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Authors: Jim Carrington

In the Bag (3 page)

BOOK: In the Bag
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Ash comes round to the driver’s side as well. ‘Shit,’ he says. He stands and stares, shocked. Like me.

I stand back from the car. I feel weird. My head’s kind of rushing, like everything’s in fast forward apart from me. I turn and stare at the inside of the car for a minute and then I turn away and look up at the trees. I need to think straight. I need to try and calm down. My heart’s racing like mad. ‘Do you think we should call the police or something?’

Ash stands and thinks for a second. Then he nods and checks his pockets. He takes his phone out. He presses a button and then stares at the screen. ‘Bollocks,’ he says. ‘Battery’s dead. You got yours?’

I’ve already got my phone out. I look at it. No signal. I hold it out for Ash to see and run my hand through my hair.

‘Well, what shall we do, then?’

I shrug. I look around at the car, at the track, at the woods. ‘I dunno,’ I say. ‘There’s not much we can do. Maybe we should see if we can find whoever was driving the car, see if they’re still here. They could be hurt.’

Ash nods. ‘Yeah, OK,’ he says. ‘Good idea. We could check the woods.’

So we both walk into the darkness between the trees. Ash goes off to the right and I walk straight ahead into the woods. It’s difficult to see anything at first. It’s darker among the trees than on the path. But after a little while, my eyes get used to the gloom and I can see well enough to dodge the trees and undergrowth. There’s no sign of anyone, though. I look around at the floor of the forest, at the undergrowth, searching for any sign that someone’s been through: a footprint, trampled plants, bloodstains, anything. But it’s almost impossible to make out any detail. So I give up looking at the ground. I just stand up tall and still instead, looking all around me. Nothing. No sign of anyone. Whoever was in the car must have gone. Walked away.

I look over at Ash. He’s making his way back towards the car and the bikes. I decide I might as well do the same. We’re not gonna find anyone out here.

‘See anything?’

Ash shakes his head. ‘Nothing,’ he says. ‘They can’t have been hurt that bad. They must have gone already.’

I nod and we both get on our bikes. We start cycling along the path again. And I start thinking. How could someone just drive off the path and hit a tree? It’s not like the trees are right next to the path cos there’s a big grass verge in between. You’d have to be a shit driver not to be able to stop yourself coming off the path and hitting the trees. And come to think of it, what the fuck was a car doing in the woods in the first place? Rabbit drives around the forest, but that’s cos he lives there. There are gates to stop cars at most of the entrances – Rabbit’s dad has to have a special key to open them.

We cycle on in silence. I guess we’re both thinking about it.

‘Shall I check if I’ve got a signal now?’ I say after a while. ‘Report the car . . .’

Ash shakes his head. ‘Nah,’ he says. ‘It was probably just a joyrider or something. If we call the cops, we’ll have to hang round till they get here and stuff, freezing our bollocks off. Anyway someone’ll find it in the morning and call the cops. Let’s just leave it for them.’

I guess he’s right. We keep cycling, silently. And all the while I keep looking towards the trees, half expecting to see someone. Though I don’t know why, cos it’s not like I can see anything, just the black outlines of trees. Maybe Ash is right, maybe someone just abandoned the car and ran off. You see a lot of abandoned cars round here. Mostly up on the verge by the side of the roads.

‘You gonna go to Rabbit’s party next weekend?’ Ash says.

‘Yeah, course.’

‘He told me to invite whoever I want,’ Ash says.

‘Right,’ I say absent-mindedly, still looking into the woods. There’s no one there, just thousands of silhouetted trees.


As soon as I get back, I’m gonna charge my phone up and I’m gonna start inviting the fittest girls I know.’

I don’t say anything. Something in the grass at the edge of the trees has caught my attention. Something dark, on the ground over on the left-hand side of the path. I put my brakes on. Ash hears them and stops up ahead of me.

‘What you stopping for?’

I point off to the left. ‘Down there. There’s something on the ground.’

We both jump off our bikes and walk over to the trees. As I get nearer I can make out that it’s a bag. A holdall. Ash gets to it first, bends down and pulls it towards him. He looks at me and then undoes the zip on the top of the bag, opens the flap and looks inside.

‘Clothes,’ he says. He pulls the clothes out of the bag. There’s a white T-shirt, some jeans and a navy blue sweatshirt. But then something else catches his eye. ‘Holy shit,’ he says.

‘What?’

But before he has a chance to answer, I catch a glimpse of what it is in the moonlight. Money. Loads of it. Banknotes. Fives and tens and twenties and fifties.

‘Unbelievable,’ Ash says. ‘Fucking hell. We’re rich!’ He takes a fifty out of the bag and gives it a kiss.

I shake my head. ‘This is mental,’ I say. But I don’t say anything more cos I’m not sure what to say. There are a million things I can think of, but right now I’m not sure which is the right one.

‘There must be thousands in here,’ Ash says, staring into the bag, picking up handfuls of cash, then letting them drop back in.

I nod my head. ‘Whose is it? Has it got a name?’

Ash looks at the bag. There’s a name tag on it. He turns it over and leans in close to read it. ‘Nope,’ he says. ‘Nothing written on it.’ He lets go of the tag.

‘What kind of idiot drops a bag full of money and doesn’t notice?’ I say.

Ash shakes his head. ‘I dunno. A rich one, I guess.’

‘What shall we do with it?’

Ash stands and stares at the bag with a grin on his face.

‘We could take it to the police,’ I say.

Ash looks at me. He screws his face up, like he’s thinking about it. ‘You serious? Now?’ he says. ‘It’s the middle of the bloody night. The police station’s closed.’

‘There’ll be someone on duty, though, won’t there?’ I say.

Ash shrugs. ‘Even if there is, we’ve been drinking. They’ll smell it on us,’ he says. ‘They’ll take the bag off us and then get our parents to come and pick us up.’

I sigh. I guess he’s right. ‘So what do we do, then?’

‘Easy. Take it home.’

‘We can’t do that – it isn’t ours. That’s stealing.’

Ash shrugs. ‘No, we’d just be looking after it. We wouldn’t be taking it or anything.’ He pauses and looks around at the forest, as though whoever the bag belongs to is gonna turn up and take the money any second.

Anyway, we can’t just leave it here, can we? Someone else would find it and keep it.’

I don’t say anything for a bit. I’m thinking. I sigh. ‘OK. We’ll take it to yours. I don’t want it in my house. And only till the morning, though, till we decide what to do with it.’

Ash puts the clothes back in the bag and zips it up. He gets to his feet. ‘Come on then,’ he says. ‘Let’s get it back to mine before someone else takes it.’

 

About ten minutes later we turn on to Ash’s road. There was no sign of anyone on the way back through the woods. No one looking for a bag stuffed full of cash. No one staggering around dripping with blood, looking like they’d been in an accident, either.

Ash’s house is on the road next to mine. The road’s totally silent and still and dark as we pedal down it. All the houses have their curtains drawn. All the lights are off. We turn into Ash’s drive and gently put our bikes down in the little patch of garden out front. We don’t say a word as we walk up the steps to his house. Instead we look all around us, just in case someone’s watching. I feel bad, like we’re doing something really awful, like we’re criminals. My heart’s thumping against my ribcage. My hands are sweaty. I want to get inside Ash’s house quick before someone sees us and the bag. It feels like we’re stealing, even though we’re not really.

Ash looks at me. Then he puts his hands in his jeans pockets and takes out his keys. He’s silent. He slides the key really carefully into the lock and twists it. He steps inside the house, looks around, listens for any sound. He pokes his head round the lounge door to check no one’s there. Then he turns and beckons. I look around me and step quietly into the house.

Ash pushes the front door shut ever so quietly and locks it behind us. The hallway’s dark. He looks at me and points over to the stairs. I nod and let him go first, tiptoeing upstairs, holding the bag in front of him. He keeps stopping, straining his ears to hear his parents. But the whole house is silent. At the top of the stairs, he stops again. He looks around. All the bedroom doors are closed. He turns to me and then points to his bedroom door. I nod. We creep up the rest of the stairs and then, when he’s at the top, Ash turns right and silently opens his door. He waits for me to get inside and then shuts the door behind us.

Ash chucks the bag down on his bed and switches on a lamp. The room fills with dim light. He looks around his room and his eyes settle on the swivel chair at his desk. He walks over to the chair, wheels it over to the door, jams it underneath the handle and then pushes down a lever on the side of the chair to lock the wheels.

He takes a deep breath and then blows it out slowly, running both hands through his hair. He looks completely sober now. I feel totally sober too. He turns to look at me. We both smile.

I can already think of a few things I’d do with the money. If we kept it.

Ash walks back over to his bed and pulls the bag towards him. He unzips it, pulls the flap on the top of the bag open and takes the clothes out. A smell of aftershave wafts up my nose. I look in the bag, half expecting it to be empty this time, or filled with blank pieces of paper or something. But it isn’t. It’s still full of money. I shake my head in disbelief and smile at the same time.

Ash picks the bag up and tips the money out on the bed. It doesn’t all come out at first, so he has to shake it. But after a few seconds the bag’s empty and the bed is covered in cash. And that’s not all. There’s a clear plastic bag as well, filled with weed or something. Ash scoops the money up in his hands and lets it all shower down on us. ‘I’ve always wanted to do that,’ he says. He picks up the plastic bag and looks at it closely for a second, opens the top and gives it a sniff. Then he kisses it and smiles. ‘This just gets better and better.’

I stare at the money all over the bed and the floor. There’s just loads of it. God knows how much is there. Thousands probably. ‘Let’s count it,’ I say quietly.

Ash looks up at me and smiles. He nods. ‘You count the fifties, I’ll do the twenties.’

So we crouch there, by the side of his bed, counting the stack of fifties and twenties. And when we’re done with that, we do the fives and the tens as well. Ash goes over to his desk and grabs a piece of paper and a pen. He notes down the amounts. And then he adds them all up. ‘Fuck me!’ he says with a smile. ‘That’s more than twenty grand!’

I shake my head. This is too much to take in. Twenty grand! How can you lose twenty grand?

Ash smiles. He’s worked something else out on his paper. ‘If we were gonna split it, we’d get ten thousand and ninety-seven pounds and fifty pence each,’ he says. He looks at me. He’s smiling like crazy. Like he’s just won the lottery.

I shake my head. ‘Jesus,’ I say. ‘That’s a lot of money. How can someone not notice they lost that much money? That’s just mad.’

Ash shrugs. ‘I’ll tell you one thing,’ he says. ‘If I had twenty grand, I wouldn’t leave it lying round in the woods for someone to find. Would you?’

I shake my head. ‘No way.’

From outside the room there’s a noise. A door opens. Footsteps cross the landing. Another door opens and then shuts. Then there’s a ping as the bathroom light goes on. And then the sound of Ash’s mum or dad going to the toilet.

Ash looks at me and laughs. ‘Quick, help me put it all back in the bag!’

We grab enormous handfuls of cash and stuff it back into the bag along with the clothes and the bag of weed, until there’s nothing left on the bed.

Out on the landing, I hear the toilet flush, the door open and the light go off. More footsteps, then a closing door.

Ash grabs a handful of fifties out of the top of the bag. He shoves some in his pocket and offers the rest to me.

I put my hand out and he puts the money there. I look at him. ‘What?’

Ash smiles. ‘We deserve a reward, even if we end up giving it back,’ he says. ‘Don’t you think?’

I look down at my hand, at the money. Two hundred quid. I think of all the stuff that I could do with it. I smile and put the money in my pocket.

Ash smiles too. He gets up and grabs the bag, takes it over to his wardrobe. He shoves the bag up on a shelf right to the back. Then he grabs his clothes from the floor and shoves them in, hiding the bag. ‘Let’s not tell anyone,’ he says. ‘Not yet.’

I nod my head.

‘You’d better get going,’ he says. ‘Get some sleep.’

‘I’ll come round tomorrow morning,’ I say. ‘Then we can decide what to do.’

Ash nods.

SATURDAY

Joe

I wake up and look at my clock. It’s nearly ten. Light’s streaming in through the window where I didn’t pull the curtains properly last night. I stretch and rub my eyes. I feel rubbish. I didn’t sleep properly last night. I couldn’t switch my brain off. When I got in I was buzzing, thinking about the money: who it belongs to, why it was just lying there in the forest, what I’d spend it on if it was mine. And if I wasn’t thinking about that, I was thinking about the crashed car. I fell asleep eventually, though. The last time I checked it was after three.

BOOK: In the Bag
5.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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