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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Family · #2220237
Jamie finds something of interest during his search for his missing apparel
Recap. 12 year old Jamie Radcliffe is being held against his will by Pedro and Delilah in a house in an undisclosed location. During an unsuccessful bid to escape he is forced to abandon his backpack and teddy bear (Oscar) down a bank. He is taken back to the house and locked in a room in the basement, which is collegially known as the Badroom.

The next day he is released and as a direct consequence of his escape, his all clothing except pyjamas socks and underwear are confiscated to discourage him from fleeing again. After a series of domestic misadventures he falls asleep and dreams of his life back with his estranged stepfamily. He is abruptly woken by Delilah and sees out of the corner of his eye that Pedro has changed channels from the rugby game he was watching to a CTV monitor, which shows two people outside the house. He is taken back to the basement and locked once again in the Badroom.

After a flashback to picnic shortly before his nightmare began the story returns to his confinement where he discover that Pedro’s three year-old Bull Mastiff has wandered in unnoticed and he is trapped in there with it. He manages to befriend Major and is even more shocked to note that the dog has retrieved one of his hoodies and taken it into the Badroom; hinting the rest of his confiscated clothing might be somewhere close by. His best guess is that it is somewhere in the basement. He decides to check this out late at night while Delilah and Pedro are asleep.

The story turns once again to his prior life with the Radcliffe. In this flashback he is thrown into blackberries and other noxious weeds by a school bully, who got into trouble after Jamie’s youngest stepbrother Deacon ratted him out. Jamie does not want to see Deacon get hurt, so he keeps Deacon’s transgression a secret. The incident is broken up by Jamie’s elder stepbrother Travis.

Jamie also gets into trouble for deliberately disobeying his stepmother’s implicit instructions that had forbidden him to go to Mrs Burgess home. He had done so in the capacity of a peacemaker, hoping to patch up the rift between Catriona and Mrs Burgess and rekindle their long-time friendship. His selfless deed earns him a chocolate reward for being such a caring boy. He is also given a timeout, cautionary note and suspended Wi-Fi privileges for disobedience.

We now return to Pedro’s place where Jamie has started his search for his missing apparel…

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Discoveries in the Dark




The monotonous drone of Pedro’s snoring masked the sound of Jamie’s footsteps, as he crept along the hallway. It was just after 1:30am and the house was in darkness. He held an unlit penlight torch in his left hand and an empty glass in the other as a pretext for being out of bed at such an ungodly hour.

As a much younger child, Jamie was very scared of the dark. With his biological father’s patient support he had managed to get overcome the worst of his fears, though there were still one or two potential paranormal hotspots he continued to avoid It was one of the few pleasant memories he had of Vincent before the alcoholic rages gave him much scarier demons to fret over.

It had started shortly after Vincent’s redundancy and inability to secure another job. An uncharacteristic alcohol dependency made him irritable, and he over reacted to the most trivial of transgression or misplaced word from Josephine; Jamie’s biological mother,

A slight corrective slap across the back or the hand was quickly replaced with a sharp smack on the butt and before Jamie knew it; hardly a month would pass without him receiving at least one spanking. The alcohol abuse got out of control and his father began substituting his open palm for various implements and upgraded to a belt.

Josephine tried her hardest to intervene, often enraging Vincent’s temper to refocus the anger; like an antelope sacrificing herself to a charging lion in order to protect its calf. This in turn motivated some of the most awful arguments between his parents he’d ever witnessed. Most of these were verbal but once or twice it got physical leaving Jamie trembling and sobbing for extensive periods, even after it was over.

The nightmare ended late one evening when Jamie accidently knocked over Vincent’s glass of beer and got punched in the stomach. Josephine went ballistic and his father with a rolling pin. This was not one of those clichéd mother-in-law attacks that Jamie sometimes watched in cartoons, this was a malicious revenge.

Though winded and spiteful of Vincent’s abuse, Jamie struggled to calm Josephine. However she was well passed rationale, so he had no choice other than to phone the police. They broke it up but no charges were laid against her. Several months later Vincent was incarcerated, divorce proceedings were initiated and Jamie’s nightmare ended. Not long after than another one began.

Jamie stopped at the third door on the right, just passed the washhouse. He placed the glass on the floor and listened intently to the snoring. His trembling hand twisted the doorknob clockwise. He stepped lightly over the threshold and shut the door after him, then flicked on the torch, illuminating his surroundings

The stillness emphasized every creak as he descended the staircase. More than once he feared that he may have drawn attention to himself, but he made it to the bottom without incident. There was a dank smell lingering and he thought he could still detect the remanence of Major’s Flatulence.

His touch-light danced from one wall to the other, but there wasn’t much of interest; just various rusted tools and greasy engine parts. He gulped nervously as he saw a rubbish bin containing a dozen or more bamboo stakes and imagined Pedro thrashing him with one of them. Above it hung a dilapidated dart board with scantly feathered darts, but he could see no sign of anything that could be used to store clothing.

Jamie’s mind wandered aimlessly. He thought back to the two men that Pedro had seen on the monitor. It turned out that they were door-to-door Jehovah Witness preachers. Somehow in midst of previous night’s chaos, his captors had neglected to lock the front gate. Their visit was brief and left without conversions, but his incarceration had been needlessly extended because of a terrible mix-up. Pedro had thought Delilah was going to release Jamie, and Delilah thought Pedro was going to do it. One of those very few occasions he had been extended an apology by both of them.

His musings delved deeper and he recalled the time he told his stepfather that his soccer team had a new goalie; a kid called Jacob Dowling whose parents were Jehovah Witnesses. He alleged that it was unfair for him to continue going to school, since he was now under Witness Protection. The inane joke went down like a lead balloon and he received a stern lecture chiding his religious intolerance. Catarina gave him an even worse scolding, when he mentioned the Kings Cross whore-to-whore taxi service in Sydney.

Jamie turned the torchlight on the Badroom and was not surprised to see that the door was shut. Pedro had been far from pleased about Major’s unauthorized entry and seemed adamant it should remain closed whether occupied or otherwise. The dog managed to elude capture and what Jamie had feared was going to involved being yelled at and kicked. It was presently locked outside and would be until Pedro calmed down about the transgression.

He continued moving the beam around the basement and did a second scan of what he had already seen just to be sure. Determined not to be disappointed he shone the torch a little higher. There were a number of windows, most covered in a thick layer of cobwebs and dead insects. Here and there scurried large spiders and he thought he saw the blur of a grey mouse. Then he spotted it.

Not his clothes, but something else just as astounding. He had to check and recheck it several times until he was sure of what he was looking. Perched on a stand, just over three quarters of the way up the far left corner of the basement was a Sony Camcorder.

It did not appear to be operating but he was sure that it must have captured his most recent trip to the Badroom, perhaps even his mid-morning exit. That was assuming it was recording and not merely acting as a CTV device for his captors to keep an eye on him. Maybe even at that particular moment.

Jamie imagined Pedro sitting in bed watching a monitor whilst a tape of his snoring played through a stereo; woken by some sort of warning system. An immature impulse engaged his mischief. He placed his thumbs on either side of head and wiggled his fingers whilst poking out his tongue for several seconds, and then grinned impishly at the camera. It was also his subtle way of telling them that he was wise to their spying tactics.

For all he knew he could be wrong and its sole purpose was to record. If this was the case then it might act as valuable evidence he could use against both Pedro and Delilah; proving his existence on their premises. This would of course require him retrieving the film before daring a second escape; otherwise they would simply erase it and claim ignorance of him ever being in their company.

“Go-go Gadget extension legs,” he muttered to himself; wishing that he too was a funny police inspector that could initiate wacky inventions at will. “I’ll think of something.”

Jamie was sure he would. It just needed more planning and perhaps a bit of luck, as did the search for his clothing, but for now he needed to get back to his bedroom before his absence was discovered. He had much food for thought.

-To Be Continued-

 
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