Part One. Riley, a young child, is struggling to deal with grief and abuse when he meets Jimmy, the local skate shop owner. Jimmy takes it upon himself to look out for Riley but is it enough to keep him from spiraling out of control?
This Kid I Used To Know — Part One
I want to tell you about this kid I used to know, Riley Robinson. He must’ve been about eight or nine years old when I first met him. He came into my shop with his skateboard hooked under his arm and as I looked him over it became apparent he’d taken a bit of a tumble. He was bleeding from both of his hands and a gash that ran from his wrist up to his elbow. His hair sat in his eyes, as he came over to the counter he flicked it to the side and snivelled. Holding out his palms, showing me the wounds, he asked if I had any Band-Aid’s. His hand had a rock firmly entrenched in his palm and there was a decent sized bit of flesh hanging off the other hand. Band-Aid’s, as I’d learned, were a necessary item to have under the counter when you’re running a skateboarding shop. I pulled out the first aid kit and told my colleague, Leroy, to watch the counter as I lead the kid out the back to the staff bathroom. The second I closed the door he dropped to the seat of the toilet and burst into tears. It threw me for a second, all I thought to do was tell him his wounds didn’t look bad and that he’d be okay. I gave him a thump on the shoulder in a she’ll be right sort of way and then turned back to the first aid kit. He wasn’t crying about his burning palms or aching arm, but I wasn’t to know that.
I’ve always made it my business to remember everyone that sets foot into my shop, but Riley, I couldn’t place him, I hadn’t ever seen him around before. The next day he came back into the shop to see me. He gestured at his bandaged palms and thanked me for helping him out. Of course it wasn’t a problem, I’d have done it for any other kid that walked in. I asked him why I’d never seen him in the shop before, he was obviously a skater so I found it unusual that he hadn’t been in before. He told me he didn’t have the money for anything that came with skateboarding, I could understand that, it’s an expensive hobby. All the other kids his age will usually just come in with their Mum or Dad and get whatever they want though, I figured he just wasn’t as lucky.
I said it was okay and explained how I keep a bucket load of Band-Aid’s under the counter so if he ever takes a spill in town again to just come on in. As he nodded along and brushed his hair off to the side I caught a glimpse of the black eye he’d gained in addition to the wounds he came in with the day before. I didn’t want to pry, but I really don’t like seeing kids walk around with injuries like that. So, instead of directly asking about it I just asked if he was alright.
He shrugged, lowering his gaze and said, “Sure.”
I don’t know what it was about the way he said that, but that was it, from that moment on I treated Riley differently to all the other kids that came into the shop. My gut told me something just wasn’t quite right and he needed me to look out for him.
So, it went on like this, I’d be behind the counter and every other day Riley would come into the shop. I was always happy to see him, he was a funny kid and brightened up what would otherwise be a mundane day. We carried out this same routine for a good year before we started meeting up to go for a skate at the park together. Let me tell you, without a doubt that kid could skate better than me. I had a good twenty years up on him but he could still skate better than me the bastard. When he was fifteen he started coming along to the parties all my mates had and before I knew it he’d become one of my best friends. Sure, there was an age difference, but Riley was special, he wasn’t the sort of kid that ever really acted like a kid.
He looked to be the typical sort of skate rat. You know, sewn into them tight ass jeans with a big hole gaping over the knee. All the shirts he owned were branded with a different skateboard company. He liked to tell people he was gunna’ get sponsored by Anti-Hero or Blind one day. I thought he could make it that far and it wasn’t ‘cause he’d tell me so every time I’d see him in those shirts, it was because I believed in him. He didn’t change his hairstyle the whole time I knew him, always looked like he needed a haircut. He was forever flicking his head left and right trying to keep his hair out of his eyes. He had that darker coloured skin, that olive sort of complexion. He said he didn’t know where he got it, that he was the only one in the family that didn’t look like they’d had a glass of milk poured over their head—his words, not mine. He was a good lookin’ kid, had to be with that darker skin and that chocolate hair. I remember he’d say how the girls always loved his eyes, they were dark and at times they’d get this golden rim around the iris. I think the girls just loved him though. And why wouldn’t they? He was a good kid, switched on he was, you know how hard that is to find in kids these days? Yeah, he was one of the good ones. I knew that, all the girls he had chasing after him knew that, us boys knew that, we all fucking knew it. But he didn’t, he couldn’t see it in himself.
Continue on to Part Two