A Scarf, a Park and Swings

"I just think you’re really freaky, in a good way though, like me.” Howard/Vince implied. A childhood story, their first real meeting.







Length: words

A Scarf, a Park and Swings by pink_bambi13

Howard walked home from school, his Wellington boots slopping through the mud. Water still dripped from the iron gates of dilapidated fences and rusty old bars that covered the windows of the houses. The rain made the entire street glisten and tiny rainbows sprung up from the puddles as he passed them as the sun began to shine again. It took a lot to make his neighbourhood shine; it was usually dark which really didn’t help the depressive atmosphere that blanketed everyone that lived here.

However, nothing could make him moody and depressive because it had rained that afternoon.

The main reason why he knew it had rained was because he had watched the big heavy droplets falling on the window of the classroom, biting on his favourite pen, a blue dramatic biro with a lovely and compact lid. He had watched this very lovely scene for quite some time, enough time in fact to pass an entire lesson, which consequently happened to include a rather long and tedious test, a very important one at that.

Still, he didn’t much care for tests and he couldn’t be blamed for being distracted from the boring lesson by the glistening of old trees in the wet and the sheets of water that streamed onto the cars and dirty pavements of the outside world.

He rather liked to think of himself as a bit of a poetic genius.

Curving around a rather big puddle, Howard huffed a bit and pulled the strap of his backpack a bit tighter. It wasn’t like anyone understood his genius, he wasn’t exactly Mr Popular. No, that was reserved for the cool kids, hell, even that little buffoon in the years below him made more of a mark then he did. Not that he had to try, the boy was all action and drama with a cheeky smile to top it all off.

Not that Howard Moon was jealous, Howard Moon is never jealous.

Then again he did have a reason to be jealous, his own mother thought that he was nutters. She had tried to get him to go to some lady to talk about how messed up he was but he would rather just listen to his records. He loved Jazz most of all, especially when it was wet, it made him feel all comfortable and snug to lie on his bed, reading a book and listening to some good tunes. It reminded him of his grandad, he had been the only one that had understood Howard, it was from him that he got his passion from. But as all goods things end, so to did his life and ever since then there had been an empty room down the hall.

Taking the long route, to avoid having to see his mum for a few more minutes, Howard walked through the large park that was near his house. He liked going there; most of the school kids went to the city after school so he was never really hassled by the bigger kids that thought he was a ‘freak.’

Walking through the wet and sloppy ground, he felt a frown crease his face as he saw up above a lone figure on the swing sets. He stopped and wondered whether he should turn around, he didn’t want to get into a fight with anyone, he didn’t feel like having to explain why he was bruised to his mum, she would go ballistic or even worse, just give him that disappointed look.

However, the person didn’t seem to notice him or at least didn’t seem to care about him so he kept on walking, making sure to soften the sounds of his boots just a bit.

As he walked past he could see that the person was none other then Vince Noir aka Mr Popular.

He tried, he really did, to not look at him but the boy was such an oddity. He had the most peculiar hair and the biggest eyes he had ever seen. Not only that but he always wore the strangest looking scarves while his outfits were always kind of bland. They never had just one colour; they were like an explosion of rainbows and unicorns all smothered into one item of clothing.

The boy was sitting on the swing set, moving just slightly by a small push of the foot. His was really pale and skinny and Howard thought that he might have been sick because there wasn’t the token Vince smile on his face, just nothing. No sadness, no happiness, just a monotone expression of nothing. His eyes were glued to the ground, which Howard was happy for, and his un-gloved hands were gripping the chains to his swing tightly.

Suddenly, as if he just realized that another person was there, the boy looked up and they made brief eye contact.

Howard, not wanting to create more of a reason to be beat up on Monday, decided to just keep walking, as if nothing had happened. He thought he was in the clear, that the boy had no reason to administer a beat up, curtesy of the token block heads of his school but lo and behold he heard a soft voice behind him.


Howard stopped and stared ahead for a moment, did his ears just deceive him or did Mr Popular just say something to him?

He turned around stiffly, put a hand up as if he was half waving and responded, “hi…”

The boy plastered a cheeky smile over his face and Howard thought he looked a bit like a lemur, sitting their with such a curious expression, staring at him with those massive eyes of his.

The boy did a run over quickly with his eyes and Howard shifted uncomfortably.

After a brief silence, in which Howard debated whether he should go yet, Vince spoke again, “I like your boots!”

Looking down at his boots, he couldn’t see anything special about them; they were rather ordinary red Wellingtons, so he simply responded with a short, “Thanks.”

The boy looked at him, his head slightly to the side as he asked, “What are you doing here?”

Coughing once, Howard responded quickly, “going home.”

The boy frowned, “why?”

“Why not?”

Vince did a weird smile again, “yeah, fair enough.”

A silence passed over them, not exactly awkward, not exactly comfortable. Howard twiddled his thumbs for a second and smiled in the boy’s direction.

He made a raised gesture with his eyebrows as he spoke, “right then, see ya.”

The boy grinned just that bit more and nodded, “Yeah, okay.”

Howard, taking this as an opportunity turned and walked once more through the park, not exactly comfortable with the weight of Vince’s stare on his back.

The next day, a Saturday to be exact, Howard walked through the park once more, his drawing pad under his arm and a few lovely, sharpened and manicured pencils in his pocket, ready to be unleased on the page like a rhino on an American tourist.

Looking around, he noticed that the entire park was a rather lovely shade of grey today, all the leaves were gone and even the sky was grey. He went for a walk, of course, on a winter’s day. He wasn’t one for the summer, it made him depressed. Perhaps it was because in summer everyone went to parties and hung out with their friends, were as he listened to his records and wrote lyrics.

Sitting down on a bench he opened his book to clean, crisp page and smoothed his hand over it. There was nothing he loved more then feeling the small bumps of a piece of paper on his palm.

A very quick motion to his right made him snap his head up.

There sitting on the top of the bench that used to be un-occupied was Vince, a cheeky smile once again plastered on his face, his wide eyes as clear as ever. It was no wonder all the girls fawned over him, he was like a doll, no blemishes or streaks of dirt lined his face and his hair was, of course, superb. Sometimes Howard suspected that the boy used make-up but he didn’t say anything. It’s not like he had anyone to tell it to anyways.

The boy was chewing on some gum and Howard could smell the strawberry flavouring, “Fancy seeing you again!”

Howard looked away nervously, “yeah, I guess.”

Vince chewed loudly and then asked, “I never caught your name?”

“Howard, Howard Moon.”

Vince chucked out a hand, Howard didn’t shake it but the boy didn’t seem to mind, “Well, I’m Vince, Vince Noir.”

Rolling his eyes, Howard replied, “Yeah, I know.”

The boy chuckled at something. He really was all bubbles and sunshine.

They stayed like that for a few minutes, Howard with his hand on the blank piece of paper, staring off into the trees surrounding the bench, Vince with his hands bunched in his jacket pockets, chewing his gum loudly.

“So why are you out here?”

Howard was surprised at this question, what was Vince Noir doing, asking the school freak questions? If someone from school saw this, surely even Vince wouldn’t be able to put up with all of the taunts and teasing.

So Howard replied, as calmly as he could, “Just thought I’d get outside for a bit.”

Vince nodded, “fair enough. Me, I’ve got a party on tonight that I’m meant to go to…”

Nodding, Howard had assumed as much, though a frown pressed at his face, “It’s only 3 in the afternoon, why are you out here then?”

A strange look came over Vince and his Adam apple bobbed a bit as he swallowed. Howard wasn’t sure what to make of this behaviour but the boy answered soon enough, “Just thought I’d get out of the loony bin for a while.”

There was something strange about the way that Vince put so much emphasis on the word loony but he didn’t dare question the boy any further. He had gone this far without pissing him off; perhaps he could get away without a scratch.

Vince shook his head and turned his attention back to Howard, “So what about you, got any plans tonight?”

Feeling a blush of shame and embarrassment creep up his cheeks, Howard responded meekly, “Nah, I think I’m just going to lay low tonight, chill out for a bit.”

Nodding again with a grin, Vince laughed, “Sounds like we’ve both got a good night set up.”


Looking off into the distance, Vince suddenly stood up, wrapping his blue, white and pink scarf around his neck and rubbing his thin hands together, “So I think I’m gonna start getting ready, give myself a few goods hours to give my hair the special treatment, that added bounce and shine.”

Howard nodded, “Well, have fun tonight…”

Putting a hand on Howard shoulder, Vince replied, “should be a rager. See you here next week aye?”

Quirking his eyebrow, Howard nodded. Watching the smaller boy walking off down the gravel pathway, Howard felt a strange sense of happiness flood him. Did Vince Noir just make a meet with him? Sure it was in a week but no one had ever wanted to meet up with him outside of school.

It wasn’t until he had drawn an entire saxophone that Howard realized he hadn’t flinched when Vince had touched him.

The next week passed in a haze for Howard.

He got his test paper back, of course he had failed but it’s not like he was ever going to use maths in his life. The teacher had given him that annoying look of pity but it was better then being yelled out or insulted. He could handle pity, it wasn’t so bad, as long as people shut up, he could handle just about anything.

He saw Vince around sometimes. Since he was in the younger years, he hung out in a different area and had classes in a different building but sometimes, when they would pass each other at the cafeteria or in a hallway; the younger boy would nod or smile when he saw Howard. To the school, these gestures were small enough to not be noticed but gigantic enough to be stored away by Howard. For the first time in his life, Howard understood why people liked school. The adrenaline of getting late to class, the adventure of making it through the day and the excitement of just catching that glimpse from one person that seems to care.

Of course, he wasn’t naïve enough to really take what Vince was doing into consideration. The boy was innocent enough to melt a baby panda but he was also popular and from experience, those that were popular were usually extremely manipulative. So Howard let himself feel a little bit of hope, but he never took his guard down.

Sooner then expected, and with a few more bruises, courtesy of the school bullies, Friday emerged from the gloom of the week. He was tired, the little glimmer of hope that had emerged in the first few days had all but disappeared and he was practically laughing out loud at his own audacity to believe that someone like Vince could befriend him, an older freak with no friends and a weird obsession with Jazz.

Once again, Howard walked along the street and turned into the park, instead of taking the shorter route. Once again, he saw the distance form of a boy sitting on a swing set, swaying ever so slightly from the force of his foot pushing the ground. His chest nearly doubled in side and he could practically imagine the butterflies flying from out of his stomach were they had been recently caged in.

Vince looked up, saw him and gave a brilliant and dazzling smile. It was hard to believe that the boy could have such perfect teeth when he probably visited the dentist one a year, maybe not even that.

Sitting down in the swing next to Vince, he threw his backpack a bit over to the side and gripped onto the chains that suspended the rubber strip that kept him above ground.

Still with his cheeky grin, Vince spoke, “Didn’t think you were going to show up.”

Howard replied, “Same for you.”

Wrinkling his nose, Vince pushed off from the ground and swung himself back and forth a bit. Howard followed suite.

Still on the swing, Vince asked loudly, “So do you like my scarf?”

Looking over at it, Howard had to admit that he did, it was a dark scarf, brown, dark green and beige. His kind of colours.

“Yeah, I do, not your usual style though is it?”

Vince grinned so wide that Howard could see his gums, “It’s not, but it your style.”

Frowning Howard looked at the boy in confusion, “then why did you buy it if it doesn’t suit you?”

“It’s a gift!”

“To who?”

Laughing loudly, and swinging further on the swing, Vince replied, “To you, you block head!”

Howard flew off the seat and landed on the ground with a thud, he was paralysed from shock as he lay on the ground, breathing heavily. He could hear Vince laughing his ass off as he got off his swing. A hand reached out to him and after consideration, he took it and hoisted himself up. Vince brushed a bit of dirt off his shoulder before unravelling the scarf.

He handed it to Howard; “I kept it warm for you!”

Holding the item of clothing gently, Howard looked at in awe. The scarf was lovely and soft and it smelled of strawberries and a bit of perfume, just like Vince did right now.

Mumbling, Howard pressed the scarf gently, as if it were a precious and priceless item, “I… I don’t understand?”

The boy grabbed the scarf, twisted it out and then wrapped it around Howard’s neck. Howard could feel himself become as stiff as a plank as he submitted to the actions Vince. The chill that he always had around his neck was soon replaced by a feeling of warmth and of softness.

Vince laughed at his expression, “You look like you’ve just seen a racist kangaroo!”

“It’s just that… you don’t even know me. Why are you giving me a gift?”

A brilliant, dazzling and amazing smile passed over Vince’s face as he said something that Howard would never forget, “Isn’t that what friends do?”

The next day, Howard once again collected his perfect and beautiful stationary, and headed for the park. However, this time, his new and incredibly warm scarf was wrapped around his neck. He had never felt so content in his entire life.

Sitting on the bench, he waited for a little while. After a few minutes had passed, he opened his sketchbook and began to draw in it.

“Some good pictures you got there!”

Slapping the book shut, he blushed from his ears to his nose with embarrassment as Vince hopped on the bench, sitting once again on the frame, not on the actual seat. He had never shown anyone his pictures and he was mortified that someone as popular as Vince had actually seen one of his artworks.

The boy continued, “So are you going to become an artist or somethin’.”

Still incredibly embarrassed, Howard cleared his throat and replied, “na…nah… I don’t think so.”

The boy looked at him in confusion, “But you’re really good, why not?”

“My… mum… doesn’t think it’s a suitable career.”

Vince laughed at this and Howard shot him a look but the boy spoke anyways, “I know what you mean, try multiplying your mum by forty and then telling her that you wanna be a professional hair stylist that rocks out in his band and you’ve got my life.”

Howard cringed, “not sure she’d be to pleased about that.”

“yeah, no kidding!”

The laughter from the two boys quietened and they were once again in silence. However, this silence was comfortable, Vince blew air through his mouth, trying to make little clouds in front of him while Howard fingered his new scarf, still inhaling the scent of strawberries and perfume.

Vince asked after a brief silence, “So what do you actually wanna be then?”

Taking a deep breath, Howard hoped that Vince wouldn’t call him a freak for this, “… a Jazz musician.”

“What’s that?”

“How could you not know what Jazz is! It’s like a symphony of sound, all blended together in complex harmonies and stylised and melodramatic modulations. It’s like the sound of chaos mixed with calm, like a breath of fresh air followed by a feeling of warmth. It’s like chaos and peace all mixed together into one amazing blend of sounds and feelings!”

He took a deep breath as he got himself under control. Vince was staring at him with a look of pure amusement; like he was about to burst out laughing any moment but was to nice to do such a thing. Howard wasn’t sure whether it was amusement towards his reaction or towards Jazz in general.

Mumbling, Howard spoke again, “Sorry… I got a bit carried away.”

Vince jumped up, “It’s sounds brilliant! I’ll tell you what, if you let me listen to some of this ‘Jazz,’ I’ll cut your hair?”

“What’s wrong with my hair?”

“Don’t get me started!”

Howard let out a laugh and picked up his books, “when?”

Checking his glittering watch, Vince perked up, “Lets go now, I’m not going anywhere tonight, I can stay at your place!”

Howard felt a feeling of complete panic wash over him; he had never had someone stay the night before. Not that Vince wasn’t his ‘friend’ but he still didn’t know were he stood with the boy and was sure that this was still a ploy to make him look like an even bigger freak to the school.

As if reading his mind Vince stepped a bit closer and spoke at his shoulder, “I’m not going to force you or anything, I just think you’re really freaky, in a good way though. Like me.”

He had never been compared to anyone in a positive way before and he had never heard the work freak used as good thing either. Swallowing his fear he gripped onto the end of his scarf.

“Yeah, alright, my house is just down the road.”

Vince smiled.

Carrying the large and oddly light box out of the storage room, Howard plopped it onto the counter. Getting a Stanley knife, he split the masking tape and tore it open, eager to see what was inside.

On the outside, the words Howard’s Box stood out in a bold and dramatic way, since the marker tip was huge and well supplied with ink.

Peering inside he lifted out a record, it was old and had a few scratches on it but it brought back a flood of memories, mostly of rainy nights. He also pulled out a drawing pad, flicking through it he saw a drawing of a man with a saxophone in it and he grinned at the way it was drawn. It wasn’t exactly the greatest work of art he had ever seen…

A few other large and cumbersome items were in the box as well and he was just about to pack it up and put it back were he found it when he felt something graze the tips of his fingers.

It was soft and fuzzy.

Pulling out the huge objects, he got to the curious item and lifted it out.

His eyes widened as he looked at the scarf, it was old, frayed and had holes in it but was more precious to him then anything else he had ever owned. Lifting it to his nose he took a deep breath and inhaled the musty smell, only his memories supplied him with the smell of strawberries. It was just as lovely as he remembered and it still suited his style.

Unravelling it, he wrapped it around his neck and a few times and felt an instead sense of comfort come over him.

Naboo’s voice interrupted him, “Hurry up and close the store, Howard!”

He yelled back, “Yep, I’ll be up in a second!”

Walking over to the front, he rolled down the shutters and locked them into place. Walking up the steep stairs he saw Vince come into view, lying on the couch with a copy of cheekbone in his hand as he concentrated on the images.

Bollo, an apron around his waist as he washed up, spoke to Howard in his usual gruff voice, “Bollo like Howard’s scarf, Bollo think it suits him.”

At the mention of the word scarf, Vince looked up from his magazine.

Meeting Howard’s eyes, he smiled.

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