Mark here, Catch's husband. We're pretty excited about Catch's new book launching this Friday. So I'm sharing my favourite scene from 'Pig', check it out below. And follow the link to come to the launch. :D
Also, we are finally allowed into the library for our ‘training session’. This turns out to be a long lecture about respect for students using the library, computers, teachers, library staff, lone students who’ve made it to Year 12 with some of their brain cells intact – they might be worthy of respect – blah, blah, blah. After waiting a judicious amount of time – fifteen seconds – to see if this is going to be useful, I pull out an old copy of Fahrenheit 451. I hate being talked down to.
‘You. You at the back, stop that.’
I turn the page. After all Silver Dragon could be referring to Botox Girl, who’s touching up her mascara, or the six other people texting.
‘You with the book. Put that down.’
But, of course, she’s not. I lower the book. ‘Why?’
She seems to have a problem with my perfectly reasonable question. Some spluttering before she comes out with, ‘Because I’m talking to you.’
‘I heard you.’ I say, refraining – with great effort – from pointing out how much she’s been repeating herself. ‘Libraries are for reading, not talking, that’s what you said. So, I’m reading.’
‘Don’t be smart with me, young man.’
‘Would you prefer I was stupid?’ I ask.
Her face goes an interesting purple colour. Jayden jabs me in the ribs. ‘Shut up, Morgan.’
‘Fine.’ I put the book down. ‘Sitting here, preparing not to read in the library, ma’am.’
‘You’re an idiot,’ Jayden tells me when we’re finally let loose on the shelves. ‘Why’d you rile her up like that?’
‘She’s a moron,’ I say, ‘and I’m sick of people telling me not to be smart.’
‘You could do with being a lot smarter,’ he says.
‘Yeah,’ I reply. ‘Well, I could do without some people jabbing me in the ribs.’
He’s about to reply but Silver Dragon’s voice booms down the aisle. ‘Quiet down there.’
Jayden gives me a disgusted look and walks off. I hope he calms down – it’s a novel experience having even a part-time friend.
I wander over to the sci-fi section. Pitiful. In fact, the whole library’s pathetic. ‘Better than nothing,’ I mutter, picking a couple of books. ‘And nothing in here’s likely to be in high demand owing to the preliterate nature of most of my society.’
‘What’s that, Pig?’
What’s Stormin doing in the reading area? Shouldn’t he be killing something on a computer?
‘What’re you saying, Pig?’
He’s behind me and I can feel my shoulders shrinking.
‘Just some sociological observation, Stormin,’ I say. ‘Wouldn’t expect you to understand.’ Surely he can’t beat me up in here.
His arm comes across my throat and I’m gasping for breath. I’d forgotten how much I hate his strangling routines. ‘No talking in the library, Pig. That’s what the librarian said.’ He slams me against the shelves and I let out an involuntary cry. ‘Squeal softly, Pig. You don’t want to disturb the other readers.’
‘What other readers?’ I manage, though I’m still cringing and wondering where the hell the librarian is.
‘What’s this sociological’ – remarkable memory illiterate idiots can have – ‘shit you talking about? Is it in here?’
He snatches at the book and I flinch back. My reading matter, a cheap and abused paperback, rips in two.
‘Oh no, Pig, you broke it.’
‘What’s going on here?’ Now the librarian chooses to make her appearance. Her eyes fix on the clumps of paper in my hands. ‘What have you done to that book?’
‘He ripped it.’ Stormin’s voice cuts across my futile attempts at explanation. ‘Got no respect for libraries. Have you, Pig?’
‘It’s true.’ Steff saunters up to the librarian, her face swollen with malice. Chris walks behind her and the gathering students melt like snowflakes in hell. Wish I could do the same.
‘I saw it all,’ Steff continues while Chris smiles his support. ‘Morgan was complaining about the library. He said the books were good for nothing but toilet paper. Michael tried to stop him, but Morgan never listens to anyone.’
‘He’s got a bad attitude, Pig has,’ Stormin agrees.
I open my mouth to protest that’s it’s hardly a bad attitude to want to read books in a library, and that I can read, unlike Stormin, the moronic gorilla, whose only use for a book would be to wipe his fat arse, but Silver Dragon has already started to talk.
Inevitable diatribe with yours truly cast as the villain of the piece. I am now banned ‘until further notice’ – which judging by the Dragon’s face will be some time next millennium. Both Steff and Stormin look pleased.
I wanted to plead with her, to say it wasn’t my fault and you couldn’t ban me from the library – I was the only one there who wanted to read. But what would be the point? Steff has always hated me, and she wasn’t going to give up the chance to land me in it. No one was going to contradict her – not with Chris standing there – and the librarian already despised me. Glared sullenly instead and pointed out it wasn’t much of a library.
Stormin leaves me alone for the rest of the day. Bringing me down to his level – mindless thug who shouldn’t be allowed near any literature more taxing than Run, Spot, Run – has put him in a sufficiently good mood that he feels no need to hit me. Still trying to decide if it’s worth it.
Who am I kidding? I’m not that proud.
Check out my article in the Guardian. It's fantastic that they wanted to discuss bullying (and my book!). Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of publishing Otherwise Known as Pig is how it opens conversations about the problem of bullying.
© Catch Tilly, 2019