Jamie gets to know his abductors
|Recap: Jamie was accused of Poisoning Koromaru, the family dog owned by the family that adopted him. A major confrontation arose between his stepparents and him, which ended with him being kicked out of the house. Disheartened and miserable he wanted to a local park where he was found by Pedro and Delia who kidnapped him. They took him to undisclosed location, where he is being kept in a secure room in the basement. |
Time crawled as Jamie awaited Aunt Del’s return. Prudence had prompted him to eat the pancakes at the desk, instead of bed where he was sure he would have made a mess. Her absence gave him time to browse through the small collections of paperbacks on the shelf. There were fifteen altogether, three from the Harry Potter Series, two from the chronicles of Narnia, the others included “Oliver Twist”, “I Can Jump Puddles”, “Five go to Smugglers Top” and “Born Free.” After much consideration he chose a book entitled Roverandom, by J.R.R.Tolkien. It was one of his favourite books, about a dog seeking out a wizard that had turned him into a toy.
Apart from reading and reminiscing, there wasn’t much else he could do. He felt restless and wanted to go outside. The twittering birds seemed to be taunting him; boasting about their freedom. His mind drifted back to picnics on the beach and roughhousing in the parks with his stepbrothers. The previous summer, the Radcliffes had taken him to Splash Planet, while visiting relations in Hastings, on the West Coast of the North Island. It a theme park of sorts, with waterslides and bumper-boats etc. Despite his inability to swim and trepidation of water, he had really enjoyed himself. After they returned he wrote an account in his dairy, describing the experience as a fun day out with the family. He wondered if next summer they would be heading back up there without him. The prospect pained him.
His thoughts were interrupted as footsteps approached. A jingling of keys, followed by a click and then the door inched open. Jamie looked round and was surprised to see Pedro enter. He felt strangely uncomfortable in the presence of this stranger and sprang to his feet.
“Good morning sir,” he said in a meek tone.
“Morning boy,” said Pedro. “I trust you slept well.”
“Yes, the bed was very comfortable.”
“You’re going to be here for the next few days so I thought it would be good if we got better acquainted. My name is Pedro, but I would appreciate it if you continued you refer to me as, Sir. It’s a mark of respect.”
“I’ll call you Sir, if you call me Jamie, instead of Boy.”
“That’s fair enough. I’m the ogre you seem to have imagined me to be. I call you Jamie, you call me Sir, Delilah can call you what she likes, and you refer to her as Aunty Del, and all will be ka-pai.”
“I’m not trying to get smart, it’s just I don’t like the name; Boy. Sounds like a slave title, or something or whatever.”
“You’re not out slave, Jamie. You’re our guest, though obviously not by choice. Still, you’re here now and we’re obligated to take care of you. What say, you freshen up a bit. I’m sure you’re sick to death of this room by now.”
“Come along then,”
He studied Pedro’s amiable expression with distrust for a few seconds then approached with caution. He followed the man out the room and into what looked to be a sizeable basement. Toward the far eastern corner was a flight of wooden steps, under which sat a beige door. There was a metal sign with the words cuarto de baño.
“Bathroom,” he translated
“Chico listo, you speak español?”
“My biological dad spent several years in Santa Cruz de Tenerife before I was born. He tried to teach me but got frustrated with my lack of progress. He gave up.”
“That’s a pity. It’s such a beautiful language. I was born and raised in Reoja, in a small Provence called Logroño.”
“My Stepmother sometimes drinks Reoja wine, get drunk and yells at me about stuff that doesn’t make like any sense.”
“Maybe I’ll teach you some Spanish, whilst you’re here.”
”Yeah, um thanks –sir,”
“Go have a shower; Delilah will be down in about an hour to discuss today’s activities, chores and expectations.”
Jamie fidgeted in his dark swivel chair, behind a white writing desk. The basement's vibrant décor and wallpaper spoke of cozy cheer; yet he sensed impending danger. There were two tinted windows on the western wall and another just below the ceiling of the north. All three were closed and secured with metal bars, like a jail. Cobwebs clung to a set of dusty metal shelves, housing a variety of spiders and every now and then he caught sight of a light grey mouse, scurrying out from one object and disappearing underneath the next.
A large wooden table stood several meters to the north of him. Behind it sat Delilah, scrutinizing the answers he had offered for her impromptu exam. It seemed abduction did not excuse his obligations to learn. She professed to have taught at Haberdasher’s Boy’s School in England, Fintona Girls' School in Australia and had once been Deputy Principal of The Cathedral Grammar School in Christchurch.
“Three out of ten,” said Delilah. She drew a disgruntled sigh and then scowled at him. “That is unacceptable.”
“I’m sorry,” said Jamie, trying his best to sound suitably contrite.
“I spent half an hour, explaining the process of adding and multiply fractions. I even asked if you comprehended. You said yes. You lied to me.”
“No, I just musta like misunderstood, or something.”
“Or not listened. Hearing and listening are two different things. Hearing is the basic function of your ears, listening requires your attention to focus on what is being said. If you don’t pay attention my words simply go in one of your ears and out the other, and the whole lesson becomes a waste of both our times.”
“I was too listening, it’s just I’m not all that good with exams, and tests.”
“It’s not rocket science Jamie. I’ve taught children a lot younger than you that had a better understanding of fractions.”
“My stepdad says; everyone learns at different paces. I guess I’m just a slow learner, but I’m not dumb.”
“I don’t think you’re dumb. I think you’re not taking this lesson seriously, or pushing boundaries, to see how much you can get away with.”
“I’m trying to take it as serious as I can and I’m not pushing boundaries either.”
“Be that as it may, you deserve to be disciplined for getting such a low score on your math’s test. Come here.”
“I said I was sorry. Please give me another chance, Aunt Del. I’ll do better next time. I’ll listen. I promise.”
“Come here, right now!”
Fear overwhelmed him and he felt glued to his chair. Her tone and expression offered neither pity nor compromise; giving the impression she intended to give him more than just a simple timeout. He scanned the basement for somewhere to flee or hide, but he knew whatever sanctuary he sort, would only be temporary. She would eventually drag him out and suffer an even worse consequence.
“Please,” he begged.
“I’m giving you to the count of three to do as you are told,” she said. “One –“
“It’s illegal to hit kids, you know.”
“In this house, Pedro and I are the law. If you don’t like it, try calling the police. Oh, that’s right; you don’t have a phone. Two -”
He thought back to the occasions when his mischief had landed him in similar trouble with Melissa, in her capacity as his babysitter. She was a lot stricter than Catarina and sometimes swatted Harvey, Deacon and him with a wooden spoon, if they misbehaved. Their chastisements were kept secret, partly because it involved owning up to whatever transgression prompted the swats, but more so because of what Melissa may do in retaliation.
“Jesus said we should forgive each other, seven times seventy seven times,” he said, in desperation.
“And I will forgive you, Jamie; after you’ve learned your lesson.” she retorted. She waited a few seconds then stated “Three. Come here this instant!”
“No, please Aunty Del, I didn’t mean to –“
Jamie’s sentence was cut short. Aunt Del stood up and strolled toward him, like Catania had done during the confrontation about Koromaru. He clambered from his chair and began running, but she soon caught up and tackled him to the floor, like an aggressive rugby league player. She rolled him onto his stomach and whacked the seat of his jeans twice, with her open left palm.
“That’s for wasting my time!” she said, then gave him another smack. “And that’s for not coming to me when I told you to.”
“I hate you,” cried Jamie as she hauled to his feet and marched him back into the squalid room.
“One of the reasons God gave you a butt was to give your elders something to smite when you’re naughty, and for you to learn from the pain. I hope for your sake you learn something from this, otherwise I’m going to have to keep spanking, you until such time as you do.”
Aunt Del stormed out of the room. The door slammed behind her. The locks snipped. Tears spilt down Jamie’s cheeks. He cursed her under his breath then lay down and wept bitterly into the crook of his arm.
-To Be Continued-