Another day. Another chapter of the aborted ‘Waterlow Park’. Interestingly, someone seems to be reading this. Had an email from a small indie publisher in America yesterday who wants to see more. Well here’s the more:
“What’s wrong with you?” says the kid called Smitty, whom I don’t even know.
“Nothing,” I reply.
“Well why’d you keep looking around everywhere? What are you scared of?”
I don’t know Smitty’s real name. I don’t even know if he has a real name although I suppose he must have. In fact, I don’t know much at all about Smitty. Except that he isn’t a giant like all the other boys at the new school seem to be.
“Well something’s wrong. I can tell something’s wrong.”
It’s been two whole days since I found the bag of money and Smitty’s started following me home. He’s in the same class as me – 7W – and it turns out he lives just around the corner from me. I don’t know how he found this out, and I certainly didn’t invite him to start walking home with me. But here he is – walking home with me for the second day in a row. What an idiot.
“I’m telling you… Nothing’s wrong at all.”
“Well you’ve hardly said a word since we got into the park.”
“I’ve got nothing to say…”
Smitty doesn’t know the reason why I’ve got nothing to say but I obviously do and it’s freaking me out quite a lot. It’s because we’re walking through Waterlow Park and I can see the bushes where I found the bag of money. Standing only a couple of feet away from that spot is a man. A really big man dressed completely in black. And he’s looking right at me.
He wasn’t there yesterday. And he wasn’t there the day before. In fact, nobody was there yesterday or the day before when I walked home from school. Just when I was beginning to think that whoever the money belongs to had forgotten all about it.
I turn away. And then I wait a few moments and try and get a sneaky look at the man. He’s still staring at me. I quickly turn away again.
“Look at the size of that bloke,” says Smitty.
Another sneaky look. He’s still watching me.
“What bloke?” I say.
“That bloke’ says Smitty pointing right at the man.
“Stop it!” I say, grabbing hold of Smitty’s arm and pulling it to his side. “Stop pointing at him – it’s… It’s… Stupid…”
Smitty looks at me with a puzzled expression on his face. From the corner of my eye I can see the man still staring right at me. He also has a puzzled expression. I think.
Without realising it, I increase my walking pace. Smitty, who is really fat and really unfit is soon out of breath and struggling to keep up with me. We get closer and closer to the man. So close that I can see his grey eyes. He’s old and craggy and sunburned like he’s been under the grill for too long. He has grey bristles growing out of his chin. He’s wearing a woollen hat and a black jacket. He looks really weird, although actually to other people he probably looks quite normal. He’s so close that he can hear us talk. Except we’re not talking.
“So anyway,” I say, attempting to remedy the situation, “School’s really boring, isn’t it…”
“Huh?” says Smitty.
I try to wink at Smitty but I’m not getting any better at winking. “I said: school’s really rubbish, isn’t it?”
“OMG. I said: school’s rubbish! It’s rubbish, isn’t it?”
“If you say so,” shrugs Smitty, looking at me really oddly.
We walk past the man. He smells of some sort of weird perfume or aftershave. As we pass, his head swivels around to follow us. Quite blatantly. He doesn’t even pretend to be looking at something else. I’m wondering if I even saw him smile a little. A really evil little smile. It had to be.
I eventually shake off Smitty and hurry home. I’m covered in sweat, partly because of the walk and partly because of the man. Sofia’s waiting for me. Her school’s closer than mine and she always gets home before I do.
“I just saw someone,” I pant, hardly able to get the words out.
“Congratulations,’ says Sofia. “I saw at least… Let’s see… Probably about a hundred people today.”
“No – idiot! I mean I saw someone in the park.”
“Really? Shall I call the newspapers?”
“Shall I call the newspapers and tell them that you saw someone in the park? Do you think it will make the front page?”
As well as using big words and constantly finishing people’s sentences, Sofia can be very sarcastic.
“Somebody standing near the bushes…”
“…The bushes where I found the you-know-what.”
Sofia goes white and quiet for a moment as the penny drops. She reduces her voice to a whisper. “You mean the money?” she asks.
“Yes! The money!” I reply. “He was standing right next to where I found the money. And he was watching me.”
I describe the man’s appearance to my sister. And as I do so I remember more detail. “He had sharp pointed shoes. He had a leather leash wrapped around one of his hands.”
“Do you mean a dog lead?”
“I dunno. A leather leash. He kept looking at me and Smitty.”
“I told you yesterday. He’s a stupid fat boy in my class. He wants to be my friend. He keeps walking home with me.”
“Oh… Well maybe you should speak to him.”
“I do speak to him. I keep telling him to go away.”
“No. Not Smitty. The man in the park. If he’s there on Monday speak to him.”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“Because it might be his you-know-what. It might belong to him. He might give you a reward.”