by Brenda K
My name is Daniel Rosenbaum. I am ten years and five months old and my sister, Sarah, is six. My father imports cotton and silk and has an office and a warehouse next to where we live. His name is David, and my mother is called Esther. You need to know all that to understand what comes next.
My teacher, Mrs Harrison, says it's always a good idea to write an introduction to a story, so I wonder if this is all right?
I've always liked writing stories, but my father thinks it's all rather silly. What I really wanted to write was detective stories, but since my father doesn't like me to watch things like Starsky and Hutch on the television, that's hard. So I just write anything that comes into my head, I suppose. My mother keeps on saying "let him be creative, David," but he used to sigh every time he saw me writing. I think he'd much rather I learned more about his work, because work is all he does, hours and hours every day. He says it's a family business and one day it will be my turn to take over. I get worried about that sometimes. Even my mother gets sad about how much my father works, and we are all really happy when it's time to light the candles on Friday nights and prepare for the Sabbath. Because then - that's Saturday for people who don't know about the Jewish faith - we don't do anything very much except go to the synagogue and sort of hang around. It's supposed to be a day of rest.
Anyway, Mrs. Harrison said at the parents' evening last month that I should be encouraged to write my stories and that I seemed to have a "genuine talent", so my father seemed a bit less angry about it after that. "At least he'll have more inside his head than Solomon", he said, and he's not complained when he finds me writing in my room ever since. I wish I had a word processor, though.
He's certainly right about Uncle Sol. He's my father's younger brother and nearly every time he mentions him he says "... that good for nothing" in the very same breath. I don't like him either because he makes my mother cry every time he gets into trouble. He's had all sorts of businesses and they all seem to lose money and my father has to help, which means he works even more. And as well as all that, he has hard, piercing eyes that are nearly black, and a big, bushy beard a bit like my father's. But his hides his face and he's always frowning or shouting, except when he's asking my father for money. He never talks to me unless it's to tell me to get out of his way. Oh, and he often doesn't come to the synagogue, which is really quite awful of him.
The day it all happened, I was playing with Sarah in my room. I don't like playing with girls much anyway, but she was being especially horrid to me. I'd gone and told her that I felt sad because I didn't have a best friend and everybody else in my class did.
I even told her the other boys laughed because I always said "my father" and not my Dad, but my father likes that and I don't mind because it sounds more respectful, as my mother says. Anyway, Sarah just laughed and said it was because I was sort of fat and wore glasses, and I so then I got really, really angry. I was so angry that I threw Jacob Rabbit out of the window. Jacob (he's all sorts of different colours, you see, like Jacob's coat) is her favourite toy and I knew that would hurt her. But she just cried and cried because fell on the roof of a sort of hut in the warehouse yard and I couldn't reach it even though I went out and tried. I felt sorry afterwards, because everybody knows you shouldn't hurt girls.
I was standing there looking pretty miserable myself when Mr. Bodie appeared, smiling as always. He was so nice - he had short, glossy black hair and his eyes were sort of blue and twinkly, and I'd often wondered what he was doing working for Uncle Sol.
The first time I ever met him he told me his name and asked me mine, and since then he always waved to me if I saw him from the window or around the warehouse, because Uncle Sol's part of the building was right next door to where the bales of cotton and silk were stored. I'd heard that Uncle Sol was importing tea now, but when my parents spoke about it I always saw my father shaking his head sadly, so I expected that would soon be a disaster too. His other employees all looked so untidy and bad-tempered they sort of went well with my uncle, but as I said, Mr. Bodie was different.
So when he saw me looking up at the roof, he reached up and it was too high for him, too. Then another man came along, with curly hair and green eyes, and Mr. Bodie slapped him on the back, smiling.
"Ray, this is Daniel, a mate of mine. Daniel, this is Ray Doyle," he said. Then he pointed at poor old Jacob up there on the roof.
"Daniel's got a problem. Think we can help?"
Mr. Doyle grinned and said he was sure they could, and Mr. Bodie cupped his hands and sort of hoisted him up so he could reach it.
"There you go, Daniel," he said, and I thanked him very much.
"It's not mine, it's my little sister's," I told them quickly, seeing them looking at the silly, fluffy thing that Sarah will insist on taking to bed every night. I really didn't want them to think I was playing with toys like that at my age.
"Oh, I could tell that," Mr. Doyle said straight away. "I knew you were just helping somebody out. Bet you're into much more interesting stuff."
"Oh, yes," I said sort of without thinking. "I write stories."
"That's great, Daniel," he said. I looked at him and saw he wasn't being sarky like Uncle Sol when he talked to me, but just nice.
I thanked them both again, but was still thinking about Sarah being so unkind about me and about the other boys in my class being so horrid. These two seemed like friends, not like the others who worked there. All they did was to shout and smoke and drink and sometimes even fight, which was dreadful.
"Are you Mr. Bodie's friend?" I asked him, because I am sort of curious. My mother says it'll get me into trouble one day.
"Sure am," said Mr. Doyle. "You'd better get that rabbit back to his rightful owner before your sister gets worried." He sort of winked, and I somehow knew that HE knew that I'd thrown him there in the first place. But he was too nice to say so. I started to go back up to our house, and saw them heading for Uncle Sol's office. "He's not there," I called, trying to be helpful.
"Thanks, Daniel," Mr. Bodie called, and I saw Mr. Doyle leave again a few minutes later, saying "Be back in a bit, then."
I forgot to say that Mr. Doyle had a funny sort of round face, and when he smiled I could see a chip in his tooth. That didn't really matter, though, because he seemed just as nice as Mr. Bodie.
Later on that afternoon, I was working on a new story in my room (which looks over the yard) with the window open and saw Mr. Bodie talking to Uncle Sol in the yard. Sarah was playing with her Barbie doll, which I really hate, even though she said I could play. Mr. Bodie was asking if there was any work at the warehouse for Mr. Doyle.
"Is he good?" Uncle Sol asked, and Mr. Bodie was nodding.
"He's coming round later," Mr. Bodie said.
"Fine. I'll get Karl to check him out if I'm not around."
Bodie seemed pleased about that. It started me wishing all over again that I had a friend like that, to help me get a job or ... well, just to be a best friend.
Oh, I should have said that all this happened on a Saturday. That's important, you see, because my father wasn't around. In fact he even got angry about Uncle Sol working on the Sabbath, but as my mother said he did all sorts of strange things. Saturday is always a good day for writing, really, because nobody bothers me much as long as I look after Sarah when my parents are out.
It's so annoying having to remember all the things you have to put into a story in the right place. I keep telling my father it would be wonderful if we had a word processor at home, especially since we started Computer Studies at school. I know I already said that, but it really would be so useful because if you forget to say something in the right place, you can just sort of stick it in where it belongs. My father says we don't need one, because there is a computer in the office. I'm not allowed to touch that one, though, because it's for the business. I suppose my stories aren't as important as the business.
Anyway, we all go to the synagogue on Saturday mornings, and in the afternoon my father sees some of his friends, and my mother usually sees some of hers, too. Sometimes people come to our house, but this time they didn't. So I had to look after Sarah like I do sometimes, being bigger. It can be a real nuisance when she just wants to play Barbie or something equally silly.
Just after Mr. Bodie's friend Mr. Doyle had left (this is the story again), some of Uncle Sol's friends came into the yard, including Karl who was my least favourite of them all. Uncle Sol had already left again. I found myself looking for Mr. Bodie once I heard them, and sure enough he came out, smiling as always.
It was then that something really, really strange happened (or I thought so at the time, anyway). Karl also worked for my father but he'd been away for a while and he hadn't seen Mr. Bodie before. But when he did, he started shouting, saying something like "he's a bl***** plant" (sorry about the language) and other really terrible words. So the other two grabbed Mr. Bodie and the next thing I knew they were all hitting him and yelling. Karl seemed absolutely furious which I suppose accounts for the bad language.
I couldn't see it all, because they went behind the shed, but I was suddenly all scared. I didn't like to think they were hurting Mr. Bodie, but then I'd seen fights before with Uncle Sol's men.
In fact I was so scared that I sort of ducked behind the window. After that I heard Karl - who had a really weird accent, blond hair and rotten teeth - saying they'd have to tell Uncle Sol, but he was out until later. Just then, one of the others said something about Mr. Bodie's friend, and how they would both have to be "taken out".
Then I was even more frightened, because there are more meanings than one for "taken out", and I didn't think he meant for a drink or something.
After that, I tried to get on with my story, but I kept looking for Mr. Bodie and I didn't see him again, but I did see the others, smoking and talking, but too quietly for me to hear. But I kept looking out of the window, and sure enough Mr. Doyle came walking into the yard about half an hour later.
I was really hoping that Mr. Bodie would come out and slap him on the back again, but this time he didn't.
Mr. Doyle walked up to two of them - I couldn't see Karl - and started talking, and suddenly they just sort of attacked him. I say sort of because it all happened so fast I couldn't really see how it started, except that suddenly there was a huge fight.
At first Mr. Doyle seemed to be really doing well, because I wanted him to win, and at one point both of the others were lying down looking hurt. But then - and this was the worst moment - I saw Karl come out from behind the shed with a knife in his hand and stab Mr. Doyle in the side.
I nearly shouted, because I saw him fall down, and saw blood on his jacket. I couldn't believe it, really, and just sat there and stared. Then one grabbed his feet and the other one his arms and they started to walk away, carrying him.
One of them - I can't remember which - said, "Sol isn't going to like this."
"What are we going to do with him?" said the other.
"Put him in David's strongroom with Bodie, and when Sol gets back he'll take care of it, once he's got them to sing." Karl said.
I wondered why they wanted them to sing when they'd hurt them so much, and I still don't know that now. There was something quite ominous about the way they said "take care of them", too, a bit like they'd said "taken out", earlier.
"Sol won't be back until the shipment comes in, and we'd better get moving. We have to be back here by six and get it unloaded by seven," Karl said. Then they all laughed and one said "they won't come to much harm in there until Sol gets back".
One of the others (I wish I could remember their names but they look alike - sort of scruffy and evil) said, "If curly's still alive by then." I felt quite sick when I heard that.
The strongroom, by the way, is a sort of special little storeroom at the back of the warehouse that's almost like a great big safe, with a big, special lock and only one tiny window. My father uses it for special shipments of really expensive silk. I didn't know Uncle Sol's men had a key, but I then Uncle Sol was always doing things without asking people. That's the way it was with him.
"Okay," the new one said after a minute, when they came back out. "Time to go and make a little money."
That would be a change, I thought, and decided my father would be pleased. But all the time, I was worrying about Mr. Bodie and his friend. I'd never seen anybody stabbed for real, and somehow it wasn't like on television at all. As for Mr. Doyle maybe dying, it made my legs feel all sort of wobbly and cold.
When they'd gone I went to look for Sarah, and she had Barbie and Ken together and had made some sort of house for them with chairs and blankets. I really don't know why girls like to do that sort of thing, but as my mother says, everyone should be allowed to do their special activities. That's why she always let me write my stories, I suppose.
I should have said before that my mother is wonderful, and understands everyone and doesn't complain much, except sometimes when my father says the business isn't doing well and we can't buy a nicer house that's not right next to the warehouse. My mother has long, curly blonde hair and blue eyes. Some people think she isn't Jewish because of that but she is, as her family came from Russia where they have Jews too.
Anyway, because Sarah was busy, I decided to be really brave and go down into the yard, behind the warehouse. The strongroom, you see, has this tiny window (I think I already said that) but you can see into it if you get on one of those wooden crates that are always around. I love to go in there, because sometimes the special silk that comes in is so beautiful my father lets us look, telling us all about it and how he's going to sell it to some people who design really, really expensive clothes.
Sometimes my mother looks sort of sad and longing when she sees it, and I wish I could go out and buy her some of those special things myself because she's really pretty. Anyway, I discovered that I could see through the window because sometimes I know a shipment has come in and I want to sneak a look first, just to look at the labels on the big parcels in there. Some of them come from places like India and Pakistan and even China.
I crept down there and pulled out a crate to look in through the window, and I nearly fell off it when I saw them.
Both Mr. Bodie and Mr. Doyle were in there, propped up against the bales. Mr. Bodie's face was all sort of swollen and bleeding, and he was sitting with Mr. Doyle sort of lying in his arms.
I don't know why, but it made me want to cry. I didn't, of course, because that would have been silly. Mr. Doyle looked as though he was really hurt, somehow, and Mr. Bodie looked terribly worried about him. Then I saw they'd ripped open one of the bales, and Mr. Doyle had some cream-coloured silk pressed to his side. There was blood on it, too, and I knew my father would be furious when he found out. But I supposed Mr. Bodie didn't have much choice. When we did First Aid at school, they always said you had to stop things bleeding.
I almost jumped down and ran back to the house, but I didn't. After a minute I knocked on the window, and Mr. Bodie looked up and saw me. He looked really surprised but sort of pleased, too.
He waved to me straight away, and then started to get up, but first he ruffled Mr. Doyle's hair (did I say he had curly hair? I think I did) and gently propped him up against the wall.
He sort of limped to the window, which opened from the inside, and opened it. There were bars on it as well, but that didn't matter when he opened it, as we could talk perfectly well like that.
"Hello, Mr. Bodie," I said.
"Hello, Daniel", he replied, and even though he looked as though he was hurting too, he smiled at me.
"Is your Dad there?" he asked
"No, he isn't," I told him, deciding it wasn't worth telling him I didn't call him "Dad".
He frowned a bit, then.
"Did they hurt Mr. Doyle?" I asked him, looking over there.
"Yes", he said. "He really needs a doctor, Daniel."
"Oh, I answered. "But don't you have to wait for Uncle Sol first? He wants you to sing or something."
"I know he does, Daniel," Mr. Bodie said with a sad look on his face. "But it's really important you help us, because your Uncle Sol wants to do something bad."
That didn't surprise me a bit, but I didn't say much because my father says you should always look after your family and never speak badly of them in public.
"Oh," I said again, and looked over at Mr. Doyle, who had his eyes open and was looking at us, trying to say something.
Suddenly, Mr. Bodie turned and ran over to him, yelling to me not to go and then bending over Mr. Doyle, saying something I couldn't hear and doing that funny hair-ruffling gesture again. After a minute he came back to the window, looking more upset than ever.
"Daniel? Listen to me. You're a sensible lad now, aren't you?"
I wasn't going to argue with that, so I nodded.
"Can you open the door to this room?" he asked. I shook my head, because only my father - or at least so I'd thought until I found out Uncle's Sol's men had one - had that key, and kept it on a big key ring in his pocket, attached to his belt. Mr. Bodie looked sad again for a minute.
"Can you do something for me? You've got a phone in your house, haven't you?"
I thought that was a silly question, because everybody has telephones these days, don't they? But I said yes, anyway.
"Daniel - can you remember a number?" he asked me, and I was quite angry because I have a really good memory - Miss Harrison says so.
"Of course I can," I told him, and he smiled again, which made me feel a bit better.
Then he explained to me that I was to call the number and ask for a Mr. Cowley, and tell him exactly where he and Mr. Doyle were. I told him they'd better hurry if they were going to come, as Uncle Sol was due back at six. Mr. Bodie looked at his watch and looked even more worried, if that was possible.
I suppose I must have looked a bit doubtful about it all. But then he also told me that he and Mr. Doyle worked for a special organisation a bit like the police, one that tried to keep people out of trouble, so I felt a bit better, then.
"Like special agents?" I asked, and he nodded. I felt all excited, suddenly.
"Mr. Cowley's our boss and he really does want to know where Ray and I are", Mr. Bodie said. "And it's very important for Ray to get help soon."
"Will he die, otherwise?" I said without really thinking because that's not the sort of thing you should ask.
"He... might," Mr. Bodie said, sounding sort of strangled.
"He's your best friend, isn't he?" I asked, being a little impertinent, but my mother wasn't there to stop me asking personal questions.
"He sure is," Mr. Bodie said, almost in a whisper. "Please, Daniel. It's important." "But why did those men hurt you?" I wanted to know.
"Because... because your Uncle Sol's going to do something bad, like I said, and they found out who we really were." he said.
That didn't surprise me - the bit about Uncle Sol, I mean.
"And if Mr. Cowley gets you out, you really could stop him?" I asked again, deciding that if somebody could prevent Uncle Sol from getting into too much trouble it would be quite a good idea.
"I think so, yes. But you really must talk to Mr. Cowley quickly, Daniel. It's already nearly five, and Ray's badly hurt."
"They said Uncle Sol would take you out," I couldn't help telling him, because it was still worrying me, and I saw Mr. Bodie bite his lip and look over at his friend again.
"Your Uncle Sol is really angry with us, Daniel. But if you don't make that phone call, he's going to do things that are going to get even more people hurt than just Ray and I. Mr. Cowley will know what to do, I promise."
Mr. Bodie looked more serious and sadder than I've ever seen him, and all the time I could see the huge red stain on my father's silk and Mr. Doyle looking sort of sleepy and still.
"Can't I wait until my mother or father get home?" I asked, knowing there wouldn't be enough time even as I blurted it out like some silly child. Mr. Bodie just shook his head.
I took a really deep breath and repeated the telephone number again, and suddenly Mr. Bodie was smiling.
"You can do it, Daniel. I know you can." He was sort of smiling again but his eyes still looked sad, so I just nodded and ran.
When I got back inside, Sarah was still busy with Barbie and Ken, which was a relief. I looked at the clock and wondered how on earth this Mr. Cowley was going to sort it all out in just an hour.
I picked up the telephone and remembered the number easily, which was at least a start. Then I told the lady that I had a message from 4.5 and 3.7, like Mr. Bodie had told me to, and that it was really, really urgent. She told me to wait a minute. I nearly put the receiver down, my heart was beating so fast, but I didn't.
Then Mr. Cowley came on the line, and I told him everything, even who I was. I suppose I said it all in a rush, but he was calm and nice after a bit and said I was a good laddie.
At first he'd seemed a bit bad-tempered, but when I told him about the shipment and Mr. Doyle and the knife, he said he'd be right over and not to go back to the strongroom until he got there. He said he'd hurry.
When I put the phone down I was trembling a bit. I waited a few minutes, and kept wanting to go out and tell Mr. Bodie I'd done what he said even though Mr. Cowley had said I shouldn't, but then I heard a door opening. It was my father, and my mother too.
I can't remember exactly who said what, then, because I started to tell my father and he was angry, then surprised, then angry again and started shouting. My mother just stood there and I thought she was going to cry, then she went running up to Sarah.
My father was just going to get out the key to the strongroom and go out there to see for himself, he said, when the doorbell rang.
The man standing there said he was Mr. Cowley, and I was so pleased to see him I couldn't say anything for a minute.
I know you're supposed to describe people, so I should say Mr. Cowley was really old, even older than my father. He had sort of gingery coloured hair and a limp. He came in with another man called Mr. Murphy who was much younger and really tall with dark hair and (as my mother said later) was really handsome.
Mr. Cowley soon got my father to stop shouting, and was explaining all sort of things about CI5 (luckily my father had heard of them, although I hadn't until then) and about Uncle Sol, and, to my amazement, something about him buying guns. He even said he knew that my father wasn't involved because Mr. Bodie had said so, which was a huge relief. Not that I ever thought he would be, of course.
My father didn't even look really surprised, although I'm sure he never knew about the guns and thought Uncle Sol really was importing tea.
"Are you going to help Mr. Doyle now?" I asked, and as I did something crackled in his pocket and he took out a sort of walkie-talkie thing. He walked away a bit so I couldn't really hear much, except that he was saying "yes" and "no", but then he came back.
"We need the key to your strongroom, Mr. Rosenbaum," he said, and my father just took it out of his pocket without even arguing. He handed it to Mr. Murphy, who went rushing outside.
He saw me looking at him and seemed to remember he hadn't answered my question.
"Yes, Daniel, we'll help Doyle," he said, looking worried. His walkie-talkie was making noises again, but then he told us all to go into the front room, farthest from the yard, and my father started calling for my mother and Sarah to come down and do as they were told.
As I went out of the hall, though, I was near enough to hear Mr. Cowley speaking to Mr. Murphy and heard Mr. Murphy's voice, all crackly, answering him.
"In the strongroom now, Sir," said Mr. Murphy.
"How bad is it?" Mr. Cowley asked, quietly.
"Bad." I heard him say. "Doyle's lost a lot of blood."
"Can he hold out?" Mr. Cowley said, frowning.
"Not for long. It's not good, sir."
"Stay in there, 6.2. We can't move them out yet. Cowley out. Radio silence, everyone."
I couldn't stop myself, and started shouting about Mr. Doyle and the blood, and even about the silk. I wanted them to take him to a hospital, not to keep him inside the strongroom.
My father sort of winced when I mentioned the silk, but I didn't even care. Mr. Cowley looked at me really seriously, and put a hand on my shoulder.
"Daniel, this is all very hard, I know. But we have to wait until your Uncle Sol gets here so that they can't get away with those guns. If he sees an ambulance, or even anyone coming out of that room, he'll run away."
I tried really hard not to cry, but I have to admit I did, a bit. My Dad suddenly looked a bit less angry and sort of steered me into the front room. Sarah, the silly girl, was crying herself silly because of all the shouting and having to leave Barbie and Ken. Girls, as I said, are pretty useless sometimes.
It was quarter to six when I looked at the clock and then I kept on watching it. I even started counting the seconds but got lost after a bit because my father put an arm around me. He didn't do that often, and it felt sort of nice. Then I thought of Mr. Bodie holding Mr. Doyle in there and ruffling his hair and looking so frightened about his best friend and started looking at the second hand again.
Now what happened next was, as they say in books, something that is a bit of a blur. What upset me most was that I couldn't see anything at all. I heard a lorry come into the yard just as the clock reached five past six and I was starting to think Uncle Sol wasn't coming. Then there was a whole lot of shouting - I could hear that even from the front room.
Mr. Cowley was standing holding his walkie-talkie thing, and when it crackled he was almost shouting.
"6.2 to Alpha," I heard.
"All tidied up, sir," he said. "Rosenbaum, his men and the delivery team are all taken. No casualties."
"Excellent, Murphy. Get that ambulance in. Fast."
I ran over to the window in the back room, where I could see the yard, and nobody stopped me at first because Mr. Cowley was still talking into his walkie-talkie and my parents were telling Sarah to stop crying.
Down below I could see Uncle Sol and the others, and two other men as well, all being pushed into a big van. There were a whole lot of other people there too, with guns, which made me shiver a bit. Then I saw a flashing light that I knew was an ambulance. But then Mr. Cowley came in and pulled me away from the window, quite gently, and said I should wait until the van had gone.
"Can I go down and see Mr. Bodie and Mr. Doyle?" I said, looking at Mr. Cowley and my father.
My father sort of hesitated, but after a bit Mr. Cowley looked out of the window, and said it would be all right now, and that I could go with him, so I did. He seemed to realise I really wanted to.
Mr. Murphy was beside the ambulance doors, and Mr. Doyle was on a stretcher being put in. He had an oxygen mask over his face, just like you see on the television. Mr. Bodie was with him, with a hand on his Mr. Doyle's arm, talking to him as they walked. He was still limping a bit, but when he saw me he smiled again.
"Thanks, Daniel," he said. "We both owe you a lot."
"Will he be all right? Mr. Doyle?"
"I'm sure he will," he said, getting in the ambulance as well. He still looked really worried.
When we got back in the house, my father did something really unusual and that was to get a bottle of whisky out of the cupboard. He almost never does that, except after Bar Mitzvahs and things. Mr. Cowley had a glass, and he also patted my shoulder in front of my father, saying again that I had done really well.
I almost came out right there and then and asked if I'd done well enough to deserve a word processor, but I thought maybe I'd better wait a bit, with Mr. Doyle being so badly hurt and everything, not to mention the silk being ruined.
So I asked again if Mr. Doyle really would be all right, because Mr. Bodie looked so upset and sort of scared. Mr Cowley looked worried, too. You could see it in his eyes.
"They're best friends, you see," I said to him at the end and he smiled suddenly, looking quite different, because he seemed so serious at first. Maybe it was the whisky.
"I know they are, laddie."
Then he started explaining to my father that we shouldn't mention my telephone call to anyone. Not that I hadn't been really clever and brave, but just in case there was any trouble with any of Uncle Sol's friends. I suppose that's why he'd moved me away from the window, too, in case they looked up and saw me and knew I'd given them away.
My father was nodding, and then mentioned the silk. I felt a bit bad about that, as Mr. Bodie hadn't really had any choice, but Mr. Cowley said they'd be in touch about it and would pay for the damage. I thought was really kind. He even said they'd call me once they had some news about Mr. Doyle, and I was pleased about that, too.
It took me ages to get to sleep that night, as I kept seeing Mr. Doyle lying there, so still, with all the blood, and remembering how scared I'd been even though I didn't show it at all, of course. My mother came and talked to me, and so did my father, and neither of them seemed angry at all any more.
The next day was Sunday, and my father spent most of it in the office. I saw him put the bloodstained silk in a big bag, measuring it carefully, and writing something down, and felt a bit sick again.
Later in the afternoon, though, Mr. Cowley telephoned, and said that Mr. Doyle really would be all right, and I was so happy I even played Barbie a bit with Sarah, although I didn't enjoy it much.
I should also say that I was a bit sad because Mr. Cowley also said I absolutely mustn't talk about what had happened at school. I was hoping at first that telling the other boys about special agents and guns and all the things that had happened might make it easier to have a best friend, but now that was all a bit spoiled.
But now I might have a best friend of my own after all, soon, because that very Monday after the famous Sabbath when it all happened I started talking to another boy in my class who likes writing stories. Isn't that amazing? We said that one day, we'd write a real book about detectives or special agents. I bet I know more than he does, even if he does get to watch Starsky and Hutch.
Anyway, on the Wednesday of that week, I had a real surprise. Mr. Murphy came and took my mother and me (or is that my mother and I?) to see Mr. Doyle at the hospital. He's the one my mother said was handsome, if you remember, when we were talking about everything, just the two of us.
It was great fun to go in Mr. Murphy's car because it had a radio and all sorts of stuff like handcuffs in it. My mother sat in front and they talked a lot and they seemed to almost forget me part of the time, but I didn't mind too much really because Mr. Murphy was so nice and had helped Mr. Doyle. He even said that my mother didn't look old enough to have a grown-up son like me. I didn't know quite what to think of that.
Mr. Doyle looked all right, really, and even showed me his bandages. Mr. Bodie actually looked worse, because he had a black eye and his whole face still looked sort of sore. He wasn't actually in bed like Mr. Doyle, but just visiting, and besides, he wanted to see me, he said. I told them I was really sorry they were hurt so much, but that I supposed that sort of thing happened when you're a special agent. They said I was absolutely right.
They both said again that I'd been wonderful, and that I'd saved them and all sorts of things like that. I got quite embarrassed in the end, and my mother went all sort of pink. Mr. Doyle even gave me a book token (for TEN POUNDS!) because he said I probably liked to read stories as well as write them. I told them I'd like to write stories about special agents, and was going to write one very soon with my friend, although I did admit that he wasn't quite a best friend like him and Mr. Bodie yet. He laughed, and said that he'd love to read it one day.
My mother didn't look so sure about the whole idea, but she kept smiling anyway. Luckily, I don't think she told my father about that, because he probably would have liked it even less. As I said, I think I'm supposed to go into his business one day. At least he doesn't mind too much about the stories now, though.
The last thing I wanted to say was the BEST news of all. My father seemed really pleased about Mr. Cowley paying for the silk and saying I'd been a "brave young laddie". I should have said earlier that Mr. Cowley talks with this really strange accent - like Karl's but sort of different. My father says he's Scottish, which would explain why he likes whisky, I suppose, because that's where it comes from.
Anyway, my father said that for my next birthday, which is in January, that I can have a word processor FOR MY VERY OWN. And if I have a best friend by then, life will be really, really perfect.
I think that's the end of the story.
-- THE END --