh whatever or however yuh wanna take it bredrin!  When he wake, talk to him right, coz he too facety toward me…”

            “Oh really?

            “Yes really!  You tell him from me dat he better change him ways and attitude. Him too rude!  If he carry on like dis me gwine t’row him out!”

            “Yuh wouldn’t do dat.  Would you?”

            “Yes I would…and he can live wid you when I do.  So talk to him right, man to man! – Bye!”

 The dialling tone buzzes in Tony’s ear.  He glares at the receiver before placing it on its cradle and then retreats to the bathroom mumbling under his breath…

 Read PART TWO of RESPECT here… 


*All rights reserved.  No part of this story may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the writer Norman Samuda-Smith.*


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