The new book I’m working on is starting to take shape. It’s provisionally entitled: ‘Dangerous’ and is an exercise in self counselling. I’m using writing to try and get some understanding of the feelings I’ve been experiencing due to the death of my father. In order to do so I’m meeting up with people I haven’t seen for a quarter of a century when I was a sportswriter. Last Friday I saw the boxing manager/advisor Ambrose Mendy. The last time I met him was in 96 when I visited him in Woking Prison. He really is a fascinating character. And if I say so myself, the book is getting interesting.
In the meantime, here’s chapter 08 of my dead and buried kids book ‘ Waterlow Park’. Please read and send me heaps of money if you don’t like it.
“So you see Mr. Dawkins, we really do recommend that you consider sending Stephen to one of our counsellors. It comes as a shock at any age to see a dead body. Let alone if you’re eleven years old.”
Dad nods his approval and I feel mum squeeze my shoulder. Then dad makes a stupid joke. I think he’s been drinking.
“So, just to confirm,” he says, too cheerfully. “You don’t think that Stephen did it?”
There is a long, long silence and the two police officers turn and look at each other. One of them shakes his head, the other one frowns. Mum squeezes my shoulders harder until it’s almost hurting.
“No we don’t think he did, sir,’ the woman police officer eventually replies with a dead straight face.
I didn’t know what to do other than call 999 on my mobile. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve ever done this and I was amazed that it took only eight minutes 12 seconds for the police to come sprinting up Waterlow Park. First on the scene was a young looking policeman called PC Foster. Straight away he told Smitty and me to move away from the dead body. Then he knelt over the thing on the ground and took hold of its wrist. Smitty told me later that he must have been checking for a pulse. He said he’d seen people do that on TV. Soon another four policeman arrived, including a lady policeman called PC George. She started asking us questions in a very soothing voice that you could tell was put on. What are your names? How old are you? Where do you live? Who first noticed the body? What time was it when you first noticed the body? Was there anybody else in the park when you found the body? Did you touch the body? Did you take anything away from the body? Loads of questions. So many questions.
While we were busy answering PC George’s questions I kept a sneaky eye on what the other policemen where doing. I managed to catch what a couple of them were saying and the words ‘suspicious’ and ‘murder’ kept getting repeated in hushed tones. One of them had a camera and was taking photographs or maybe it was a video. Another one put his ear to the the body’s heart and touched the face. I guessed that they were checking for signs of life. There was really no need to do that – the man was definitely dead. Anybody could see that.
Then even more people arrived. These were not dressed in police uniforms but you could see that they were probably police. Some where dressed in white uniforms and wore face masks. One of them took some more photos of the body and another one covered the body up with a plastic sheet. Another man stuck a ring of red tape around the body that had the words ‘CRIME SCENE DO NOT DISTURB’ written on it over and over. When I looked behind me at the gates to Waterloo Park I could see that they was also being taped up with the same red tape. “It’s to keep people out of the park,” whispered Smitty.
There was a lot of talking going on and the crackle of police radios. “Why do they use radios?” I asked PC George. “Mobile phones are so much better.” PC George didn’t answer. She just smiled at me.
Finally, we were both asked where our parents worked. I couldn’t them where dad worked but I said that mum was a nurse at the Royal Free. They must have called her because within half an hour she was being led towards us by another policeman. She seemed shocked and gave me a big hug, not even bothering to look at Smitty. A little while later Smitty’s dad turned up and took hold of his hand. He was fat like Smitty, too. Like a bigger version of him. He didn’t bother to look at me.
Next, the police asked mum some questions and she got on the phone to dad. Then Smitty and I were put in separate police cars and driven home. It was the first time that I’d ever been in a police car. I sat in the back seat next to mum. PC Foster and PC George were in the front seat. I pretended to myself that I was a villain wearing handcuffs. The drive home was very quick. When we got out of the car I noticed that a lot of the neighbours were staring out of their windows at us. Some where shaking theirs heads, as if I had done something wrong. I waved to them and they just looked away.
After dad made that stupid joke PC Foster and George kind of stopped talking to him and just talked to mum instead. I think they must have guessed that he had been drinking. “So are you all right then young Steven?” says PC Young, holding a notepad in her hands and scribbling something down.
“I’m fine thank-you,” I lie, because I’m far from fine. Actually, I’m really, really scared. So scared that I can’t stop shaking. Lots of thoughts are going around my head. If that was the man we saw in the park the other day then who killed him? Was he killed because of the money? Does whoever killed him know that I took the money? Should I just have done with it and come clean about the money? Will I get into trouble? Will I go to prison for taking the money?
I decide to try and act like I’m not scared. “Why do you use a notepad?” I ask. “Why not use an iPad or something?”
PC George smiles and hesitates before responding: “It’s just tradition,” she says. “Silly old old tradition…”