Detailed plot summary - Part two

Chapters 17 - 20

Marcus is taken home by Will, and Fiona notices instantly that Marcus is wearing just his socks on his feet. She takes Marcus straight back to Will’s house and asks him why a grown man would want to hang out with a 12-year-old boy. Will is angry and asks her if she is suggesting what he thinks she is. He adds that she is suggesting that he has been fiddling with Marcus. Will loses his temper, and using a lot of swear words he tells her that he has no choice, because Marcus comes round every night, and that he is being bullied mercilessly. At home, Marcus feels relieved that his mother knows the truth about where he has been going in the afternoons. She tells him that Will is not a good role model and that she has been Marcus’ mum for 12 years, so she knows what she is doing. Marcus doubts this and tells her that she has always made his mind up for him, such as about being a vegetarian or watching violent films. Fiona says she wants him to think for himself, but Marcus argues that as soon as he does that, Fiona takes over and never lets him win an argument. He then does something which he feels bad about because he knows it will make her cry. He tells her that he wants to carry on seeing Will because he needs a father.

This year, Will has no plans for Christmas and thinks that he will stay at home, watch a lot of films, and get drunk and stoned. He feels that he is entitled to a break even though he has no work to have a break from. Will thinks of Marcus, whom he has not seen since Fiona’s outburst the previous week. He thinks that, actually, he and Marcus are not so different, even though Will grew up with money and Marcus has none. Will’s father was an alcoholic who killed himself with drink, and Marcus’ mother tried to commit suicide with sleeping pills. The following day Fiona rings Will and they agree to meet for a drink the following evening. She accuses Will of being selfish and he replies that he is on his own, he has nobody else to think about, and therefore he cannot help putting himself first. Fiona contradicts herself when she tells Will that Marcus is in his life and he can’t just shut him out.

Marcus is left alone in his flat while his mother goes for a drink with Will. He locks the door, does his homework, watches some TV and plays on the computer. The next day he has to go to see the headmistress, Mrs Morrison, about the stolen trainers, which his mother has complained about. He waits outside Mrs Morrison’s office with a girl called Ellie McCrae, who is in Year 10. Ellie is famous throughout the school for being bad. Ellie is wearing a sweatshirt which is not part of the school uniform but which she refuses to take off. It has a picture of a man with straggly hair and half a beard. Marcus thinks he looks like a modern, blond Jesus. Just then the headmistress calls him into her office. Marcus says goodbye to Ellie but is glad to leave her as she frightens him a bit. In the headmistress’ office Marcus loses his temper, because Mrs Morrison starts telling him about survival strategies and suggesting that he keep out of the bullies’ way. He is so frustrated that he stands up to leave, and when Mrs Morrison tells him to sit down again he just walks out.

At the same time, Will is driving around London. He enjoys driving and feeling a part of the hustle and bustle of the city. As he is driving along Upper Street he sees Marcus walking along, in a world of his own. He wonders why Marcus is not in school. At 16.15 Marcus rings the doorbell. Will leaves him on the doorstep and Marcus just presses the buzzer for half an hour while Will continues to listen to Nirvana songs. Eventually he lets him in and he asks Marcus whether he had a good afternoon. Marcus is rather hesitant in his answer, mumbling something about a History lesson. Will reveals that he saw him in Upper Street and Marcus replies that he had to nip out for something. Will realises that the kind of help that Marcus needs is the information to let him be a kid, not an adult. Will can teach him about football and music and all the other important things that a 12-year-old boy at a comprehensive school needs to know.