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23 July 2014
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Stephen Adamson

My name is Stephen Adamson and I am gainfully employed as a civil servant in Belfast, making the enjoyable commute from Carrickfergus each day. I have been writing all sorts of fiction - short stories, plays, poetry and even novels off and on since I was a teenager. My favourite author would have to be Stephen King as he can tell a great yarn as well as offering some deeper insights into the human character.

Waiting For Dad by Stephen Adamson

Stevie twisted about in the back seat of the car, sucking in his stomach as the need to pee hit him again. He looked out the rear window to check for his dad again but wasn’t surprised when he didn’t see him. It had only been twenty minutes or so, though it always seemed longer, and when his dad called into the bookies on a Saturday afternoon it could easily be an hour before he returned. Of course he might not be in the bookies now, he could have slipped out to the pub next door.

Stevie was sweating a little as he dug the pencil into the palm of his hand to distract his mind from peeing. The day was hot enough, (unfortunately his dad tended to spend even longer in the bookies/pub during the summer), but fighting with his bladder was making Stevie hotter. He wound down the window beside him a bit further but there wasn’t a breeze to cool his reddened face.

The boy studied the round marks dotting across his palm as he pushed into his soft skin with the lead. He always carried pencils for there was always something to draw and somewhere to draw it. Today Stevie had remembered to bring a few blank pages with him and that certainly would have helped to pass the time, but now with this urge to pee he couldn’t concentrate. He should have mentioned it to his dad before he had left the car, but it had only been a hint of something then and Stevie hadn’t wanted to risk annoying his dad. Most likely dad would have suspected it was a plan inspired by mum in order to make them come home earlier.

Stevie let out a long sigh as the need to pee receded. Digging a pencil into his hands always helped to take his mind off things. It wasn’t as much fun as drawing but sometimes drawing alone wasn’t enough, especially at the weekends when mum and dad had to spend more time together. The boy knew that his mum would be sat at home now fuming as she did most weekends, knowing where dad was to be found most Saturday afternoons after shopping. They rarely went shopping together because of the rows it inspired, but she would encourage Stevie to go along because sometimes his presence did make dad come home sooner. Sometimes.

He kept watch on the bookies and its neighbour the pub trying to will his dad to appear, hoping there wouldn’t be any winning bets to keep him away for longer and wishing that he didn’t feel like crying.

The rap at the window surprised him and the pencil fell and went rolling around the messy car. Stevie looked to his right and saw a woman bent over peering into him.

“Are you alright luv?”

Her voice was cheery but concerned. She had a bright and shiny face with a lot of white teeth showing as she was smiling, and her hair looked almost yellow as it shone in the sun. There was nothing frightening about her, but Stevie was unsure all the same, mostly because he was embarrassed at the thought that she might find out he had to pee.

“Are you okay luv?” she repeated when Stevie didn’t respond. “Are you waiting on your mum and dad?”

“Yeah,” said Stevie. “My dad.”

“Has he been gone long?” asked the woman who continued to stare into him with her big grin.

Stevie wasn’t too sure what to say. He didn’t know who this woman was, and he didn’t know why she was so interested in him, and he didn’t want to get his dad in any trouble. He wished his dad would come back.

“Not long, no.” Stevie said, though it had to be ages now.

The woman stood up briefly and looked around her. She was tall, taller than his mum, and she was dressed in black. A black jacket and t-shirt, and black leather trousers. She looked glamorous. She looked like she could be one of those women off the television who danced to music, one of those women his dad would watch even if he wasn’t interested in the music. His mum didn’t like those women.

As she stooped down again Stevie caught sight of a man with white hair and wearing dark glasses watching them from a car parked along the road, but then the woman’s face blocked everything again. She wasn’t smiling anymore; she was frowning into him.

“Are you sure you’re okay, honey, you look awful hot? Do you want a drink of water?”

She held a half full bottle of water up to the window. Stevie knew he was getting redder in the face as the woman talked to him, and the need to pee was starting to build again.

“I’m okay,” he lied, and certainly the last thing he wanted was water at the minute.

“My dad’ll be here soon. Thanks.”

Stevie always tried to be polite. His mum liked it. His dad didn’t really care but sometimes he would shout at him for not speaking up and saying “please” or “thank you”; his dad just enjoyed shouting though rather than being too worried about manners, that’s what Stevie thought.

“Here, have a drink of water,” offered the woman and she began to unscrew the top.

” It’s a hot day, luv, you must be sweltering in that car.”

Stevie just shook his head this time.

“What about a sweet then, luv?” and suddenly she had a packet of sweets in her hand, waving them at the window.

There was something not right here, not right with this woman. Stevie’s heart was suddenly beating fast and his stomach felt sick too. He looked about but the people passing in the street seemed to be taking no notice, and there was still no sign of his dad. He wished he had his pencil.

From the corner of his eye Stevie saw something that distracted him from the woman. It was the man from the car with the white hair and dark glasses, he was walking towards them. Stevie panicked. He was lucky that his glance towards the man had momentarily caused the woman to look round for she was too slow as he jumped to the door and wound up the window. At first Stevie wound it the wrong way (he always did that) but he recovered in time and didn’t stop when the woman tried to force her hand into the closing gap. He didn’t stop even though the woman was speaking to him – “Honey, it’s okay, don’t worry luv, I’m not going to hurt you.”

Her face said different though, Stevie could tell that and he was only a young boy. The window snapped on her thin fingers and she pulled them clear rather than put up a fight. Stevie closed it tight and then moved away across the back seat checking that none of the other doors or windows were open.

“Aw come on, honey, “ she tried, her voice muffled now and her face no longer bright and shiny, but glowing like his mum’s when she was arguing with his dad.

“Open the window, luv “ and she rapped it with her knuckles. “I just want to talk.”

Stevie watched her, his chest heaving in and out. He wasn’t a brave boy or so he felt.

Then the white haired man was touching her shoulder and whispering in her ear. His dark glasses flicked in Stevie’s direction and then he gave the woman a tug on the arm. She said something mean at Stevie. He couldn’t hear the words but he could see her face, and it was a different face from before. Stevie knew he had been right to shut the window on her even if he had risked hurting her fingers.

The man and woman walked briskly to the car, got in and drove away. They were gone.

After a couple of minutes Stevie hunted for his pencil, found it and dug it into his hands really hard. It hurt, but it helped. He cried some because he was scared and because he’d peed himself a little. After a while his dad came back to the car, didn’t notice anything wrong with Stevie, didn’t even speak to the boy. He slammed the car door shut and was clearly in a bad mood about something. No winners for him today, or maybe a row with someone in the pub. His dad often had rows.

Stevie got home, rushed to the toilet and then to his room, the sound of the argument already below him. Tonight he would sit up for hours peeking out his window into the dark looking for them, as he would do for many days and nights to come, while the pencil stabbed into his hands, into his arms.

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More from this writer:

Short Stories
Waiting for Dad
Alfred's Bad Day

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