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By Rob Stevens
“Hello.” Harry muttered to the silver-haired man who was holding his front door ajar. “I live at number fifteen – my mum’s Mrs. Williams. She sent me over to ask if you’ve got any jobs for me to do? I’m raising money for the school.”
“I see.” The man allowed the door to open a few more inches and smiled. “What’s the money for?”
Harry suddenly wished he’d paid a little more attention when his headmaster had explained the school’s fundraising initiative.
He shrugged. “They want to build a science lab…or a drama hall or something.”
“Well no school should be without a shiny new something.” The man winked and turned round, leaving the door open. “Come in.”
Harry followed the man as he limped down a narrow corridor, dragging one slipper along the wooden floor tiles. He was tall but bent over – like Harry’s Nan who had ‘curvature of the spine’.
Harry tagged along, into a dingy room that was jam-packed with towers of paperwork teetering between piles of cardboard boxes. The man parted the heavy curtains and plumes of dust particles danced in the slice of midday sunlight that cut through the gloom.
“I’m looking for a receipt,” the man said, gesturing at the columns of paper with a bony hand. “My wireless is on the blink.”
“So you can’t get any internet?” Harry asked.
“I’m afraid the whole computer craze has sort of passed me by,” the man chuckled. “I’m talking about my transistor radio. The receipt is in one of these piles but my eyes aren’t what they used to be. I wonder if you could help me look for it – just for an hour?”
When the man left Harry surveyed the mountains of papers and he felt his spirits sink. There was no way he was going to find the bill for the radio amidst the heaps of stationery looming over him. Then a thought occurred to him. ‘How would the man even know if he was actually looking for the receipt or not?’ He sat on the floor, his back leaning against a box, and took his Nintendo DSi out of his pocket.
A loud clunk on the outside of the door startled Harry. Snapping his game shut he shoved it into is pocket and pulled open the flaps of the nearest box. The door swung open and the man tottered in carrying a tray.
“I’ve made you a nice glass of squash and I found a few custard creams in my cupboard.”
Harry looked up as if he’d only just realised he had company. “Oh, thanks.”
The man passed Harry a glass and offered him a biscuit. “How’s it going?”
“No joy yet,” Harry replied through a mouthful of soft custard cream.
The man nodded. “What sort of thing do you get up to in your spare time?” he asked.
Harry shrugged and spoke to the floor. “Dunno.”
“I bet you like Music?”
Harry studied his laces.
“What about sports?”
Harry hunched his shoulders again and glanced at the clock. Twenty minutes to go.
“Is it one of those Hedgehog games?”
Harry frowned. “Sorry?”
The man nodded at Harry’s pocket. “The game you’ve been playing – is it one with the hedgehog in? My grandson loves the hedgehog game. At least he used to… He hasn’t been to visit for about a year now.” The man’s mouth smiled but his eyes looked sad, then he turned to leave.
“I like football,” Harry said suddenly.
“Me too.” The man’s eyes twinkled. “I used to play a lot when I was younger. I used to be quite good.”
Harry couldn’t imagine the frail figure before him playing football. “Really?”
“I wasn’t always this old,” the man laughed. “Brentford was my team.”
“I like Man United,” Harry offered. “But my dad used to watch Brentford every week. He’s always telling me about their star striker who scored twice against Chelsea in the cup. My dad says he could have been better than Rooney if he hadn’t broken his leg. ‘Says he never quite recovered from that. I think his name was John Jones or something.”
“Something like that,” the man nodded. “Everyone called him JJ.”
“My dad says he still lives round here,” Harry said.
“Is that so?” The man looked thoughtful for a moment before leaving the room.
Twenty minutes later the man handed Harry a five-pound note and opened the front door.
“Well good luck with the fundraising.”
“I was thinking…” Harry started uncertainly. “I could come back after school on Friday and look through a few more boxes. The receipt must be there somewhere.”
“That’s very kind, but I don’t have any more spare money.”
“I don’t mean for money.” Harry smiled. “We could talk a bit more about football. I’m Harry.”
“OK, Harry I’ll see you Friday.” The man nodded. “I’m Mr. Johnston. But everyone calls me JJ.”
Kristine June 28th, 2012 • Report this
This I would enjoy reading! Then sharing with the grandkids.
Ben June 28th, 2012 • Report this