If he was honest, Gronk was frightened. But he would never admit it, even to himself. He felt fear in the pit of his stomach. His eyes bulged as pressure increased on his neck. The side of his face pressed against the brickwork. Steve was angry. The moment seemed to freeze in time. Then Steve breathed slowly in and released his grip. Gronk spluttered and leant over putting his hands on his knees. He swallowed hard, then turned to walk away, trying to appear lofty. The Posheys had already moved on, shaking their heads. Gronk composed himself and, after a fluttery wave to his family, pointed to Gnoshers. Munter and crew hurried downhill toward the pedestrianised area.

Gronk was lost in his thoughts. There was something about Steve Nobody which unsettled him. He shrugged and dismissed it. Nothing would interfere with his rightful place in the Snook as leader and conqueror. As he passed the tramp, Gronk looked down. How disgusting, he thought. But his gaze was drawn to the piece of cardboard by the collection mug, upon which was written in capitals: YOU WILL NOT WIN. Gronk’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. He felt his blood run cold. The tramp looked up and smiled. With fists clenched, Gronk breathed in and out heavily. He was a blur of emotions. After a brief moment of weakness, the facade of brashness returned and he walked over to meet his family.

“Well?” Munter demanded.

“The bore won’t forget that dressing down in a hurry,” Gronk said.

Munter squirmed her face into something resembling a smile and they shambled into Gnoshers.

But Gronk knew he had made a pig’s ear of his run-in with Steve Nobody. That small-minded ignoramus ought to know his place. Can’t he see it’s hopeless to struggle against my greatness? Why doesn’t he know when he’s beaten? Gronk fumed to himself, trying to control his temper. And what was that putrid tramp all about? His hands began to shake.

Copyright © 2023 Callum Stanford.  All rights reserved.

Author: C.Stanford

Writer, blogger, outsider, survivor.

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