It was almost the end of September and the sweltering summer heat was still influencing the lives of the inhabitants of ‘Lowell Point’. The summer months had been the hottest recorded in over thirty years, and the sizzling temperatures showed no sign of abating. The gauge outside the town hall showed that it was seventy five degrees, and the clock beside it had not yet reached ten o clock. The stifling warmth had been welcome early in the season, putting smiles on faces, enticing families to the beach, but as the summer gave way to fall, and the kids returned to school, the relentless sunshine and intense humidity was becoming a burden.Billy Palmer had enjoyed the beautiful summer swimming in the sea and hanging with his best buddy Dean. The two boys had been inseparable all vacation, living with the knowledge that it would be their last together. Sitting at the back of the stuffy classroom he wished that he could be cast back in time magically to the middle of July and stay there forever.It had been a month and a half since they returned to school and his new teacher, Mr. Dawson, had taken an instant dislike to him. He wasn’t
exactly sure why, but thought it could have something to do with his older more boisterous brother David, who had passed through Mr. Dawson’s door five years previously.
Staring out the window at the sun-scorched grass, his mind still on vacation, he thought he heard someone calling him. A loud bang brought him back to the present. He turned around to see a very irate Mr. Dawson standing over his desk, a wooden pointer in his hand, obviously the source of the noise.“Mr. Palmer, what is your opinion on the subject?”“Eh……”
He banged the pointer on Billy’s desk again causing the whole class to jump.
Billy’s heart sank, not today, any other time he would have said nothing, but that evening at half four Dean was leaving the Point with his family for ever.“Sir I can’t today, I have to see Dean before he moves away.”
“Mr Palmer, we have only been back in school a couple of weeks, and already you’re trying my patience.”
“Sorry sir, but…”
Dawson shouted, “I don’t want to hear it, stay back this evening, you have detention!”
Dawson stopped walking back to his desk and spun around. Dean King had been taken out of school the previous Friday because his father had been transferred to the Seattle office of the company he worked for.
The rest of the day seemed to drag on forever as the temperature outside reached one hundred degrees, the schools prehistoric air conditioning unit barely taking the edge off the stifling conditions. When the end of day bell rang at four, Billy plotted his escape from the school grounds without detection. He waited for Dawson to leave the classroom for the teachers’ lounge, then he would make his getaway. He waited as the teacher gathered up his bits and pieces, the classroom started to empty, then as only a few kids remained Dawson picked up his case, cast a threatening stare at Billy, and left.Billy figured he had about five minutes to flee before capture would be upon him. Outside the classroom door he took a right towards the main entrance putting more distance between himself and the detention hall. He tried to lose himself in the throng of bodies heading outside for a balmy evening of freedom. Five yards from academic emancipation, a hand grasped his collar and pulled him from the sea of young bodies. It was Dawson.“Get your hands off me,” shouted Billy, as he tried to wriggle free from the strong hand that clasped him.“And where do you think you’re going?” asked the burly teacher. His grip was tight. Billy, deciding that he couldn’t break the hold kicked the teacher as hard as he could. The boot struck the shin of his captor. Whether through pain or shock, Dawson relinquished his grip and Billy ran like the wind, out the door, across the yard, down the street, all the four blocks until he reached his house.Breathless, he stopped, reflecting on what he had just done. Jesus Christ, he kicked the teacher. He was going to be in so much trouble. Panting, he made his way inside the house only to be met by a raging mother.Sitting in his bedroom half an hour later he waved out the window at Dean and his family as they packed the last of their belongings in the trailer and left sleepy little Lowell Point for ever. He cursed Dawson. He must have been on the phone to Billy’s mum before his sprint had left the school grounds. Billy, of course, was now grounded and faced a school suspension, but worse would come when his father came home from work.Waiting in his room for the inevitable roasting from his father, he heard footsteps on the stairs. He looked at his watch, twenty to five, too early for his father to be home from work, the footfalls too heavy to be his mother. David!“Hey squirt, heard what you did to Dawson, nice one!”
“I don’t care if you’re meeting the president,” spat Dawson, “you be in the detention hall at four!”
Billy knew that further argument would be fruitless. He had no intention of showing up, he would deal with the consequences tomorrow.
David, at sixteen, was almost five years older than Billy, and up until today had been the main source of distress for their parents.
“I’m grounded and mum said that I might be getting suspended.”
“Yeah, it won’t be so nice when dad gets home.”
“Ah, don’t worry about dad, sure, he’ll rant and rave for a while. You just sit there with a sad face and look really sorry for what you’ve done and he’ll soon calm down.”
David laughed, himself a veteran of two suspensions.
Billy got the expected tongue lashing from his father, and put on his best regretful face. He managed to avoid suspension, due to it being his first time in trouble and his agreement to a public classroom apology to Mr. Dawson. They were the hardest words that ever passed his lips. The smug little smile on Dawson’s face making the apology all the more bitter. The stares from his classmates enhancing his embarrassment, his normally pallid features turning almost crimson. It was definitely the worst moment of his short life.Saturday, the first of November, the trees should be shedding their leaves, the first cool winter winds blowing the cobwebs away, but not this year. Daytime temperatures were still reaching the high eighties, a hose pipe ban was still in place, and the gardens and public parks had an otherworldly, arid look about them. As Billy was cycling his bike aimlessly past number forty two, he cast his usual mournful glance towards his deceased best friend’s old home.Today something was different, a large white van was parked in the driveway and two men were unloading furniture. As he stood looking, a big silver BMW passed by him and pulled into the driveway stopping beside the van. A blonde woman and two young children got out. Upon noticing Billy’s stare the woman waved at him. Waving back, Billy jumped up on his bike and went home.David was at home shooting hoops at the basket over the garage door when Billy arrived.“Hey squirt, fancy a bit of one on one?”“Maybe later, there’s a moving van at Dean’s house.”“Yeah, how creepy will it be having Dawson living on the same street as us!”
“So, you get to stay home from school and play video games, enjoy it.”
“I didn’t get to say goodbye to Dean.”
David knew how close his little brother had been to Dean.
“Hey man, I’m sorry, but you can still call him or e-mail him.”
Billy was confused. “What are you talking about?”
David realised that his brother hadn’t heard the news.
“Christ man, you didn’t know? everybody in school knows, been giving me a hard time about it.”
Billy could feel the anger rising inside him. It just wasn’t right, he couldn’t move into Dean’s house, the house that he and Dean had spent so many years playing then hanging out in.
The following Saturday Billy decided the time was right to put his plan into action. Almost lunch time and he had already passed Dawson’s house a dozen times or more. Everything was quiet there, the silver BMW sitting in the driveway, no sign of any life from the house. One more pass and then he was going home to get something to eat, he could recommence his vigil on a full stomach.As he got to the top of the street and turned, bouncing his basketball to avoid too much suspicion, he spotted his opportunity. Casually strolling back down the street there they were, Dawson’s young kids playing in the front yard without Mrs. Dawson. The eldest looked about five or six, his sibling obviously not long on two feet. The low gate at the front of the driveway was locked. Cautiously looking for signs of adult activity, Billy produced from his pocket his secret weapon. Confident that the coast was clear, he took out his yo-yo and started performing tricks his brother had taught him years ago. He knew the attraction his performance would have on the kid. It didn’t take long for his audience to arrive.“Cool!” said the kid.“You want to try?” asked Billy, still keeping a watchful eye on the house.“Yes please!”
“No way, I won’t let him,” was all he could say.
“I know it’s a pain in the ass, but what can you do?”
Billy stared at his brother. He would figure out something.
That night as Billy sat in his room, he racked his brains for a way to get back at Dawson. He was a clever guy, he read a lot of books, surely a revenge scheme wasn’t outside the scope of his imagination. Then it came to him. He smiled as he plotted it out in his head. Brilliant! He was going to scare the shit out of Dawson.
Billy lifted the kid over the gate and handed him the yo-yo. He tried unsuccessfully to make it perform.
Billy knew his house was empty. David was at the park playing in the Saturday basketball league and his parents had gone to visit his aunt Karen who had just found out she was pregnant. None of them would be back till at least six, so Billy had the house to himself .“What’s your name kid?” asked Billy, making small talk.“Michael Dawson!” said the kid.
“Tell you what, come down to my house, I’ve got a smaller one that you can try.”
The kid looked sceptical. “Mommy said not to leave the front yard.”
“It will only take five minutes and I’ll let you keep it so you can practice every day.”
He saw the kid’s eyes light up and phase one of his plan was complete.
Billy led him into the house, all the while checking for nosy neighbours who could scupper his plan. He brought him down the stairs to the basement.
He decided to go to the park and watch David play basketball. He would let things run their course, the Dawson’s would soon realise their kid was missing and the panic would begin. He would love to see the look on Dawson’s face when he discovered what was happening.As he reached the park he suddenly realised something. Something he should have thought of from the start. How could he have been so stupid. The kid could ID him. What would happen to him when his parents’ found out.
“Cool,” said Michael spotting the collection of old toys and
games. As the young boy browsed through the stash of goodies, Billy approached him from behind, grabbed his hands and snapped the replica handcuffs on him.
“What’s going on?”
“It’s a game!” said Billy as he put a piece of masking tape over the frightened boy’s mouth.
“It’s goin to be all right kid, it’s only a game, nobody’s goin to get hurt.”
The guilt of frightening the kid was only outweighed by his hatred of Dawson. A couple of hours of thinking his boy was missing would go some way towards making up for what he did to Billy. He locked him in the small store room. His parents hardly ever used the basement so even if they came home early they shouldn’t hear any noise.
Shit, he had kidnapped the kid, the cops could lock him up. He hadn’t really thought this thing through at all.
Running as fast as he could, he never saw the taxi. Sprinting across the busy intersection, his mind was solely focused on getting home. Billy was hit hard by the speeding cab.As he awoke he realised that he couldn’t feel his body. His vision was blurred and the blinding light was making his head ache. Where was he? What had happened to him? He tried to get up but nothing happened. He had to get home and leave Dawson’s kid out, try and resolve the stupid mess he had made. His vision started to clear. He could see bright fluorescent lights and dimpled ceiling tiles. He couldn’t move his head so he darted his eyes as far around the room as he could. There were cards and a balloon tied to the headboard of the bed he was lying in. He saw what he recognised as a heart machine and a drip feed beside his bed. Being a big fan of ‘E.R’, he realaised was in hospital. He drifted off again.When he woke again his parents and brother were sitting at his bedside.“Look, he’s waking up,” said David. His mother called the doctor.
He decided to rush home as fast as he could and let the boy go. He would sweeten him up by giving him a few toys and apologise to Mrs. Dawson, pleading that he was only playing with the kid. It should be easy enough to convince the boy that it had all been just for fun. Yes, that’s what he would do. He would have to hurry though, the kid had already been gone for nearly twenty minutes.
As he tried to tell them what had happened he was shushed by his mother.
When he next awoke the smiling family faces had been replaced by strangers whose expressions looked anything but happy. He knew that it was the police, they had found Michael Dawson and wanted to know how he ended up in his basement.
“Don’t try and talk honey, you’ve been in a bad accident. You need to rest, the doctor says that you’re going to be just fine.”
He once again tried to talk but nothing came out. His mouth was so dry he decided to give up. It started to come back to him. The flash of yellow, then bang, here he was. He had to try and tell them about the boy. His mother would be freaking out, she possibly had even called the cops by now. Christ, he would be in so much trouble. Why did he go through with such a stupid idea in the first place. He fell asleep again.
Then he saw Dawson at the door. The man made a rush for Billy and wrapped his large hands around his throat. Almost instantly he was pulled away sobbing and screaming by the other men in the room. Billy, seeing the devastated look on Dawson’s face as he was taken from the room, realised that something was wrong, very wrong.
The court case was long and very public. The media had received pictures of young Michael Dawson’s dehydrated corpse, leaked from the police department. It had sent the nation into a frenzy, demanding the maximum punishment for the young man responsible. Billy couldn’t get his head around what had happened, he kept thinking that he would wake up and everything would be back to normal. Billy was sentenced to four years in a juvenile detention centre. Walking from the courtroom, he saw Dawson sitting in the front row. He felt sorry for him, his revenge was well and truly absolute.The End