Well on we go with shouting out into the black hole of cyberspace…
Chapter 6 is very brief so I have posted chapter 7 as well just to keep the three or so people who read this blog entertained.
The Island – chapter 6
The call had come just as Slater was about to take Wendy and the kids to out to the supermarket to pick up the week’s shopping. He had hesitated in the doorway, debating whether to let the machine get it. Something had nagged at him to duck back inside the house and pick it up.
‘Go on ahead,’ he told Wendy. She raised an eyebrow and carried on loading Graham and Susie into the Zafira.
There had been a long pause, the hiss of static on the line.
‘Is that 468769?’ the voice at the other end had asked.
Slater suddenly felt numb as the phrase registered. He paused for a moment before giving the correct response.
‘No, I’m afraid that this is 468768,’ he said. He had been careful to say the numbers clearly, even though his tongue felt too thick for his mouth. His voice had sounded far off.
‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry. I must have misdialled. Sorry to have troubled you.’
Slater, had managed to keep his voice even. ‘That’s quite all right. Goodbye.’ There was a click as the other person hung up leaving only the hum of the dial tone. He had put the phone down and stared at it for a long minute.
Wendy had reappeared in the doorway, interrupting his thoughts. ‘Jack, are you coming or what?’
Slater had given himself a mental shake and tried to compose himself. ‘Yeah, be there in a sec.’
‘Who was it?’
‘Oh nobody, just a wrong number that’s all.’
‘Are you feeling alright? You look a bit pale.’
Slater had shrugged. ‘Probably just need a bit of fresh air and sunshine – been cooped up in the office too long. Come on, we better go before the kids kick off.’
A few minutes later, he had pulled the car out of the driveway and driven away from their suburban semi. As he drove, he had fiddled with the radio and swapped idle chat with Wendy just as he had done every other weekend …but his mind had been on other things.
The sunlight cut through the thin haze of smoke as it drifted through the living room. Ryan and Jamie sat slumped down on Frank’s incredibly comfortable sofa. The opening notes of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” rang out from Frank’s small but powerful music system.
‘This is a fucking amazing track, just brilliant guitar playing, nothing fancy but just dripping with feeling.’ Frank said as he came through from the kitchen with two mugs of steaming hot coffee and handed them over to the two boys. ‘There you go – just the thing to perk you back up and clear your heads after a wee smoke.’
Ryan slurped at the scalding hot brew and nodded his head in time to the music, feeling the air vibrate with every note. He loved listening to stuff round at Frank’s house. The cannabis seemed to give you a completely new understanding of sounds. One whole wall of the living room housed Frank’s extensive music collection. Ryan and Jamie loved to browse along the stacks, savouring exotic sounding band and album names. While the other islanders had him pegged as a hippy, Ryan and Jamie had quickly discovered that Frank’s taste in music was fabulously eclectic. For Frank’s part, he derived great pleasure in burning compilations of his favourite cuts to pass on to the two boys. He saw it as a duty to educate the two properly in quality music.
Frank sat down and dipped a hand into his shirt pocket. He pulled out a small white bottle. ‘Here,’ he said, tossing the bottle over to the sofa. Jamie stuck out his hand and caught it.
‘Eye-drops?’ he said reading the label.
‘Aye, you’re both a bit red-rimmed. Couple of squirts of that will sort it out for you before you go home.’
‘Good point,’ Ryan said. The coffee was already beginning to cut through the cannabis fog in his brain. Neil Young carried on wailing on his guitar in the background.
‘So what’s the plan for the summer?’
‘Dunno,’ Jamie shrugged. ‘Chill out. Whatever.’
‘Maybe make a couple of trips to the mainland.’ Ryan added.
‘Oh aye, any reason in particular?’
‘Well, I’ve been saving up my wages from the shop for a while now and I was thinking of going to buy a new guitar – a good one. I’ve been eyeing up Fenders online.’
‘Very nice. Strat?’
‘Probably. Although a nice Telecaster might fit the bill just as well.’
‘Nice solid guitar the Telecaster. Not fancy but it’ll never let you down.’
Frank considered himself something of an amateur authority on guitars. He had been in several bands during his younger days and had been teaching both boys how to play for a couple of years. The weed smoking was still a new phenomenon. He had confided in the pair about his extracurricular activities after knowing them for about a year and guessing they were both cool with it. Frank knew both boys were discreet and felt, hand on his heart, that he had never pressured either one to join him in his habit. Both of them were old enough to make their own decisions now he figured. Anyway, it wasn’t as if he was involved with smack or crack or any stuff like that. They might talk about mushrooms later though.
‘What time’s the lovely Linda supposed to be getting back?’ Ryan asked, looking at his watch.
‘About half four.’
‘We better be thinking about heading on soon then – that’s nearly four now. We’ll give you a hand to clear up before we go.’
‘Aye, wouldn’t want to get into Mrs T’s bad books, Frank.’ Jamie said. ‘I’ll go and wash up these cups in a minute.’ In truth Jamie wasn’t quite ready to leave the cosy confines of the sofa just yet. Despite the coffee he still felt a little bit rubber legged.
Frank laughed. ‘Such well brought up young lads. However did you end up hanging around a reprobate like me and what will your parent’s do if they find out I’ve been leading you astray?’
‘That reminds me,’ said Ryan. ‘Dad says thanks for the cd you made him – he was well chuffed with it. It’s been in constant rotation in the car for the last week.’
‘Glad he liked it. Your dad’s not got bad taste you know – wish my dad had been that cool, maybe we would have got on a lot better when I was your age if we’d had something like that in common.’ Frank hadn’t spoken to his old man after he had walked out of the house aged seventeen. When his mum had called to tell him that his dad had passed away from cancer a couple of years back it had left him feeling weirdly empty. He had gone to the funeral but it had been like watching one on the TV – all the emotion felt second hand. He envied the boys who both seemed to have good relationships with their parent’s.
The sound of the doorbell ringing again interrupted his reverie.
‘Must be my day for visitors,’ Frank said, rising from his seat to see who it was. ‘And here I was thinking moving out here would give me peace and quiet.’
Ryan and Jamie had finally managed to unglue themselves from the sofa. They took their mugs through to the kitchen. They could hear Frank opening the door.
‘Hello Frank,’ a voice said. ‘Long time, no see.’
There was a noticeable pause before Frank spoke. ‘Just leave the dishes lads,’ he called over his shoulder. He came through to the kitchen. They could hear the new arrival shuffling about in the hallway. Both boys noted the troubled look that had settled on Frank’s usually cheery face. ‘Sorry to rush you out the door lads, something’s just come up.’
‘Oh ok,’ Ryan shot Jamie a quizzical look. ‘We’ll, uh, get out of your hair.’
‘Aye catch you again later this week maybe?’
Frank didn’t answer.
‘Eh? Aye, sure. I’ll give you a buzz sometime. See you lads.’