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Authors: Jim Carrington

In the Bag (7 page)

BOOK: In the Bag
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‘Oh,’ Sally says in her sneery way. ‘I see. Right. Well, I’m sure Darren and Samantha would like to go for a walk as well, Joseph,’ she says, before adding, ‘if you don’t mind, that is . . .’

My heart sinks. I try not to make it too obvious that I’d rather chew on my own eyeballs than go to the shops with Darren and Samantha. ‘OK,’ I say with a fake smile. ‘I’m going now. Are they ready?’

I stand in the kitchen as Sally goes and gets my cousins. I open my wallet to put Mum’s fiver in there. And when I do, I see one of the fifties that Ash gave me. I get a momentary pang of guilt. I try to stop it by closing my wallet and putting it in my pocket. And then I listen as Sally forces Darren and Samantha against their will to come with me.

A minute later and we’re walking towards the centre of town, silently. Kate’s with us as well. She got rounded up by Sally too, so now she’s walking along, her head bowed in a sulk. And as I walk, I kick a stone along in front of me to avoid having to look at or talk to my relatives. Because if there’s one thing that me and Kate actually agree on, it’s that we both hate Darren and Samantha.

The stone that I’ve been kicking falls off the edge of the pavement and disappears into a drain.

‘How can you live in a shithole like this?’ Darren says.

I look at him. The way Darren asks the question makes me feel defensive, even though I kind of agree that Fayrewood is a shithole. ‘What?’ I say. ‘Fayrewood’s all right.’

Darren makes a face at Samantha, like I’ve just said something stupid. ‘Yeah, right,’ he says sarcastically. ‘It’s full of old people. It’s like a waiting room for heaven.’

I shrug. He’s right. I’m not gonna tell him that, though, am I? And I can’t be bothered to get into an argument with him.


At least where we live is in London,’ Darren goes on. ‘There’s much more to do there.’

Samantha rolls her eyes. ‘Stop boasting, Darren,’ she says.

‘I’m not,’ Darren says. ‘It’s a fact. It’s way better than this shitty little place.’

All of a sudden, Kate looks up. ‘You don’t live in London,’ she says. ‘You live in Surrey, along with all the other spoilt little boys and girls that go to public school.’

Darren doesn’t say anything right away. He stares at Kate and narrows his eyes. ‘Who asked for your opinion, lanky?’ he says.

Normally, when someone points out that Kate’s freakily tall, I would laugh and join in. But when it’s Darren, I feel more like defending Kate. But I don’t have to. She sticks her tongue out at him and then carries on walking sulkily. And we all walk another fifty or so steps without another word.

In fact, no one says anything until Darren spots the crowd that’s gathered on the pavement outside the flats and says, ‘What’s going on there?’

‘There was a fire last night,’ I say.

At the new flats.’

Darren smiles. ‘Cool,’ he says. ‘Let’s go and have a look.’ And he starts marching off along the pavement at about three times the speed he was travelling before.

Samantha turns to me and shrugs her shoulders. And Kate just mopes along the pavement beside us.

We catch up with Darren by the scrum of people. There’s a policeman and a policewoman in front of the tape. And in front of that, there’s someone from the local TV news being lit by a bright light, with a camera pointed at her face.

Darren turns to me. ‘Turns out Fayrewood’s not as boring as everyone thought.’

I nod my head without really thinking. But instead of looking at Darren, I’m looking beyond the cameras and the crowd and the police tape at the flats. There are loads of vehicles, including a fire investigation van and a couple of police cars. There are loads of people walking around too. They must all be police. Some of them are in white overalls.

I stare for a while, wondering how it burned down and whether Dad’s theory is right or not. But then I remember the cream. I look round to find the others. Kate’s right next to me. Darren and Samantha are both standing behind the TV presenter, Samantha looking bored and Darren waving over the reporter’s shoulder at the camera. Me and Kate walk over to them.

‘Come on, Darren,’ I say, grabbing him by the arm. ‘We’ve gotta go and get the cream.’

He laughs. ‘I want to get on TV,’ he says. But he starts walking with me around the crowd. ‘Did you see that reporter? She’s gorgeous.’

I ignore him. Even though he’s right – she is.

We go into the small supermarket opposite the rec. I go straight to the back, to the fridges where they keep the milk and the cream and all that stuff. The others don’t follow me, they just hang around near the magazines instead. I look along the shelves, grab two small tubs of double cream and take them to the counter. There’s one person ahead of me in the queue. I look over at the magazines. Kate and Samantha are looking at the celeb magazines. Darren’s pacing around near the doorway, like he can’t wait to get out of here.

I step up to the counter, open my wallet, pay with Mum’s fiver, put the cream in a carrier bag and take my change. And we leave the shop.

A little way up the road, Darren turns to me. ‘Where’d you get all that money?’ he says.

‘Mum gave it to me,’ I say.

‘Your mum gave you a fifty to get some cream?’

I look at him. I feel like I’m about to blush. I look away from him, like it’s no big thing. ‘She gave me a fiver,’ I say. ‘I paid with a fiver.’

He smirks. ‘But you had a fifty in your wallet.’

I panic. I don’t know what to say. I can’t think straight. I’m gonna drop myself in it.

‘What’s your problem, Darren?’ Kate says. ‘Haven’t you ever seen a fifty-pound note before?’

I look at Kate. She’s smirking at Darren. And Darren’s staring back at her, his eyebrow raised. ‘Jesus,’ he says. ‘Who rattled your cage again?’

Kate doesn’t answer. She sighs and then turns away from Darren. Next to Darren, Samantha laughs.

Darren pretends to ignore her. ‘Still doesn’t explain where Joe got the fifty from, though, does it?’

I’ve had time to think of an excuse now. My heart’s beating fast, but all I have to do is look him straight in the eyes and say it. ‘I got it out of the bank today,’ I say. ‘I was gonna buy some clothes.’ And even when it’s out there, my heart is still beating like crazy.

Darren looks at me like he doesn’t believe me. I try and hold his gaze. He stares at me for what feels like hours. Then he laughs and looks away. ‘I think you should have spent it on clothes,’ he says. ‘It looks like you need some new ones.’

I don’t say a word. I just keep on walking, feeling flustered and pissed off and stupid. If Darren wasn’t my cousin, I’d be really tempted to just smack him one.

Ash

I’ve eaten the Bolognese that Mum left. I couldn’t be bothered to boil any pasta, so I had it cold on toast instead. And right now I’m lying on my bed, eyes closed. Not sleeping, just vegging out before Rabbit gets here.

I hear a noise. A ringing phone. I keep my eyes closed, try and ignore it for a while cos it’s not my phone and it’s not the landline. But it keeps ringing. And I realise that it’s coming from somewhere in my room. I open my eyes and sit up. The ringing is coming from the corner of the room, near the wardrobe. My heart starts racing. I get up from the bed and walk to the wardrobe and all the while the phone keeps on ringing. It’s one of the basic ringtones that you get on every mobile, a
bring-bring
sound. And as it rings again, I realise it’s definitely coming from inside my wardrobe. I open my wardrobe and stare inside, trying to work out where on earth the ringing is coming from. And then I realise. The bag. There must be a phone in the bag.

I pull all the clothes off the shelf in my wardrobe and let them fall to the floor and then grab the bag and pull that down as well. I carry it over to my bed and drop it on top. Then I listen again. There are zipped pockets at either end that I didn’t even notice last night. And the ringing is coming from one of them. I unzip the pocket just as the phone stops ringing. I take the phone out. It’s a cheap one. A really old and clunky blue one.

On the screen it says,
You have 1 missed call
. I press the green button to see who it’s from and see that it was another mobile number that called. I think about calling the number straight back to see who it was. I might be able to find out who the bag belongs to. But I don’t do it. Instead, I open up the contacts. There are no names in there. Not even one. So I go to the text messages. Nothing there, either. I sigh, switch the phone off and put it back in the end pocket of the bag.

I look through the rest of the pocket. There’s half a packet of mints in there. I put them back and rummage around again to see what else there is. But it’s empty. So I turn the bag round and open the pocket at the other end. I shove my hand inside. And right away I feel something. Hard and cold. I wrap my fingers around it and take it out. And even before I see it, I realise what it is with a sinking feeling. A gun. A black handgun. I stare dumbly at it for a couple of seconds, like my brain’s working in slow motion or something, before I realise what I’ve done. I’ve just got my fingerprints all over it. Shit. I start to panic. I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know what to think.

I hold the gun up to the light and look at it. There’s a company logo on the handle.
Pietro. Beretta
. On the barrel there are some words engraved:
Made in Italy
and
9mm
. There’s an Italian word as well,
Gardone
. I don’t know what it means. Maybe the name of a place. I put my finger on the trigger and then look down the barrel, aiming at my wardrobe. I’ve never held a gun before in my life. I never thought I would. It feels strange. One pull of the trigger and someone could die.

The gun feels heavy and powerful. I get an urge to pull the trigger right now, just to see what happens, what it feels like. But I don’t. Instead I lower my arm and look at it. I’ve seen people use guns like this a million times in films and on TV and stuff. I could probably name every part of it. But it feels weird to have a gun right here in front of me. I wonder whether it’s loaded. I fiddle around and the magazine slides out. I count the bullets. Six. It chills me, seeing the bullets, thinking that any one of them could end someone’s life. I slide the magazine back in. I look at the gun again, at the safety catch. I flick it off and then back on. I sit and stare at the gun for ages, trying to make sense of it all. My heart’s beating like mad. I don’t know what to do.

I close my eyes and try and stop my heart from pounding so hard. And then I try and rationalise this. Because the simple fact is, nobody knows that I have this gun. Not even Joe. And as long as I hide it, no one will ever know it exists. This doesn’t change anything. I can deal with it. I just have to stay calm and not do anything stupid. All I have to do is keep it hidden. And then dispose of it somehow.

Downstairs, the doorbell rings. I sit up with a start. I stuff the gun back into the end pocket and zip it back up. The doorbell rings again, impatiently. I grab the bag off my bed and take it over to the wardrobe, reach up and put it on the shelf, just as the knocker on the front door goes. I shove my clothes back in front of the bag and then shut the door.

I leave my room and run down the stairs. I take a second to compose myself and then open the front door.


Ash!’ Rabbit says, barging past me.

I close the door and follow him through to the lounge, where he’s already sitting on the sofa, taking a bottle out of a blue carrier bag and inspecting the label. It’s white rum.

‘You got any glasses?’

I ignore his question. I take a second, just to stay calm. And I realise I have to act completely normal, so Rabbit doesn’t think anything’s up. ‘What you drinking that shit for?’ I say, smiling.

Rabbit opens the bottle and takes a swig, makes a face and then grins. ‘Because, my friend, it was in my dad’s spirit cabinet. And it gets you wasted. Fast.’

‘It’s what girls drink,’ I say.

Rabbit laughs. ‘Nothing wrong with being in touch with your feminine side,’ he says.

As long as you’re getting wasted!’

I smile.

All right. I’ll get some glasses.’ Because I need a drink right now, even if it’s this rubbish.

We sit and shoot the shit about music and girls and all kinds of stuff. And we down the rum quickly. And pretty soon I’m starting to feel pissed. I start to feel better about the gun. Cos I can deal with it. I will deal with it.

After a while the conversation turns to next weekend.

‘You coming to mine Friday?’ Rabbit says. ‘My dad’s in London all weekend.’

I smile. ‘Course,’ I say. ‘I’ve invited everyone I know.’

Rabbit laughs. ‘What, your mum and dad?’

‘Yeah. Very funny,’ I say. I take a gulp of neat rum. It tastes disgusting. ‘No, seriously. I invited a few people. You don’t mind, do you?’

Rabbit shakes his head. He drains his glass. ‘Nah.’ He picks up the bottle and peers at it. It’s already nearly finished. He takes the cap off and pours the rest out, some into my glass and the rest into his.

‘Down it?’ I say.

Rabbit nods and smiles. ‘Down it!’ he says, holding his glass up.

BOOK: In the Bag
9.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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