The Flying Boy – Work in Progress extract

A short passage of work in progress from ‘The Flying Boy’
(one of the novels I’m working on)

There was a girl once, almost fifty years ago, at the end of the sixties, beginning of the seventies. You were seventeen or eighteen; she was a year or two younger. She played a guitar and sang her own songs. You can’t remember now if she was any good and don’t know if she became successful, whatever that means, but she at least had potential, and now and again over the years you think about her and wonder if she ever got anywhere with her music. According to Wikipedia there is a singer with the same first name as her from the same town who might be the same age and could be the girl herself, but you don’t want to research it any deeper than that because whatever the result it would tarnish your timeline.

Along with the nostalgia and mystery you feel guilty because you and your friends used to take the piss out of her. You realise now that she was probably mentally or at least emotionally fragile and even if she wasn’t you should never have behaved like that towards her. But you must carry that and a thousand other little guilts because you are human and being human is worth the burden. But sometimes you still wish you had a time machine so that you could go back and undo all those knots, because sometimes the pain is too much.

So, this is you now and you’re still trying to make sense of what’s happening. You don’t think it’s got anything to do with that singer-songwriter girl but you are thinking about her again, sparked off by some folksy guitar music on the radio earlier, you think.

Keeping the sound of your breathing to a minimum you peer around the side of the box you’re hiding behind and scan the warehouse. You turn back to Sandy, who is sitting behind you, hunched-up and dead still.

“I think they’ve gone,” you whisper.

She nods.

You both stand up slowly. You scan the warehouse more thoroughly. Yes, they are definitely gone though they have left their mark. They were a young couple, well, you don’t know if they are a couple, but they presented as a young man and a young woman who kept close together as they explored the warehouse, turning over boxes and kicking machinery.

Eventually, the man had said: “Come on, they ain’t here, that’s for certain.”

“Fuckers,” the girl had snarled.

Luckily, you know the layout of the space since you worked here for a few weeks a couple of years ago. You had led Sandy to a dead spot under the metal stairs that leads to the stilted office. You had waited under the dirty grid until the couple went up and down the stairs before moving to the rest of the shop floor. Then you’d crept out when they were nearing the end of their search.

Even if they’d spotted you, you know you’d have easily dealt with them, finished them off, but that is never the problem, the problem is clearing up the mess afterwards and you’d rather avoid the hassle if you can. But then, that’s always been one of your weaknesses, putting avoiding hassle above getting the job done. Some would call it laziness, you think of it as prudence, a survival technique.

But what are you afraid of?

All of it is the answer, how can you not be afraid of it all? The blessing is that you don’t have to think about it all the time. How could you? You have a life to live.

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