Something unexpected this way comes.
|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 a 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.
Jamie got to search the basement and though he did not find his missing apparel he located a camera that he thinks might be of some benefit to him.
It is now five day later…
Everything to its Place
Pedro’s house had two rear doors. One was permanently locked but the other could be accessed from the last room on the left hand side of the hallway. The door opened to a fenced compound, divided into two equal sized sectors; with a cobblestone path acting as its medium strip. On the Eastern Side was a short but arduous obstacle course and trampoline, whilst the West had a more leisurely motif; with an 18 x 9 foot outdoor swimming pool and a picnic table with four plastic lawn chairs.
Positioned toward the far north was a converted wooden tool shed with a corrugated iron roof and dark tinted windows. This was Jamie’s personal sanctuary. Inside, sitting on the western wall was a changing room bench seat, clothes hook and a fan heater. Adjacent this, were shelves crammed with stationary and dusty action heroes, and in the middle of it all was a sizable wooden table upon; which lay the humble beginnings of a 3000 piece jigsaw puzzle.
Such challenges had always fascinated Jamie, and the speed in which he helped put Harvey’s “1500 Piece puzzle of Cinque Terre” impressed even Melissa. His present puzzle was entitled "Roud Masai" with a distinctly African safari theme. He hoped to never finish it. Sanctuary time was strictly limited to no more than two hours a day. It was difficult to judge just how long something like that would take to complete, but whatever the answer, it would need to be halved and equated into extra weeks, or even months of insufferable captivity.
Five days had passed since his basement exploration and he was still no closer to ascertaining the purpose of the camera. Pedro and Delilah had changed their minds about the pyjamas and now permitted him the same Lighting McQueen sweat top, dark Grey Adidas Hoodie and blue Levi's jeans he was wearing the day he left the Radcliffe house. The rest of his wall-drove remained elusive. His bond with Major was steadily strengthening.
“Hello mister lion; how’s Mrs Lion?” muttered Jamie, connecting the lion’s left eye to the rest of its face in a separate cluster, toward the middle of the board. He had been searching for this piece for a number of weeks now and its discovery came with much relief. “This puzzle is going to be a roaring success.”
An old fashion cassette player sat on the one of the shelves behind him, filling the sanctuary with mainly 1970’ and 80’s music. There were a number of cassettes for him to choose from; most of them from Pink Floyd, Dire Straits and Abba but the collection also included more story related tapes such as the War of the Worlds, Peter and the wolf and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
The Sanctuary door opened unexpectedly. Jamie gasped and gazed up at the wall clock. He drew a despondent sigh then shifted his attention to Delilah.
“Am I in trouble Aunty Del?” he asked backing away from the table.
“Why would you think that?” probed Delilah. She was dressed in a chocolate coloured top and thorn track pants. A string of green plastic beads hung round her neck, and her olive dagger-like fingernails uncharacteristically mismatched her mauve eyeshadow. “Is there some sort of mischief that you haven’t owned up to yet?”
“No, I’ve been behaving myself…as far as I know.”
“Is that right? What exactly are you doing in here, anyway?”
“I’m working on my jigsaw Aunty Del. Playtime’s not over yet...um…is it?”
“No, but your chores were left unfinished.”
Jamie’s heart sank. He had been trying so hard to stay out of trouble. Delilah’s meticulous scrutiny had up until now found little to be critical so; whilst Pedro maintained his austere disposition.
“But I did them all; honest I did,” he alleged.
“Did you hear what I told you this morning?” she retorted
Jamie gave a non-committal shoulder shrug and shifted his eyes from her scowl to edge of the table. Her question was too broadly based and swarming with hidden traps. If he answered “yes” he would be accused of disobedience, whilst “no” would evoke another lengthy lecture about not giving her his full attention.
“Maybe I misunderstood something, Aunty Del.”
“Well, I told you that: “Everything has its place and everything must go in its place,””
“And is it?”
“Was everything in its place?”
“I think so,”
“Including Matchbox Legos and Under-sock-shorts?”
“I…I…um…I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
“Your matchbox cars, Lego blocks, socks, shorts and even underpants, they all go in separate designated draws. These were the kind of things you were meant to be sorting out. And did you? No, you were in too much of a hurry to play Jigsaw games. You just threw you matchbox cars in with your Lego and stuffed your socks and underpants in your shorts’ draw. That was very naughty!”
“Um…well…um…I-I play with my matchbox cars and Lego at the same time, so I thought I would keep them together and…and…um…and you like took away my shorts, so I thought I would put my used socks and underpants in that spare draw and keep the clean ones where they usually are. That way the dirty undies won’t make the clean ones dirty and stinky socks won’t stink out the fresh ones with soxygen, or something, or whatever.”
He believed it to be a fairly good answer, and by Delilah’s facial expression, it was clear she thought likewise. To a more tolerant authority figure, his whimsical reply might have helped ease the tension a little, but Delilah did not approve of Jamie taking the initiative at the best of times.
“Everything to its place Jamie; and the place for dirty socks and underpants is not in the short’s draw, even if it is empty. They go in the laundry basket. I told you to sort out your room, not reorganise it.”
“What are those things on either side of your head?”
“And what are ears used for?”
“So why don’t you use them?”
“I will from now on Aunty Del; I promise…can I go back to the puzzle now?”
“It’s “may I” - not “can I?”. Didn’t they teach you anything at school?”
“I probably wasn’t listening.”
“Don’t be cheeky!”
“I wasn’t being cheeky.”
“You better not have been. Get back inside in fifteen minutes, and redo your room. I’ll inspect it when you’re finished, and if it’s not done properly then you’ll get your bum smacked!”
He flinched as Delilah strode out and slammed the door behind her. It was disappointing to know that despite his best efforts he just could not stay out of trouble for long.
Jamie’s bedroom at Pedro’s place was marginally preferable to the Badroom but still a poor substitute for the one he left behind. A half dozen framed photos of animals in curious poses hung from the spritely Beatrice Potter wallpaper, whilst three small rugs of varying colours lay on the lime green carpet gave it a cheery ambience.
There was a small bookcase cabinet adjacent the right hand head of the bed and a small coffee table on the other side. The tinted windows, like those in the Badroom had bars on them, not that he got much of a view other than an array of noxious weeds and dead plants. He had been provided with a dark green plastic toy box, which housed a small collection of toys that Delilah got one weekend from an out of town school fair, and a walk in closet; now bare as Old Lady Hubbard’s.
Jamie lay on the bed struggling to focus on the hateful surroundings of captivity. His eyes were red, cheeks saturated and butt still smarted. He felt exhausted. The re-sorting of the room had not lived up to Delilah’s expectations and he ended up suffering the same painful consequences several times, before finally winning her begrudging approval.
Raindrops tap danced on his bedroom window. Tomorrow he would once again be on the extension ladder, scooping saturated debris from the gutters. It always amazed him why his captors waited until after a heavy down pour, before forcing him to unclog them.
Jamie recoiled at the sound of his bedroom door opening. He feared Delilah had returned to chasten him more, but was surprised to see Pedro enter. He was carrying something familiar; Jamie’s backpack. It looked damp but not dripping, suggesting that it may have been drying off for some time.
“I got this for you, Boy,” said Pedro, tossing the sodden backpack onto the floor. “Noticed its absence from the cupboard and figured you must have left it behind.”
“Everything in its place,” mumbled Jamie.
“What was that?”
“Nothing… thank you very much, sir.”
“The zips were open when I found it, so if you left anything it has gone now.”
Jamie felt uneasy as Pedro sat down on the edge of the bed and stared at him with glazed eyes without saying anything. The stench of stale alcohol wafting form the man’s laboured breathes and specks of food sitting in his beard.
“You didn’t happen to come across a teddy bear by chance?” uttered Jamie, breaking the awkward silence.
“Oscar?” said Pedro, his glazed still fixed on Jamie.
“How did you…”
“You can’t hide things from me. It’s okay Jamie; lots of children your age still have cuddly toys.”
“Well, did you see him?”
“Possibly taken by the same people that took whatever you had in your bag.”
He knew deep down that it was little more than fashioned material, stuffed with kapok; but for the past six months it had become his only true ally.
“Well thanks for trying,” said Jamie.
“No worries,” replied Pedro. He gripped Jamie’s upper left arm and leaned in closer. “I hope I did not make a mistake in returning your backpack, Boy…just remember what I told you about would happen if you ever ran off again.”
-To be Continued-
PARTS 9b COMING SOON