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Imagination (youngsters:mystery, 2745 words)
Author: Ian HobsonAdded: May 25 2008Views/Reads: 6772/2806Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Imagination? Just make something up? I scratched my head and had a think...

Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

Except that his dad wasn't his real dad, because his real dad had been 
killed in a car accident.  No, Bryan was his sort of step-dad, as he 
wasn't actually married to his mum, he'd just lived with her since Dave 
was about seven.  Anyway, he was a right boozer, was Bryan, always down 
the pub, and he smoked so much he smelt like an ashtray.  Dave hated 
Brian because he was always making him do things, like the washing up, 
or cleaning the car, or weeding the garden.  So, one day, Dave decides 
he's had enough, he can't take any more of this beer-swilling, ashtray 
smelling, fake dad, and he decides to run away.  He was almost twelve 
years old, so why shouldn't he? 

So one Friday night he stuffs a few things – some Mini-Mars Bars and a
bottle of Pepsi and socks and stuff – into the rucksack his uncle Fred 
bought him for Christmas, and then he sets the alarm in his mobile 
phone for five o'clock and goes to bed.  It took him ages to get to 
sleep, and it seemed like he'd only been asleep for ten minutes when 
the alarm wakes him up.  It was the middle of June, so it was light 
early, and he got dressed really quickly and then went for a piss, 
though he didn't flush the toilet because he didn't want to risk waking 
Bryan or his mum. 

He felt a bit sad about leaving his mum, because she wasn't a bad mum
really, she just happened to have lost her first husband and then ended 
up with a boyfriend that was a beer-swilling, ashtray-smelling, pig. 

Dave went back to his room and had one last look round at all his toys,
and the computer his uncle Fred had bought him for his birthday, before 
picking up his bag and his mobile phone and sneaking downstairs.  Bryan 
always left his bunch of keys on the coffee table in the living room, 
so it was easy for Dave to let himself out of the front door and then 
lock it again and stuff the keys through the letterbox. 

'You're up early.' 

Dave nearly jumped out of his skin.  It was next-door's milkman looking
at him over the hedge.  Dave's mum always bought milk from Tescos, but 
next-door must have theirs delivered; he hadn't realised that, but 
figured he wouldn't as he was usually still in bed at this time. 

'I'm going camping with a mate from school.' Dave whispered the lie. 
'His dad's picking me up in about ten minutes.' 

'Oh, well have a nice trip then,' the milkman whispered back, and then
off he went.  He had one of those electric milk carts that didn't make 
any sound at all.  Dave watched to see which way he went and then ran 
off as fast as he could in the opposite direction.  Not that he didn't 
have a plan; he was going to go that way anyway, as he'd decided to 
head for the canal and set off along the towpath.  He'd once walked 
about three miles down the towpath with his uncle Fred, who had told 
him that it was possible to walk all the way to Liverpool, though Dave 
couldn't remember how far that was. 

It was cold down by the canal, but Dave had put on two t-shirts and his
blue Nike top with a hood, so he wasn't too cold - especially with the 
running, and then the walking along to towpath.  But after about an 
hour, during which time he'd seen no one, he decided to stop and have a 
rest beside a dirt road and a funny-looking bridge thing that could be 
swung out of the way when canal boats wanted to pass through.  There 
was a bench, so he sat on it and had a drink of Pepsi and one of his 
Mars Bars. 

'Got any more of those?' 

For the second time that morning Dave nearly jumped out of his skin,
because right behind him in the bushes was a tramp, slowly getting to 
his feet.  But there was something very odd about this tramp because, 
apart from the way he was dressed, he looked very familiar, as though 
Dave knew him from somewhere. 

'I'll swap you a drink of milk for one,' said the tramp, as he took a
pint bottle of milk from the pocket of the scruffy jacket he was 

By then Dave was off the bench and standing clutching his rucksack to
his chest and looking very suspiciously at the tramp.  'You're 
next-door's milkman,' he said.  'I saw you this morning.' 


My granddad came back into the kitchen then.  'How are you doing, Adam?'
he asked, looking over my shoulder and reading what I'd written.  'Mmm, 
I can see one or two spelling mistakes that the spellcheck-thingie's 
missed, and you need to add a comma or two.'  He showed me where the 
spelling mistakes were, and where the commas were missing.  'Not bad 
though,' he said.  ‘Keep going, Adam.' 

I was a bit pissed that he'd interrupted me, as I was dying to know what
was coming next in this story that seemed to be writing itself.  But I 
thanked him for his help, and he got himself another beer and went back 
to watch more television, while I read my last three paragraphs and 
then carried on writing. 


'Ah, that will be my twin brother, Alfred,' the tramp replied.  'He
always drops off a couple of pints for me...  That was a Mars Bar you 
were eating, wasn't it?  I could really fancy one, and I'll give you 
this full bottle of milk for one, if you've got any left.' 

'I don't like milk,' said Dave, 'but you can have a Mars Bar if you
want, they're only mini ones though.'  Dave reached into his rucksack 
and handed a Mars Bar to the tramp, who thanked him and then sat down 
on the bench to eat it. 

Dave pushed his hood back off his head and went and sat beside him, just
as his mobile phone began to ring. 

'Are you going to answerer that?' the tramp asked. 

'Don't know.'  Dave took the phone from his pocket to see who was
calling him.  It was his mum.  Checking the time, he saw that it was 
just after half-past-seven, and he wondered how come his mum was up so 
early on a Saturday.  He switched his phone off and stuffed it into the 
bottom of his rucksack. 'I'll have to be going now,' he said. 

'Don't go just yet,' said the tramp.  'Stay and chat for a while.  I
don't meet many young people.' 

'Just for five minutes, then,' Dave said, then looking at the tramp, he
asked, 'Where do you live then?' 

'Oh, here and there, but mostly by the canal.  I like to sleep under the
stars.'  The tramp took the top off the milk bottle.  'Are you sure you 
won't have some?' 

'No thanks,' Dave replied.  'But what about when it's cold, or if it

'Oh, I usually find somewhere.  There's an old hut beside the cricket
ground about a half-mile that way.'  The tramp pointed along the 
towpath and then took a swig of his milk.  'So where are you going 

'Me?' said Dave.  'I'm off to Liverpool.  I'm going to be a merchant
seaman, like my uncle Fred.' 

'I see,' said the tramp.  'Bit young though, aren't you... for starting
a job, I mean.' 

Dave sat up straight on the bench, trying to make himself look taller. 
'My uncle Fred said that my great-uncle George started work when he was 

'I see,' said the tramp again, looking Dave up and down.  'I didn't
realise you were so old.'  Dave said nothing, thinking it best to keep 
quiet about being only eleven and three-quarters.  'So I guess you 
don't like school much then?' the tramp said, before taking another 
swig of his milk. 

'It's alright,' said Dave, 'but that's not why I've left home.' 

'Family problems?' 


The tramp drained the milk bottle and then wiped milk from his mouth
with the back of his hand and set the empty bottle down on the ground.  
'Want to talk about it?' he asked. 

The sun was higher in the sky and Dave could feel its heat on the back
of his head.  'There's not much to talk about,' he said.  'My dad died, 
you see...  When I was three, so I can't really remember him.' 

'And your mum married again, did she?' 

'Yeah.  Well sort of married... to Bryan.'  Dave, still looking at the
tramp, had noticed that despite him being quite scruffy, he seemed to 
be very clean and didn't smell at all. 

'And you don't get on?' the tramp asked. 

'No, not really.'  Now Dave noticed something else about the tramp. 
Something that was very strange indeed; he was casting no shadow.  Dave 
looked at his own shadow, and then at where the tramp's should be, but 
before he could say anything, there was a terrific screech of brakes, 
and as he turned and looked towards the little road that lead to the 
bridge, he saw his mum leap out of his uncle Fred's Volvo and come 
running towards him. 

'David, whatever are you doing, sitting down here, all by yourself?  If
it wasn't for your uncle Fred, I wouldn't have known where to look for 

'I'm okay, Mum,' Dave said, getting to his feet, and looking first at
his mum and then at his uncle, who had also jumped out of the car.  
'And I'm not all by myself, I'm...'  Dave had turned to look at the 
tramp but he'd vanished; there wasn't a sign of him anywhere.  There 
was just the empty milk bottle on the ground beside the bench.  Dave's 
mother wrapped her arms around him then, and began to cry. 

'We've found him,' said Uncle Fred, ruffling Dave's hair.  'No harm
done.  Now how about a fry-up, back at my place?' 

As Dave was driven to his uncle Fred's house, with his mum sitting with
her arm around him in the back of the Volvo, he was thinking about the 
tramp and wondering where he had gone.  Then he remembered the tramp's 
twin brother.  'Mum,' he said, 'do the Watsons, next door, have a 

As Dave's mum frowned and shook her head the car arrived at his uncle's
house and Fred yanked on the handbrake and turned to look at Dave.  
'What did you say?' 

'I just said, “Does next door to us have a milkman?”' 

Fred looked at his sister-in-law.  'I didn't tell you why I came round
so early this morning, asking to see Dave, did I?' 

'No, but I was wondering why, and how you knew where to look for him.' 

'It was because I had a dream and it woke me up.'  Fred looked at Dave. 
'I dreamt that your dad was still alive and that he was a milkman.  But 
in the dream he was crying because you had fallen into the canal by the 
old swing bridge and you were drowning, and he was pleading with me to 
come and save you, and when I woke up I could remember every detail 
and...  Well, it all seemed so real, I thought I'd better go round to 
your house and see if you were okay.' 

'Was there a tramp in your dream?' Dave asked. 

'No,' Fred answered. 'Why do you ask?' 

But before Dave could say any more, his mum burst into tears again. 
'And what did Bryan do when you came round, and we found David 
missing?' she asked between sobs.  'Just went back to bed!  Well, it's 
the last time he sleeps in my bed, or my house.  When I get home, he 
can pack his bags and get out!' 

Slowly, a smile spread over Dave's face.  'Can we have bacon, eggs and
fried bread, Uncle Fred?' he asked. 


My granddad came back into the kitchen then and sat and read the rest of
my story.  'By heck,' he said.  'I think we've got a writer in the 
family.'  And so I typed: 


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