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Authors: Jim Carrington

In the Bag (4 page)

BOOK: In the Bag
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I sit up in bed and stare into the distance, thinking. I feel a bit weird, kind of nervous. About the bag and the money and the car, like I’ve done something I shouldn’t have. I get out of bed and pull my dressing gown on, walk over to my computer and switch it on. I drum my fingers on the table as I wait for it to start up, look out of the back window at Mum in the garden, hanging out the washing, pegs in her mouth.

My computer eventually comes to life. Straight away I go to the search engine and think about what to type in to find out about the money. I try ‘bag full of money’. Which is obviously a mistake cos right away it comes up with about 25 gazillion results. Far too many to search through. And all the top results are just about songs called ‘bag full of money’. So I add ‘Dorset’ to the search term and press Enter. This time there are only 24,000 results. But they’re still all about song lyrics.

So I sit back and think. What if the money in the bag was stolen? I mean, why else would there be twenty grand in notes in a bag? Normal people don’t carry that kind of money with them, do they? Normal people have bank accounts and debit cards and internet banking and stuff. I type ‘stolen money Dorset’ into the computer, press Enter and watch as the results come on to the screen. I scan through them. The second one looks promising: ‘Money stolen in armed robbery’. I click on it. The Dorset police website opens up. The story’s from a few months ago. It doesn’t say how much money was taken. But I don’t think it has anything to do with the money we found. It’s too long ago. If it was stolen a couple of months ago, they wouldn’t still have it lying around, would they? I look back at the results, try the next one, about some money stolen from a funeral. But the link’s broken. I look through a couple of pages of results, but they’re all links to stories of highwaymen and people stealing chickens off farms. So I try a new search: ‘Stolen bag money Dorset’. I press Enter. The results are useless – they’re all about handbags being stolen and stuff.

I give up on the bag and try and find out about the car instead. I search ‘car crash Fayrewood’. The results come up. There are 2,920 matches. They’re all for things like car insurance and car repair shops and stuff. No good. Not what I’m looking for. I sigh. Nothing about the car in the forest last night. Nothing about the bag of money.

I sit and stare into space. I think about where I could find out about the crash last night or the money. Then I have an idea. I turn back to the computer and go to the website of the local paper,
The
Bournemouth Press
. If the crash is gonna be anywhere, it’ll be on here. The website comes up and I look through the list of top stories. There’s nothing on there about the car or the money, just some stories about a body being washed up on a beach and something about a fire.

I close the website. I stare at my phone on the desk, then pick it up and check to see if I have any messages. But I have no signal. I get up and move around my room cos that’s the only way to get a signal in here. I eventually manage to get a signal over by the window. No messages.

I put my phone on the windowsill and go downstairs to the kitchen. Mum’s in there loading the washing machine.

‘Morning, Joe,’ she says. ‘Sleep well?’

‘Yeah,’ I say. It comes out like a grunt. I don’t look at her. I just go to the bread bin, get a couple of slices out and put them in the toaster.

‘Do you want a cup of tea?’ Mum says. ‘I was just about to make one.’

I nod. ‘Yeah.’ I stand and wait for my toast to pop up.

Mum stands by the sink and fills the kettle, looking out of the window. ‘Did you have a good time at the rec last night?’

I nod. ‘Yeah, all right.’

Mum nods as well. There’s silence for a bit. ‘You feeling OK this morning?’

I nod my head. ‘Yeah. I’m fine,’ I mumble.

Mum turns the tap off and plugs the kettle in. She looks at me and smiles. ‘Did you get woken by the sirens in the night?’ she says.

I look at Mum. I shake my head. And I start to panic. ‘What sirens?’

Mum shrugs. ‘Early this morning,’ she says. ‘Just after four. They sounded like they were in a rush.’

I look away from Mum. What if they were something to do with the crashed car and the bag of money? What if the police are looking for the money? I feel like asking her questions about the sirens – how many cars it sounded like, where they were going – but I don’t say a thing. We’re both silent. She takes some plates out of the dishwasher, while I start panicking about sirens.

‘We’re going to Bournemouth in a bit,’ Mum says as she stacks some plates in the cupboard, ‘so be quick with your breakfast.’

‘I said I’d go over to Ash’s,’ I say.

Mum shakes her head. ‘You’re coming to Bournemouth with us. We need to get you a new shirt for Claire’s wedding.’

I sigh. ‘What? Why?’

Mum laughs. ‘Because you’ll look a bit silly without one on.’

‘I’ve got loads of shirts already,’ I say.

Mum nods her head. ‘But none that are suitable for a wedding.’

I sigh again. ‘Can’t you just buy me one? I don’t have to be there, do I?’

Mum nods. ‘Of course you do. It won’t take long, promise. Then you’ll have the rest of the day to yourself.’

My toast pops up. I open the cupboard and get a plate. Mum opens the fridge and passes me the margarine.

‘Thanks,’ I grunt.

Mum looks up at me and smiles. ‘Honestly,’ she says. ‘Living with teenagers is like living with monsters sometimes.’

I spread the butter on my toast and look for the Marmite.

The kettle boils. Mum starts making the tea. ‘Oh,’ she says.

And don’t forget Sally and Edward are coming over this evening.’

I look at Mum. I roll my eyes.

‘You will be here, won’t you?’

I sigh. ‘Do I have to?’

Mum shrugs. ‘Well, it would be nice if you were,’ she says. ‘They haven’t seen you for about six months. I think Darren and Samantha are coming too.’

I sigh. My annoying cousins. Just what I need. I nod my head and take my toast through to the lounge.

 

After breakfast and a shower, I go to my room. I still feel kind of odd. I need to know what the sirens were for. I need to know that they weren’t anything to do with what we found last night. I grab my phone and send a text to Ash.
Sorry, got to go to Bournemouth. See you later.

Then I hear footsteps stomping up the stairs and an impatient voice. ‘Hurry up, Joe. We’re leaving.’ It’s Kate, my sister. I can’t remember the last time she said something to me in a normal voice without shouting or sighing or being annoying.

‘Coming,’ I shout back. I grab some socks and pants and the jeans I was wearing yesterday and pull them all on, then snatch up a T-shirt from the back of my chair and pull that on as well. I race down the stairs, stuff my feet into my trainers by the door and leave the house.

Mum, Dad and Kate are already in the car when I get outside. Dad starts the engine as soon as I close the car door and then backs out of the drive. It’s silent apart from the radio, which Dad always has tuned to Radio 4. It sounds much too boring to even bother listening to. Beside me, Kate’s already got her earphones in, listening to music. Straight away I wish I’d brought mine with me. Instead, I sit and stare out of the window, daydreaming as we drive through Fayrewood, watching the old ladies taking their dogs for walks, little kids being pushed in their buggies by their mums and the older kids messing around on their bikes.

But then, as we start driving along the main road towards the middle of town, the car slows and stops. I look out of the front windscreen. There’s a traffic jam. This must be a first. I don’t think I have ever seen a traffic jam in Fayrewood before. It’s not that kind of place.

‘What on earth’s all this in aid of?’ Dad says.

No one answers. Eventually the traffic starts moving more quickly.

‘Bloody hell,’ Dad says. He points over to the right, at the new flats.

‘What’s going on?’ Mum says.

Up ahead there are police cars and fire engines and all sorts outside the flats.

‘That must have been what the sirens were for last night,’ Dad says. ‘Looks like the flats have burned out.’

‘Oh dear,’ Mum says, half covering her face with her hands. ‘How awful.’

It’s awful and completely selfish, I know, but I can’t help but feel relieved that the sirens were for this, not the car and the bag. At least no one will have been hurt – the flats aren’t even finished yet.

We gradually creep forward. As we pass the flats, I wind down my window and stare. The air smells strange. A burnt smell. The front of one of the flats is completely blackened. All the flats around it are partly burned out too. Behind me, I can sense Kate leaning across to stare out of my window. And then we’re past the flats and the traffic speeds up.

‘You know who’s done that, don’t you?’ Dad says, as we head out the other end of town.

No one answers him.

‘The developers!’ Dad says eventually. ‘They must have run out of money. Insurance job. Bet you.’ He laughs, looks across at Mum for a reaction. ‘Looks like they made a pig’s ear of doing it, though – they’ve only burned one flat!’

‘Don’t joke about it, Rob,’ Mum says. ‘Someone could have been hurt for all we know.’

‘Doubt it,’ Dad says. ‘The flats aren’t finished. There won’t have been anyone in there. You wait until they’ve carried out an investigation. They’ll find it’s arson. It’ll be on the news by the end of the week, mark my words.’

Mum doesn’t reply. She looks out of the window instead.

Ash

When I get downstairs into the kitchen, I see a note and twenty pounds on the work surface. I pick them up. The note’s in Mum’s handwriting.

 

Dear Ashley,

Gone to work and then going straight to Swindon for June’s 50th. There’s a portion of Bolognese in the fridge – just heat it up and boil yourself some pasta. Should be back by teatime tomorrow. If you need to phone, me and Dad have our mobiles. Make sure you lock all the downstairs doors and windows before you go out, etc.

Love, Mum

PS get yourself a DVD with the money.

 

I look at the twenty-pound note and smile to myself. This is small change to me now. Still, I put it in my pocket. I go into the lounge, roll myself a joint, have a smoke and then play some video games. But I can’t really be arsed with it this morning. I feel kind of itchy, if you know what I mean. I can’t sit down, can’t sit still. It must be the thought of the money just sitting there upstairs, waiting for me to spend it. I send a couple of texts out, see if anyone wants to meet. I don’t bother sending one to Joe cos he’s gone to Bournemouth. Dylan sends one saying he’s visiting his grandad and Rabbit doesn’t answer.

I sigh. Fuck them all, then. I’ll go out on my own, have some fun. I climb the stairs, go to my room, pull the holdall down from my wardrobe shelf and take some money out. Two fifties. I stare at them. Before yesterday I’d never even held a fifty before in my life. And now I’ve got loads of them. I grab a few more and stuff them in my jeans pocket. I’m gonna go shopping, I think. Why not? What’s the point of just having the money here doing nothing? I might as well spend it. I take out the bag of weed as well, hold it up and look at it, then open the bag and smell it. I should divide it up. If I got caught with this lot while I was out, I’d get done for dealing. Possession with intent or whatever you call it. I zip the top of the bag back up.

I leave my room with the bag of weed and go down to the kitchen. I open the drawer next to the cooker and help myself to a load of sandwich bags. If I was being really anal about it, I’d get some electric scales out and use those too. But I don’t have any, so I just share the weed out between the bags. There’s got to be roughly an eighth in each.

When I’m done, I take most of the bags upstairs and hide them away in a drawer. I grab my rucksack, shove a jumper and some weed in there, then rush back downstairs and out the door. I pick up my bike and helmet and I’m on my way.

Joe

‘I’m gonna go now,’ I say to Mum as she puts the shirt over her arm and starts walking towards the tills. ‘Where shall I meet you?’

‘Back at the car,’ Mum says. She looks at her watch. ‘Ticket runs out at one, so make sure you’re back by then.’

‘OK.’

‘Can I go round town on my own as well?’ Kate says, all of a sudden not dragging her heels behind Mum. ‘Please.’

Mum shakes her head. ‘Not yet, Kate. We need to get you some shoes.’

Kate sighs heavily.

‘I’m confused,’ Dad says. ‘I thought buying shoes was the reason women lived.’

Kate sighs again.

I smirk and head out of the shop. What a waste of time. I have no idea why Mum needed me to be there for that. All we did was go to one shop and find the first shirt that had a reduced sticker on the price label. A plain white shirt. As though I don’t have a load of those at home already. It wasn’t even as though she made me go into the changing rooms to try it on. All she did was hold it up against me. A waste of my time.

I don’t mind coming shopping usually. I mean, I don’t like walking round with Mum and Dad and Kate, but walking round the shops I want to look in is all right. Even if I never have any money to spend in them. Today, though, I’d rather not be here. I want to go and see Ash. I want to talk to him about what we saw last night. About what we found last night and what we’re gonna do with it. I keep changing my mind. I know what I should be thinking: hand the bag over to the police. It’s what we should do. But is it the right thing to do? I mean, if we took the bag to the police, what would happen to it? Would they actually find who it belongs to? I don’t know what to think.

BOOK: In the Bag
7.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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