Martin came to a cross roads, turning right he was greeted by the green of football pitches edged by young trees and coated metal fencing. After two hundred yards the fencing gave way to an entrance and an inviting tarmac covered path led down to three benches twenty yards apart. The furthest bench was occupied by a young Asian woman with four young children, the other two benches free. Martin sat at the first. He removed the sandwich from its bag and took a bite. In front of him the grass banked down providing a grandstand view of the pitches. Front left was the football clubhouse, a smart new building of brick and ironwork. To the right a row of terrace house. The fields themselves were empty.
As he ate Martin thought of this mornings meeting. I'm too old for this shit. No I'm not, I'm fucking good at my job. I make this company a lot of money. I'm not a kid, I should be treated with respect. I certainly don't deserve fat wankers like Stefan fucking Hollingsworth pissing about with my business.
His train of thought of was interrupted by two small boys who have moved away from the family on the far bench. The eldest, about six or seven, is dribbling a small football with some confidence, the other, presumably younger sibling, two or three years old, followed, his face lit up with delight. Elder sibling approached Martin's bench then gradually arced round to the left, increasing his pace still keeping the ball expertly under control. Younger sibling also wheels left but struggled to get near his brother. The taller boys run takes him to the middle bench. He looked over his shoulder as younger brother stops, his shoulders slumped and his chin on his chest. Elder stopped and turned. “Come on Jayan,” he shouts with a smile and tapped the ball softly towards him. Jayan's face lit up again and he ran towards his brother and the ball. As he got ten yards from him, elder brother stepped forward and passed the ball to the side of Jayan and sprinted past him laughing. The younger boy stopped, turned and looked at his tormentor sullenly. The elder came within a few yards of Martin's bench and stopped and turned. “I'm sorry Jayan,” he shouted sincerely, he picked up the ball and bounced it. “Your turn now, come on,” throwing the ball up and catching it. Jayan walked towards him slowly. “Come on mate, here you are.” Smiling, Jayan grinned and started running. This time he let him within five yards, then he dropped the ball and volleyed it high past Jayan and with a loud laugh ran in the direction of the ball, back near the middle bench. Martin watched as the scene was repeated over and over. Each time the tormentor managing to convince the naïve younger boy he had a chance to get the ball, only to be frustrated each time.
Martin turned his gaze to the far bench, The young Asian woman was seated talking to another small boy while pushing a pram back and forth. He stood up and walked back along the path to the road. He was just about to cross when a vehicle approaching from the left grabbed his attention. With a blue and yellow paint job, silver stars and large ice cream cones on each top front corner, the ice cream van did exactly what it was meant to do, stand out. Martin looked at the smiley-faced driver driver, he considered raising his held hand high as if hailing a taxi. The imagined the driver pulling in, sliding out of his seat and disappearing from view, a second later the side windows sliding open and the white coat and smiling face reappearing. “How we doin' boss?”
“Top notch my friend, top notch.” He imagined ordering, “I'll have a super deluxe cone with two flakes please, plus a small, plain cone.” Looking at the two in the metal holders as he paid. Little and large of the ice cream world.
Martin imagined walking up to the bench and sitting down. Both boys looking at him, at the ice creams. With an almost imperceptible nod of the head he beckons the boys forward. They approach slowly, the taller boy on Martins left facing the “Super Deluxe.” The sun shines brightly, but it is not hot enough to yet melt the ice, allowing the iced masterpiece to gleam in resplendent glory. Jayan faces the smaller treat. Martin extends his arms towards them. Jayan doesn't move, his brother reaching purposely for the large ice. Martin withdrawing his right arm and immediately moving his left towards Jayan, the boy's eyes widening, eyebrows high. Martin raises his, smiling and nodding. The boy reaches out and takes the monster cone with both hands. His face erupts with a wide smile. Martin maintains his smile and nods again. The boy takes a step back and licks the ice, he smiles again, his gaze never leaving his benefactor. His brother watches, wide eyed and open mouthed. Martin turns towards him, his smile gone, he looks into his eyes. He extends his right arm towards him and holding the small cone six inches from his face. The boys eyes fixed upon it. Martin moves his arm forward, tilting his wrist and softly pushing it right between his eyebrows. His eyes widen even further, a white droplet runs down the side of his nose and stops between nose and mouth. Holding the same slight pressure Martin moves his hand up slightly, then across above the boy's right eyebrow then back drawing a line of ice cream and raspberry sauce across his forehead. He moves down the side of his face, under his chin and back up the right of his face back to his forehead leaving a trail of white and red around most of his face. He turns the cone and brings it down ice first on the top of the boys head. Still holding the cone, Martin leans forward, his face inches from the boys. “Do you know what torment means?”
The boy shakes his head.
“Do you know what tease means?”
The boy nods.
“I bet you do. Well listen. Big brothers are supposed to look after little brothers. Not tease them, not torment them. Look after them. Understand?”
He nods again. Martin pushes down, slowly squashing the remains of the cone flat on his head. “Good. Now go and tell your mother you've been a naughty boy.”
Martin turned and looked back. Jayan had at last had enough and was running, wailing, towards his mother. Tormentor stood triumphantly, ball trapped under one foot. He looked up and saw Martin looking at him. For a few seconds he held the man’s gaze, then he looked down and turned. He kicked the ball towards his mother and slowly walked away, not looking back. Martin watched, then turned. He slapped the fence post with the palm of his hand and crossed the road.