Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back to School

Jay Diamond – Colobus toy monkey come to life – has been woken from a post-booze lie-in. He can hear snippets of conversation coming through the open window, but the piece which catches his attention is the phrase 'I'll be late for school'.

It's rather a lovely thing to hear – especially when that entire listening-to-adults thing is in the past and it's not you having to show a bit of keenness and slog your way to the coalface of education, but rather your main decision is whether to get up or not.

There is a banging at his front door. Before Jay can finish the debate in his head about how much sound a pillow clasped over his head will drown out, it comes again. He slips on a few clothes to give some semblance of decency and goes downstairs.

When he opens his front door, a young boy stands before him with an expression suggesting he is auditioning for Oliver Twist. Jay guesses that it is one of the children from the single-parent family who have recently moved into the adjoining house. The boy is smartly dressed in a new school uniform, except he is not wearing a coat, is unperturbed at discovering Jay is a toy monkey come to life, and does not seem to disapprove of the state of Jay's just-out-of-bed uncombed fur.

"My jacket's locked in the door," he says and holds out his phone for Jay to take.

"Your jacket?" Jay says, putting the phone to his ear.

The boy nods.

"Oh, Jay," a female voice says. "He can't unlock the door. It's his first day at high school and he's got his jacket trapped." She pauses. "He's been crying."

Bemused, Jay wanders next door.

He finds the jacket caught by a lower corner flap, looking for all the world as if it has been apprehended trying to escape the house by slipping under the door. Above it, and dangling from a chain, is a brand new satchel-cum-briefcase. At the other end, and holding it suspended in mid-air, is a key in a lock.

Jay tries the key and finds it won't budge. He gets the boy to raise the bag to take the weight and strain off the key and promptly unlocks the door. The grateful boy recovers his jacket and his phone, and hurries off to school after a whispered and grateful-sounding thank-you.

It is only later in the day that Jay discovers the boy had been wearing the jacket when rushing out to school, but had not thought to wriggle out of it until he spoke to his mother on the phone. Jay finds the image hard to get out of his head and announces to anyone who will listen that he will pay good money to see the boy achieve the feat again.

He is delighted that there is still a full term to go.

And another five years.

Waiting can be fun.


Or not.

Jay has discovered some malicious software on his PC. It is so designed that if he switches it on and walks away to do something else, rather than waste time waiting for it reach operating speed, the internet connection will fail. If he sits there, watching it performing its start-up routine, it will work. There has to be a proximity switch nearby for this to work, but Jay is damned if he can find it, though he has suspicions involving the touch-screen.


Next day, the boy leaves his front door wide open for any burglars to help themselves. Jay discovers this late in the morning and shuts it. Such incidents add to his sense of community.


Don't do the stupid things stupid people do.

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