Dirty Daddies

Page 4

Sometimes I even thought maybe he’d be the one I couldn’t break, no matter what I said or what I did. No matter how far I pushed him, he was always there next week, at our scheduled time with my stupid dumb file on his desk and his stupid dumb questions trying to help me.
Maybe he really would have helped me, if I’d have told him the truth. If I’d have told him who really hurts me.
But it’s too late for all that now. At least I told him how I felt about him, just once.
I hate this shitty little town with its shitty weather. Grey drizzle turns to full on rain and none of the shops want me in them, so I slip into an alley down the side of the bank and wait for it to ease up, cursing the fact these boots have holes in them and I threw the ones Rosie bought me back in her face a few months back.
I don’t need your fucking boots. You can’t fucking buy me, I’m not for fucking sale.
The memory makes me cringe.
She didn’t see how I ran to my room and cried harder than she did. She didn’t see how sorry I was after, even though my stupid mouth wouldn’t let me say a word.
I whistle as a guy in a scummy brown hoodie walks on by. I know him. Eddie something.
He stops, squints at me, then smiles. He knows me too, by reputation if not by introduction.
“Carrie, right?” he asks and steps on in.
I don’t have time for stupid hellos. I hitch my boot up against the wall, playing it as disinterested as I possibly can. “Got a smoke?”
He nods and pulls a pack from his pocket. Shitty menthols, but beggars can’t be choosers. I take one and light it off his lighter.
“Got somewhere to be?” he asks and I shake my head. “Want to come for a drink?”
“I’m underage,” I tell him. “Nowhere’s gonna serve me. Not without ID.”
He takes a long drag. “I’ll be buying. You look eighteen.”
His eyes are all over me, but that’s nothing new.
“Few days and I will be eighteen,” I tell him. “And then I’ll be away from his shitty place and off on my own.”
He laughs but there’s no malice in it. “Sounds good to me, this place is a shit hole.” He holds out his arm but I shrug it off. I really don’t want to be touching him. He looks the sleazy type, but a drink’s a drink if he’s the one paying.
“You’re buying?” I clarify.
“Sure am.” He pulls out his wallet, a battered thing on a chain. “Got paid today, did some overtime.”
Just as well. I’m in the mood for a few, just to drink this awful day with its crappy goodbyes away. “Alright,” I tell him, “lead the way.”
And he does.
I ignore my shitty phone buzzing in my pocket. I ignore the angry messages Rosie and Bill will be leaving me.
I ignore everything, because tonight Eddie something is going to buy me drinks and look at me like he wants me.
It’s the best thing on offer to a problem girl like me.Chapter TwoMichaelI rarely drink, especially not on a week night, but completing my final writeup and filing Carrie’s case notes into the archive room is more than enough to drive me to a few after work. I tidy my desk and take one final look at Carrie’s muddy boot prints before shutting down my PC for the day.
None of us here are miracle workers. We do our best, but not every case on our books has a happy ending. I’ve watched kids grow into adults with even bigger challenges than the ones they faced in the chair opposite me. I’ve lost good kids to a life of drugs in Bristol or Birmingham once they’ve taken a one-way ticket out of our sleepy county for pastures new. You hear about them, the ones who didn’t make it. It’s not a rare event that we get enquiries from lawyers and prosecutors digging for background information for their criminal cases.
Some support workers can’t handle the disappointment. For others of us, we take the rough with the smooth – finding encouragement in the kids that we do manage to make a difference to, even just a little. We use the disappointments to harden our steel, determined to do better next time. That’s how I should be feeling about Carrie. That’s how I have to feel about Carrie.
My best clearly wasn’t good enough to reach her, not in five months. Maybe not in five years. Maybe not ever. Not within the framework of our agency guidelines, not with half an hour per week to work miracles and tick all the policy boxes.
It’s a hard pill to swallow.
I wonder if she’ll end up back in Gloucester. That’s where she came from before she ended up staying with Bill and Rosie. I was at one of their earliest meetings with the agency, when she was first listed on our books. The foster agency thought the countryside may agree with her, the slower pace of life may help her edginess. I can’t see that it has, but the thought was a good one.