Smithy – Chapter 22

You know what happened after that. I ran to the house and called an ambulance and your police car turned up with it.  The first bloke, the copper in uniform told me I had to stay in the caravan until he said different and that was it.  Your guys took over and there we are.

A coupla days later Mr Simm, the solicitors came to see me.  I was gobsmacked when he told me what Mr C. had done.  I know people think that in some way either me or Smithy or maybe both of us did something to him, but we didn’t.  I can’t say any more, just no we didn’t.  I wouldn’a known how to and Smithy – Smithy would never do anything bad to anyone.  He wouldn’t.  I wish you’d known him, just met him for a bit and you’d believe me then, you would.

Mr Chambers left me the caravan in his Will.  He left me the caravan for ever it’s mine.  I still can’t believe it. He left me that and the bit of woods where the blackbird lives.  He left me some money, but I don’t know yet how much.  Mr Simm says it’s enough to see me through college.  As well as the caravan he arranged for me to have a place at the college to study about conservation and wildlife and stuff.  In the Will he said he thought that was where my heart was and so it was where my life should be.  If we’d forced him to do it would he have written something lovely like that, would he?

He was wrong though.  I’m chuffed to bits I really am and I’m gonna work so hard to be sure he’d be proud of me and it’s exciting, but he’s wrong, about where my heart is.  Smithy and Mum when they went off, just dissolved in the air they took it with them.  Since that happened I have felt as though I’m only half here.  I get up in the morning and I hear the blackbird and go out to sit in the sunshine and it’s empty and there’s no Smithy.  I love the thought that I’ve got the caravan and Mr Simm says nobody can take it away, but I’d give it away I really would if it meant Smithy would come back.

I know now what Mr Chambers – poor old bugger – meant when he said what he said about giving everything up just to have one hour with his son.  I’m sorry I’m crying now I really am, but I can’t help it.  I didn’t do anything to hurt Mr C.  Smithy couldn’t and wouldn’t no matter what anyone says and if I could turn back time, I’d stop us coming here I really would, and I’d still be on the road with him and I wouldn’t feel empty and alone.

I know what people are sayin’, I know that they think Smithy ran off, I don’t know how they can to be honest.  All the people that he met, the ones from the charity shop and the ones in town, they must know he just couldn’t hurt anyone.  Anyway, I can’t change the way people are, I’ve told you what happened and that’s it.

It’s gone so fast, when I think about it all now, it’s not even a full year yet since Mum died and look at what’s happened to me.  I’ve been down about as far as it’s possible to go, further than I would’a ever expected, I’ve moved on and, well it looks like I’ve moved up in some ways.  I’ve got the caravan and college and I can see where I’m goin’, incredible. I’m different now, I know more, and I know that it’s okay to ask for help but that I have to keep it together, okay I didn’t want it to be this way, but it is and so I have to deal with it.

I’m gonna go to the funeral and hold my head up amongst all those people and I’m gonna do the best I can to make this all work out, but I wish I had Smithy and I wish I had my mum.  One thing I don’t wish, and I know it’s daft of me to say I, here with all of you thinking what you’re thinking, but I don’t wish Mr Chambers was still here.  He didn’t want to be here, he wanted to be with his son and maybe his wife and if you’d seen them hugging each other there in the wood and then the way that they just walked off together through the trees you wouldn’t want him to give it up either.

Can I go now, Mr Simms said that Mr C died of a heart attack and you can’t say any more than that and I don’t want to be here anymore.  I want to go and sit in the edge of the woods and listen to the blackbird and try to get my heart back.

The End

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Smithy – Chapter 21

I’d fallen asleep quickly and I don’t know how much later it was when I heard the knock on the door.  I got out of bed and Smithy had gone out into the dark where Mr Chambers stood beside him.

“Are you absolutely sure about this?”  I heard Smithy even though his voice was low, and Mr C whispered back.

“I am certain.  I know this is a great sacrifice for you and I am so grateful, but I am sure this is what I want.”

“You could have longer.  You don’t need to go now.  It’s not really time.”

“I know, I know but there’s nothing more for me.  Everything is over, all finished let me go on.”

Smithy just put his hand on Mr Chambers’ shoulder then and smiled at him.  “The sacrifice is Phil’s really.  He should have had my help for a while yet.”

“I know but I think that the arrangements we agreed will be some small compensation.”

I was outside now and they both turned and looked at me but they didn’t speak.  Smithy walked a few steps away to the edge of the woods.  He just stood there in the dark with his head down.  He didn’t say anything to me at all.  I wonder sometimes why that was, but he didn’t. I wish he had done, I do. It might have helped, but anyway some things are just the way that they are.

Well this is it now the really freaky stuff and I know before I say any of it you’re not going to believe me.  I can’t help it, all I can tell you is this is what happened.  I’m not lying about it and there’s nothing I can do to force it to make sense, but here we go. I’ve said it all so many times now and each time I see the looks on people’s faces but I can’t do a thing about it, and to be honest I don’t want to.  I’ve got to live with this now for the rest of my life, it’s part of me and I’m not going to start and try to make it sound other than it was just to please other people.

The night started to get a bit lighter as if the moon had come out from behind a cloud.  It got more and more light and I looked up but there wasn’t a moon just then.  I wondered if someone had a torch but – well um – shit, don’t look at me when I say this next bit, cos I’ll see in your eyes that you’ll think I’m nuts.

Okay, here we go.  The light was coming from Smithy.  He was glowing.  You know when you’re little and you put a torch behind your hand and the light shines through? Well it was a bit like that but not a red light it was goldy coloured.  It wasn’t super bright or anything it was just like a very dim sort of bulb.

We stood there, me and Mr Chambers. I was too scared to even breathe, and I don’t know how he was but he didn’t say anything.  Then beside Smithy this shape started to show.  It was as if it was his shadow but ‘course it couldn’t be.  Then it got deeper and clearer and more real and then I heard Mr Chambers gasp.  It was a small noise, but everything was so quiet that it filled the night.  “Brian” that was it, that was all he said the whole time.

“The shape was now pretty clear, and it was Brian.  He wasn’t in his uniform or anything, just ordinary clothes, but it was him for sure.  He just stood there in the edge of the trees with his feet in the long grass. He sort of cocked his head to one side and looked at Mr Chambers and then he smiled.

Mr C took a few steps towards him.  I more felt that than saw it because I couldn’t take my eyes away from Smithy and Brian.  Smithy was looking really strange.  It was as if his edges were getting hazy and wobbly.  There was still the glow around him and he hadn’t moved.  His eyes were closed, and his head was down.  Like the statues you see in churches and stuff and he was dead still.

Brian walked forward and once they were close enough him and Mr Chambers just grabbed hold of each other and hugged.  They were like that for ages I think, although I have to admit I have no idea how long it all took really.  After a bit, Brian turned round and started to walk towards the trees and as he did Mr Chambers walked on with him.  He never looked back or said anything he just walked into the trees with Brian.  They disappeared into the dark. I can’t say it any clearer than that, I could see them for a while weaving between the trees and then I couldn’t see them any more and I turned round to Smithy.

He was still standing right in the same place.  There was still a shape with him and I thought it must be Brian come back, but it was smaller and fainter than he had been.  Then I knew, all of a sudden, I just knew.  One minute I didn’t know what it was and then I saw and I knew just like that.  I started crying, you woulda done as well, you would.  It was my mum.

The more that she became real and solid the less he did.  It was just as if he was melting or dissolving.  She was dressed in a pair of light coloured trousers and a blouse thing.  Her hair was long and loose and there were flowers sort of twined into it.  She didn’t look sick the way she had just before she died, she looked like she did when I was little.  I used to see her standing at the school gates and thought she must be a princess ‘cos she was so much prettier than the other mums and smilier.

Sorry, can I have another tissue, I’m not bothered you know, about crying in front of other people.  If you don’t understand, well, you just don’t and if you do then I don’t need to explain. It’s not soppy and it’s not wrong.

She took a step towards me and held her arms up and I just walked a couple of steps so she could reach me.  When she gave me that hug it was just as if I’d fallen into a soft cloud.  I couldn’t feel her as if she was there, not arms and hands but she wrapped around me and made me feel warm and safe and loved.  I know, I know I sound dead girly, but there’s no other way for me to tell you about it because I think that no matter what it was and where it came from it was just love from Mum.

I don’t know how long it lasted, I know I didn’t want it ever to end.  It wasn’t sudden, but I felt her start to go and then slowly, so slowly she unwrapped me and drifted away.  I turned round to where Smithy had been standing and he was nearly gone as well. The glow that had been around him was fading and sort of sparkling like those dust bits that Mum called sunbeams, although it was night, so I suppose they were moonbeams really.  Just as he went. he looked at me and lifted his hand up and smiled his goofy smile and raised his eyebrows the way he used to and that was it.

He simply faded away and I didn’t know how alone you could feel until that happened.  It was just as if there was nobody in the whole world except me standing there in the wet grass with the trees swaying and whispering.  Even the creatures in the night were quiet there was nothing, absolutely nothing.  Me and what I’d seen and that was it.  It was like a hole that I’d fallen into with the little bit of world I’d taken with me.

When I turned round and saw Mr Chambers lying on the ground I was gobsmacked.  ‘Course I ran over to him and tried to make him waken up, but I knew he was dead.  I’d only ever seen one dead body before, Mum, but you could just tell.  I suppose I shoulda tried that chest pumping thing but for one I don’t know how and for another I knew it’d be no good.  He’d gone with Brian, gone off to be happy so I just went into the caravan and grabbed Smithy’s blanket to cover him.  I think I was still crying, and I was panicked, it was bloody scary to be honest, in the dark with a dead body and nobody to tell me what to do but I had to just get on with it.

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Smithy – Chapter 20

It was a lovely night, warm and calm and we sat outside for a long time, the sun went down through the branches and the owl started calling.  That damp feeling crept over everything and the sky was blue black with stars starting to pop out.  Smithy said that’s supposed to be a magic time and you can feel it can’t you, as though there’s more than just what we know of. As if there are hidden, secret things.  I know people think that I’m weird, but you see it doesn’t matter, I don’t mind at all, I only know what I know but at least I understand I don’t know everything, nothing like.

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Smithy – Chapter 19

About elevenish we went inside to have a cup of coffee and there was usually a bit of cake or some scones.  I had always really liked that, and I was starting to cheer up by then.  Smithy had started chatting away as normal and so off we went into the kitchen.

Mr Chambers wasn’t there, and we could hear him talking to someone else through in the other part of the house.  After a bit he came into the hall with a bloke in a suit and they went to the front door.  I know you shouldn’t listen in to other people’s conversations, but it wasn’t possible not to hear them standing there by the front door.

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Smithy – Chapter 18

We stayed until late that night, the one after the bike thing.  We had our dinner together. Smithy made us all omelettes and salad.  Afterwards Mr Chambers asked us to go and stay in the sitting room with him.  That’s what he called it the sitting room.  I’d never been into any other part of the house really.  The downstairs shower we were using was in a bit of a corridor from the kitchen and I had been in the hallway once, carrying some stuff for the charity shop but that’s all.

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Smithy – Chapter 17

Mr Chambers looked straight at me and gave a sort of embarrassed smile, “Grief, Phil, grief.  It is so very, very hard to deal with.  When my wife died I was bereft I truly was, but we had spent a long happy marriage together and she had been very sick.  It makes it easier to see someone you love relieved of their pain and if you have had the opportunity to leave nothing undone or unsaid then it smooths the path somewhat.  Brian though, my son.  He was only twenty-four, so much living left to do and so much more that I wanted to share with him.  I was so very proud of him, we both were, and the only blessing is that his mother passed away before he was killed.”

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Smithy – Chapter 16

That old barn was jam-packed.  There was everything you could think that might be in a barn and more besides.  Mountains of it, bikes and carts all tangled with the spokes twisted and the wheels bent. Hills of old sacks and stuff, there were boxes piled up all rattling with chipped cups and cracked plates.  There were a coupla tables and chairs with the backs broken off, gardening tools and old bird cages.  It was jumbled all together and at first, I didn’t see how it could ever be sorted.

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Smithy – Chapter 15

The blackbird woke me the next morning and for a while I listened. How can they do that? I mean really, how can they?  They have that little beak and they’re made of practically nothing, just a little bundle of feathers and air and yet they fill all the world with that sound.  Amazing.

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Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale

 

I really loved this book.

Poor Eustace, he was so in need of protection and care. Naive and oddball what a blessing that he found the right friends just when he needed them.

There was no real mystery because it was all laid out there for the reader to see and understand but it was a wonderful journey.

What I know about music wouldn’t fill the back of a postage stamp but it really didn’t matter because the author’s confidence persuaded me that it was all just as he said it was and that was fine.

Wonderful scene setting, visible characters and enough tension to keep the pages turning. Super stuff and not a crime in sight – oh unless you count what happened at Grace Court and that was a heinous crime indeed.

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Smithy – Chapter 14

The caravan’s older than the one that Mum and me stayed in, but it’s lovely.  It has wood panelling on the inside and some cupboards and two couches.  One of them converts into a bed and then there’s a little separate bedroom with a bed, wardrobe thing and a mirror on the wall.

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