Writing me Down

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Point of View


Ben felt the hedge digging into his back. It stank under there of cat shit and something else that he couldn’t name. He felt Jake’s body tense up beside him.
“What …?”
“Shhh. The old codger’s coming out.”
Ben peered underneath his pulled-down hood and saw a pair of flat grey lace-up shoes stepping down the doorstep. Ben started to sweat. Why had he let Jake talk him into this?
The grey shoes turned down the front garden path away from them. Ben took a deep breath – and then held it, as another pair of shoes stepped down. Brown, flat lace-up shoes on a pair of stout ankles. Ben had a bad feeling about those shoes. They reminded him of Mrs Garrison from juniors. The shoes paused.
Oh, God. She even sounded like Mrs Garrison. Ben shivered and hoped Jake hadn’t noticed. The brown shoes started to walk briskly towards them. Ben’s thighs burned with crouching down for too long. He dipped his head even lower, allowing the hood to completely obscure his face. He felt a sudden urge to stand up; pretend he’d just lost a marble or something. What a bloody ridiculous idea that was. Who’d believe a fourteen year old boy was playing with marbles?
The brown shoes stopped on the edge of the grass in front of them.
“I suppose you two think you’re invisible in there, do you?”
Ben peered out – up the stout legs, past the brown coat and into the grey eyes of Mrs Garrison.


Mrs Garrison – Lavinia to her close friends – checked inside her handbag while Mr Garrison was tying his shoe laces with much puffing and grunting. She rummaged through the contents, trying to locate the brown envelope. It wasn’t there.
“Bernie – did you take the letter out of my bag?”
“What …? Oh, yes. Sorry, dear, I think I did. I left it in the kitchen … somewhere.”
Mrs Garrison tutted and walked into the gleaming kitchen. The envelope was on the side, half tucked underneath the Parish Magazine. She picked it up, slotted it neatly into her hand bag, and turned to follow Mr Garrison out of the door. But something about the garden caught her eye out of the kitchen window. There seemed to be less light somehow, something crowded about the border …?
She followed Mr Garrison out of the door and closed it firmly, hearing the latch click into place. Something troubled her. She stopped and sniffed the air. Stale cigarette smoke – faint, but definite. She could recognise it at 50 paces.
Ignoring Mr Garrison’s impatient huffs, she turned and walked towards the hedge. She was sure of it now. There was Someone in the hedge. Two pairs of trainers.
“I suppose you two think you’re invisible in there, do you?”
She knew the face that peered out at her very well. Ben Wilson. She never forgot her previous pupils, even when they grew up and became Doctors and Lawyers. Which Ben was unlikely to do, in her opinion.


Ben and Jake crouched in the prickling hawthorn amongst the stench of cat mess and fox musk. It was Jake who had suggested that they do this house. Ben hadn’t been in this neighbourhood before, but Jake had spotted an opportunity. It was Jake’s Dad who tipped him off. Jake had overheard his Dad telling his latest girlfriend that the house would be empty that day and she was wanted to go in and clean it that afternoon.
Jake nudged Ben to keep quiet as the door clicked open and Mr Garrison stepped out. Mr Garrison was a grey man – grey, thinning hair, grey shoes, grey zip-up anorak. His face was grey like recycled cardboard from too many years of Mrs Garrison. He turned and walked towards the gleaming green Rover, his pride and joy.
Ben and Jake breathed again. Then Mrs Garrison stepped out and closed the door with a smart click behind her. She paused, her harsh face wrinkling as she sniffed the air.
Ben and Jake tensed, feeling sweat trickling down their backs.
Mrs Garrison turned and walked straight towards them, her handbag swinging vigorously at her side. She stopped right in front of them.
“I suppose you two think you’re invisible in there, do you?”
Mrs Garrison recognised Ben’s face peering up at her. She remembered all of her previous pupils.