Ryhse Iron Shield (Scoethoiarn) Part One. The Seedling
Monday, June 8th, 2015
Ryhse Scoethoiarn had taken the day of school to think about his upcoming birthday. His sixteenth, and he didn’t know why he wasn’t looking forward to it. He walked along the riverside thinking of ways to tell his mother that he didn’t want any celebrations. He left the Riverside and bounded up the stone steps and onto the pavement spotting the café before he remembered he had been heading there anyway.
A phone call earlier in the week had surprised him and brought him here today. Strange it was, too. The person who called him said that he needed to talk to him as he had information which would help him in the next two years. News that he really had to hear.
His Mother, like all Mother’s, when they have growing kids in the family, always told him to be wary of strangers. He had always heeded her warnings in the past. But this was something different. A shiver ran up his spine; was it apprehension or excitement? Who might it be who had called him on his cell phone? And, how did the person get to know his number, anyway? It was a mystery.
It could, of course, be one of the members of the local gang setting him up for a fall, or to entice him to a place where they could beat him up. He tried to tell himself that he wasn’t afraid of the members of the gangs, There were two gangs in his neighbourhood; always at each other's throats. The Fox and Lynx, why those names he didn’t know and didn’t care really. And he was afraid of them. No good denying it. He wasn’t a hero and tried to keep out of their way, but if it were unavoidable, then he would submit to their demands.
It was never really awful things they asked him to do, well, not really bad. Maybe steal a bike, or break into some yuppy’s house to take stuff for the gangs to sell. He did stand up to one of the gang members once when it had first started. He didn’t understand exactly what had happened as he had the upper hand for a short while and then for no reason he could think of, gave in and let the other boy give him a beating. It was as if he had decided it wasn’t worth the effort as the others would just keep coming at him. Most likely from both gangs. Up to now, he hadn’t bent to their demands to steal bikes or do a break-in, but he realised it was only a matter of time before he would have to or face another beating.
He pushed open the door of the café and let his eyes scan the interior. There was only one person there, He looked old, so it couldn’t be him.
He moved to a table halfway through the seating area and sat with his back to the wall so he could keep his eyes on the door to see who came in. It was barely a minute when a figure stood before him. It was the old man. Actually, now that the man was before him, he didn’t really look all that old. He looked battle weary and dressed oddly, in what Ryhse considered to be like a character out of a thriller movie. Why he would think that he didn’t know. But it fitted the man right down to his almost ankle-length black coat which seemed to have an inordinate amount of pockets. ‘I’m Ryhse. Pleased to meet you.'
‘Oh. That’s my name too. Are you the one who called me?’
‘I am indeed.’
‘So what is this all about. Why do you want to help me, I’m not in trouble.’
‘No. You are not, Son, not yet. Well, maybe a little but nothing you can’t sort if you put your mind to it.'
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Just how it does. You are being bothered by inconsequential things. They don’t always harm or affect your life but if you don’t deal with them, they come back to haunt you, and they can lower your confidence in later times when you need all the courage to deal with a problem.
The boy had fallen silent. He was mulling over what the man said. None of it made sense to him, and he was beginning to think the man had escaped from some mental institution. He was thinking of a good excuse to leave. It was as if the man had read his mind. ‘You can go anytime you want. But it is in your own interest to stay,’ he said.
‘A thought occurred to the boy. ‘Are we related?’ he asked, noticing the thick mop of unruly black hair, like his own – ‘If we are, my Mother has never mentioned you.’
‘That’s a hard question to answer,’ said the man.
‘I just thought as we have the same name…’ said the boy. ‘How do you spell your name?’
‘It’s spelt R-Y-H-S- E’ he said, and then, ‘I suppose I will have to say. No, we are not related in any way you mean.’
‘That’s the same way my name is spelt, too. My Mum said that is not the proper way to spell the name, either. My dad’s name is spelt that way, too. Apparently, it was spelt wrong on his birth certificate. She said it should have been spelt, R-H-Y-S. And, you are not making any sense. I should be going. And so should you. Back to whatever insane asylum, you escaped from.’
The man chuckled then, and at last, he sat down and said, ‘Cheeky blighter, aren’t you?’
It was then the boy felt the crick in his neck from looking up at the man. And it was then he realised how tall the man was, too. At least an inch or two over six foot.
‘Can I get you a drink. Tea, Coffee, Coke?’
‘I don’t drink any of those,’ said the boy.
‘I know. You drink only orange and an occasional Hot Chocolate.
‘Have you been following me?’ asked the boy.
‘No. But I have hacked your laptop on one or two occasions,’ said the man, smiling.
‘No you haven’t. No one can get into my stuff. I have all kinds of gates, and they are all locked.’
The man smiled again. ‘You need better locks.’
‘Look. If you don’t let me know what it is you want to tell me, I am getting out of here. You are not making any sense at all. Besides, I should be at school now,’ he said, glancing at his phone to see what time it was. It was 8.30 a.m
‘Yes, you should be. And what is all the nonsense about the thought of dropping out of school? You aren't even sixteen yet.'
‘What! Who told you I was going to drop out? In any case, I can’t until I am sixteen.'
‘You are thinking about it, aren’t you?’
‘That’s none of your business. And my thoughts are private. I didn’t put that into my laptop so how could you know. It was just a good guess, wasn’t it?
The man smiled. The boy looked more closely at him and decided, for some strange reason he couldn’t fathom, that he was a man who could be trusted. ‘So what is it you want to tell me? he asked. And not for the first time.
‘It’s not so much as what I want to tell you. But more to the point of what I want to show and teach you.’
‘What can you teach me that I can’t learn at school?’
‘I can show you lots of things. Things which could be very useful for you to give you a good start in life. Things which if I had been taught, my life would have been a whole lot different.’
‘But why me?’ asked the boy. I don’t know you?’
‘Not yet, you don’t. But we could become good friends if you gave it half a chance.’
‘But why me?’ asked the boy again.
‘Let's just say I want to help you and guide you because I wish that someone had done the same for me when I was your age.’
Yet again the boy asked ‘But why me?’
‘Just accept it, Ryhse. Just accept it.’
‘That’s easy to say.’
‘The man put his hand into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out a large brown paper envelope. Pulling out of it a wad of notes, he gave the boy a bundle without even counting how much there was.
The boy quickly looked around the café worried that someone may be watching, ‘I can’t take that,’ he whispered in shock.
‘Yes, you can. It’s to buy the things on this list, and for other things you will need,’ said the man sliding a small notebook over the table. ‘Now. Let’s get you that orange.
Just then the café door opened and who should walk in but one of the boys from the Lynx gang. ‘Hey, Buttface. Is this you, goody-goody boy skipping school?’
The boy looked up to see it was Scampy, the Lynx gang’s runner. He saw the man turn his head and look at Scampy. Scampy’s face went a little grey, and he sat down immediately with his back to them, his shoulders hunched as if in fear.
The man turned his head and looked at the boy again and said, ‘So, are we set. Take the money and the book,’ he said sliding the notebook and money back into the large envelope he had taken out of one of his pockets. ‘Read the notebook and take note of the phone number and give me a call as soon as you feel you want to take me up on my offer.’ And with that, the man got up, turned and walked over to the door and went out.
The boy waited a Moment. He drank his orange in rapid gulps and stood up and went towards the door. He paused at Scampy’s table. He pressed his hand down slowly onto the gang members shoulder and squeezed tightly and said, ‘The names, Ryhse. Not Buttface. Okay, Scampy.’ And then he patted Scampy’s ginger head and moved on through the door.
Scampy didn’t move a muscle and watched as Ryhse left the café with shoulders well back and his head in the air.
The man stood a hundred yards up the road in a shop doorway near to the traffic lights and smiled. There was already a different cant in the young Ryhse’s stance. Shoulders back and head high up. ‘That’s my man,’ he whispered.