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Kerfunk’s Good Day (1989)

 

Kerfunk is a young dude with a gang who is continually fighting battles with another gang – the Youths. Just recently the Youths have enrolled a new member – Ju Bates, who is continually beating up Kerfunk. The story starts when Kerfunk is crossly walking home after yet another defeat at the hands of the Youths. However, all is not lost, as Kerfunk discovers when he meets a guy named Randy in the street who could be the key to blasting tough guy Ju out of the streets forever. But when Kerfunk unwittingly helps a crazed terrorist to find Randy, it puts not only the lives of Randy and his family in danger but Kerfunk’s as well.

 

 

Kerfunk walked dispiritedly along the road, kicking a stone along the pavement. So engrossed was he in his own thoughts that he didn’t look where he was going. “Watch it,” said a rough voice in his ear.

Kerfunk turned round to see a dark young man who had a slight limp and spoke with an American accent. “Bloomin’ Americans,” said Kerfunk out loud.

The young man’s face darkened. “I ought to warn you,” he said. “When I was five years old my brother taught me to box.”

Kerfunk said, “Oh yeah? I’ve seen tougher creatures than you lying on the bottom of ponds.”

That did it. The young man bounded like a tiger onto Kerfunk’s back and the next five minutes seemed like a fight to the death for Kerfunk. When at last the pressure stopped and the young man got up, Kerfunk staggered to his feet.

“Wow,” he said. “You’re some mean fighter.”
                The young man grinned. “Yeah well,” he said, “I come from a tough part of town. I had to defend myself from gangs of fifteen-year-olds from as young as six. My brothers were always out and I had to be tough. That’s how you survive. You’re not a bad fighter yourself. What’s your name?”

Kerfunk told him.

“Mine’s Steven but you can call me Randy.”

“Oh,” said Kerfunk, not knowing what else to say.

As Randy moved away a photo fell from his pocket. Kerfunk picked it up. It was of a two-year-old, obviously Randy, holding the hand of a cute little boy about eight who seemed strangely familiar to Kerfunk although he didn’t quite know why.

Randy snatched the photo from Kerfunk crossly.

“Who’s the other guy?” asked Kerfunk.

“My brother,” said Randy quickly.

“What’s his name?”

“Erm..er..John,” said Randy in a tone which didn’t quite ring true.

“Is he the one who taught you to box?” asked Kerfunk.

“No. That was another one,” said Randy, shoving the photo back into his pocket. “Now if you will excuse me…”

“No wait. I want to show you my gang. You might be able to help me beat our rival gang.”

“Rival gang?”

“Yeah. The Youths. If you help me we could get rid of this bloke called Ju who keeps duffin’ me in.”

“Sounds serious.”
                “It is, believe me.”

 

*              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *

 

At last Randy consented to come with Kerfunk to the gangs’ meeting place. Kerfunk dragged the gang from their various occupations and introduced them to Randy.

“This is Tiny,” said Kerfunk, gesturing to a huge bloke, fully seven ft two, who gazed at Randy as if he was a piece of rubbish. Randy returned his cold stare.

“This is Stu,” said Kerfunk, referring to a small, dark bloke smoking a cigarette who glanced around furtively, then gave Randy a particularly menacing stare.

Kerfunk noticed the tension in the room and said as cheerfully as he could, “And this is Carlos.”

“Hi,” said Carlos. He spoke with an Italian accent and had a punk hairstyle. He did not speak in a friendly tone.

Last of all was Mike, a tiny boy covered in spots who was so engrossed in a book that he did not look up; he merely nodded. Randy could sense that intruders were not welcomed and he felt out of place here. He nervously shuffled his feet. At last Randy found the tension so unnerving that he bolted for the door and ran out.

“Well,” said Kerfunk crossly, “that wasn’t much of a welcome, hey?”

“It wasn’t meant to be,” said Tony, his voice as cold as the stare he had given Randy.

“What did he want, anyway?” asked Mike, in a curiously high, singsong voice.

“He’s gonna help us fight Ju,” said Kerfunk. He added gloomily, “At least, he was.”

“Oh,” said Tiny, sounding rather subdued.

“You could ‘ave told us,” said Carlos.

“I could, if you had given me a chance.”

“Anyway,” said Stu, trying to sound cheerful. “If we got Henry to ‘elp us…” His voice trailed off as he remembered the beating the gang had recently given Henry’s brother.

Henry Namta was a tough young dude who had a younger brother, Donovan. Donovan was eight years old and had a gang consisting of him and 3 friends. Kerfunk and his gang took a delight in cuffing or punching the boys every time they happened to pass them, which was quite often as Mike lived opposite Donovan and Henry. Ju Bates, toughie and new member of the gang called the Youths, liked beating up Henry as well as Kerfunk. Kerfunk had hoped that this might induce Henry to join up with Kerfunk’s gang and therefore beat the Youths, but Henry was very stubborn and after Kerfunk had given Donovan a particularly nasty kick on the shins, Henry decided that it was better to get duffed in by Ju Bates than to join up with someone like Kerfunk.

“Yeah, well, who beat up his ‘lil brother?” asked Mike.

“You all helped,” said Kerfunk, in as glum a tone as he could manage.

 

*              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *

 

Meanwhile, the Youths were plotting their next move…

“I vote we should attack the little kids’ gang,” said Midge, the brains of the gang.

“Nah,” said Nathan, a tall boy with a large scar across his face and a shock of curly hair. He had been boss of the gang before Ju arrived, and was the only one who didn’t think Ju’s being admitted into the gang was a good idea. He had at the time of course, but now that Ju had taken over the gang and his position, he was having second thoughts.

These thoughts were interrupted by a loud shout from Clive, the loudmouth of the gang.

“There’s someone outside!”

Everyone’s eyes swivelled to the door. Spying on their secret meetings was considered a criminal offence by the gang and anyone caught doing this would be severely punished.

Ju went to the door, to kick the living daylights out of the spy. Ju was a huge brute of a boy with short black hair and thick lips that were permanently set in a sneer. He reached a huge, meaty arm out, grabbed the protester around the neck and dumped him on the table.

“Well,” said the spy. “You’re not much friendlier than Kerfunk’s lot, are you?” He was in fact Randy, the young man who had been scared off by the unfriendliness of Kerfunk’s gang.

“You’ve got some nerve comin’ here, ‘aven’t you?” said Simon, the last member of the gang who always tried to act tough.

“I ‘ave, ‘ave I?” asked Randy, doing a good imitation of Simon’s voice. Simon reddened.

“That’s enough of that,” said Ju.

Nathan scowled at him. Who did he think he was? Come to think of it, Nathan thought with growing anger, no-one had actually said that Ju was the leader of the gang…A slow smile crept along his face. The leader of the gang had the liberty to chuck members out of the gang…No, he decided ruefully, he couldn’t chuck Ju now that they were winning battles against Kerfunk. No, he would have to wait. The time would come. Soon.

He (and the other members of the gang) jumped violently as a brick flew through the window. Ju barked, “WHO THREW THAT?” and giggling could be heard outside. Ju, red faced, proceeded to the door, opened it, and ran outside. Randy felt sorry for the poor kid who had thrown it. He heard a triumphant “Ho!” and “Dare to come here, do you?” from Ju, and an “I didn’t mean nuffin’,” from his unfortunate victim.

The victim was dragged inside. “Henry,” said Midge.

Henry was a short, stocky boy with a ring through his nose. “What shall we do wi’ ‘im this time?” asked Simon.

“Oh, sit on ‘im or something,” said Nathan vaguely, grinning because he knew that Ju was scowling at him, because Ju seemed to think that he was the leader of the gang.

Ju ordered Randy over to the wall. Randy replied with a stare so cold that Ju stepped back a few paces. He gave Randy a hard shove to compensate for the fact that Randy had made him look a fool in front of the gang. Randy scowled and Ju for a moment felt afraid of this stranger who didn’t seem to fear him. Then the feeling passed. There was no reason at all why Ju should fear this strange young man. This fear made him angry, and he kicked Randy. Randy gave a yelp of pain. Ju grinned. No, he could kill this bloke if he wished. He turned his attention to Henry.

“Nex’ time you come here you’ll be sorry,” growled Ju. Nathan gave him a look which said why-not-this-time. Ju grinned. He would like to see the expression on the American stranger’s face as he watched the beating up of Henry.

To prove his point he bashed Henry in the face. Randy didn’t seem to react much. Ju pushed Henry into a corner.

“What’s your name?” he asked Randy.

“Steven, but I’ve been Randy since I was five.”

“Randy what?” asked Ju.

“Jackson.”

Ju’s mood suddenly changed and with a sudden quick movement he snatched a wallet from Randy’s pocket. It contained a few notes and the picture of Randy as a two-year-old. Ju tossed this away and it was picked up by Henry, who stuffed it in his pocket. Ju decided to let the prisoners go.

“You two, buzz off. I’ve got what I wanted.”

Outside Randy said to Henry, “Can I have my photo back, please?”

As Henry handed it to him, Randy thought, I’d burn this photo if it wasn’t such a good picture…If Randy had known that his own life would be in danger because of that photo he would have burnt it and thrown away the ashes…

 

*              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *

 

Kerfunk was strolling down the town when a man asked him if he knew where Randy Jackson lived. When the man said that he was an American Kerfunk saw that this was the young man he had met earlier. If Randy had told Kerfunk his address he could very well be dead by now but luckily he hadn’t. The man told Kerfunk not to tell Randy they had met, but told him that if he met him at 10 ‘o clock at the park the following day with Randy’s address, he would receive 100 pounds. Kerfunk sensed something fishy about the whole business, but the offer of 100 bucks made Kerfunk give in…After all, even if the man killed Randy it wasn’t his responsibility…Kerfunk agreed to help. He followed Randy home that night, and smiled as he saw him going into a block of flats…

“Which one was it, then?”

“I dunno…”
                “Well I’m only giving you £50.”

“What?”

“Well, you’ve only given me half his address. Which block of flats was it?”
                Kerfunk told him, pocketed the £50, and walked home.

 

*              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *

 

Mark Thomlinson had had it in for the Jackson family since the age of five. For more than twenty years he had been after them. When, in 1963, the year Randy had been born, the elder boys in his family had formed a band, Mark had been one of the kids who threw stones at their windows shouting that they were no good. When they started making records, the other kids stopped, but Mark lay in wait outside Randy’s classroom, knowing that one of the younger boys would come to collect him, and consequently be jumped by Mark. This fighting between the two families had started more than 100 years ago when their great-grandfathers had fought for a piece of land. The Jacksons had got it.

Now he had Randy’s address and he could kill him at least…He walked up the stairs leading to the flats. He sighed. How would he ever find the right one? Something on the doorstep of no 22 caught his eye. A scrap of paper – no a photograph! His heart was racing as he picked it up. He grinned. Unmistakable. 1966. He pushed the door, which opened easily. He reached into his pocket for his gun.

 

*              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *

 

Ten minutes later Kerfunk heard a scream coming from the block of flats. He froze. He knew that the whole business had sounded fishy, but had been bribed with £50 to keep his mouth shut…Kerfunk began to run up the stairs which led to the flat…He did not have to know the number of the flat…a trail of blood led to it. He pushed open the door and went in. A figure lay on the bed, bleeding from the leg. Kerfunk turned the figure over, and saw it was not Randy but Michael.

Kerfunk gave a small “eek” and jumped backwards.

“How did he know?” Michael asked.

“K-know what?” stammered Kerfunk.

“Where Randy lives.”

“I – I told him – I didn’t know.”

“Then,” said Michael coldly. “You have put Randy’s life in danger.”

A chill ran down Kerfunk’s spine. Michael reached out and gripped Kerfunk’s hand. “You have to find Randy.”

“He…what…uh.”

“You have to find him. Mark’s probably taken him to the river.”

“Th-the river?”

“He’ll drown him. That’s why you have to be quick…”

Before Michael had finished the sentence Kerfunk was out of the door, heart racing. He had to find Randy – he had to! If Randy died it would be his fault! He began to run faster.

 

*              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *

 

“I’ve waited 20 years to do this,” Mark Thomlinson told Randy, gagged and bound with a large stone tied to his wrist. “Then I’ll kill your brother…Then I’ll go to America and wipe the rest of your family out of existence…Such a shame.”

“You…” Randy hissed through his gag. Mark laughed evilly, and dragged Randy into the water. When the water was about five feet deep, he let go. Randy, on account of the stone, sank. This was when Kerfunk arrived. Mark looked up. A second later he launched himself on top of Kerfunk. Kerfunk yelled and hit out. The two men rolled down the bank into the river. Kerfunk held Mark under until he stopped struggling, then pulled him to the bank. The string on Randy’s wrist broke and he floated to the surface. Kerfunk saw, ran to him and pulled him out. Randy choked and then stirred.

“Who’s that?”

“Me. Kerfunk.”

“Where’s Michael?”

“Safe.”
                Randy closed his eyes. Kerfunk gently shook him. Randy staggered to his feet, and helped by Kerfunk, limped back to his flat. When they got back Kerfunk telephoned the police and told them about Mark. They didn’t believe his story. Randy took the mouthpiece and yelled down it that if they didn’t come and arrest Mark he would come round and sort them out. The police sent a man round to the river and he was surprised to find Mark there, who he immediately recognised on account of the fact that Mark had done some burglaries round these parts a few years back. Mark was handcuffed and taken to prison.

Meanwhile, Michael had cabled his private aircraft to take him and Randy home, back to the U.S. Randy made Kerfunk promise to write and got in the aeroplane. Kerfunk watched it until it was only a tiny speck in the sky. Then he walked home.

 

*              *              *              *              *              *              *              *              *

 

When Kerfunk arrived at his house he found the gang waiting for him, bruised and breathless but happy.

“We beat ‘em! The Youths!”

“Yeah! Henry helped us and we beat ‘em in.”

“An’ Nathan ordered Ju out of the gang.”

“Yeah. He said ‘Bossing around our gang as if y’ own it. Well, I’m not ‘avin’ you in it any more, so you can jolly well get lost!’”

“An’ he went an’ all!”

“What’ve you bin doing all day, anyway?”

“Well, whatever it was, it couldn’t have been more ‘citing than duffin’ in the Youths for the first time in 2 months!”

Kerfunk grinned.

“I wouldn’t know about that,” he said.

 

 


Robin Tamblyn (author)