It was him, she’s sure it was him. Maybe it was just her mind playing tricks on her, she’s been a bit off recently, seeing Tony everywhere. The man in the bakery, the postman, all of them look like him. There was something about that man’s face though, it was familiar. She looks down the street, seeing if there is any sign of the man but he’s disappeared. She shakes her head, resigned to madness. She carries on her way to the train station. She has an important interview, she needs to keep her mind focused. Why did he run away?
The interview is for one of them door to door sales firms. She knows she won’t be any good at it, she can just about persuade herself to get out of bed in the morning let alone persuade someone to buy something from her. You need enthusiasm, you need to believe in what you’re selling. She has no enthusiasm, she doesn’t know what she’ll be selling but she’s sure she won’t believe in it. She hates door to door sales. She needs the money though and it’s the only place who’ll even give her an interview after so many years out of work.
At the bus stop outside the train station is a group of men standing around drinking cans of Special Brew. They’re loud, shouting at each other. She considers approaching them and asking if they know the homeless man with the dog. There’s lots of homeless men with dogs, it would be a waste of time. They are intimidating anyway, they’ll only ridicule her. One of them looks quite young, quiet too, not involved in all the shouting. She could ask him. The young man is watching her as she stands still in the middle of the road. He smiles weakly at her. She can’t do it, she can’t ask them. Going for a job in sales and she can’t even find the courage to ask a group of men if they might know where her missing son is.
She looks at her watch, it’s almost eight o’clock. She’s late, although she still can’t understand why the interview is so late in the evening. She knocks on the door of the office, a man opens it, welcoming her inside. The place is empty except for one harassed looking man sitting at a desk. He’s fidgeting with a pencil while looking over sheets of paper. He looks up at her, a quizzical look on his face, as if to say ‘are you mad?’. The man who greeted her ushers into a side room.
‘Sorry, what’s your name?’
‘Jennifer, I was supposed to be here at 7.45 but the train ran late.’
‘No problem Jennifer. This interview will be easy.’
‘We’re like a big family here, Jennifer. We all look after each other. You understand what it means to be part of a family don’t you?’
‘Yes, well I would think so.’
‘Excellent, we get a bit competitive sometimes but I’m sure you can handle that. You’re slightly older than most of our other team members but you can be the mum.’
‘One thing I will say Jennifer and you need to be aware of this: you won’t get paid if you don’t sell anything. You’re self employed and solely earn commission.’
‘They didn’t tell me that.’
‘Don’t worry about it! You’ll be dancing around the pole in a few days, I always know when I’ve found a winner.’
‘You’ll see tomorrow when you start.’
‘Yes! See you bright and early at eight in the morning. Any questions? No? Fantastic! Great to have you on board Jennifer now I have to go.’
The man departs the small room leaving her there. She walks back into the office and smiles at the harassed looking man. He smiles back at her, putting down his pencil and shuffling the pieces of paper. He looks about forty, eyes with dark rings looking like he hasn’t slept in a week.
‘You starting tomorrow?’
‘Yes, I’m Jennifer. Nice to meet you.’
‘I’m Frank.’ He stands up and shakes her hand.
‘Just remember you can walk away from this place anytime you want. They have no loyalty to you, so don’t give any in return.’
‘What’s the pole?’
‘You’ll see the pole in the morning. Jeremey will be dancing around it.’
‘He’s the top dog here. Don’t worry about him. I was just leaving, do you fancy a quick drink? I could run you through things here.’
‘I have to go home, I’m tired.’ She’s not going for a drink with a man she’s never met before. She’s not even sure she’ll be turning up tomorrow morning. The interview wasn’t an interview, Frank looks like he’s at death’s door and she doesn’t like the sound of this Jeremey character even before she’s met him.
‘I know what you’re thinking. You’re not sure if you should come tomorrow or not. My advice? Don’t come, if you like being humiliated then be my guest.’
‘You’re not really selling this job to me Frank.’
‘I’m trying to persuade you not to do it.’
‘Well, thank you for the warning. I’ll probably see you tomorrow.’
Frank doesn’t look like he’s capable of surviving the night, if she doesn’t see him tomorrow it’s more likely it’s because the man has keeled over and died. She has to come in. It isn’t just about the money, it’s about getting out and meeting people, talking to people, interacting with the world she has shunned for the last few years. She leaves Frank in the office, he’s gone back to his papers, obviously he wasn’t just finishing up for the night.
The woman gone Frank puts his feet up on the desk, lies back in his chair and sighs deeply. She won’t last five minutes. You have to tell them, even if she does look sceptical herself. It’s the young ones who come in here bright eyed and bushy tailed, thinking they’re going to be buying Ferraris in a few weeks who are the worst. Usually they’re done within a week. Not a sale to their name, broken by the incessant lying and pressure from those at the top. He’ll give her two days at the most. She’ll probably end up having a breakdown on the second morning and storming away. He’d seen it all before.
The day she discovered her son was gone she was convinced he would be back the same night. Every single day since she has thought the same. Waiting for a knock on the door or a phone call. They’ve never come. Her husband left her after a few years. Neither of them could cope and decided it would be best to part, the endless blaming of each other was pointless. All love had gone the day Tony walked out the door. She’d not given up but after ten years she knew she had do something to help her move forward.
The group of men have left the station, the young man she had seen earlier is still there on his own. She can’t escape the feeling that the homeless man is in someway significant, even if it wasn’t Tony, it might have been someone who knows where he is. She takes a deep breathe and approaches him, his head is down, he looks up frightened as he sees her shadow coming towards him. His faces eases as he sees Jennifer.
‘Hello, you must be cold out on a night like this?’
‘Nah, you get used to it. I saw you earlier, you were looking over at us all.’
‘Yes, that was me. I wanted to ask you something but all of those men together was a bit intimidating.’
‘They’re loud but they’re harmless.’
‘Do you know a man with a dog? I think the dog was a border collie, a black and white one. He has a big beard and long hair.’
‘Big beard and long hair doesn’t help much. The dog does though, I think I know who you mean. He’s a guy called Tommy.’
‘Tommy? Not Tony?’
‘Do you know anything about him?’
‘Not much, he keeps himself to himself. He sometimes stays in a shop doorway on the high street and sometimes he stays in a house which has been abandoned.’
‘Where’s the house?’
‘I can show you if you want.’
The man she saw is called Tommy and not Tony. Does she go with this kid to an abandoned house? It’s like something out of a horror movie. She didn’t think abandoned houses still existed in this day and age, certainly not in a big city like this where the housing situation is desperate.
‘You’re not going to murder me are you?’ He looks at her and then bursts out laughing.
‘No, I’m not going to murder you. Look, I’m not bothered either way. You go and it gives me something to do, you don’t go, I’ll just sit here.’
‘Is it far?’
‘Twenty minutes away.’
‘Let’s go. I don’t have much money on me either so don’t think about robbing me.’
‘I won’t rob you.’
The kid’s word isn’t really much. If he wanted to rob her she wouldn’t be able to put up much fight. If this Tommy person is at the house what is she going to say to him? He could well just be another homeless person who has nothing to do with Tony. Maybe he was just embarrassed at her giving him money like that in the street. Abandoned houses and homeless kids, she feels like she’s in a cliched movie.
‘How did you end up out here then?’
‘Did some stupid things a few years back, my parents didn’t give a shit about me, I ended up in care and then when I turned sixteen I was on my own.’
‘What? No help at all?’
‘Nope, they don’t give a fuck and want you out of the system.’
She wants to ask him more questions but feels as if she would be prying. He answers her politely but she gets the feeling he’d rather they walked in silence. She hadn’t thought about it before but the kid probably wants something for doing this. She’ll give him a tenner.
‘This is it here.’
They’re standing outside a set of Victorian terraced houses. They don’t look abandoned, she looks at him.
‘You have to go down the side steps, the place is in the basement. Don’t know who will be in there though so be careful.’
‘You’re not coming with me?’
‘I don’t like going in there. It’s filthy. Just push the door in and put your head in the door, if there’s someone there you’ll know.’
She takes a tenner from her purse and puts it in the kid’s hand. He nods his head in thanks and walks off into the darkness of the park opposite the houses. She could come back another day, come back when it’s day time. She might not get another chance with the new job though. She descends the stairs to the side and stands outside the door. She pushes it, it opens without making a noise. She hears someone inside moving. She steps back from the door and looks back up the stairs. Come Jennifer, you’ve been waiting years to find him and now you might have the slightest of chances. She steps in the door, there’s a person sitting on the floor of what looks like it used to be a living room. There’s a torch shining on the floor. Is it him?
The first two parts to this story are below:
I’m literally making this story up each time I sit down to write it so I hope there aren’t too many plot holes and those of you reading it are enjoying it! We’ll see where it goes over the next week or so. I find writing like this is good practice. I’ve not got the time to edit this one tonight as I have other things to do so apologies for any grammar or spelling mistakes.
All of my books are on sale on Amazon at the moment, each one is 99p each. The links are here:
All three of them in one Kindle book are £1.99 here
Finally thanks for all your support over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been getting crazy numbers of views on this blog recently. I’ll be publishing a lot more books this year so stay tuned and I hope you all had a good Christmas and new year.