While I was teaching I had students who were perfectly capable of reading and were fluent readers… however, they were totally disengaged and had got out of the habit. As they were approaching public exams, it was important to get back into the way of reading – especially in English when they had to read set texts.
I started to write pieces for them, always with a cliff-hanger ending to get them back into it, and eventually these pieces became stories, and eventually, I published them! My three stories are available as paperbacks, and also as e-readers.
This is an extract from ‘Screaming King Harry’; Jo-Jo who tells the story lives with her parents in a pub, and one night observes her English teacher Henry King – known as King Harry, exchanging something for a wad of money. He realises he’s been see and then things begin to become dangerous for Jo-Jo and her family. The pub is set on fire in an arson attack…
There was only one thing I could do.
The brewery had fixed us up, Dad and Mum would manage a pub on the other side of town. We had to pack our bags and move out because although the smoke and water damage had been worse than the actual fire, we couldn’t live there for a while.
I told Mum and Dad it was too far to travel to school and that I was staying with a mate; I gave them a name and made up the address. I gave the school the name and address of a made up pub.
Then I camped out while I thought of what to do. I didn’t literally camp outside, although I had been in the Scouts when I was a kid and knew all about camping. The Scouts met in a church hall and I knew a way into it. It was dry and not too cold and there was a toilet and kitchen and as long as I wasn’t there when other people were using it all would be OK. In the evenings, if the hall was in use I sat in the church doing my homework – yeah I know it sounds boring, but I hadn’t anything else to do.
You see, the arson attack at the pub was aimed at me; I was putting everyone in danger. I couldn’t stay with my mates, or even be with them, just I case, and I definitely couldn’t stay with Mum and Dad, we could have died in the fire.
So, why didn’t I tell the Old Bill? Would they have believed me, or would they have believed King Harry? What do you think?
It worked fine for three days while I thought of what to do. On the morning of the fourth day, cold and not really feeling very clean, I decided on a course of action. It was the only thing.
I had to talk to King Harry; I would give in to his threats and bribes and blackmail. I would do anything if he’d leave me and my mum and dad alone – especially my mum and dad.
Sounds soft, but it’s only when someone’s in danger that your realise how important they are to you – and yeah, how much you love them.
I caught him on the corridor.
“Sir, can I see you?”
He looked surprised then wary.
“I hear you’ve had trouble at the pub,” he said.
The cheeky so-and-so! Too right we’d had trouble at the pub, trouble at the pub thanks to his majesty King Harry!
“We’re ok, sir,” I replied casually. “But I wondered if I could talk to you?”
He stared at me for a moment, his blue eyes dangerously blue. “I’m not free today and I’ve got a meeting after school.”
“I’m going to be working in the library, got a project to catch up on,” I said; also the library was warmer and cosier than the church hall.
“Come and find me when you’ve finished, then, or I can come and find you?”
My skin crawled.
“Fine sir, just fine.”