Part one of the three part countdown to Jamie's Abduction
|1 of 3 - The Build up
Sunshine played peekaboo with the gathering dark clouds, as Jamie pushed his red BMX bike down the driveway and then into the garage, at the rear of his single-story home in Carterton. After wedging the bike into the rack that Alexander had built, he hung up his helmet, before ambling over to Koromaru’s kennel and calling his name several times without response.
“Fine, be like that,” he grumbled. “Hope your fowls turn into emus and kick your fowl-house down.”
The front door was open and he could hear “Set the controls for the Heart of the Sun” from Pink Floyd, resonating throughout the house.
“Hi Mum,” he said, entering the Dining room where his stepmother was seated at the table. “Sorry I’m late.”
“That’s okay darling, I got your text.” Catarina looked up from her magazine and gazed at him with misty eyes. “Are you okay?”
“I’m okay…it was just a particle joke that sort of got out of hand.”
“There’s nothing funny about putting a school into lockdown.”
“They barged into Mister Norton’s office, trying to scare him with fake guns. He pressed some sort of panic button and next minute the cops turned up. Three of them were willing to give themselves up but the forth went and told the police they had hidden a bomb somewhere in the school he would detonate if they tried to arrest them.”
“Mother of Mercy, what a stupid thing to say.”
“Yeah the cops took the threat seriously and evacuated the school. Then the bomb disposal team turned up and more police and reporters.”
“I’m sorry I yelled at you like that; but you weren’t answering your phone and I was really worried. You’ve got to remember to recharge it. If Harvey hadn’t answered his I don’t what I would have done.”
“I’m sorry too Mum…um…do you know where Koro’s got to? I checked his kennel and he wasn’t there.”
“Harvey and Deacon took him walkies,”
“They took him without asking me?”
“I made Koromaru’s your responsibility but he’s still a family pet…unless you have a problem with me not asking your permission to give them permission to walk him,”
“Nah, don’t think I want to go down that rabbit hole.”
“You’re a very wise little boy…Look, Harvey is walking Koromaru with Deacon, Melissa is at softball practice, and Travis is at his kickboxing class. I was wondering if you would like to play a bit of Hangman with me.”
“I’d like that very much, Mum.”
Dark clouds obscured the late afternoon sun as Jamie turned from Kupe Drive into Victoria Street; reflecting on the hangman games. Despite Catarina’s effervesce, he could detect a slight air of irritability in her tone of voice, but not necessarily directed at him. He suspected that it had something to do with her job. The company she worked for was going through a major restructuring with a strong possibility of redundancies.
Jamie had wanted to tell her not to worry but he found himself unwilling to extend such sympathies, and that was indeed troubling. A caring attitude was part of his nature. Even his biological father’s violent death in Rimutaka Prison had occasioned him substantially more grief than his biological mother seemed to be expecting. His bitterness towards her was growing and he knew if he could not control it then their relationship might be compromised irrevocably.
It was after 5:15pm and his stepsiblings still hadn’t returned. Harvey had inadvertently left his cellphone behind on the charger, whilst Deacon water-damaged phone was still in the shop being serviced. To ease Catarina’s anxious demeanour Jamie had volunteered to go out and see what was keeping them. He felt confident that they were merely preoccupied with some sort of mischief but it gave him an excuse to disconnect from the ever growing tension.
Vitoria Street was wide stretching with ample grassed areas for Koromaru to go his business. With Alexander’s insistence of having two siblings walking the same dog, duties had become divvied. One sibling did actual the walking and the other tended to what they called the “Chocolate Logs”; aka picking up the dog poo. Jamie alternated the tasks as much as possible, but every now and then he punished Deacon or Harvey with extra pickup days, if they misbehaved during the dog-walks. There were a number of potential hazards along the way, including the crossing of railway tracks, so his responsibilities also extended to family members of the two legged kind.
A familiar page startled him. He turned around and gasped. Sebastian and his two dutiful goons, Japer and Patrick, were walking towards him. The absence of protection caused his heart to chill and urge to flee was strong, but having witnessed Jasper’s speed at a recent interschool track meet, it was doubtful he would get far.
“What-diya want?” asked Jamie.
“Hi Monkey boy,” asked Sebastian stopping less than two meters in front of him. “Where ya going?”
“Is that right? So, ya ready to spit out who narked on me yet?”
“Sorry, but that’s still a no-can-do.”
Jamie whimpered as Sebastian grabbed the front of his hoodie and ran him backwards against an adjunct wooden fence. He struggled to focus through his tears but could only make out vague shapes and colours of the hostile bullies.
“The truth Monkey boy!” demanded Sebastian. “Who was it? Huh?”
“I don’t know,” replied Jamie. “Please leave me alone.”
“Harvey told us that you know who did it.”
“He wouldn’t say anything like that.”
“Well someone is lying here; me, you or Harvey. I’m sure you don’t want to make the mistake of accusing me and if it wasn’t you then I’m going to have to kick Harvey’s ass…now one last time, who told Mrs Burgess I broke her window?”
He agonized over his limited choices and the associated consequences. Taking on the bullies in a fist fight seemed futile and failing to protect Deacon was not an option, nor was being instrumental in Harvey being beaten up. It was unlikely that his stepbrother would betray him but Sebastian and his thugs had ways of getting information out of the loyalist of kids.
“Okay…okay, you win. Don’t hurt Harvey, I’ll tell you what you want to know,” blubbered Jamie.
“Spit it out Monkey Boy,” said Sebastian “and for the right price and favours, no one will ever know who told us.”
“It was me; I couldn’t let you get away with it. She’s my neighbour and our family friend.”
“Well, you’re going to have to be taught a lesson then. Wait for us in Sparks Park, tomorrow at three forty five. Give you a bit of time to decide if you really want to be a bruised hero. If you don’t show we’ll come looking for you and if we don’t find you we’ll get you the next day, or day after. We both go to the same school every day. You can’t avoid us forever.”
“I’ll be there…I’m sorry Sebastian.”
“You’ll be a lot sorrier by four o’clock.”
A slamming door sounded followed by a tirade of harsh words, but he was too distressed to hear exactly what was being said. The bullies departed with haste and a thickset stranger approached.
“You okay son?” inquired the stranger, in a sympathetic yet authoritative voice.
“I think so,” he replied. “Thank you for coming to my rescue, sir.”
“Sir? Now that’s a word you don’t hear much these days from the younger generation. Your parents did a fine job raising you.”
Jamie’s misty eyes shifted to the stranger’s thick moustache, then to a slight scar just below his earlobe. He carefully studied plaid shirt, brown leather belt, corduroy trousers and even shoes for inconsistencies. There was something about the man’s presence that made him uncomfortable, and he felt the need to retain a thorough description.
“My stepparents say I gotta respect my elders,” he said at last.
“Good for them,” said the man “So what did those savage little hobgoblins want?”
“It looked to me as though they were bullying you.”
“I’m okay, honest.”
“You look a bit dazed boy; I can run you down to outpatients if you like.”
“No thank you sir, I’ll be fine.”
“If they threaten you again you come tell me. Just look out for that green van and you’ll find me near-by. The name’s Pedro, like the fisherman.”
”It’s an old song your Grandma probably remembers.”
“I’ll ask, Pedro. I’m…um…Haden. Look, I’d better be going. I’m meant to be looking for my brothers. They’re around here somewhere.”
“Okay, good luck Um-Haden. Remember, green comer van; ask for Pedro.”
“As in the Fisherman,”
“Yeah right,” muttered Jamie under his breath, as he watched Pedro return to the green van that he had not noticed idling up until now. “As if I’m stupid enough to walk into that sort of trap.”
“Let go!” cried Jamie, gripping the PlayStation controller and shifting back and forward on the sofa “It’s not your turn yet!”
“Is too,” retorted Deacon, trying to wrest the controller from his stepbrother. “You’ve been on it like forever.”
“Have not. You can have it when I’m finished this mission.”
“That could be like ages…oh come on Jamie, I wanna play Spyro.”
He had discovered his siblings’ not long after his talk with Pedro. They were at Mrs Burgess’ house rendezvousing with a fresh batch of blueberry muffins, leaving Koromaru tied up outside the house. At sight of him the dog had started whimpering for sympathy and received a big hug from his eleven year old master.
After a brief exchange of pleasantries he had left Mrs Burgess’ house with Koromaru; Deacon and Harvey following behind at a slight distance. He waited until they were all out of her earshot before giving his siblings a stern talking to.
Catrina also scolded them upon their return; threatening to suspend their Wi-Fi privileges for the rest of the year. Her scorn seemed to settle after Alexander returned home from work, announcing his intention to take her to a new arthouse movie, being shown at the Sunset Cinema.
“Spyro’s a spastic game for little kids,” alleged Jamie.
“I don’t care…I wanna play it,” continued Deacon.
“No let go!”
Jamie felt the controller slip through his fingers but could do nothing to prevent it. Seconds later he watched Deacon stumble backwards, trip over his own feet and land hard on his butt.
“Victory is mine!” cheered Deacon, getting back up and holding his ill-gotten spoils above his head, with a victorious grin. “Ha-ha, I’m playing Spyro! Your Spiderman for fagots game will have to wait…nah-nah na nah-nah.”
“Give it back or you’ll be sorry,”
“No, it’s mine, my birthday present…my precious!”
Rage seethed and Jamie whacked the side of Deacon’s face with the cushion. Though taken by surprise and momentarily dazed, his stepbrother responded with a taunting grin. He hit him again with the same result.
“Give it back Deacon!”
“Not gunna happen.”
He discarded the cushion and thumped Deacon’s left shoulder twice. His stepbrother gasped and dropped the controller and started bawling, like an injured toddler. Seconds later, he was crash tackled to the floor by Harvey.
“Stop it!” scolded Delilah, prizing Harvey off Jamie and hauling him to his feet. “How many times do I have to tell you wicked little house-elves not to tear each other apart?”
“Jamie started it!” asserted Harvey.
“I don’t care who started what, you’re both being naughty. This is a living room, not a wrestling ring. I want you two to put your pyjamas on, brush your teeth and go to bed.”
“It’s only half past seven,” groused Jamie.
“You can’t make us,” alleged Harvey.
“I’m your older sister and babysitter. Now do as you’re told or I’ll smack you!”
“Don’t threaten him like that,” interceded Jamie. “If you hit him I’ll tell Mum.”
“Fine, I’ll tell her why how you hit Deacon and made him cry,”
“Come on Jamie; let’s go before she throws us to the wolverines,” muttered Harvey.
“Wolverines don’t eat Scallywags,” mumbled Jamie then headed to his room.
-To Be Continued-
Coming Soon: Part 9B Fallout