Jamie is going AWOL for the second time. Two new characters join the story.
|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.
After many months of mistreatment Jamie finally gets a second chance of freedom. Delilah had gone out on some errands and Pedro was busy getting drunk and watching television. Whilst raking leaves Major, Pedro’s dog, snatches the rake off Jamie and dives into the swimming pool.
Pedro suddenly comes rushing out the house and throws Jamie into the swimming pool, demanding the boy wrest the rake back off the dog. However Jamie almost drowns and gets saved by Major.
Taking advantage of the resulting confrontation between Pedro and Major, Jamie has fled the house, without bothering to retrieve his backpack or change out of his saturated clothing.
Run Jamie run. Be the swift little fox, the one that could not be caught. Stay alert and keep a close vigil on the road ahead; for Delilah might return any minute in Pedro’s van. Be ready to scamper into the bushes at a moment’s notice. I know you are not an athlete and your damp clothing is weighing you down but you cannot allow them recapture you. Run little fox run.
Dark clouds had been gathering throughout most of his escape and by the time he reached the house with the cow-shaped letterbox, misty rain was sweeping in from the south. The carport was still unoccupied and though he could not be positive, most of the lawn furniture he had seen last time seemed not to have been touched.
Jamie shifted his attention to the trees on the opposite side of the road and briefly considered taking a quick search for Oscar, but such an endeavour seemed too risky; for now anyway. Right now his priority was to find refuge. Somewhere safe, with people he could trust. People that would help reunite him with the Radcliffes.
He wiped his misting eyes with the back of his hand then pushed open the gate and made his way along a cobblestone pathway, halting every few paces to check behind him for passing black vans. Despite the absence of warning signs, he could not help but fear that some vicious guard dog was about to leap from its hiding place and bite him.
After climbing the two concrete steps onto the veranda, Jamie pressed the doorbell pressed and waited anxiously. Straining his ears he could just make out the sound of a television being muted and approaching footsteps. He took a step back and brushed his hair with his fingers. Seconds later the door inched open and a kindly faced, woman stared out at him with a curious expression.
“Please help me,” blubbered Jamie.
“What the matter, Love?” she inquired in a crackled English Accent. “You don’t half look like a drowned rat.”
“I got thrown into the swimming pool.”
“You poor little thing…well you’d best come inside before you catch your death a cold in those wet clothes of yours. But do take your shoes and socks off first.”
”Thank you, that’s very kind of you.”
Jamie obliged and entered the house barefooted. He followed her down a long passage way with several doors either side and then into a squalid bedroom not much bigger than the Badroom. The walls were lined with wallpaper similar to the one in his stepparents’ living room, from which hung posters of very long freight trains and old steam engines.
“This is my grandson Grayson’s room, every third Friday of each month,” she explained, ushering him to a walk-in closet. “His parents and I decided it prudent to leave some of his clothes here for when he visits to save having to pack and unpack them.”
“I guess that makes sense,” agreed Jamie, shivering as she retrieved a pair of dark blue Adidas Track pants and a Crusaders Rugby Top and handed them to him.
“Grayson is about the same size as you so hopefully these should fit you. Go have a shower and leave your wet clothes out the bathroom door. I’ll put them in the drier.”
“Thanks. That’s like really kind of you...um…”
“Mrs Aldridge. Mrs Evelina Aldridge, but you can call me Eve if you wish.”
“Okay…Eve. My name’s Jamie Radcliffe and you can call me Jamie, or Jay…a school bully used to call me Monkey Boy, but I didn’t really like it.”
“The bathroom is upstairs Jamie; third door on your right. Fresh towels are in the linen closet on the left hand side of the bathroom. Please be a good little boy and remember to wipe your feet thoroughly before returning.”
“Any sign yet?” asked Jamie, shifting his weary eyes from the dancing flames in the wood-burner to Eve, as she re-entered the living room.
“No, but don’t worry dear; they’ll be here soon,” she replied slumping down in the armchair next to him. “Emergency services have triaged your situation as important, but not immediately life-threating, so you’ll have to be patient.”
“I thought the cops would come racing here with flashing lights and sirens and stuff and whatever.”
“They’ll come when they come.”
“I wanna be a traffic cop when I grow up.”
“Is that right.”
“Yeah, I reckon it would be fun chasing after speeding cars and…”
A sudden shrilling of the doorbell sounded. His heart chilled at the remote possibility that it could be Pedro or Delilah, or perhaps even both.
“That’s probably them now,” she proclaimed, rising to her feet. “I’d best let them in.”
“Wait it might not…” he started but his words feel on deaf ears.
He felt apprehensive as she left the room. Moments later he heard her conversing with someone in a different language. He recognised it as being Spanish, which Delilah had been attempting to teach him for the past eight months.
The conversation ceased and two sets of footsteps started back down the hallway. Panic ensured and he started scanning Eve’s living room for somewhere to hide. Options were limited but he was able to scramble behind a tan three seater leather couch just before Eve and the new arrival entered the living room.
“Jamie, dear; where have you got to?” said Eve. She paused for a few seconds and then spoke again; this time with more authority. “Jamie, come here!”
Pedro and Delilah’s wrath and discipline had eroded his zest for disobedience, yet something about her tone forewarned him that Eve’s house was not the safe haven he had thought. He shifted further to the left and as he did so his hand brushed against something soft.
“What the hell?” he whispered, staring down at a familiar looking teddy bear.
“Well hi there little buddy,” replied Oscar. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.”
Jamie lifted Oscar to his chest and gave it a quick hugged it before pushing back the sofa and gradually rising to his feet. He studied the young thick set stranger for a few seconds, and then shifted his attention to Eve, whom was now scowling at him.
“Buenas Tardes, mi chico,” said the stranger with an amiable smile.
“My name’s Diego, as in San Diego. Welcome to our humble abode.”
“Buenas Tardes,” replied Jamie “Mi Nombray east Jamie.”
“Mi Nombre es Jamie,” corrected Eve.
“Close enough, at least you tried,” encouraged Diego.
“My Science teacher once told me I was one of her most trying students.”
“Niño Tirado. Why don’t you come out from behind that sofa…I promise I won’t eat you.”
Tightening his grip on Oscar he cautiously shuffled out from behind the barricade and took a couple of steps closer to Diego. He sensed an unsettling aura emanating from the stranger; something hidden beneath the feigned pleasantness waiting its chance to be unleashed.
“What are you guys doing with my bear?” he probed.
“That’s your Teddy bear?” retorted Eve.
“His name’s Oscar…I left him behind in the trees during my escape a few weeks back.”
“Grayson found it while he was playing with one of his friends, but he’s not really into teddy bears. We were thinking of give it away to a charity.”
“Do you miss your parents, Jamie?” asked Diego.
“Stepparents,” corrected Jamie. “Very much so…I’m not sure if they miss me though. I’m hoping they do.”
“Of course they do, but they don’t know where you are…for that matter, neither do you.”
“Yeah, sucks doesn’t it.”
“Even Pedro and Delilah don’t know where you are.”
“I guess not.”
“Right now, no one knows where you are.”
“Except for the police, and they’ll be here soon.”
“Well, that’s not completely true,” interrupted Eve.
“What are you talking about?”
“Truth is, Jamie; I never rang them.”
-To be continued-