Short Story

20 Miles South was 1st runner-up in the Writing West Midlands Short Story Competition 2013. Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment. 

 

Twenty Miles South (extract.)

 

Danny was surprised that more people didn’t steal pensioners, it was easy; if a kid like him could do it anyone could.

‘Where shall we go then,’ he leaned over and fastened the seat belt around the old man sat in the passenger seat, ‘anywhere you want.’

‘South.’

‘South? Where’s that?’

‘What do they teach you kids? South. Out of the city.’

Danny did his best trout impression.

‘Go down the Alcester Road,’ the man scratched the white stubble on his chin, ‘away from the city.’

‘Ok.’

It had been easy. All the staff knew Danny, he visited whenever he could, nobody questioned him; the softer staff even let him walk the old man up and down the street. So when he’d turned up that morning and escorted him from the day room he was virtually invisible.

‘This car’s a bit big for you isn’t it?’

Danny was tall for his age but he’d still placed a cushion on the driver’s seat. ‘Yeah, old habit,’ he said as he threw it into the back then scraped the car into first gear, ‘hold on gran…’ he stopped.

‘How long you had this then?’

‘Oh,’ Danny checked his blind spot for Police, ‘not long.’

‘You’re a good kid our Trev.’

He didn’t correct him, there was no point; the old man had called him Trev ever since the first time he went to visit his granddad, even the staff called him Trev now.

He’d been driving cars for a couple of years, in two years time it would be legal. He wondered what he’d do then. Living in care had been educational, the amount of stuff that he’d learnt, far more than in school.

He eased the car through the leafy streets of Moseley, round the back of Kings Heath then onto the Alcester Road. Most of the traffic was heading north, into the city, rows and rows of blank faces, hands gripped white on steering wheels.

When his mother died he was placed in the care of the city. A succession of foster parents failed to harness his raw intelligence or curb his destructive zeal. Scrubbed from the adoption list he was consigned to permanent care. The one good thing to come out of his mother’s death was his grandfather. Social Services had introduced them, they’d even made it possible for Danny to visit him. That’s how he met the old man.

‘So Trev,’ the old man coughed hard into his hand, ‘how long do you reckon till we get to the coast?’

‘The coast?’ Danny looked at the fuel gauge, barely a quarter of a tank and only loose change in his pockets, ‘Not long.’

‘You know I haven’t been travelling in years, ‘he took his Trilby off and wiped his forehead, ‘it’d be good to get some sea air in me lungs.’

When his grandfather was still alive, Danny would sit in the day room and soak it up; the card games; the fights; the loves lost, with green smudges of tattoo pointed at as irrefutable proof, their lives charted out in India Ink. They were friends, sailors; his granddad Royal Navy and the old man Merchant Navy. His granddad never saw the sea again, the old man saw it daily…

 

 

Garrie Fletcher 2013

 

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