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A strategic rebirth

After the last extract, Dan's punishment was quite severe; so severe only a new start and a tactical name change could help him move on.

Danny Lizar was born on September 3rd 1996 sitting on the downstairs of a double-decker bus heading out of Lancaster city centre, surrounded by screaming schoolchildren clambering over seats, hitting each other and shouting at the tops of their voices.  He was born from necessity, from the will to shed his skin and leave some of the past behind.  It was a small gesture, a slight name change, but it marked something of a cleansing.     

I had to start somewhere.

 

Now that they knew what I was capable of, Mum and Dad were keen to make sure that I stayed on the straight and narrow.  During my last term at primary school, my bag was checked on the way in and out of the house.  They also performed random searches of my bedroom to make sure that there were no new storybooks being created.  I was forbidden to have writing material in my room and any homework that I had was performed in the living room and checked by Mum or Dad before it was placed in my schoolbag.

Alex supported me without hesitation.  He had seen the whole thing and failed to see how it made me a bad person.  He still wanted me to come around and play, although it was notable that the television was never switched on when I went over there.  I was heavily supervised and Alex and I weren’t even allowed down to the park on our own.  These were my Dad’s stipulations and Robyn and Charles adhered to them rigorously. 

 

The repercussions extended much further than the family home.  Things didn’t improve when I returned to school for two weeks of lunchtime lines and formal apologies to both my classmates and the children in Year Two.  Several of the children had been instructed by their parents not to play with me, and it was a social exclusion that the school could only condone.  I was officially trouble, and the school knew that they would be rid of me at the end of term, so they left me to weather the storm with very little support. 

There’s something about a smart child with behavioural difficulties that people found hard to take.  If the stupid kids were naughty, it seemed to be expected.  The children with parents poorer than mine could start any number of fights and not experience the social stigma of what I had done.  I think people were shocked because I was from a respectable family.  Were it not for Alex’s blind loyalty, then I would have been completely alone during my last weeks at primary school. 

There were several rumours doing the rounds during the last term.  Alex used to tell me what they were at my insistence, and it seemed that many of them were stemming from their parents.  There were comments made about my family, most of them outlandish lies.  But there were things said in school that weren’t so far off the mark, but I was yet to learn that.  There was definitely talk of a relative in prison, but I didn’t check any of the stories out with my Mum and Dad.  I didn’t want to them to think that things were worse than they already were, mainly because I thought it would get me in even more trouble.

 

My woes were exacerbated when Lauren didn’t return after the Easter holidays.  Her father hadn’t calmed down and had insisted on home schooling her until high school, where she would be far away from my corrupting influence. 

            It was probably guilt that compelled Mum to make me change schools instead of Lauren.  She called Mr Bell to let him know what they were doing, but he didn’t change his mind.  He had decided that boys in general were trouble, and that it would help Lauren immeasurably if she were kept away from them.  It also coincided with his brick-laying business making some real money and my parents told me later that they thought he was just keen to prove he had cash.

            Irrespectively it remained that I was to head to Albany Cross High School, a few miles beyond the other side of the city to me, where the only person I would know was me.

            It’s a measure of Alex’s friendship that he asked to be moved as well.  His father told him not to be so stupid, but Robyn could see something in the idea.  My parents didn’t disagree, thinking that it might be incredibly damaging to send me away completely alone.  It was the only leniency showed to me over those months, and within a week I was cheered to discover that my best friend would be coming with me.

            Some would say I never deserved Alex, not even then.